The Philadelphia 76ers entered tonight averaging 83 points per game. “Never fear!” said the Celtics, who allowed them to score 106 points and crush their season high of 88. The Celtics had a horrendous second quarter (which I should be used to by now) where they were outscored 34-25 and spent the rest of the game playing catch-up. While the Celtics outscored the 76ers in the 3rd and 4th quarters (encouraging), they weren’t able to dig themselves out of the hole and fell right back under .500. Oh, and like the Wizards the 76ers were missing two key players (Jason Richardson and Andrew Bynum). Here are a few observations from tonight:
- There’s a problem at the shooting guard position. Courtney Lee came out and got three quick buckets and then disappeared for the rest of the game. Jason Terry only had one shot until the end of the third quarter when he came alive to finish with 13 points on 5-7 shooting. There’s nothing wrong with either of their stat-lines, but for two quarters the Celtics got virtually nothing from their shooting guard. That said, Terry played very well at both ends of the floor, but he needs to be involved earlier and more often.
- Pierce was busting his ass out there. The Captain finished with 24 points, four rebounds, and five assists while hustling on defense including some full-court pressure. I continue to get the impression that both he and Garnett are playing with a sense of urgency, especially down the stretch. This is encouraging, because the Celtics aren’t just playing down the competition, and worrying, because we’re 2-3 and our two wins are against the Wizards.
- Wilcox continued to be my hero. He still appears to be the only legitimate big behind Garnett at the center position, and it looked like he and Rondo have started to rekindle some of last year’s chemistry. Scal made a really important point before the game on why Wilcox is so important to the rotation: the other Celtics bigs (Garnett, Bass, and sometimes Jeff Green) are primarily pick-and-pop players. Wilcox is more of a pick-and-roll guy, he cuts to the basket and forces the defense to collapse on him, which in turn opens up the offense for Rondo. In some ways it reminds me of what Avery Bradley did last year with his backdoor cuts, Wilcox’s off-ball movement is a great boon for a point guard like Rondo and his hustle is infectious.
- Missed free throws were huge down the stretch. The Celtics missed nine over the course of the game, a good chunk of which came during crunch time. The upside is that the Celtics actually got to the line at all, they led the 76ers with 31 attempts to Philadelphia’s 23. Still, you can’t help but think that if they had made a few more of those they might have pulled off the comeback.
- Y’all already know why I think Jeff Green is struggling.
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