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What We (Might Have) Learned From Game One

The things that are true of game one may not be true of game two, but if any of the following make repeated appearances Tuesday night, we’ll find ourselves faced with “narratives,” which we’re contractually obligated to track on the supercomputer deep beneath stately CelticsHub manor.

In that spirit, here are a few inputs for the mainframe from the first 48:

The Rotation – With Tyson Chandler a non-factor, the Knicks were plenty willing to play small, but it’s still surprising that Doc Rivers went an entire game without using a single one of his backup bigs. There’s some tactical logic there, but it also lays bare his complete lack of faith in Chris Wilcox, who finally played himself out of the rotation. Just in time for the playoffs. Don’t expect him back next year.

Those of you crying the beloved Shavlik probably have a point, especially with Kevin Garnett looking out of rhythm. Wilcox has been such a mess all year that it wouldn’t surprise me if he rode pine all series, but before the C’s turn in another 8-point-quarter, it might be time to set Randolph loose on the offensive boards.

Avery Bradley – Some good, some bad. New York got a bit nappy on Avery’s cuts, which allowed him to slash in for layups and the glass half full crowd could find legit hope that his jumper may reappear for the postseason after he drained a couple. Of course, he also made a few atrocious entry passes that got picked off (Doc flagged them in his postgame presser) and just doesn’t have shot creation in his offensive arsenal. He’s going to do more on defense as the series progresses. Is that going to be enough of a contribution?

The Pierce Funnel – Boston ran everything through a mid-post Pierce early on and the Knicks were content to send doubles that Pierce (mostly) beat with good passes. Fast forward to the second half and a tiring Pierce (6-15, including 1-7 from the arc) was stuck in face-up situations and had only one shot inside 16 feet against a New York defense that turned up its intensity (and smarts).

It’s clear Boston will have to run a lot of offense through Pierce all series and with Brandon Bass and Jeff Green available to bother Carmelo Anthony, he should have enough in the tank to handle the usage. But if it takes the form of ISOs and failed, forced switches and comes without good hard picks to get him some separation, we could see some ugly shooting numbers out of Pierce. And more big turnover numbers.

Bonus context: the Celtics did a great job forcing Melo into taking a bunch of tough shots but he still shot a better percentage than Pierce.

Jason Terry – He had a terrible regular season. He’s not getting anywhere near the kinds of PNR action he’s become used to over the length of his career. Is he done? Or like Green earlier in the year, does Doc need to up his usage to try and break him out of this season-long slump?

Three Balls – NY: 9-25. BOS: 5-20. Neither team wants to lose as a result of made three-pointers. So far, so good. Especially for New York.

Kenyon Martin – Who needs his 10 points and 9 rebounds? Certainly not Boston. Right?

Crawford and the Bench Scoring Conundrum – What the hell happened here? Jordan Crawford played 11 minutes and didn’t attempt a single shot. He didn’t deal out a single assist. He didn’t even turn the ball over. These are the three things Crawford is built to do in this life. If Doc’s going to play him, he has to let him off the leash a little bit. Courtney Lee also deserves notice for his nearly empty outing.

There’s some tension here between a) valuing possessions and living through your stars and b) asking your B (and C) level guys to make plays and living with the results. We’re still in search of the right balance on that one.

Covering Melo/Covered By Melo – Sixteen misses. Only six free throw attempts. The Celtics will take that out of Melo every game. In particular, Bass did a great job pushing Melo off his spots even as the Knicks got all wide-eyed and tried to exploit that coverage with ISO situations that, often as not, backfired. On the other hand, Melo put the screws to Green in the second half, applying the same kind of pressure he was seeing. And Green withered. When Anthony’s that dug in, you don’t want Green on an island on the wing. Put him in a pick and roll. Get him the ball coming off the weak side. Try and get someone smaller or bigger than Anthony guarding him. He’s been good at attacking when he gets a favorable switch. Fair or not, Boston needs him all game, every game. One great half isn’t going to do it.

  • Danny

    Ill never understand why Danny passed on Martin. You summed it up perfect Ryan who needs 10 points and 9 rebounds not to mention hustle plays. What a waste.

    • hydrofluoric

      Let's not forget about MONSTER interior defense, general toughness, and veteran postseason experience!

    • The Cardinal

      If Doc wasn't so stubborn and had played Shavlik, there would have been the 10 points and 9 rebounds the C's needed. The Celtics don't need Martin – Doc needs to use the guys who have been producing, and Shavlik has given the Celtics everything that Martin ever would.

      On another topic that keeps cropping up elsewhere – Ray vs. Terry – I wish people would give that a rest. Ray chose to leave for half the money the C's offered, so that's that. At the time, the Terry signing looked to be a great way to fill the gap, but it hasn't worked out the way any of us hoped and that's that.

      If we are to win this series, Doc is going to have to be more willing than ever to adjust on the fly. This would mean putting Terry and Bradley on a short leash when they continue to hurt the team more than they help, establishing Shavlik as a regular part of the rotation (first sub off the bench for KG), reducing Green's minutes, and forgetting the crap about sticking with an eight man rotation when of the eight, Crawford is the only decent passer among the bunch and you've got T Will with a DNP. But unless we cut down on the silly ass turnovers, all the personnel moves in the world won't help.

