The following is a guest post written by Michael Tyman
The Celtics lost 97-91 to the Cavaliers and also endured yet another injury, this time to Avery Bradley (collarbone) who is said to be day-to-day. Despite this, there was some excitement to feed off of as the team moves forward toward the playoffs in less than two weeks in the form of Shavlik Randolph. The big man immediately made his presence known as he finished the first half with 13 points (a career-high at the time) and five rebounds in only 7:52 of playing time. He was also called for three fouls in the first half, which would loom to be an important stat later in the game.
The second half was incredibly frustrating as the Celtics fell behind and were never able to fully catch up. Cavaliers’ forward, Tristan Thompson was able to feast on an overmatched C’s front line to compile a career high 29 points and 17 rebounds.
The Celtics had no answer for him and were in major foul trouble due to his dominance in the paint. Randolph would play only five additional minutes in the second half because of the uneven officiating and he fouled out midway through the fourth quarter. He totaled 16 points and 7 rebounds in only 13:02 of playing time. Had the officials not called a foul every two minutes he was on the floor, he may have had his first career double-double game. After the game, Randolph refused to blame the officials for his minimal time on the floor in the second half.
“You know, just trying to keep my composure,” said Randolph. “You know, in a game you’re not always going to agree with the calls, that’s just the nature of the game. You just got to keep playing. If you foul out, then you just try to cheer your teammates on. You know, that’s what I tried to do tonight.”
Even with Kevin Garnett healthy, the Celtics are a small team most nights without a true big man rebounder down low when he leaves the floor. This type of weakness can be exposed versus big, physical centers in the playoffs. The Knicks have Tyson Chandler, the Pacers have Roy Hibbert and the Hawks have Al Horford. The Celtics will need Randolph to give them 10-15 efficient minutes with rebounding and some easy put backs to help offset their lack of size.
When asked about the Randolph factor in the playoff rotation, Doc sounded optimistic: “I don’t know. He’s playing great. Just leave it at that; he’s just playing great basketball and we’re going to keep playing him.”