Monday, May 12, 2008

Instant Analysis: Why the Celtics LOST

Before we get going, can I just get something off my chest...


Hold on, there's more...


OK, a litte better but not really. Anyway now onto my only slightly psychotic analysis of why the Celtics lost Game 4.

Before you read on, let me tell you what you are going to get first.

A) A lot of Sam Cassell hatred.

B) Doc Rivers being compared to Joe Torre. Probably the first and last time that that will ever happen.


1) Let's see, that makes now three out of four games in this series where calling the Celtics offense inept would be a fine complement. I always kind of took offense for granted in basketball, but let me tell you that watching your team routinely have to STRUGGLE to put the ball in the basket and having a confidence level of roughly 10% that they will score each time they have the ball is pretty damn awful.

2) Paul Pierce, where'd you go buddy?

3) I'm not a chronic Doc basher, but was starting the fourth quarter with Big Baby, PJ Brown, and Sam Cassell all on the floor together really the best option? Can somebody also please explain to me what Sam Cassell does that Eddie House does not? Oh yeah, Sam Cassell is "clutch" and has two rings. At what point can worthless on the court unless he hits every jumper he takes replace "clutch" in the Sam Cassell adjective catalog. Oh yeah, I do remember Cassell from those Rockets teams back in the day. I also remember Hakeem Olajuwon. And Michael Jordan not being in the league for those two years. And that things like grunge rock, alterna-teens, and moshing were all accepted parts of popular culture. And that the Olson Twins were still hot. Like I said, it was a long time ago.

4) Boobie Gibson did not miss and we can thank Sam Cassell for that too.

5) My old roomate Ben said it best when he texted me, "That's what real superstars do in the 4th quarter" after Lebron made a highlight reel dunk that will be showed in NBA promos for the rest of the postseason, looped on ESPN constantly Tuesday, and the impetus for a Wilbon and Tony "Greatest Playoff Dunk Ever" argument on PTI.

And now I have to do some serious, soul expunging venting directed towards Doc Rivers and Sam Cassell. If you have an affinity for either of these guys, you best not read the following...

OK Doc, I get it. You like being able to give a veteran and playoff tested point guard solid minutes at the end of the first and early second quarters and at the end of the third and early to mid to late fourth quarter depending on your team's need for offense. Your starting point guard who has looked fantastic at times this season and like the second year player he is at others may not be ready for the big time necessitating a proven veteran. This theory certainly seems to make a ton of sense on paper. There is one problem however.


I will and I have admitted that Sam Cassell along with KG was the reason the Celtics won Game 1 and I do not take that away from him nor do I disparage him for it. However, Sam Cassell and his me-first/I'm shooting and the rest of the world can go f*** themselves attitude has infected the team like the virus did to the airplane passengers in Outbreak and now everybody is gunning and trying to score points in bunches as opposed to slowly bleeding their opponents which they did so well throughout the season. It now seems that nobody on the team is capable of passing up a shot if they have even a passing glimpse of the rim unless that person is KG and he is under the basket and decides that making an extra pass to an unsuspecting Kendrick Perkins or Leon Powe is the answer before that pass inevitably clangs off of their hands.

This is not a KG rant though, this is a Sam Cassell rant and as I said before unless he is making a shot every single time he touches the ball on offense - and lord knows he shoots it every time he touches it - he is worthless. Why did the C's lose on Monday? Well one of the reasons was that Boobie Gibson caught fire in the fourth because the Cavs kept running him off of picks and sending him flying around the perimeter knowing full well that Cassell could not keep pace. This was true, Gibson got open looks consistently, caught fire, and more or less carried the Cavs down the stretch until the James dunk. Why? Because Sam Cassell could not keep up with him, the Cavs knew it, and the Cavs exploited it. But did he make it up on the offensive end? Nope. Five field goal attempts and five misses. And did I mention that Rajon Rondo played great in the third quarter with the exception of one bad three point heave which in fairness to him came as the shot clock was near expiration? Why is it that Rondo can take one bad shot or make one bad decision and get yanked to the bench but Cassell can take countless bad shots doubling as bad decisions, get destroyed on the defensive end of the court, but yet still stay out there and have Doc's seemingly unrequited love and confidence? Why can't Rondo play 35-40 minutes again?

And again I ask, what does Sam Cassell do that Eddie House does not? I know House struggled some with being pressured in the back court this year, but the Cavs have not done that all series. He at least has some discretion when it comes to his shots, has more range than Sam, and is quicker than him so he can chase around the younger and faster guys that run circles around Cassell. Am I missing something? Please, do tell. Just once I'd like to see what the Celtics can get if they just let Rondo log 40 minutes one game? I bet you the results would be pretty good. Maybe even very good.

That is about it for now, but I will just leave you with one thought. The one thought is actually a comparison which I like to do for things of this nature to try and calm myself down even if this process rarely works.

Rivers usage of Cassell this postseason is starting to remind me of how Joe Torre used Tom Gordon and Paul Quantrill when he had them at his disposal in his bullpen in 2004. Do you remember this? Both of those guys started out the year as dominant late inning relievers bridging the game to Mariano Rivera in the ninth. But then, because he used them so much from April through August, they both completely burned out by September, had nothing, and routinely got rocked. The only problem was, Joe Torre refused to acknowledge that both of these guys were cooked so he kept on trotting them out there and while maybe they would pick up a 1-2-3 inning here and there they had plenty of outings where they got destroyed as well. And that is how I feel about Sam Cassell right now. Maybe one night every once in a while, he'll go out there, hit his shots, and be a difference maker for the team on offense. Maybe that will happen every now and again. But, most of the time that won't happen. Instead, Cassell will go out there, force a lot of awful shots, murder the team's offensive momentum, spread his bad habits to other teammates, and just generally have a negative effect on the outcome of a game. And just like Joe Torre kept on going to the bullpen and calling for Quantrill and Gordon to come in and get crushed in September and October of 2004, Doc Rivers will continue to call upon Sam Cassell to do all those things that I have just described this spring. I guess the Celtics best shot of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals this year will be if Sam can somehow walk into some sort of injury that will knock him out for the next eight weeks. Seriously, that is the only hope right now that I see and if and when the Celtics bow out of the playoffs in ignominious fashion, it won't be Doc Rivers playing ten guys a night that will get my wrath nor consistent no shows from Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and KG. It will be all Sam Cassell. Irrational? Probably. But not as much as you may think.

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