This was far and away the most complete game the Celtics have played thus far this season. If you’re the type of fan against tanking and want the C’s to try and win every game than you should take tonight as a solid step in the right direction. For the rest of us, YES!
The Celtics led by six points at the end of the third quarter but everyone, including the Grizzlies knew it was going to come down to the wire. This was a huge test for the Celtics. Could they hold on to a slim lead against a really good team? In short: no. The Celtics lead against the Bucks was so comically large it became unsustainable. Tonight’s game against the Grizzlies was the first chance for the Celtics to prove they could get a stop when they needed it. They failed.
That said, the Celtics made huge strides in terms of forging an identity. After being benched for the fourth quarter last night against the Detroit Pistons, Jeff Green had perhaps his best game as a Celtic. Yes, I remember the offensive explosion against Miami last season. I watched it LIVE from press row. Tonight was different. Tonight, Green was the man. He’s been talking about stepping up and being the go-to guy for the Celtics ever since Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett left town and tonight was the first time he really showed he’s capable of doing it.
Unfortunately, it also revealed the ceiling for a team where Jeff Green is “the man.” After giving up the lead late in the fourth, the Celtics put the ball in Green’s hands to get a bucket. Instead, Green got pressured by Tony Allen and Zach Randolph 25 feet from the basket and nearly loses the ball. Saved by a Randolph “kicked ball” violation, Green gets another chance to play hero but has to settle for a long three attempt that clangs harmlessly off the rim. The Celtics could have and should have gotten something better. If Green is going to be the “go-to” guy, he needs to have more in his arsenal than just being able to elevate over opponents for a long, semi-contested jump shot.
Aside from Green beginning to establish himself as a “go-to” guy, the Celtics get solid play from their shooting/point guard positions. Courtney Lee is continuing his redemption tour with another strong, all around game. Meanwhile, Jordan Crawford provided some necessary scoring and assists.
For as well as the Celtics guards played, there were times where the C’s front court looked completely overmatched by Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. This is ultimately okay. The Grizzlies have some of the best front court players in the game.
The end result: Celtics are 0-4 on this young season and are not making the “win now” folks any happier; most notably Gerald Wallace.