Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Instant Analysis! Why The Celtics Won:

The Celtics actually did win this game. For a while there it looked like they just "might not lose" but I say they won. Here is why:

1) LeBron was awful. It wasn't the jumpers he was missing either, it was the layups. But, before you go saying that the C's only won because LeBron was awful shooting 2-18 and turning the ball over 10 times, consider that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined to shoot 2-18 for 4 points all scored by Pierce. Look, LeBron probably won't shoot that bad again in the series, but neither will Pierce or Allen so I call that a wash.

2) KG was outstanding. I have dogged KG some in the past few weeks but he was absolutely outstanding on the offensive end. He was great in the first half, disappeared some in the start of the second, but then came out swinging in the fourth quarter and hit the C's two biggest field goals of the game. We've all been waiting for KG to step up and take over a game in crunch time and he certainly did that in Game 1.

3) James Posey was outstanding. He played great D all night, hit a couple threes, grabbed the rebound on LeBron's last shot, and then hit the clinching free throws. Oh, and since Yahoo now tracks +/-, Posey's +/- was +17, by the far the best number on the team. Pretty nice game there James.

4) Sam Cassell, despite his best efforts to murder the Celtics offensive momentum in the first half which he successfully did for almost two quarters, came into the game in the fourth and scored for them when they desperately needed scoring including the go-ahead free throws. Great game offensively for Sam, but he still seems to kill the offensive flow when he gets into the game with his me-first attitude. When he checks in I cringe knowing their offense will resort to standing around and him chucking jump shots as opposed to the penetration that Rondo brings to the table. But I can't dog him tonight just like I can't dog JD Drew anymore because Sam I Am played a monumental role in their victory.

5) Rondo played outstanding in the first quarter but then never seemed to get back into the game. He played about 29.5 minutes which is the norm for him, but he made minimal impact after his outstanding first quarter. I really think this is because Cassell knocked the offense so out of whack upon his entrance into the game that Rajon didn't know what to do and could not fix it.

I hate dogging on Cassell after he played such an instrumental role in victory but it is no coincidence that the C's seem to start their games attacking the rim and getting easy shots thanks to Rondo, but then the offense dissolves in the second and third quarters when Cassell is logging his minutes and chucking shots. I don't get it. I don't get why Rondo is not playing 35-40 minutes a night. He is a prototypical point guard, a great match for the team, and his teammates feed off of his aggressiveness. I understand bringing in Cassell when points are needed and to give Rajon a rest here and there, but I think he plays too much and either his minutes need to get cut or he needs to start playing more like a point guard and less like a ball hogging gym hero.

6) Kendrick Perkins continues to play outstanding basketball pretty much under the radar. Seven points, 12 boards, and 2 blocks may not seem like earth shattering numbers but when you watch the game you absolutely feel his presence and understand his impact.

7) I love Leon Powe as much as the next guy, but he was A-W-F-U-L in Game 1. Wow. He'll bounce back.

8) Nobody praises Paul Pierce more than I do so this may ring hollow and make me sound like a Pierce apologist but despite his woeful shooting performance he absolutely set the tone for the team in the fourth quarter by posting his guy up and attacking the hoop. This did not result in points or even him getting to the line, but it sent the message that settling for bad jumpers was not acceptable and they would need to step up their aggressiveness in order to win and guess what they did and they did.

9) After saying all that, another key reason for their victory was Big Z - who played outstanding - going cold for the latter portion of the third quarter and the first half of the fourth quarter. He was destroying them with his outside game like a mix between Rik Smits and the psycho from Fargo but once his shots temporarily stopped falling the C's were able to get some traction and put themselves in a position to win the game.

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