As the Boston Celtics close out this season each game makes their game plan more clear. Apparently it is quitting time in Boston. The Celtics have given up on the regular season down to a man including coach Doc Rivers. The old men want their rest and the trade that sent shock waves through the team is being used a crutch to explain the team’s poor play. How else do you explain holding the Atlanta Hawks to 36% and losing 88-83? How does a team shoot 36%, have their two best players (Joe Johnson and Josh Smith) combine for 7-27 from the field and beat the defending Eastern Conference champions? Well let me explain:
- Once again the offense went stagnant. Boston scored 31 points in the 2nd half and shot 11-20 from the free throw line. A recurring theme in the Celtic play lately is the lack of offense. This is still perplexing when you consider the players acquired in the trade are all better offensive players than the ones that left. Jeff Green was held to 4 points off the bench that only provided a total of 15 points for the game highlighted by Delonte West’s 10.
- Offensive rebounds again killed the Celtics. Atlanta grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to score 18 second chance points. Boston is diminutive in the paint and Rivers continues to deploy Glen Davis out there at center. I understand Jermaine O’neal is working his way back. I understand it was the 2nd night of a back to back. However, Garnett only played 25 minutes and was on the bench much of the 4th quarter when the Celtic lead slipped away. Rivers decided to rest KG instead of sending him in to help stem the offensive rebounding attack of Atlanta. Meanwhile the very average Za Za Pachulia punished the Celitcs tallying 15 points and 10 rebounds for his 3rd double double of the year with 5 offensive rebounds.
- Ray Allen continues to struggle. He managed a respectable 4-9 shooting finishing with 11 points but his body language says “check please”. His defense, which had been better as Celtic, has reverted to years past. He is slow to the ball, aloof on rebounding opportunities, and getting beat regularly on drives to the basket. Jamal Crawford is a talented offensive player and took prime advantage of Ray’s disinterest by scoring 20 points off the Atlanta bench.
And that ladies and gentleman is how the Celtics lost a game in which they held their opponent to 36% shooting while shooting 44% themselves. It has been well documented that this team is supposed to be built for the playoffs. After finishing last season with a 500 record in the final 56 games and still almost winning the championship I think the Celtics have a false sense of entitlement. Yes the Celtics need rest and Rivers is erring on the side of caution. Giving his veterans rest and keeping them healthy is formula that paid dividends last year and Rivers is willing to sacrifice games now for a playoff run that should go well into May/June. However, the Eastern Conference landscape is vastly different from a year ago and the road is more treacherous than ever. I suspect we will see valiant Boston efforts in only two of the remaining 7 games. The Bulls on April 7th, and the Heat on April 10th. Aside from those games look for the team to sleep walk on egg shells while trying to avoid further injury in the other 5 games. The Detroit Pistons are next on Sunday night.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com