During one possession, Jordan Farmar spent three seconds calling for the ball, turned around to the Nets bench, presumably to complain about not getting the ball, finally received a pass, easily drove to the hoop right by Jermaine O’Neal and missed a wide open layup. Except for the “easily drove to the hoop” part, that possession perfectly symbolized the 2011-12 New Jersey Nets — or at least the Deron Williams-, Brook Lopez- and Kris Humphries-less Nets the Celtics beat tonight, 89-70.
The Celtics spent the first half trying to match New Jersey mistake for mistake, but emerged from halftime with a focus that had been non-existent for the first 24 minutes. After Paul Pierce hit two consecutive three-pointers to give Boston a 55-44 lead, it was evident that New Jersey’s hopes of winning were shattered in a million pieces. The remainder of the game only served to prove that a starting lineup consisting of Sundiata Gaines, Damion James, MarShon Brooks (a talent), Shelden Williams (not much of a talent) and the termite-infested, almost-functional body of Mehmet Okur will not win very many NBA basketball games.
– In case you thought I was going to kill Danny Ainge about trading MarShon Brooks for JaJuan Johnson on draft night, think again. Johnson’s going to be an All-Star in three years. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.
– Speaking of brief moments that describe a player perfectly: During one of Avery Bradley’s first possessions on the court, he hounded Farmar into wasting 15 seconds just dribbling at the top of the key. Then he fouled Farmar with nine seconds left on the shot clock, the Celtics got the ball after the free throws, Bradley airballed a pull-up jumper, unfathomably got the ball again after the Celtics grabbed an offensive rebound and bricked a corner three.
– Bradley also had his dribble picked by Marshon Brooks and threw one pass directly into Brooks’ hands.
– This might be a good time to mention that Bradley entered tonight dead last among NBA guards in at least two major ratings of offensive production.
– This might also be a good time to mention this:
I had something really sarcastic to say about this tweet that began with, “I’m not even saying Trags is wrong. He’s probably right. But here was Bradley’s stat line:” and ended with “If that’s the BEST game he’s played so far, maybe he doesn’t deserve a freaking rotation spot.”
But then Bradley produced during the fourth quarter, even crossing over Jordan Farmar at one point, and ended with a respectable 11 points, two assists, two steals and two turnovers on 4-8 shooting, sending my best laid plans to shit.
– In a related note, E’Twaun Moore still hasn’t played a meaningful minute this season. He (like Bradley) looked good in garbage time.
– I often discuss his shortcomings, but seriously, if Bradley ever developed a halfway decent offensive game, he’d be freaking awesome. Also, my “freaking” to sentence ratio is off the charts.
– The Celtics gave up exactly 35 points in each half. I know it was against the Nets, but still.
– With 6:04 remaining in the third quarter, Rondo up faked on a jumper, got Sundiata Gaines to bite, leaned in and drew the foul. The play was notable for two reasons.
1) Defenders now actually contest Rondo’s jumpers on occasion.
2) Rondo is more willing to shoot free throws this season. He won’t necessarily make them very more often, but he’s more willing. That’s important.
– Seeing Shelden Williams miss a layup sent me deep into thoughts of his NBA Finals performance against the Lakers, which sent me into full-body convulsions and a near-seizure. Seeing Williams have eight points and seven rebounds in the first half reminded me that he was actually pretty good for his first half-season in Boston.
– Jermaine O’Neal picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and got a lot of rest the remainder of the night. That’s probably good for his chances of playing a decent game against Indiana on Friday.
– Chris Wilcox and Greg Stiemsma are far better as a backup center tandem than I ever imagined. Both did some good things tonight. Both are also far from perfect, my serious bout with Stiemsma fever notwithstanding.
– Paul Pierce doesn’t exactly struggle to score, does he?
– Get better soon, Ray.
– Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett both had VERY easy double-doubles and Boston won the rebounding battle 45-34. I imagine that had something to do with playing Mehmet Okur (remember when he was an All-Star?), Shelden Williams and Johan Petro.
– Can somebody donate a bucket to Marquis Daniels tonight? Poor guy couldn’t get anything to fall. Normally a solid finisher, he must have missed four or five layups.
And lastly, I leave you with the lasting image of Vince Wilfork and some teenager (possibly Wilfork’s son?) who accidentally wandered into Michael Sweetney’s closet. (courtesy of Chris Forsberg)