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God speaks to Jason Terry, Celtics Pride Prevails: Game 4 Grades

 

The following post is written by Romy Nehme, CelticsHub contributor.

New York Knicks 90 FinalRecap | Box Score 97 Boston Celtics
Jeff Green, PF 48 MIN | 9-22 FG | 7-8 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 26 PTS | +2
Is there anyone in this league who can run after he’s left his feet like Green? Those slow motion playbacks from the rim camera angle are picturesque. Today’s highlight reel: mowing down Richardson (who was still tearing off his trackpants) on a power drive, taking a (dubious) charge on Melo, and breaking the Knicks’ extended defense on an inbound play — which temporarily stopped the terminal hemorrhage in the 3rd when it looked like the apocalypse was near and the refs were complicit.That said, you can literally feel Jeff Green battling his frail morale during the game, which pretty directly correlates to his fluctuating aggression and imprint on the game (at one point requiring a Rivers emphatic butt-slap on the sideline). Running Sheryl Sandbert’s “Lean In” might be beneficial. Quips aside, Green limited his turnovers, while mostly pronking down the court like a gazelle (I believe I counted four instances where Green ripped down the board, flew down the court, shut down his peripheral vision and headed straight for the basket). Make or miss, those possessions signal that Green is in the right mindset, and when he is, he’s a pretty darn good player.
Brandon Bass, PF 31 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +6
Bass returns to the starting lineup, and with that, the Celtics can – for the most part – rest easy and stay at home on the Knicks’ 12182742 3pt shooters while trusting that Bass will do all that is humanly possible to prevent the ball from going into the hoop after leaving Melo’s hands. Some of those shots never even reached the rim.Bass is garnering quite the cachet for his prodigious ability to single-handedly do to Melo (10/35 shooting) what tandems and trios have been attempting to all year long. The downside is that Bass is only averaging 4 shot attempts a game (not his fault), had only 4 rebounds (in part due to his laser focus on his defensive duties and because Melo has attempted 113 shots in the series against 4 assists) and at times still bites on shot-fakes.
Paul Pierce, SF 50 MIN | 9-20 FG | 7-8 FT | 8 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 6 TO | 29 PTS | -2
Because I’m in a crowdsourcing kind of mood, I’ll open up the floor for Kirk Goldsberry:22 NBA players have a usage rate higher than 25; only 4 are older than 30; only 1 is older than 35: Paul Pierce. The guy is tired.Despite that, and ample evidence that Doc’s misguided attempts at not disgracing the franchise have relegated Pierce to “the guy that’s trying to do too much and can’t anymore” (but who can still magically average 18-7-6 on 46% shooting (42% from 3) since Rondo’s injury when played optimally), Pierce did everything he could to avoid abject humiliation.

There were a few early line drives and sloppy turnovers in the second half, but for the most part, the early strategy of side-to-side offense, snappy passes, and limited “holding the ball” time, paid huge dividends. Pierce was hugely effective coming off screens, he nailed some ballsy threes, had the wherewithal to flip the ball to open teammates out of double teams with a tick left on the clock, and was generally nothing short of amazing.

As such, his decision making was 18238418% better today and he didn’t allow the Knicks to mash him on both sides in the middle of the lane because he was already thinking of his next move as soon as he made the catch (dribble away from the double team, elevate and shoot, or pass).

