For a long time, I thought tonight’s game was irredeemable. There was no way the Celtics could make me sit through THAT much vomit-inducing play, and still leave me smiling by the end of the night. What I didn’t count on was a game-winning alley-oop from Rajon Rondo to Kevin Garnett. Doc Rivers, would you please take a bow?
As scintillating as the alley-oop was (and, really, the final two or three minutes were terrific television), tonight went pretty much as badly as a win possibly could have. I entered the night with two hopes: 1) Win an easy blowout, and 2) afford Rajon Rondo plenty of rest. So, naturally, the Celtics played a nail biter (at least they won) and Rondo played more than 47 minutes (at least he dominated). Minutes after the game, I’m still trying to figure out how the Sixers left Ray Allen wide open in the final minute. He’s only a month or so from becoming the most prolific three-point shooter in NBA history, guys.
It’s a testament to the Celtics’ talent and depth that we expect more (we expect a blowout, against Philly) even when the Celtics’ top three centers all sit out. In the middle, the Celtics were down to fourth-stringer Semih Erden and undersized power forward Glen Davis. When both got into early foul trouble, Marquis Daniels and Paul Pierce were forced into power forward duty. Still, even if Nate Robinson was playing center and my 12-year old brother were playing power forward, the C’s should have outrebounded Spencer Hawes and co. I’m coaching high school JV basketball this season, and I’m 100% positive my team would have outrebounded the Sixers. And our starting center can’t even jump and touch the rim.
Speaking of my JV squad, I spent today’s practice being mighty frustrated. We were practicing our defensive principles, the same way we have each day for the two weeks since practice began. Except today, the players decided to play like they hadn’t listened to a single thing we’ve taught them. “Basket line? What’s that?”, one player honestly asked me. To which I responded, “Umm, the same thing I’ve been teaching you about for two weeks, you stupid little shit.”
Okay, so I didn’t actually call one of my players a stupid little shit. I just wish I had. I really pulled him aside and explained, quite nicely and patiently, what basket line was. But inside I was heated. My players knew what they were supposed to be doing. They’ve been improving defensively every day since the start of tryouts. They simply chose today to throw a stinkbomb of epic proportions, and to pretend like they didn’t remember a God damn thing. What’s basket line? Seriously? Are you shitting me? I got home from practice today and spent twenty minutes complaining about my players’ defense. And nobody but me was even home. I was just sitting in my kitchen, mumbling to my dogs about this missed rotation, and that lack of hustle. I was a wreck.
THAT was kind of how I felt throughout most of tonight’s game. The Celtics forget what basket line was. They lost their defensive scruples. They pissed me off. But unlike my guys, who kept right on screwing up all practice, the Celtics left a good taste in my mouth at the end of the night.
In other news, did you see Kevin Garnett stick with Andre Iguodala in an isolation? Because I did. I also saw Glen Davis play inspired basketball; Paul Pierce get crossed over in crunch time; Nate Robinson heat up for a little while; Von Wafer play some pretty decent minutes; and the Celtics shoot 56% on a bad night. Oh yeah, and Jodie Meeks did his thang. Do not give that man space.
The win streak now stands at nine, and somehow, someway, I actually came away from that mess in a happy mood.
P.S. — For all you Luuuuuuukkkkkeeee fans, if Harangody couldn’t play meaningful minutes tonight (with three centers injured and Marquis Daniels playing the four), he never will. At the very least, not for a long, long time.