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On Auto-Pilot, Celtics Fall to Wizards

Shaun Livingston -- Copyright 2010 NBAE  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

No, Doc Rivers was not on auto-pilot. He tried steering the Celtics to victory (I think), and played all his starters for a good amount of minutes. In fact, three of them (Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce) played over 30 minutes…so how does that explain the 10-point loss to the Wizards (and 21-point halftime deficit) on Friday night at the Garden? Well, it kind of does explain it.

All members of the not-so-Big Three were ice cold, and if that happens against good teams in the playoffs, then the Celtics have no chance of advancing. Kevin Garnett finished with eight points on 3-12 shooting, Paul Pierce continued his cold streak with a 9-point (4-12) performance, and Ray Allen didn’t fair much better with his 10 -point (4-11) effort. Add in Andray Blatche’s 31 points and 11 rebounds, and the Wizards earned an easy 106-96 win.

Nate Robinson made it interesting, however, late in the fourth after hitting three consecutive three-pointers to make it a six-point game with just over a minute to go. After hitting a layup to make it 99-93 with less than a minute to go, Robinson missed three more threes and the Wizards survived another furious comeback attempt. Earlier this season on March 7, the Celtics rallied for an 86-83 win over Washington after trailing for most of the game.

Celts Kneed to Learn From Livingston

OK, bad play on words, but you get the point. If you don’t remember Shaun Livingston’s story, Livingston was the fourth overall pick out of high school in 2004 and was destined for big things in the pros…until he completely tore his ACL in one of the most disgusting injuries you’ll ever see.

Livingston has survived two 10-day contracts and has since been signed for the rest of the season with Washington. On Friday against the Celts, you would never know he was ever injured, as he finished with 25 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.

The Celtics can learn from him. Livingston is playing his heart out for a new contract and beginning. When’s the last time you felt the Celtics tried their hardest to win a game? To me, it seems like they’re just coasting down the hill to the playoffs.

“I don’t think we really played with any toughness against this Washington Wizards team that has been struggling all year long,” said Paul Pierce.

Exactly, Paul. Speaking of Pierce…

Plus/Minus Problem

No, this isn’t hockey we’re talking about. A growing trend in the NBA is to take a look at a player’s time spent on the court, and how his team fared versus the opponent. The Celtic with worst rating was none other than Paul Pierce, our favorite ice cold superstar. With Pierce (-15) on the floor, the Celtics were outscored by 15 points!

On the other end, the Celtics had only one player in double digits on the positive side of the stat: Shelden Williams (+15). Yes, the player Doc refused to play for five months leads the team in this category. Now, I’ll also acknowledge that most of his +/- rating was compiled when he was in garbage time when the C’s scored 42 points in the fourth quarter alone.

Moving Forward

With the loss, the Celtics sit at 49-30, and could realistically finish below 50 wins. After winning 66 two years ago and 62 last year, who saw that drop in the win column coming? This group got old.

Next up for the C’s is a date with the Bogut-less Bucks on Saturday night in a possible first round playoff preview.

About KC Downey - @kc_downey

KC is the "head coach" of the Sports of Boston, LLC blog network. Follow him on Twitter: @kc_downey

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