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The Celtics were also flat-out flattened by the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, losing by 32 with first place in the Atlantic division on the line. To be fair, though, any cynical Celtics fan could have penciled penned in a loss on the road against a young, athletic Philly team on the second night of a back-to-back. For both grading and emotional purposes, I’m pretty much going to just write that one off.
Boston did manage a sloppy overtime win against the Houston Rockets and a trouncing of the Portland Trail Blazers at the TD Garden, but wouldn’t it be nice to see your team get up for bigger and more meaningful games? Is that really too much to ask?
Sigh. Probably. So let’s see my grades for the Celtics this past week.
Rajon Rondo didn’t see many minutes between the two blowouts against Philadelphia and Portland (54 minutes in two games), so his numbers skewed a little low as a result. Rondo did overcome a slow start against the Lakers to boast 24 points and 10 assists, and he made 3-of-4 free throws, so I can’t pin that loss on him.
Discounting the game against the Sixers like I threatened I would do, Ray Allen averaged 20 points per game this week. He didn’t shoot particularly well against the Lakers, which was a little disappointing since the reanimated corpse of Derek Fisher guarded him most of the game. Still, the Celtics will need him to be more involved in the offense moving forward.
With the way Paul Pierce shot on Sunday (4-of-14), he would have been more at home in the Big East championship than in the Staples Center. He dropped 30 on the Rockets and 22 on the Trail Blazers, but it’s safe to say I really only cared about Sunday’s game (Seriously, 1-3 with a win over the Lakers would have been preferable to .500 without a signature win).
Brandon Bass didn’t have the best shooting week outside of L.A. (38 percent before arriving at Staples) – kind of hypocritical of me considering I just said I only truly cared about the Lakers game. I guess that just means I’m using any excuse to be pessimistic this week. Oh well. Speaking of which, I’m also going to dock Bass for missing that open jumper to give the Celtics a lead with less than a minute, even though he shot 7-of-12 overall for 15 points. I’m just in that kind of mood.
Speaking of moods: Kevin Garnett! He passed Shaquille O’Neal for twelfth all-time in rebounding, and had two more double-doubles. Against Los Angeles, Garnett shot well (7-of-11), especially to start the game when he was the only Celtic who could hit the broadside of a barn (3-for-3 in the first, versus a combined 3-for-21 from his teammates). But he couldn’t handle Andrew Bynum down low, giving up 20 points and 14 boards to the Lakers’ center.
Trying to watch the Celtics’ second-unit run the offense against the Lakers could not have been more painful. With Keyon Dooling and Avery Bradley in the backcourt, the Celtics scored eight points in the first 6:30 of the second quarter. When Rondo and Allen re-entered the game for those two, the Celtics dropped 20 points in the remaining 5:28.
With Wilcox absent and Jermaine O’Neal already out, that left the C’s with Greg Stiemsma and JaJuan Johnson as the only big men to sub in for two games. Gulp. Johnson saw only garbage time this week, but Stiemsma had to play some significant minutes against the combined 14 feet of Bynum and Pau Gasol. He held his own, grabbing four rebounds and blocking three shots in 14 minutes, even nailing a 20-footer. He also went 0-for-9 against Portland. Kind of offsetting stat lines, no?
I’m glad Doc Rivers gave his starters some rest against Philly and Portland, especially since he leaned on them so heavily in the other two games (seeing as he has no bench anymore). I’d have liked to have seen a better play drawn up for the game-tying shot on Sunday, but Rivers ran some other great plays off timeouts (the Bass shot comes to mind). Kudos for getting his team back on track with a romp before the road trip, though.