Trailing by 17 points early in the fourth quarter, the Boston Celtics needed every stop they could get. Just as the doctor ordered, the San Antonio Spurs went cold, tallying five successive missed field goals. The only problem? They snatched their own rebound on every single miss.
The parade of San Antonio offensive rebounds was one of the many warning signs that flashed like a neon light in a midnight sky: the Celtics weren’t playing their hardest.
To be fair to San Antonio, the Celtics started the game with great purpose and energy. Manu Ginobili and the rest of the Spurs simply beat it out of them, one well-executed possession at a time. Ginobili was nothing short of magical. He seems to have regained the bravado, creativity, and explosiveness that make him one of the league’s most-feared crunch-time killers, and nobody the Celtics put in his way could stop him, or even slow him down. He finished with 28 points and 7 assists, but not even those gaudy stats could describe his impact on the game. Were it not for a few rare misses of wide open three-pointers, Ginobili might have gone for 35 or 36. He did what he pleased, when he pleased, and banked home a 27-foot, running, one-handed floater to beat the third quarter buzzer and firmly secure the final nail in the Celtics’ coffin.
Ginobili’s exploits helped to slow down a Celtics attack that, for the game’s opening minutes, looked poised for another respectable win. Paul Pierce was attacking the rim, Kevin Garnett was active, and the ball was hopping from one Celtic to another like a hot potato. But a troublesome second quarter left Boston down one point heading into the halftime breather, and the third quarter would get no better. Actually, it would get far worse. By the time Ginobili pumped his fist in celebration of his banked runner, the Spurs led by 17 and the Celtics might as well have headed home.
Even from the shoddy defeat, the Celtics could take a few positives. Captain Paul Pierce led the way with 18 points, and a quick scare — by what ESPN announcers deemed a stinger to a nerve somewhere between his neck and right shoulder — did not stop Pierce from being aggressive in getting to the rim, early and often. He seems to have fully regained his confidence and explosion, and looks ready to be the C’s go-to guy for the remainder of the season. Kevin Garnett had his third straight double-double, notching 12 points and 10 rebounds. Shelden Williams played his best minutes in months, finishing with 11 points and an unofficial count of 137 compliments from ESPN announcer Hubie Brown.
But, for the Celtics, there was a lot more to frown upon than there was to be proud of. Not to name names, but Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Glen Davis, Michael Finley, and Nate Robinson a few Celtics might as well have stayed home. The game served as a reminder that, while the C’s have come a long way from the team that struggled to a 18-19 record during a 37-game midseason stretch, they still have a ways to go until they are capable of raising another banner.
- George Hill has quickly become far better than I ever thought he’d be. He possesses an impressive blend of length, athleticism, and skill, and is certainly a player to watch in the coming years. He still needs to learn not to send nude pics to any girlfriends.
- Can the Celtics travel back in time and sign Antonio McDyess instead of Rasheed Wallace?
- Tim Duncan didn’t do much, but he’s such a team-oriented player that he hardly cared. As much as he and Garnett are polar opposites, they’re very similar in the way they would sacrifice every single statistic for a win.
- Finley didn’t do much to prove Gregg Popovich wrong.
- Can someone amputate my ACL’s so I can become an unbelievable offensive rebounder?
- Kendrick Perkins, nursing a sore left knee due to tendinitis, did not play. Doc Rivers said he is likely for Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.