“If he played that to bank it on, I’ll give him a thousand bucks.” — Tommy Heinsohn
If tonight’s game had ended after the first quarter, I would have peacefully spent my night dreaming of sky rockets in flight. The Celtics shot something like 124% that quarter, and looked like a team set to take care of business rather than coast during the second night of a back to back.
But NBA games have four quarters (earth-shattering news), and the Celtics weren’t up to playing well in each of them. So it was that the Celtics missed 1,359 easy fourth-quarter shots, John Wall’s banked three broke their hearts, and Paul Pierce missed his shot — a routine stepback jumper — that would have won the game.
Sadly and excitingly (both at the same time), the Wizards remind me of the 2006-2007 Boston Celtics. They stink, and they look completely lost at most times, and they may or may not have the same basketball intelligence as my dumbass JV high school team. But if you squint your eyes hard enough, you could convince yourself they have talent worthy of acquiring a superstar.
The 2006 C’s had Gerald Green; the Wizards have JaVale McGee. The 2006 C’s had Tony Allen; the Wizards have Nick Young. The 2006 C’s had Rondo; the Wizards have Wall. The 2006 C’s had Al Jefferson; the Wizards have, umm, Yi Jianlian? Okay, so the comparison isn’t perfect. But these Wizards, like those Celtics, are young, dumb and talented.
Moving on, John Wall makes Rajon Rondo look slow. Not slow like Brian Scalabrine, but slow like Rondo normally makes opponents look. It’s a little disconcerting to see a point guard blow past Rondo like he’s a mere mortal, but Wall’s not exactly human. He’s tall, long and fast, like a cheetah with the basketball. And when he gets a full head of steam — or, even sometimes when he doesn’t — Wall can make Rondo look like an average athlete.
Of course, basketball isn’t all about who’s faster, or who can jump higher, or who would win an arm wrestling match. If it were, JaVale McGee might be the greatest player ever to walk the earth. At this stage in their careers, Rondo simply understands the point guard position in ways Wall can’t yet fathom. To be fair to Wall, Rondo understands the position like few others do, and Wall is only a rookie still undergoing a learning process. But I was struck tonight by how advanced Rondo’s knowledge of basketball is, when compared to a young wonderkid like Wall. Rondo has mastered quantum physics, and Wall’s still in freshman bio. That’s not to say Wall won’t become a master physicist himself one day — he’s on the honors track. But for now, Rondo thinks on an entirely different level.
Not that it matters. On this night, despite a stellar rebounding effort from Semih Erden, the Celtics weren’t meant to win. Or maybe they were meant to win, but decided not to try after the first quarter. Either way, a loss to the Washington Wizards is a loss to the Washington Wizards.
My dreams about sky rockets in flight will have to wait for another day.