      • tbunny

        They have got to put in Crawford at point for at least 20 minutes to take pressure off Bradley. Take those minutes from Terry if you need to. And they have to put in Randolph with the Crawford line ups.

        • janos

          hi bunny

  • Frank A

    Wasn’t that game for Jeff Green his whole season in a nutshell? One great half one disappearing half. But at the same time 26 points out of Green is still on the right track.

    • kg215

      +1 it is a microcosm of Jeff Green his whole career too, looks absolutely unstoppable then completely disappears and goes back and forth. At the same time if Jeff gives us 18+ points with good FG% he has done a great job and more than we could ask for. 26 points is a huge bonus, the rest of the team needs to step up.

  • CelticsBIG3

    Jeff Green absolutely fell apart when Melo put defensive pressure on him when he was faced up. It looked like a kid with a weak handle in panic mode (shockingly not untrue?).

    • CelticsBIG3

      I don't understand why ppl thumbdown the truth. Watch the game again if you don't get it. In the second half, Melo got into Green tight and he was unable to put the ball on the floor or create any space to take shots. He tried to become Melo with the jab steps and the triple threat moves. Thats not his game. In one instance where he became trapped he threw a careless pass right thru Jason Kidd's passing lane then lost a footrace to the ball to a 40 year old point guard. I'm not trying to knock Jeff as a player, but Doc needs to find a better way to get space for Jeff in the next game. And a little less PP34 iso please.

    • Jim

      He still scored half the Celtic points in the fourth quarter. What the hell did any one else do? Green needs a blow as he is playing too many minutes. I wish people would get off his ass. Now Jason Terry is a different story. The guy has been a huge failure.

      • kg215

        He didn't say Jeff Green sucked overall. Jeff did fall apart when Melo got into him, it doesn't take away from the fact that Jeff had one heck of a game because he dominated so hard in the 1st half. Just because you are a Jeff Green defender doesn't mean people shouldn't point out the truth. Jeff needs to take advantage of his quickness against Melo, part of that is on the coaching staff too (get him the ball on the move or from different spots). I agree Terry is a complete failure this year, he is a good shooter normally and keeps getting good looks but they don't go in this year. Terry can still turn it around but time is running out.

  • Captain Obvious

    Have to do better than 8 points and 8 turnovers in the fourth or any quarter.

    • CelticsBIG3

      lol, nice name

  • Mark

    Avery Bradley was horrible yesterday. I don’t care about the points he scored because they were meaningless. I care about the horrific attempts at simple passes. I care about his shockingly disappearing act on defense. I care about the fact he does not contribute to the success of this team in any way outside of on the ball defense which is also rendered moot by the fact other teams simply change away from his man to bring the ball up. If you haven’t noticed Avery Bradley is beyond pedestrian on defense when his man doesn’t have the ball.

    What makes Bradley good is what will prevent him from being anything more than a journeyman player and that is the need to pair him with an elite PG. We’ve seen over the course of the last six weeks how he fairs without one and out isn’t pretty. Bradley is not and never will be a starting PG/SG on a contending team. Period!

    • CelticsBIG3

      I think he can start and be effective alongside Rondo, but he is definitely not the answer as our starting point guard. TWill has done a reputably better job in that role as facilitator. Not to mention Crawford.

    • janos

      he Mark is Janos
      you know is not helpful comment call Brady horribles you know we are need all player nba celtic to succeed playof ok so make a support not a complain?'

  • High Rollers

    “There’s some tension here between a) valuing possessions and living through your stars and b) asking your B (and C) level guys to make plays and living with the results. We’re still in search of the right balance on that one.”

    P’s head shaking decision to take that early clock missed three instead of passing to a “wide open” Courtney Lee off the break is a perfect illustration of the quandary. It’s definitely the type of home run move that doesn’t fit into the C’s tiny margin for error. At the same time, “wide open” will be continue to be strangled by those quote marks until somebody busts loose and starts making shots with regularity. The trust has never been more tenuous or more important.

    • Anthony

      Absolutely agree!! It would've even been more beneficial getting a 24 sec violation on that possession than that miss. Because of that rushed shot, Knicks had 2 possessions which they scored on both, instead on 1 which Boston still had a chance to counter.

  • High Rollers

    And even if you don’t trust the “wide open” guy right then, pull it back out. Let something develop, for better or worse, a la somebody named Rajon.

    And please, use Kevin better.

  • Celtic Representer

    Bruh Its Okay We Got'em Next Time . Its Only The First Game . Hahaha Stupid Comments

  • IBleedGreen

    Starting Bradley at PG is a huge mistake. That guy can’t shoot, can’t pass, and can’t finish layups. And in this series you don’t need a defensive stopper at the guard position because Melo has the ball most of the time. Start Lee or Terry for better offensive spacing. Only bring Bradley off the bench if Felton or JR Smith get hot.

