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The Silent Stadium: Celtics beat Bobcats 96-86

 

Pictured: Charlotte's raucous crowd.

Beating the Bobcats used to be easy.

Well, no, let’s try that again: Beating the Bobcats used to be easy for most teams. The Celtics, who always seemed physically incapable of beating bad teams by more than five or six points, never seemed to be able to rally enough energy after the first quarter beat the Bobcats easily. Maybe “consistently” is the better word.

So, naturally, the current Celtics (miles worse than the model of the last five years) beat the current Bobcats (noticeably better than the model of the last five years) by double figures. Are the Celtics awful? Are they simply mediocre victims of a very tough schedule to start the season? Is Jordan Crawford this team’s best player (no)? Is Brandon Bass (no)? Is Jared Sullinger (probably, yeah)? This year is so weird.

Anyway, the Bobcats hung tough for much of the game, mostly on the strength of Kemba Walker’s performance, who torched Steez’s mediocre defense for 28 points. But Boston used a fourth-quarter spurt to move to 6-10 on the season and win their second consecutive road game.

Grades after the jump:

 

Boston Celtics 96 FinalRecap | Box Score 86 Charlotte Bobcats
Brandon Bass, PF 38 MIN | 7-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | -9
It would require some pretty serious nitpicking (just five rebounds, for example) to criticize Brandon Bass’ performance through 16 games, and tonight was no exception. Bass shot efficiently and defended well. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Jared Sullinger, PF 28 MIN | 2-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | +5
Sullinger had very little going offensively, but he bothered Al Jefferson out of the paint and forced Charlotte’s big man into taking jumpers (Jefferson was 6-for-14 overall). Big Al has a mid-range game, but the Celtics were well served forcing him into taking jumpers as opposed to using his touch around the basket, and much of that started with Sully, who also grabbed eight rebounds in 28 minutes.
Avery Bradley, PG 9 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -6
Foul trouble limited Bradley’s minutes, poor shooting his productivity. Fortunately, Jordan Crawford had him covered.
Jeff Green, SG 36 MIN | 5-16 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | 0
Green had a couple of aggressive drives and seven rebounds, but he also finished with more shots than points…not for the first time in the last two weeks.
Jordan Crawford, SG 28 MIN | 5-11 FG | 7-7 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | -4
Steez was hot enough to break an egg and cook it on his shooting hand. 5-for-11 from the field overall (nobody cares), Crawford was 4-for-6 from 3-point range including a couple of shots that originated in South Carolina. He also knocked down all of his free throws late to ice the game.
Kris Humphries, PF 16 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +17
Humphries entered the game and did some things, but little of it was notable.
Gerald Wallace, SF 36 MIN | 6-10 FG | 4-7 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +8
Nice of Crash to join the party. Playing against his old squad, Wallace took a season-high 10 field goal attempts, nearly three times his season average.
Vitor Faverani, C 13 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +7
Faverani was 2-for-5 from the field but 1-for-1 on 3-point baskets that annoy the ever-living hell out of the other team.
Phil Pressey, PG 20 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +14
With eight assists and zero turnovers, Pressey looked a lot more like the little point guard we fell in love with at Summer League than the turnover-prone back-up of the past few weeks.
Courtney Lee, SG 15 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +18
Still scoring, still patiently awaiting the phone call informing him of his departure to a contender for a late first-round pick.
MarShon Brooks, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |
Still awaiting the departure of a certain someone to receive minutes.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Since their top scorer is Al Jefferson, the Bobcats love to slow the ball down (28th in the league overall in pace), and that seemed to bother the Celtics in the first quarter. Boston scored just 14 points and never looked comfortable getting into offensive sets. When the Cs were able to push the ball, the game immediately took on a new look offensively.
  2. Few teams have been able to win championships with a point guard as their best player. Operating under those parameters, Kemba Walker may actually be the ideal type of point guard for a contender: An excellent ball-handler and passer who plays with swagger and can score when he needs to while still being the team’s third-best player (and thus not commanding a crippling max salary). That being said, Charlotte is far from contending for a championship since Walker is hands down the team’s second-best player (and might actually be the best, depending on how you feel about Big Al).
  3. The Celtics (!!) trail the 76ers (!!!!!) by half a game for the final playoff spot in the abysmal Eastern Conference, and the Cs are 1.5 games out of FOURTH. This isn’t just a byproduct of the wonky division rules either: The Celtics are actually 1.5 games away from being tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference outright. We are 16 games into the season.
  • CelticsBIG3

    Not really on the topic of this game, but just thinking; Danny Ainge made his best move since acquiring KG in getting rid of him and Pierce. Those guys are looking pretty done out in Brooklyn (which is tremendously sad). Not to mention Jason Kidd sucks as a coach so far. But anyway, nice performance from most of the C's. Outside of Green and Bradley again (why is Bradley taking SO many shots off the dribble? He's making like none of them).

    • ElRoz

      KG and Pierce are not done. Kidd, as you mention, has no idea what to do with them and the rest. Under Doc and with Rondo, KG and Pierce would still contribute well.

      • CelticsBIG3

        I really don't think that KG can contribute at a high level anymore.

