The following grades were written by guest CelticsHub contributor, Romy Nehme
|Jeff Green, PF 35 MIN | 4-17 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -21
Green was an unwieldy mess of tangled limbs that didn’t look like they belonged to the same body. His drives were for the most part clumsy, and he had an especially puzzling turnover where he seemed to just gift the ball to a Nets defender. His length also did nothing to bother Johnson, who was able to get deep position in the post and Green too often left him open in the corner while half helping on Williams. In the last and only two games since the inception of the “Go Big” experiment, Green has shot a sparkling 7/25.
|Brandon Bass, PF 26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -24
Boss Brandon Bass looked like he was intent on replicating his stellar performance against the Wizards by opening the game with four straight buckets. The most notable was a MONSTER jam where he breezed pas Evans and shook the rim with a nasty two-handed jam over the meek Lopez. Unfortunately, Bass suffered a relapse soon after as doubt seemed to creep back into his psyche; he was ice cold the rest of the way and couldn’t knock down even the most embarrassingly open looks.
|Paul Pierce, SF 33 MIN | 7-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 23 PTS | -8
Pierce was fresh in this one. With the exception of one off-target entry pass that sailed over KG’s head — leading to another Johnson three — he was ultra efficient and made the Nets pay for assigning Wallace to Green. He punished Johnson and the Nets in the paint with effortless post play and exquisite cross-court passing out of double teams. Pierce was also the one to do the Celtics the honor of attempting, not making, but simply attempting, the first free throw of the game for the C’s at the eight minute mark of the 3rd quarter (perhaps a record of the infamous variety?).
Why then did Pierce only get 11 shots tonight? Anyone??
|Kevin Garnett, C 28 MIN | 5-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | -2
KG had two main tasks tonight: the first was to stymie Lopez, who’d scored 25+ in three of his last 5 games and the second was to find his rhythm heading into the playoffs. After a puzzlingly gauche start to the game, KG finally began to thaw in the second quarter, taking the baton from Bass and stringing together two nice quarters of work. Suddenly he had his shooting stroke back, his aggressiveness quotient started to soar, and if anything can redeem the Celtics’ lousy effort tonight, it was Garnett’s Rikishi quasi Stink Face on the poor unsuspecting Humphries: https://vimeo.com/60164667 (credit goes to John from Reds’ Army for the dead-on reference).
|Avery Bradley, PG 12 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -2
Bradley did not pass Go and did not collect $200 tonight, playing a total of twelve and scattered foul-plagued minutes. He made his first jumper, and then was promptly abducted right under our noses. When he was on the court, there was a lot of talk in the booth about Bradley’s potential candidacy for defensive player of the year. AB showed his defensive chops in the few seconds he was allowed to play, on one occasion denying Williams access to the paint — who simply bounced off Bradley’s chest like it was a brick wall.
A couple of those foul calls seemed suspect, especially because Bradley’s reputation precedes him, but that’s a matter for Rivers to lobby the refs about…
|Shavlik Randolph, PF 16 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +6
Any human with a beating heart and a love of basketball most likely fell in love with Michigan’s Mitch McGary over the last couple of weeks. Shav is of that same ilk. Mike Hollis (who’s worked with Randolph during his high school years) had this to say about him: “The ball seemed to have a way of finding him; He could go into the shower, clean up, and the ball would be waiting for him in the hallway. He was that good, all the time.” Watch the play where he gets that second chance opportunity for the momentum-changing Green corner 3 and he’s still wrestling for position while the ball is in mid-air. On the ensuing possession, he takes a huge charge from the red-hot Lopez. Two numbers I like to see: the 9rebs, but even more than that, the 16min to Wilcox’ 6. Here’s to hoping it’s the beginning of a trend.
(Alas, we did not get SavvyShavy trending, but it’s an ongoing effort.)
|D.J. White, PF 3 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +11
Why hello there, D.J. Stay warm on that frigid bench, we might need some functioning bodies when Rivers decides to rest his starters.
|Chris Wilcox, PF 6 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -2
So far, seeing Randolph being summoned off the bench before him seems to have had a pleasant “monkey-see-monkey-do” effect on Wilcox. He had a nice finish off a wild-ish Crawford dish, a beautiful give-and-go with KG topped off with a high decibel dunk, and then a second one that benefited from a friendly roll. That said, he continues to be a negligible factor on defense, providing zero reinforcements on that already flickering back line.
|Jordan Crawford, SG 20 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +7
Crawford’s ratio of good to cringe-worthy plays has been on the decline since KG has stepped out of the lineup. He’s like that new boyfriend who’s on his best behavior for the first family dinner of two, but who by the end of the month is slouching at the table, chewing with his mouth open, and occasionally belching loudly. The scale was titled towards the “good” tonight (a few nice dishes and finishes on the break), and Crawford’s night culminated with an outrageous putback dunk over one Reggie Evans. He might or might not have used Evans’s head as a trampoline.
|Courtney Lee, SG 27 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -2
Desperately wishing for Lee to find his pre ankle “injury” form is a sad sad thing, but such it is. Rivers hinted at his discontent with Lee’s play by stating that Lee hasn’t yet solidified his place in the Celtics’ playoff rotation prior to the tip, and he didn’t do enough to create separation between himself and Williams/Crawford. Then again, everyone was victimized by Deron Williams tonight.
|Terrence Williams, SG 10 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +2
I’m glad that the Celtics brass seems to have done an about face on their prior fabulation that had Williams transforming into a PG. Williams displayed flashes of his locomotive style of bullyish play in the few minutes of non-garbage playing time he earned tonight.
|Jason Terry, SG 25 MIN | 1-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -5
It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Terry was secretly playing on a prosthetic right leg once the season is over. His putrescent shooting on the road is starting to permeate home games, and while I still believe that the real Terry will show up for the playoffs (don’t ask me twice), I’m not so sure anymore. That said, for all his shooting woes, Terry had a sneaky steal, a sweet floater and an uncanny block, after which he fell straight on his face, handing the possession right back to the Nets.
The success of Doc’s “Go Big” experiment hinges on three things: 1) that Green be able to perform in the presence of KG, 2) everyone rebounding bigger than their size and 3) that the Celtics weak frontcourt can sustain more attacks given the defensive pressure the Celtics are surrendering by fracturing the Bradley-Lee backcourt. So far, none of those things are a given. I’m also not quite sure why Pierce sat on the bench for as long as he did in the 4th, and Doc seemed to forget Bradley altogether.
There are far too many uncertainties still lingering with the playoffs just around the corner, and time is running out for Doc and his coaching staff to figure things out.