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Celtics Report Card: Three Strikes and You’re Out

Rajon Rondo hides behind his jersey in anticipation of the terrible grades he and the Celtics will receive after going 0-3 last week. (AP/Yahoo Sports)

On Wednesday night, the Boston Celtics let a home game slip away against the then 8-22 Detroit Pistons. Strike one.

The next night, the C’s couldn’t manage to replicate their Sunday afternoon performance against the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls, losing 89-80 and allowing Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer 23 points each and a combined 60 percent shooting. Strike two.

Finally, Boston couldn’t even avenge Wednesday’s despicable loss to the Pistons, falling on the road by double digits between 22 turnovers and 31 fewer free throw attempts than Detroit. Swing and a miss, strike three. A classic Carl Crawford at-bat, with the terrible-shooting Pistons playing the proverbial third-strike pitch in the dirt..

So with that 0-3 record in mind, let’s see how the Celtics graded out this past week. (Hint: Not well.)

Starting Backcourt: C-

Rajon Rondo tried to shoulder the scoring load in the first two games, dropping 35 and 17, but he needed 27 and 17 shots to get there. His scoring also came at the expense of distributing the ball and jump-starting the rest of the offense. Then Rondo all but no-showed in Detriot, with just five points and 10 assists offset by six turnovers.

Ray Allen‘s stat lines didn’t even look impressive on the surface. He never shot over 50 percent, posting +/- differentials of +1, -7, and -17 in three games. Ruh roh, Ray-Ray.

Starting Frontcourt: C-

As the Celtics’ main offensive force (or Force), Paul Pierce went to the dark side this week. He accrued all of 10 points on Wednesday, then earned a definitive loss in his matchup against Deng. He did muster a half-decent performance in the Detroit rematch. I guess “C” stands for captain.

In his one game this week, Kevin Garnett put up a solid double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds), although he couldn’t contain Boozer or Joakim Noah on the defensive end. At least his absence for both Detroit contests with a sore hip gives the Celtics some semblance of an excuse: “We never would have lost if our ancient power forward who can only play for five minutes at a time had been on the floor!”

At least Jermaine O’Neal showed up on Sunday, blocking five shots and hauling in 11 rebounds. He sure knows how to make the most of his fouls, too, using all but four of his 18 hacks over the three games.

Bench Backcourt: D

The bench emptied on Sunday as eight players saw minutes off the bench. Avery Bradley and Keyon Dooling, the only players with meaningful minutes, had almost no real impact. On the bright side, Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic, and E’Twaun Moore all managed to have positive point differentials in garbage time! Woohoo!

Just know you’re one week away from a straight-up “F,” Celtics backcourt reserves.

Bench Frontcourt: D+

Chris Wilcox has turned out to be a good pick-up in free agency, filling in ably for Garnett in a starting role (two games with double-digit scoring) and holding his own off the bench. That he was our only significant offseason acquisition for a team that is now no better than .500 makes me very, very sad.

Mickael Pietrus made one field goal this week. Awesome.

As much as JaJuan Johnson seems able to run with Rondo in the open court and knock down medium- to long-range jumpers, he certainly has a steep learning curve on defense that he’s struggling to keep up with. At least that’s what I’m sensing watching Doc Rivers light into Johnson every game for missing a rotation and seeing opposing power forwards take his lunch money off his skinny little frame in the low post.

While it may be true that Greg Stiemsma pulled off his warm-ups, I think this has been depressing enough already without addressing the miserable failures of the second coming of Bill Russell.

Coaching: C

I guess it doesn’t matter what sort of adjustments you make for a home-and-home when your players turn the ball over 22 times in the second game. At least Doc had the wherewithal to concede the game in Detroit and empty the bench to save his starters a little bit.

You know you’re in trouble as a Celtics fan when that’s your positive takeaway from the past week.

About Nick Bohlen - @ndbohlen

Nick is an editor and regular contributor for the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox sections of SoB. (Despite growing up in Vermont, just a short drive from Canada, hockey never really caught on with him.) Follow him on twitter: @ndbohlen

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