Learning from the weekend
OK, let’s talk about this weekend. Yes, the weekend that featured not one, not two, but three tough losses to potential playoff foes. Yeah, that weekend.
First of all, don’t panic. The Celtics were about two plays away from winning two out of three and being placed back at the top of the playoff pecking order by the pundits. Instead, they may be written off. Fortunately, writing doesn’t much matter in the end.
The Celtics are what we thought they were at the beginning of the season: an injury-prone, aging group making its last title run in its current form. Boston is also the team with perhaps the highest ceiling in the league should the team’s health hold up long enough to get some rhythm after the first round of the playoffs.
But, what have we learned that’s new?
*Tony Allen is a big help against the Lakers. He had a great game off the bench on Sunday, and probably should have been in to guard Kobe on the last defensive play of the game (although that’s not really a huge deal because Ray Allen did a solid job of forcing Kobe to take a tough shot). Along with Marquis Daniels, the Celtics should have a solid defensive pairing at the two and the three off the bench to help with tough match-ups against players like Kobe and LeBron.
*Big Baby needs to step it up. He’s been a disappointment in a myriad of ways so far this year, but he showed last year that with an increased role he can make big plays. He’ll need to do more of that as the season progresses so that the Celtics can rest KG as much as possible before the postseason.
*The Celtics need to go inside more. As they faltered against LA in the fourth quarter, they rarely went inside. When they did, it worked. A couple more post plays for KG would likely have won the game.
*Doc needs to wake up at the end of games. He’s never been a great strategic coach; that’s not where his talent lies, he’s more adept at motivating players and managing egos. A couple of years ago he was so terrible strategically in the playoffs that I wanted him fired while there was still time. Fortunately, things worked out, and cooler heads (than mine) prevailed. But, poor management at the end of games is going to matter in the spring. The last offensive play against LA was a perfect example of a lack of leadership in play-calling that needs to be corrected. Boston was down one point with 7.5 seconds left with the ball at half court. The most obvious move was to take it hard to the basket and try to get fouled or put up a quick shot. A trip to the free throw line would have given the Green a chance to take the lead. A missed shot at the four-second mark would have left time to foul, and LA would have then only been up by three at the maximum. A timeout could have advanced the ball again to half court and given the C’s a chance for a three to tie. That’s two chances to win or tie the game versus one poor chance at a tough three in the corner. Doc needs to convince his players to make the smart plays at the end of the game if he wants another banner.
At least we’re not like those guys
A Lakers fan with a new Yankees hat. I bet you they’re lifetime fans of both squads, and not just antagonistic punks.