    • hax

      They're doing what they can with a rookie coach, and a soul-less fan base. I agree though, the trade is going to seem like a huge victory for the Celtics in years to come. Billy King may get fired for it if the Nets don't turn this around this year. I also like the doc for 1st round pick trade. Brad Stevens has this team playing basketball, instead of 'rest all season, playing 500 ball, get in as a low seed and run old guys for 45 minutes a game.'

    • skeeds

      KG and PP are done being the #1 and #2 options for a contender, that's for sure. But that's not what they went there to do. They were supposed to be options #3 and 4, or 4 and 5. And yet, there they are, trying to carry that team while Deron, Lopez and Kirilenko are out and Kidd has miraculously gone from being the game's most knowledgeable pg to the game's most clueless coach in the span of 3 months…
      In a frontline spearheaded by a healthy Lopez and including Reggie Evans and Andrei Kirilenko, I'm pretty sure KG could still give you the fiercest 20-25 minutes of basketball you could wish for. Not when he's leading the team in minutes though…

  • Glenn

    So Kris Humphries shoots 2 of 4 in 16 minutes, get five rebounds and gets a C. But Faverani gets only 2 rebounds, shoot 2 of 5 in three fewer minutes and gets a B minus? Help a brother understand that one.

    • hydrofluoric

      Humphries was also +17 (!!!) in his limited minutes. CelticsHub writers really don't seem to like him though.

  • The Cardinal

    FYI – Kemba scored a bunch of his points in the 3rd and 4th on Pressey, not Crawford. While Crawford will never be a top defensive specialist (hello, most of the better offensive guards in the league fall in the same category), he did alright, especially in the first half.

  • cos

    long time celts fan here. while I like to see the celtics winning, I do not want them to win this year – tough to swallow but its for the best. so I must ask…

    What the heck is going on?????

    I hated to see PP and KG and Doc go. I understood why it had to happen and a part of me accepts it, but it was uber depressing. The glowing light at the end of the tunnel was the potential top 4 pick in a (supposedly) 7 franchise changing draft (Im not sure if its really 7 as I've only seen the top 3 and trust reports on Exum are correct.)

    In order to get a guaranteed top 4 pick the celts need to have the worst record in the league. Their clearly not on that trend line.

    So am I the only one that things not getting a top 4 pick after trading the heart and soul of the team is a complete waste? if they didn't want to be at the top of the lottery why not just hold on to PP and KG? It makes no sense and is disappointing. I know its a long season but I clearly expect the team to be better at the end of the season than the beginning so losing early really helps the cause.

    • Robert

      The Eastern Conference, as Tom pointed out in the "Three Things We Saw" section, is absolutely awful this year. Miami and Indiana are locks as the top 2 seeds, but damn near every other Eastern team is in the mix for a playoff birth due to their collective mediocrity.

      The Celtics willingly made their team worse this year by trading current stars for future assets. They're trying to be bad this year, but so are bunch of other teams. And then when you add on teams that were supposed to be at least decent, but are floundering (Knicks, Nets, Jazz, Memphis, the now Rose-less Chicago) and the Celts have a whole lot of competition for a top pick.

      As currently constructed, the Celts might actually make the playoffs, which would take them out of the lottery for the top picks. Obviously, that would be a disaster. They might actually win a round if they're matched up against Not-Miami-Or-Indiana, but once they face either of those teams? Forget about it.

      The Celts need to move pieces. They're too good right now. The first and most obvious one is Rajon Rondo. It pains me to say that, since I love watching Rondo play, but he's good enough to swing a number of games by himself. After Rondo, anybody on this team should be in play. We have a bunch of useful role players, key word being "role", but no one that's irreplaceable.

    • JStokes1313

      They're on pace for 30 wins right now, which is right around what was expected for them, maybe a little better/worse depending on how you felt before the season. Other than the Miami win, and maybe Atlanta (I know they're in third and playing well, I still don't know how to feel about them), their other wins have been against teams thought to be equal to or worse than them. The real surprise is how bad Brooklyn, New York, Cleveland, etc have been. I'm not expecting that to continue.

  • CG12

    I'm enjoying this scrappy Celtics team. They clearly lack anything resembling a star talent, but have a lot of guys with useful skill sets. For instance, I really like Gerald Wallace coming off the bench, playing aggressive D, grabbing rebounds and pushing the ball, and generally doing the Gerald Wallace thing. Humphries is a very solid player who would be far better off getting decent minutes as a first or second big off the bench on a contender. He can play D, run the floor, hit a J – he is just on the wrong team right now. Crawford is at his best and worst when in Full Swag Mode. Sullinger is in the process of fulfilling his destiny to be an old-school 15-10 guy who does it with guile and a big ass, rather than jumping out of the gym. Courtney Lee appears to finally being the guy we thought we were getting. Vitor is… just Vitor, I don't even know where to start. One of the few things I hope to see change over the season is to see Olynyk play much more assertively. That guy has serious skills, but is playing more like a processing station than a playmaker. Any way, it is nice to like watching what was never going to be a conventionally successful season.

  • NZNICK33

    As usual, this recap is brought to you by http://www.nomatterwhathedoesitwillnotbeggoodenough.com. Otherwise known as Celticshub’s opinion of Jeff Green.

  • hax

    I don't think Sullinger is the best on the team…
    Rondo, then Green, then Fav-Bass-Sully probably fighting for third. They all have good games.

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