Just like Monday night against Dallas, the Boston Celtics unraveled after halftime. Pointless possessions, lack of effort, turnovers galore, getting beat in transition… all that was missing from Monday night’s loss was Dirk Nowitzki making Brian Scalabrine his son.
Older and more experienced than the Detroit Pistons, Boston should have been the team executing down the stretch. Instead, the wheels fell off as a Detroit zone defense completely took the Celtics out of their comfort zone.
If the sight of Charlie Villanueva in a mask and headband wasn’t enough to make you cringe, the C’s second-half performance certainly was. As the Celtics threw ball after ball to the wrong team, an eight-point halftime lead disintegrated into thin air. Against a zone defense, ball movement and quick cutters are essential. But the Celtics were content to stand mostly in the same spot and rely on dribble penetration. Instead of working to get good shots and beat the zone for easy looks, Boston was happy to play lazy, aimless basketball.
For the Celtics, Rajon Rondo led the way with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Paul Pierce also had 21 points, but only four after the third quarter. Kendrick Perkins was a sorry excuse for a big man, gobbling up only four rebounds in over 35 minutes played. Ray Allen was similarly bad, with only 8 points on 3-10 shooting in 34 minutes. And the bench? Don’t even ask about them; they were outscored 43-12 by their Detroit counterparts.
The leader for Detroit’s great bench performance was Villanueva. Despite the not-so-attractive look consisting of a headband wrapped over his facemask, Villanueva (19 points) earned a little bit of the $40 million contract that had me scratching my head. He and Rodney Stuckey (27 points) hit all the big shots to help keep the Celtics on the canvas after the Celtics helped knock themselves down.
For the Celtics, a light of hope remains at the end of the tunnel that the last couple weeks have become. And his name is Kevin Garnet. If ever there were to be a true test of Garnett’s value to a basketball team, it would be his return from injury on Friday night.
It couldn’t come at a better time for Boston, struggling to regain its identity during a 4-8 stretch that has many Bostonians hitting the panic button.