    • hydrofluoric

      Avery Bradley took 3 less 3-pointers than JET/Lee and made 1 more than they did combined. How's that for spacing? Oh, and he also had 4 more assists than JET/Lee combined, and 11 more points total.

      Avery Bradley's offensive stats: 35 minutes, 7-14 FG (1-2 3P), 0-0 FT, 4 AST, 4 TO, 15 PTS
      JET and Lee's offensive stats: 40 minutes, 0-7 FG (0-5 3P), 4-4 FT, 0 AST, 1 TO, 4 PTS

      You're also heavily underrating that Raymond Felton keys the Knicks' pick-and-roll attack. Avery's minutes were big in limiting the Knicks' offense. You don't bring Avery on board "in case" Felton/Smith get hot; you keep him in the game to ensure they don't to begin with.

      Our defense was fine in terms of forcing misses. We lost the battle on that end on offensive rebounds in the second half (thanks for not signing KMart, Danny!) and losing every 50-50 ball to Jason Kidd's obnoxious BBIQ.

  • janos

    passion fan is demand win constant and am love nba celtic fan for this but not time a panic just learn from game to corect last period beyond future game 2.

  • swissflix

    jeff green did not disappear in the second half – he just got tired like Pierce or Garnett. Doc, please use a 10 player rotation – Wilcox, Randolph and Williams need a chance to contribute!

    • jman

      Totally agree. And please, if Terry doesn't show up within 5 mins of playing, bench him. Obviously there's something wrong physically or emotionally with him. And once again, we didn't run our offense through Kg. Half-court offense should start with him. Let him kick it out for NY will double team him if he goes in and then kick out. Game was winnable but they blew it in the end due to hero ball Paul turnovers and no running due to tired legs.

  • emg

    What's the deal with all the cruelty and negativity? It was a good game! Is it that you all think the players aren't trying? Or that they weren't born with enough talent to satisfy your egos as celtics fans?

    Everyone was a chorus of how much Green sucked and now we're taking him for granted. Everyone was a chorus for how amazing Bradley is and now we're being dicks about him. He's busting his ass in a way that none of us ever have or ever will. And he's a kid under pressure. Are you all so amazing that you can condescend to people who make mistakes?

    It is bad for us to dump bad language all over the community. It's possible to analyze the challenges and be interested in the team without cultivating contempt for the team.

    • The Cardinal

      I think people post here for a lot of different reasons, but mostly because they are dedicated Celtics fans who want to see the C's win and when they don't, this board provides a perfect setting to share, debate, brag and vent as needed. Sure, some of the comments and opinions can get pretty critical, but that's okay because they are (mostly) said in mocking fun and they are what they are – comments and opinions. This board would get old quick if after every win we all simply said "yay," but after every loss, we all simply said "nice hustle, you'll get 'em next time" and ditto, ditto, ditto! Besides, I'm about 99.9% sure Doc, Jeff Green, AB, etc… don't check here to figure out what to do next after each loss.

      Basically, it's fun to gloat and debate as well as bitch and moan with like-minded fans. I certainly enjoy it and I thank the good folks at the Hub for providing us the mostly uncensored opportunity to let it rip every now and then!

      • emg

        That seems right. But a large part of my desire to see the Celtics win is because I've cultivated an actual human concern for the players – they want things for themselves and I want them to achieve their goals. for example, I feel warm inside when KG won't be traded in order to protect Pierce and honor that friendship. Or how I wanted KG and Pierce to win a championship this year (before Rondo and Sully were injured) because I care for them as people. So it feels unhappy when I read the fans actually lofting acidic sounding attacks on these people we are rooting for in part because they are real and we want them to thrive. Because we're just a handful of people who kind of know each other at this point and are mutually obsessed with the players and team, I think this has a subtle impact on how we are as people.

  • GymRat

    I think there are some really great points being shared. I can understand the upset. Game 1 sets the tone for the series and (despite a terrible second half) it was a very winnable game. The difference between the teams that advance and the ones that don't is closing out winnable games.

    I think we still have a good chance in this series, but by losing game 1 we now have to win 3 straight to save home court and four of the next 6. There is definitely reason for concern.

    Doc has to be more flexible. Does he seriously think you can run an 8 man rotation when KG plays limited minutes and PP's production dramatically drops when he plays more than 38 minutes. We need to give guys like T-Will and Shavlik a chance. This team will never win by running everything through Pierce and playing a slow-down offense. It puts too much pressure to shoot a high percentage and nobody on this team does that consistently.

    I can't agree with everyone saying Green got tired as an excuse for his poor second half. It's the post season – stars and crucial players all play huge minutes and if Rondo was on the team he would've likley played 48 minutes and would still have gas for overtime. Green has had all season to get in shape for this and plenty of run the end of the season to know how to pace himself and what will be expected. He played poorly that final quarter (the entire team did). No excuses.

    The biggest area of improvement is really hustle and desire. 40 yr old J-Kidd made our entire team look disinterested and slow. And old and injured K-Mart beat us up beneath the rim.

    This team doesn't have the talent or depth to win by anything other than grit and balls. We need some nasty.