Kevin Garnett, C 37 MIN | 5-7 FG | 3-3 FT | 17 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +16
Another key adjustment today was appointing KG as Bradley’s older brother: the guy who would look after him during recess and make sure no punks would steal his lunch money. KG was doing everything in the first quarter, including initiating and directing the offense with the poise of a maestro before being derailed by early fouls.The foul-induced rest probably resulted in fresher legs late in the game, when everyone else was dragging their carcasses on the court; We all know that KG’s body naturally produces 5-hour energy, but honor is why he was able to mix it up with life saving straightaway Js and huge shots down low against Martin’s single coverage.Never question the heart of KG. Never.
Avery Bradley, PG 40 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | +8
I’ll let Bill Simmons say it:Avery Bradley took a huge step back in this series. Sloppy offensively, can’t shoot, getting abused by Felton. Just a total stinkbomb.For someone who wants fans to leave in awe of his defensive performance, Bradley has been uncharacteristically casual on defense compared to the baseline he set for himself. Remember, AB is the kind of player who’ll get into a deep invading crouch on D in the pre-season because he knows only one gear. While I thought he was more smothering and disruptive today (especially at the beginning of the 3rd quarter) than he’s been in the first 3 games, he was, at times, weirdly consumed by looking behind him to cut off passing angles into Carmelo rather than trying to muzzle the feisty Felton.
Chris Wilcox, PF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -6
Wilcox: “Get that shit out of here”. The garden erupts in gratitude.
Jordan Crawford, SG 7 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +8
Where has Jordan’s exquisite passing gone? In game 1, he attempted no shots. In games 2,3 and 4, he’s been exclusively shooting. Crawford was clearly envious of Nate the Great’s performance, leading him to sprinkle an unnecessary degree of difficulty on what should be the plainest vanilla ice cream cone. What? That doesn’t make sense, you say? Neither does Crawford’s game these days.
Terrence Williams, SG 11 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 1 PTS | +5
Is Courtney Lee that bad? Didn’t he find his shooting stroke near the end of the regular season? Wasn’t he a part of the starting lineup that salvaged the season? Has he contracted the plague? I like Terrence Williams’ potential but the fact that he can’t shoot from ten feet out doesn’t help this team.
Jason Terry, SG 41 MIN | 7-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | -2
Why hello Jason Terry. I still wouldn’t be smiling if I were you (or yapping between now and Wednesday), but I’d rather you have submitted the game you did today than what we’ve become accustomed to from you. You’re still sometimes a reluctant shooter because of the scars left from this season’s incomprehensible turdfest, but you can still get in the lane and make big shots. I thank you for those 9 points in overtime and hope we see a reprise of that in Game 5.
Doc Rivers
We’re witnessing a stodgy, risk averse coach with very little creativity at his disposal and a knack for being uncannily stubborn even in the direst of times.I give Doc credit in the first half for moving Pierce out of the shark pool, varying his looks, and putting KG in a table-setting role. Those things had a noticeable and favorable impact on the game.However, to not even try reuniting the five amigos that made it happen after Rondo’s injury (that includes Courtney Lee, who is being quarantined in Guantanamo, or playing Randolph, who’s been a gem in limited playing time) while everyone in green had 5.5 fouls with more than a quarter left of play is plain silly.

One Thing We Saw

  1. I preemptively wrote “This is the game we expected in Game 3” at halftime. This was not that game. My psyche has been rendered to jello, and scattered above are signs of a deeply distressed and only slightly relieved soul. Go Celtics.
  • MSTRKRFT

    This game shouldn't have even gone to OT. We should have easily coasted to a win with a 20 pt lead heading into the 3rd, but once again, like 2 previous games in this series — Doc is sitting and twiddling his thumbs while watching the lead evaporate. Doc is basically running a 6 man rotation with 2 players past retirement. 50+ minutes for Green/Pierce, 40+ for Terry/KG/Avery? How long can this go on?

    I like Avery, but he has no reason to play 40 mins in a game. He doesn't provide any offense and he is getting manhandled by the likes of Ray "Pilsbury" Felton and JR on defense. Williams/Lee/Crawford are all better on offense, better ball handlers. I especially feel Williams is getting the biggest shaft out of all the guards, he is a gem that will shine given the proper opportunity and minutes.

    Next, KG and Bass is getting no relief at all. Knicks are thin on the front lines, so what do we do? Play to their strengths. Shav and Wilcox getting no minutes, when especially Shav can provide a valuable 10-15 minutes with rebounds, hustle, and tip ins.

    We have the tightest, minute heavy rotation in the whole playoffs. We are running halfcourt ISO sets. Some of that might work for Knicks, because they got shot creators in Carmelo and JR, but we have none. Time to go back to film, and see what was working for us earlier in the season. Spread, transition offense with a 9-10 man rotation. Ball movement. Cut down on all this slow, ugly, ISO basketball. It is not pretty to watch and ineffective. Time, effort, and money was spent scraping up bodies for the post-season, and yet, Doc has not trusted, integrated, and played them.

