Celtics drop Game 2 to Sixers
The Celtics lost game two Monday night and with it, home-court advantage for the series.
It was another ugly game (are we beginning to see a pattern here?) that came down to the wire. Once again the Celtics relied on getting defensive stops to make up for their offensive ineptitude.
The worst thing about this Celtics offense is that you get the feeling it could actually be decent if it was clicking on all cylinders, which it never quite seems to be. The exception to this is of course Game 4 last series, when the Celtics cruised to 64 points by halftime en route to a 101-79 shellacking against the same Hawks team that held them to just 86 points 48 hours later. Oh, how quickly things can change.
Remember Rajon Rondo’s first game of the playoffs, when he shot 10 of 18 from the field, including 5 of 8 from beyond 10 feet? The team needed Rondo in that one, as they shot 39 percent as a whole and scored just 74 points. In the midst of that opening loss, there was optimism that Rondo would be able to produce consistently for this team when his veteran counterparts struggled.
But even as Rondo has tallied a combined 19 rebounds and 30 assists in the first two games against Philadelphia, he hasn’t found his shot and, perhaps more importantly, he appears afraid to get to the free throw line where he has struggled his entire career. In Rondo’s seven playoff games this year, he has attempted just 11 free throws, including none on Monday. He needs to recognize that his offense isn’t performing and do what every other above average point guard in the league can do; make plays with his aggressiveness.
Remember Paul Pierce’s game two last round, when he dropped 36? The points came easy for Paul then, but a knee sprain and Andre Iguodala’s suffocating defense have changed all that. Pierce remains the player to watch in this series, but has hit just five of the twenty shots he has taken in the first two games. In spurts last round he could carry the offense, but unless that knee heals or Iguodala punches a fire extinguisher before the next game, it appears others will have to step up.
That leads us to Kevin Garnett. Garnett has been a force dating back to the final game against the Hawks, when he scored 28 effortless points on 19 shots. He seems to be the only Celtic in this series who can score efficiently, which means he should be taking around 20 shots a game (and that’s a conservative number). He took just 12 shots last night, which seems puzzling. Even if he is scoring 30 a night, he needs help.
Ray Allen had a promising game Monday, and it seems his ankle injury is going to allow him random nights where he can be his usual self. His team high 17 points were crucial when Avery Bradley re-injured his shoulder, but I still get the feeling I’d rather have Bradley on the court to match the 76ers quickness and athleticism late in games.
Individual performances aside, the Celtics just never seem to be all there. One thing you learn watching athletes in their mid to late 30’s go through full NBA seasons is that some nights they have it and some they simply do not. That’s going to make for a longer series than some would like against this eighth seeded Philadelphia squad, but it is the way things have gone in Boston the last couple of years.