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A Predictable Loss

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?  

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Reply Tom
02:42 AM on January 07, 2012 
I knew the Pacers wanted it more! I love the recap. Best out of all the C's blogs.
Reply paul
02:57 AM on January 07, 2012 
Tom says...
I knew the Pacers wanted it more! I love the recap. Best out of all the C's blogs.


They did, didn't they? At this point I wonder what it is the Celtics do want? I believe they have four days between games here, and I'm thinking that it might be a good time for them to try to figure that out. It seems like these guys need to talk to each other and somehow get on the same page.
Reply Franklin
03:05 AM on January 07, 2012 
Wow! I knew we would lose this game,but needed more heart or something.
Reply paul
07:01 AM on January 07, 2012 
Franklin says...
Wow! I knew we would lose this game,but needed more heart or something.

When the Big Four synergy works, it's still a thing of beauty, isn't it? But I never hear the Celtics talking about that. The only keyword I ever hear from them, in terms of offensive philosophy, is "execution". They are forever talking about how the thing that matters is "execution". I find that odd for a team that used to be all about "ubuntu"; a team that used to talk endlessly about "trust", or so one heard. Now all we hear about is "execution". Is this season going to be the execution of the Big Three era, as well as our hopes for a Rondo era?

We used to win games with heart, as you suggest, Franklin. And this team still has heart. Anyone who has seen Rondo take a monster elbow to the face from a guy like Melo, only to rise up a few minutes later and continue leading his team knows that. Anyone who has seen Pierce come back from injury and lead the team to a desperately needed win streak with no practice knows that. But their synergy seems to come and go, mostly going. They aren't finding a way to be more than the sum of their parts, consistently. A game like last night makes me wonder if they aren't just too far apart for that to happen.





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