The Celtics don’t beat teams so much as they keep striking them with a plastic knife and hope that at some point, all the slices accumulate to make a deep enough cut for the Celtics to survive. Even when the Celtics seized an 18-point lead during the third quarter, there was always that feeling that a drought would soon arrive and the Jazz would find their way back into the game.
But as the Celtics have made it their habit recently, they kept making those cuts with that plastic knife, and ultimately the Jazz succumbed to Boston’s tireless wave of defense and occasional shot-making. And just for the sake of accuracy, I’ll note that it was Keyon Dooling and Sasha Pavlovic who combined for three monster triples as the Celtics regained control.
— Me while watching Greg Stiemsma play defense tonight (slash just about every night):
“Damn it, he’s letting [insert Utah big man] get an open layup … oh, he recovered just in time to contest … this might actually be good … and … another … block.”
Those times were awesome. But other times — and I’m not complaining here about Stiemsma, who’s been a revelation considering all of Boston’s injuries — Stiemsma missed the block and was then out of position for the resulting rebound. Again, I’m not complaining. I’ll take those occasional miscues as long as Stiemsma continues to pile mountains of blocks (and several more shots altered) on his stat sheet. But there are certain drawbacks to being one of the league’s most shot block-minded individuals.
— The Jazz really tried to post up Gordon Hayward in the first quarter, which made sense because Hayward stands head and shoulder above his initial defender, Avery Bradley. The results weren’t particularly damning for Boston: Hayward hit one tough fadeaway jumper with Bradley contesting and later took advantage when Bradley tried to front the post, waiting for the help defense to arrive before slipping an assist to Derrick Favors. He didn’t do much else. But the problem as it relates to the Celtics? Bradley’s a wonderful defender. But he can be taken advantage of by taller guards. Imagine if Bradley was starting at shooting guard against, say, Kobe Bryant. Then those post touches become lethal.
– Bradley can take advantage of his matchups against taller defenders on the other end, though, especially as his game becomes more refined. On one possession he received a pass at the arc in the right corner, used a strong left-handed dribble to get past Hayward in the lane, drew the defense and left a beautiful feed to Brandon Bass for a wide open jumper. Moments like that aren’t exactly ordinary for Bradley, but could emerge more consistently as his off-the-dribble repertoire develops.
— Kevin Garnett took a charge. This happened. The Big Ticket also pulled the chair out from underneath Al Jefferson during another possession. Old man craftsmanship, indeed.
— I feel bad calling KG an old man. I know he’s been in the NBA for 17 years and he’s probably played more minutes than most of the players who have already retired and been inducted into the Hall of Fame. But old men aren’t supposed to consistently impact both ends of the court the way KG has this season.
— Without checking the statistics too thoroughly, I’m convinced that the Celtics are a better team when Rajon Rondo accrues huge assist totals than they are when he applies more focus on scoring. He would much rather rack up dimes, which means when his teammates are going well, Rondo is, for example, passing up open layups in favor of ridiculous, left-handed, over-the-head passes to Garnett on the perimeter. Whenever Rondo scores more, it’s normally because Boston’s offense has stagnated and he feels the need to give his team a jolt.
I’m with you, I wish he found a perfect balance every night. But I’ll take the huge assist totals, because that normally means Rondo is happy with his team’s offense.
— No type of analysis here whatsoever, but that sequence during which Gordon Hayward had two consecutive blocks at the rim was pretty incredible.
— In case you held out any semblance of optimism, Boston’s rebounding problems are going nowhere. But on a happier note, Brandon Bass did eventually grab a board.