That was awful. Like fingernails-scraping-a-chalkboard, burning-your-tongue-on-hot-pizza, getting-dumped-abruptly, essay-due-tomorrow-that-you-just-remembered awful.
Literally every possible thing that could have gone wrong did go wrong. I don’t really feel like running through the list, but I’d be remissed if I didn’t, so here’s the nightmare. It’s almost Halloween, after all:
- Ray Allen looked great for the Heat. Not only did he score 19 points on 5-7 shooting, he got to the line eight times (making seven), he brought the ball up for the Heat pretty consistently without turning it over and he scored on several driving plays. So, all of the ugh.
- Jeff Green can’t stop LeBron James. He can’t contain him. He can’t really do anything besides watch him destroy the world. Neither can Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Bass, Muhammed Ali, Hercules or Buddha. Apparently leg cramps can limit him, though. Let’s not count on those as the season goes on. Oh, and by the way, LeBron is hitting jumpshots, so that’s still a thing.
- Speaking of Jeff Green, he looked every bit the scared, uncomfortable, deer-in-the-headlights player we’ve been seeing for two years.
- I’ll have to review the tape to make sure, but I think Jason Terry missed a million gazillion katrillion shots. Give or take one or two.
- Rondo missed a bunch of jumpers and shot 50% from the free throw line. He also got a dumb technical and a frustration flagrant, neither of which looked particularly leaderly.
- The Celtics lost despite a great game from both Rondo (20-7-13) and Pierce (23 points, 9-9 free throws). They also got good contributions from some role players, as Courtney Lee put up 11 points on 5-6 shooting and Leandro Barbosa scored 16 on 6-8 shooting (he made his first six). And yet, despite a decent offensive performance, the Celtics still really never felt like they had a shot.
- The Celtics ALSO lost despite LeBron missing extended minutes. They made their only run in the 4th quarter after he went back to the locker room, giving Twitter trolls an opportunity to say that the only reason they didn’t lose by 30 was because James sat down and Barbosa went off. Unfortunately, the trolls might actually be right, in this case.
- And finally, most importantly, the defense looked like an enormous, steaming dog turd. Nobody knew when or where to help. KG got beat 1-on-1 consistently. James/Wade/Bosh picked the Celtics apart with a series of backdoor cuts and quick passes. Everybody looked out of sync.
Other than that, things went awesome.
It isn’t time to despair, of course. That would be ridiculous, given the number of new players being integrated into Boston’s complex defensive system. And there are a few positives. For example, despite the terrible defense, Boston IS pretty clearly better offensively. During the fourth quarter run, we saw the fast break potential of a Rondo/Barbosa/Lee lineup. Assuming that Boston does improve defensively (and really, they have to, right?), there is plenty of potential for improvement over last year.
But none of that sounds very comforting right now. Not on a night that saw the Heat get their championship rings. Not on a night that saw Ray Allen exact his revenge. Not on a night that saw a bunch of Boston’s old bad habits refusing to die. Things will improve this season. But whether they can improve enough is still up for debate.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.