The Boston Celtics couldn’t make a shot, but neither could the Indiana Pacers. Then the Celtics finally started hitting, but the Pacers had already established a lead and the basket began to open up for them, too. The Celtics scored 30 points in the third quarter, establishing an offensive pace and flow at last, but the Pacers matched their 30 points and Doc Rivers’ team was effectively “running on a treadmill,” as Paul Pierce noted afterward.
It was ugly, but not the most hideous game any of the Celtics had ever played in.
“No, I’ve seen everything,” Keyon Dooling told the Boston Herald. “I was a Net.”
By the time George Hill scored eight points in less than 2:30 during the early fourth quarter, the Celtics were within shouting distance but had shown very few signs that they would scrap to survive. It was a game when the Celtics were outworked, outrebounded, out-shot and out-classed. Had Ray Allen not continued to throw rim-seeking missiles like he has done all season, the Celtics might not have outscored the TD Garden hot dog vendors.
“Both teams set offense back 50 years. It was awful to watch,” said Doc Rivers (via WEEI). “Offensively we were horrible. The ball stuck the entire night. They were up into our airspace. The fought us all night. They knocked us off the block. They were the instigators the entire night and all we did was whine and retaliate.”
Whine, retaliate and miss shots. Paul Pierce shot 3-17. Brandon Bass was 2-7. The Celtics needed a hot second half just to reach 39.4 percent shooting. It led to their fourth loss this season, the third time this year Boston has played a winning opponent and the third time the Celtics have lost.
“Well, we’re 0-for against quality opponents,” said Rivers (via ESPN Boston). “But again, it’s eight games into the year, so I’m not going to overdo that.”
What he does want the Celtics to know is that they are what their record says they are. History doesn’t amount to anything. A 2008 title and an appearance in the 2010 Finals will do nothing for Boston’s playoff seeding, nor will those previous successes give the Celtics a 1-0 head start in any postseason series. The Celtics are prideful and they can fondly recall many conquests of recent seasons, but so far this year they are a .500 ball club that has beaten just the Washington Wizards, New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons, three clubs that figure to have decent lottery chances when the pinballs are unlocked this summer.
“Listen, we’re a 4-4 basketball team. That’s what we are,” said Rivers (via ESPN Boston). “You are what your record is; Don’t make no mistake about that. I mean, one of the guys said, ‘Hey, that’s alright, we’re better than that.’ And I said, ‘No we’re not. You’re what your record says you are. And you always have the ability to do something about that.’ But right now, Indiana’s a 5-2 team and we’re a 4-4 team. And make no mistake: That’s who we are. That’s not who we want to be, and that’s not who we’re going to be, hopefully, but right now that’s who we are.”
For now, it’s back to the practice court, a concept that has been oddly foreign to the Celtics so far this season. Due to the quicker pace of the lockout-induced schedule, the Celtics have hardly had any time to work out as a team. Four days off after between last night’s game and Wednesday’s meeting with the Dallas Mavericks will finally afford Boston to return to the practice court and begin refining the flaws they’ve revealed early this season. The team will not reassemble as a unit until Monday, but should then have two full days of practice to begin gluing together the team’s cracks. (ESPN Boston)
“[The break] will give us a chance to get some good practice time in,” said Pierce. “I haven’t had any practice this year, so it’ll be good for me to get back in and refreshed with some of the things we’re doing. Add to our playbook, which we haven’t been able to do because of our lack of practice, plus it’ll be a good rest for us. We’re playing every other day, so get our feet back up under us and regroup and get back on next week.”
“We know it’s early in the season and we’re trying to strive to get better,” he said. “We know we’re not at where we want to be, regardless if we won four games straight. It’s about building, it’s about getting better through the course of the season and we know we’re not playing our best basketball, even in the wins. It’s going to take some time for us to really get acclimated. With more practice time, maybe add Mickael Pietrus into the mix next week sometime, I think he’ll help us out a lot. But we’re a long way from where we want to be, but we have plenty of time in the season.”