|Posted by paul on January 6, 2012 at 9:50 PM|
It was predictable that tonight's game with the Pacers would be a tough one. After the way the Pacers, a good team, got crushed by Miami on Wednesday, they were going to be out for revenge tonight, or for redemption at least. The Celtics, on the other hand, made a relatively easy win harder than it should have been against the Nets on wednesday night, so I guess one had to expect that they would be flat tonight. Perhaps, rather than be frustrated with the los, fans should appreciate the way the Celtics matched the Pacers' defensive fire in the first quarter tonight, and basically played the Pacers even for three quarters out of four.
I suppose we were lucky to be able to stay in the game at all with these Pacers, as good as they seem to be (especially with the addition of West to what was a playoff team last year), and as motivated as they obviously were tonight. The Pacers hammered us on the boards tonight (47-36, and it seemed worse). They hammered us with their inside scoring, even though we had many blocks. The Pacers seemed to get a lot of help from the officials, even though we took more foul shots, but they killed us down the stretch with threes.
The only real bright spot for us tonight was Ray Allen. His hot shooting (7-11) kept us in the game. We only lost to the Pacers in turnovers 12-11, so that wasn't bad. Our defense was good tonight, and that's important. Tonight was our first test against a quality team after our little four-game win streak against weak teams. I can't say I'm devastated that we lost. If it tells us anything, I think what it tells us is that we are still very much a work in progress, and really, we knew that already. It's only a surprise to those magically expecting that we could still be the 2008 Celtics somehow. We are not even the dominant team we were last year. We are a team struggling to find itself. That doesn't have to be a bad thing. But it means that we can expect a lot of tough times ahead, even if we do manage to forge ourselves into a strong team. In fact, we can expect a couple of very hard weeks immediately ahead. We will be playing one top team after another.
And I think the main issue for this team remains monotonously familiar. The shape of tonight's game reminded me a lot of Wednesday night's game against the Nets, in that Agressive Rondo came out for the second half, but only showed up for a minute or two, here and there, in the first half. It was another pear shaped game. I just don't get it. I don't get it at all, and frankly, I'm sick of it. I thought it was pretty much an agreed thing at the start of this season that Rondo was our best player, and that we needed him to be, as Doc put it, The Aggressor. Was that all bs? Did nobody actually mean it? Because what I'm seeing is the same old pattern where Rondo spends the first half deferring to the Big Three, and now to Bass too (!!!!!!!!!!!), and then MAYBE uncorks a little in the second half. I just don't get it. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? Why do we now consistently go into halftime with Rondo fourth or fifth in FGA, and maybe with no FTA at all?
It just makes me sick. Forget the fact that it was CRAZY that Paul Pierce, who couldn't hit the side of a barn tonight, had more FGA than Allen who was hot (a lot more). Rondo could use a little bit more of Pierce's attitude. When Rondo finally came out firing in the second half, even though he still wasn't shooting well, the offense started to pick up. That's to be expected. The team's offense clearly feed off Rondo's energy. I swear, this team has to decide if Rondo is just a glorified role player, or if he is this team's leader. The Cs sometimes seem like such a dysfunctional family. I saw that interview that Garnett did yesterday. Did anyone notice that he mentions the Big Three when he's running down the important players on the Cs, and somehow forgets to mention Rondo. What the heck is up with that? It makes no sense at all, yet there it is.
Frankly, I'm sick of the seemingly endless Big Brother Little Brother dynamics that seem to have overcome the remnants of ubuntu with this team. When Rondo stopped deferring in the second half, the offense roared to life (and the defense sputtered, unfortunately). We've seen that again and again and again and again. With passive Rondo, the offense struggles. With aggressive Rondo, it roars. AND STILL, NIGHT AFTER NIGHT, WE HAVE TO WATCH PASSIVE, DEFERENTIAL RONDO? What on earth is up with that?
I dunno, maybe they'll just be family feuding all season. Maybe it would have been better after all if Rondo had been traded for Paul. I was against the trade at the time, but sometimes I have to say that it looks like the Big Four synergy, where Rondo gradually rises to the fore, will just never work consistently for the Celtics.
But if we are going to be beaten, shouldn't we go down with our best player leading the way?