    Someone please wake Doc up! When a reporter asks you, what adjustments and changes will be made and you reply, "I am not sure yet. I honestly don't know", you know we have a SERIOUS problem. Knicks have the best player in the series in Carmelo (I don't care what anyone says, right now he is in his prime and nearly impossible to stop when he gets going), but we have more overall talent — there is no reason we should be down 3-1, almost at the brink of a sweep.

    Oh and one last thing, game winning play drawn up by Doc? Pierce ISO, surprise!

    • Rav

      Doc, as a coach, is a great motivator and ego-handler. But motivation can only go so far, and you don't need to "handle" egos when there aren't any more franchise players on the team.

      In terms of "actual" coaching, the only thing Doc is good at is drawing up plays out of timeouts. A lot of the success of that though, was due to personnel.

      Granted, we are being a bit unfair – the Cs were the 7th-best team in the Conference. We can hope, sure, but we can't "expect" to beat the 2nd-best.

  • IBleedGreen

    Bradley’s 40 minutes should ne split between Lee/Crawford/Williams. I don’t want to see his sorry ass again.

  • GymRat

    Terry deserves an A plus for this game and how about a little praise for his effort and shotmaking (when nobody else could throw it in the ocean) and a lot more respect. He's struggled and underperformed for sure, but a lot of that falls back to his usage, the fact Doc NEVER setteled into a consistent lineup, and that he was forced to be a spot-up shooter far too often when he clearly is best with the ball in his hands.

    No surprise today he was allowed to run and handle the ball and he has a great game (I think getting elbowed in the head helped). All his shots were either pull ups in transition or from dribbling around a screen. That's his game and when we let him play it…he's pretty special.

    He also nailed clutch free throws and scored 9 of our 13 points in OT. Show a little love instead of harping on what he didn't do.

    Crawford also deserves a better grade. He only had one clean look (a 3 he made) and did his best to get to the rim and create when the team couldn't seem to find a way to score and PP went cold.

    Wins are in short supply this post season, can we celebrate them please!

    • CG12

      Doc was going to lean on Terry, no matter what. And he will continue to do so. That is what Doc does. With Terry scuffling recently, rather than cutting back his minutes, Doc choose to give him more minutes and more responsibility. It worked this game.

  • GymRat

    And to add to the plus/minus numbers are meaningless discussion – Jet and Pierce are both a minus 2, while AB is somehow a plus 8. Useless. Utterly useless in terms of real impact.

    • Rav

      Within individual games they're not gospel, but over a season plus-minus averages out into a pretty informative statistic.

  • Pauper

    We blew a big lead and barely won a game against an opponent missing their second best player. Oh, and we let an out of shape slow pg shred up up for a whole quarter. For whatever reason, Doc thinks you can win a game, series, and championship by running your aging stars into the ground and having no offensive plan other than pass the ballnto said old guy. Not to rant but explain to me this….

    1. Is Shavlik so bad that we can't get him 5 to 10 minutes to help KG on the boards and against Chandler? It's not like Chandler can score easily on Randolph considering he only does alley oops and putbacks.
    2. Why is Jeff Green passing to anyone including Pierce when Jason Kidd is covering him? Pierce over Shumpert of Green over Kidd? Seems like an easy call to me.
    3. When Steve Novak is in the game, why is anyone shooting besides his coverage? In prior matches, Jeff Green would salivate when he saw Novak. We don't even look to get Bass the ball in the post when Novak has him. Bass should be dunking early and often when Novak is on him.
    4. If you insist on going to Pierce, get him down in the blocks. His advantage is size and strength which gets negated when getting the ball 20 feet from the basket. Pierce hasn't had a speed advantage since 6th grade unless covered by A 40 year old guard like today when he jogged past Kidd for a throwback dunk.
    5. Novak rule applies to Kidd. Every one of our guards other than Terry should blow by him with ease. If AB's offensive game is so bad he can't get to the hole against old man Kidd, we should be subbing in Lee or Williams since they can blow by Kidd while still texting with the other hand.

