It’s possible that when you are reading this tomorrow, the Boston Celtics will look very different. After all, the current squad didn’t exactly inspire confidence against the Lakers tonight. Dwight Howard abused the Celtics inside, which opened things up for…everyone else. The rebounding situation passed “desperate” a long time ago, the point guard position continues to be a thorn in the side and the bulk of the scoring must be shouldered by two players with 32 combined seasons behind them. Whenever Kevin Garnett sits, the team flounders on both ends, and whenever an opponent applies full-court pressure, the offense is thrown completely out of whack. It’s a tenuous situation at best, a potentially disastrous situation at worst.
It’s also possible that Danny Ainge will sit tight and play out the season with the current roster plus a few additions. Two road losses against teams uniquely built to trouble the Celtics are a cause for concern, but not a reason to panic. The Lakers are big. The Celtics are not. Barring a series of circumstances that would blow the minds of any but the most fool-hardy Laker/Celtic stans, these teams won’t meet again this season. The better question might be “How do the Celtics stack up against other Eastern Conference opponents, and how can they improve that?” Getting bigger might not be the answer.
We can’t know what Danny is thinking. Which, in itself, is almost more terrifying.
Oh yeah, a game happened tonight, and it sucked. The Lakers were likely to come out strong, since they were re-starting their season (for the 178th time), and since they had a little extra motivation after the passing of long-time owner Jerry Buss. After LA dropped 36 points in the first quarter, the Celtics never really got close again, making the score more respectable in garbage minutes.
I don’t have many thoughts (or a ton of time, since West Coast games are rough on Eastern/Central time zone viewers), but here are some bullet points:
- I’m not a fan of the Hack-A-Howard strategy. If Howard hits one free throw, he has converted one point per possession. The Celtics average 91.2 possessions per game, and 0.96 points per possession, which means that an opponent with 1 PPP would, on average, win. If it’s a choice between Howard getting an easy layup and Howard getting two free throws, by all means hack away. But if it’s a choice between legitimately attempting to defend and giving up a foul, I would choose the former every time.
- Pierce was amazing in the first half, less amazing in the second. But the Lakers opened up a big lead early in the second, and he was pretty obviously the focus of their defense after the break. As several people pointed out on Twitter, the irony of Pierce having a “Don’t trade me, Danny” game near the trade deadline is that he actually probably increased his trade value. This time of year sucks.
- Garnett managed just four boards. He was completely overpowered by Howard down low, but so was everyone else, and so is everyone else in the NBA when Howard is healthy.
- Avery Bradley is still struggling (and that’s an understatement) to get his offensive game on track, and it’s hard to blame him. Just as he was starting to look more comfortable on the offensive end, Rondo went down with his injury, and Bradley’s role completely changed. He will probably never be a point guard, but the frustrating thing is that he shouldn’t have to be. He should be a shooting guard. But playing players at the correct positions is, depressingly, not a luxury the Celtics have at this point.
Frankly, I’m tired of thinking about this game, I’m tired of thinking about the trade deadline, and I suspect you are too. So let’s call it a night. It’s a new day tomorrow.
Hopefully not too new.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.