Friday, February 6, 2009

A Whopping 9 Thoughts on the C's/Lakers Game

1) Not to over-react, but let's just say that the Celtics end up with the two seed in the East. That is of course not the greatest scenario considering that they would be guaranteed without home court advantage in potential Conference and NBA Finals matchups against Cleveland and LA respectively. Kind of a big deal. But I'll throw the silver lining at you.

Consider that the two seed's second round matchup will most likely come against the 3 seed and the 3 seed will probably be the Magic. I certainly like that matchup for the C's more than I like the one against 4/5 winner which would be Detroit or Atlanta. I'm still not so sure the C's can take Cleveland in the Conference Finals without home court advantage, but I do think their road there could be slightly easier as the two if that is any consolation. Not really, but trying to put a positive spin on it.

2) Loved Bob Ryan's piece today where he pretty much threw down a "WTF?!" to the NBA for sending scrub officials out to work Thursday's game. Personally, I believe that the no-call on Ray Allen was the correct call independent of anything else, but in a physical game where KG fouled out on some ticky-tack calls, the call on Derek Fisher had to be made. Personally, I don't think he fouled Ray Allen on the shot but he was mauling him prior to getting there and while dribbling to set the shot up therefore Allen should have had two shots from the line to potentially win the game for the C's.

3) Pau Gasol for the second time this season just destroyed the Celtics. I watch what that guy does on the post and also how he rebounds and passes and wonder why he is not one of the ten best guys in the NBA. He's got all the moves, he shoots 56% from the floor and 79% from the field so it just floors me that he is not a 25 and 10 guy year in and year out.

4) When 60% free throw shooter, notorious choker, pre-Michael Phelps most famous bong smoker in sports, and pride of URI (or is that Cuttino Mobely?), Lamar Odom hits two clutch free throws to put your opponent ahead with 16 seconds left, chances are it is not your night.

5) If last night's game proved anything, it is that if the Celtics do not acquire a big man for the bench that can consistently knock down open jump shots a la PJ Brown then they can just punch their tickets for an L in the Eastern Conference Finals. Granted the one he did hit last night was a biggie, but Big Baby going 1/8 from the field just can't be a situation that will present itself down the road. You just can't expect to win deep in the playoffs with Big Baby playing at crunch time. It's not like that issue won't consistently present itself down the road either because of Perk's tendency to get into foul trouble. In short, we've been saying it for a long time but the C's absolutely MUST find a tough big man to knock down shots in order to have any chance at a repeat.

6) One of the TNT guys said this last night late in the 4th when the Celtics had a lineup of Rondo/Pierce/Allen/Perk/Baby out there that they should sub in Eddie House for Rondo. Reason being that on the floor at the time were really only two offensive players in Pierce and Allen. I wholeheartedly agreed at the time and I still think I wholeheartedly agree. Yes it was a back and forth, one possession game so they did not necessarily "need" Eddie House's bombs but at the same time the reason Big Baby took all those shots down the stretch is because the Lakers were pretty much ignoring him on the offensive end. Yes, with House in you lose Rondo's penetration, but Pierce is good enough at attacking the basket, drawing the D, and then kicking out that he could have served that purpose just fine. With that lineup the C's then would have two knockdown shooters out there (hello Mark Jackson, your favorite term!), a jack of all trades scorer, and two bigs to cleanup the mess if need be and provide their presence on D. I love Rajon as much as the next guy but against the Lakers both in Thursday's game and the Finals last year the Celtics were often best served with Eddie House on the floor instead of him.

Funny thing is, Rajon had a great game too, nearly recording a triple-double going for 16/8/12 but if you look at his +/- (kind of a dicey stat for basketball I know) he was a -1 while Eddie House was a +6. That says something doesn't it? And Big Baby for the record was -13 while KG was +9. You want to know why they lost, I think that last split tells a lot of the story doesn't it.

7) I know he came on in the second half, but my lord was Bad Rondo out on display in full force during the first half. Not so much turnovers or bad passes or anything else like that, but how many layups did he miss? Isn't it a fair question to ask how much better Rajon Rondo could be if he could find out a way to convert 80% or so of his layups? It is his most maddening feature.

8) I will say that I loved Rajon jawing at Kobe in the fourth quarter. That was awesome. It made me picture Kobe challenging him to a one-on-one game after the game was over to show Rajon who was boss and then Rajon frustrating the crap out of Kobe by doing all sorts of trick shots and goofy moves while laughing the whole time as Kobe got angrier and angrier before eventually destroying Rondo in the game. After however Rondo would leave knowing he had the satisfaction of getting under Kobe's skin and also knowing that he did give him a pretty good game. That whole process really did go through my mind.

9) All told, and as frustrating as the game was I really do not feel too bad about it. For starters it was a pretty ugly game and secondly, we only hope, assume, and pray that Big Baby will not be getting or taking those crunch time shots in the future. Finally, the whole team missed a bunch of makeable shots throughout the game and that too should not happen again. Yes the loss was frustrating and could have some serious long term ramifications but it in no way makes me worry about the team as a whole. They could have won the game but some flukey things did not go their way. Such is life in an 82 game NBA regular season. Sure it would have been much nicer had they won, but they did not and I think all will be fine with the Celtics as long as they can get that aforementioned big man for their bench. And of course assuming they don't go into a similar tailspin following this Lakers loss as they did following the first. Tonight at MSG is going to be a tough one.

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