|Posted by paul on October 6, 2012 at 7:40 AM|
I'm not saying that the Celtics threw the game against Fenerbahce. I think they wanted to win. But I think the starters weren't exactly breathing fire to win it, and I think that was for good reason. If the starters had gone out and established control over the game, the bench would have been left with what amounted to garbage time. We know that Doc likes to run situational practices, or so it seems. The way yesterday's game evolved gave the bench guys a real game to play in, something real to play for; they were playing for the win. I'm not saying that Doc exactly planned it this way. I'm saying that he and the starters probably weren't breathing fire to win the game themselves, and that they were more than happy to put the bench guys on the spot, so they could see who would step up.
Can anyone possibly be unhappy about who did step up? Terry stepped up, of course. Sullinger stepped up in a big way!! And Green stepped up! These are exactly the guys we most want to see step up.
There were some significant disappointments, of course. Courtney Lee had a rough game, but I think that's down to him being out of sync. The other really big disappointment was Rondo's defensive play. I was reminded of Jarret Jack. It's frustrating to watch a pretty good point guard carve our defense to shreds. Clearly, a lot of that wasn't Rondo's fault. On one highlight that I saw, Pierce switched onto McCalebb and was just lazy. In another play, Sully stepped up to contain McCalebb and just played it badly. Rondo can't cover these fast guards if the contain guys don't really contain. But it's still primarily his responsibility. Rondo has to get after opposing point guards a lot more. I presume he will. He MUST step up his game on the defensive end this year. That is the single most important key to our season.
We are a team of young and new players who are in the early days of trying to find themselves, playing a strong European team that is functioning like a well-oiled machine, and on top of that, I think the starters, including Rondo, were more than happy to allow the bench guys to face a hot game situation with something at stake, so it's no surprise that we lost, and no problem. As this team approaches the regular season, I think we will see them get better pretty fast. I think we should be pretty ecstatic over what we say yesterday.
And let's not forget our Darko Horse. Of course, Darko had his ups and downs. He only scored one basket, and he had three turnovers. BUT, in just 16 minutes he had two blocks and six rebounds. That's pretty good. In one fairly spectacular play, Darko fell to the floor, but still managed to tap a rebound out to Courtney Lee for a three! I think that play said a lot. It bespoke a guy whose head was in the game, who was alert, who was thinking 'team', and who made the right play. If Darko continues that way, he can be a worthy NBA player and a real Celtic, and a significant help to us. He'll get used to Rondo, and that will help with the turnovers. Keep your head in the game, keep thinking team, and keep trying, Darko. You can make this work.
But Rondo must step up his defensive game. I think he is capable of being a terror on defense. In some ways he already is. He had three steals and was very aware. But he has to get after opposing point guards.