You’ve heard the term “garbage time?” Tonight’s matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers was 48 solid minutes of garbage time for the Celtics, and it was a solid indicator as to how seriously Boston is taking the rest of the regular season. With a playoff berth clinched and a looming matchup that could be against the New York Knicks (who have given the Celtics plenty of problems so far this year) or the Miami Heat (who, honestly, might be best to face fresh in the first round), Boston has pretty clearly decided that, come what may, they want to give their aging, banged-up veterans some rest before the post-season begins.
This might be solid reasoning, but it doesn’t make for pleasant basketball in the meantime, and frankly, it doesn’t make for happy fans who have to watch the team’s role players try to play like starters and benchwarmers try to play like role players. This was the case tonight.
Let’s not drag this out; I already feel like I need a shower after that awfulness. Let’s get to the bullets.
- Shavlik Randolph is the kind of rebounder Boston needs. He’s aggressive, he positions himself pretty well, and he’s undeniably tenacious (he’s also foul prone, collecting six fouls in 13 minutes, but why ruin the fun?). The problem, of course, is that he isn’t as strong as some other bigs in the league (see: Nikolai Pekovic from a couple of nights ago), so at times he can be muscled out of the way. But against most team’s second units, Randolph should be able to pull down rebounds, which should earn him some minutes in the playoffs. Yes, Shavlik Randolph is going to get minutes for Boston. In the playoffs. Assume crash positions.
- Green had a quieter night offensively tonight with 23 points on 8-13 shooting (how fun is it that 23 efficient points is a quieter night for Green?), but he did grab nine rebounds. He even went after two or three aggressively in the first half, which is something we are not accustomed to seeing.
- Shavlik’s fun performance aside, Tristan Thompson officially took advantage of the horribly depleted front-line. Thompson finished with 29 points (!) and 17 rebounds (!!) including seven offensive (ugh ugh ugh). The Celtics allowed Cleveland to pull down 15 offensive rebounds, and once again showed just how damaging second-chance opportunities can be. Boston actually managed to limit Kyrie Irving extremely well (4-20 from the field, 11 points) with a combination of Avery Bradley’s tough defense and a series of double-teams, but a missed shot means nothing without a defensive rebound.
- Bradley left the game in the fourth quarter with a bruised left collarbone. This meant that he was holding his shoulder, which was enough to make everybody panic immoderately. The Celtics tweeted that he would return. Bradley says he’s OK, and that it’s not related to his problems last season. Thank goodness.
- Another 50% night for Brandon Bass (7-14, 14 points), who is slowly inching his way back to last season’s form. Just at the right time, I might add.
If I had Shavlik Randolph’s energy and drive, I would totally make this recap longer, but after that game, frankly, I don’t. That will have to do for tonight. The Celtics play Sunday against the Washington Wizards. Unless you really like garbage time, watch at your own peril.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.