    Doc, you lucked out on this one! Get thee to a casino, because we need to gamble if we're going to win another game.

    • fabzzz

      On the other end, I feel like I've seen Kidd get by Pierce and Green and into the lane.
      This is bizarre.

      But Novak barely played in this last game.

    • Rav

      You underrate Kidd. He doesn't have much speed left anymore but with his intelligence on that end he's still an above-average defender at the PG position; he has the size to defend SG as well and the fact that he doesn't need to expend so much energy on offense anymore means he can focus on his defensive duties.

  • chris m

    I created a victory drink after today’s game: the Celtics Smash -mint leaves, bitters, 1/2 oz creme de menthe crushed ice. Muddle this down then fill glass with ice and top w/ 2.5oz Irish whiskey -stir

    • fabzzz

      This is the right attitude. I will order this at bars in Portland until it's a staple

    • CelticsBIG3

      I created a victory drink too. It was called give all the Knicks fans that unsatisfactorily infiltrated the Garden today the business while I was pretty f'ed up.

  • IBleedGreen

    It's hard to win when the 3 best players in this series so far are on the other team – Anthony, Felton, and JR Smith. Someone (most likely Pierce, KG, or Green) needs to become the 2nd and 3rd best players for us to win 3 more games.

  • CelticsBIG3

    I DON'T GIVE A SHIT HOW THEY GOT THERE!! I WAS IN THE GARDEN TODAY AND WE ARE NOT DEAD YET

  • Josh_5

    KG absolutely refused to die today. This guy is my all time favorite player for a reason. He epitomizes heart and effort. Dude is old and he's still got back to back 17 board games. #gritandballs

  • CG12

    The Celts second tier guys are playing too tentatively on offense. You can see that guys like Avery, Bass, and TWill go in there with the mindset their primary responsibility is to help get the ball to Pierce, Green, KG, and Terry in the right spots. There are times where they have relatively open lanes to do something off the dribble, but don't do so, presumably because they are focused on making an entry pass. You have to always be a triple threat – once your man can tell you aren't going to shoot it or do anything with the dribble, they know they can over-play the pass. Hence some of the truly excrutiating entry passes we have seen this series.

    • Pauper

      It's on coaching I think. As others have mentioned many times, the best two players in this series are on the other team so we're not winning playing our best two against your best two. Taking a step back, we barely won today because they had the best player and we probably tied for #2, and had the 3rd and 4th best. The outcome will be different when JR is back in the next game.

      If the coaches realized what's obvious, they should know we can only win by taking advantage of our secondary players and bench. AB is hesitant to shoot which is why every shot is slightly off (thinking too much) and not going to the rim with conviction which is why he's not getting any calls. JT should be playing free and loose like today. I've argued all along he's a playmaker. Maybe with win or die today, he figured WTF and played free.

      DOC, PLEASE STOP WITH THE "GET THE BALL TO PIERCE AND BET HE'S GOING TO OUTSCORE CARMELO" OFFENSE. Maybe when we do that, Pierce can score 20 points efficiently without being taxed from doing too much, and other guys can get engaged in this series.

  • hydrofluoric

    Once again I think the coaching let us down. We got into the penalty at 6 minutes of the 4th quarter or so and had a chance to attack like crazy and get to the line to seal it. Doc drew up a brilliant play (noted by Jeff Van Gundy) where Pierce made an off-ball cut and drew the foul on Iman Shumpert, resulting in 2 freebies… no player even tried to dribble-penetrate for the rest of the game and we shot zero free throws.

    Tyson Chandler has been a monster. Obliterating Avery Bradley on picks (does anyone else take him out of the defense so effectively?), containing every Celtics pnr ballhandler like crazy. That said I still think Pierce could have attempted to drive by him and pick up some free throws.

  • Rav

    "Running Sheryl Sandbert’s" – is that meant to be "reading Sheryl Sandberg's"? Otherwise, good stuff (thought Pierce deserved an A-; 29 points on 20 shots is great, and though 6 TOs cancel out 6 assists he also had 8 boards). Also, what's up with the change in font from the second paragraph onward in each grade description?

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