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The Celtics Mentality Is Going To Kill Them

April 3, 2010

Congrats to Loscy's boy Rondo for breaking Couz's Celtic assist record last night. Glad to be present for it.

Congrats to Loscy's boy Rondo for breaking Couz's Celtic assist record last night. Glad to be present for it.

Yes. We’ve finally heard it all from Doc this year, and this last piece of brilliance is the last thing you want to hear coming from your coach:

“We played like a high school team at times.”

Doc Rivers, after the loss to Houston…

As a basketball fan, it’s always more fun and exciting to attend tightly contested games that come down to the stretch. But two close games in two nights with two losses might be a little bit too much for this blogger.

From the plebe’s section up top, I had a great view of all of our offensive and defensive deficiencies. Unfortunately, they were plentiful throughout both evenings. Five things stuck out at me from both losses (along with many, many other losses against above .500 teams this year): we can’t finish quarters strong, we are missing defensive rotations when the opponent’s ball movement is quick/crisp, we can’t close out on long-balls, we can’t rebound in the stretch, and we can’t compose ourselves to recover when teams break our flow/tempo in the game.

Shall we?

  • We can’t finish quarters strong.
    Are the Celtics tired? Are the Celtics mentally not able to keep momentum going through an entire quarter? Are the Celtics’ mentality simply, “we’ll get ‘em next quarter?” Lord help us if the last question is truly embedded into their playing psyche. Telling themselves that they will “make up ground later” is simply rolling over and letting their opponent do whatever they want, whenever they want in the moment… Which is, unfortunately, what we as fans are seeing out of this team. This is nothing but bad news. It means that there is a loser’s mentality: if this is the case, they have resigned during moments that they just aren’t as good as the other team.
  • We are missing defensive rotations when the opponent’s ball movement is quick/crisp.
    It’s so easy to see: when teams move the ball well in the half-court, we have some serious issues catching up with it and being where we are supposed to be. In recent strong-side double-team/traps, the “free-safety” (often KG) doesn’t have the lateral movement to recover. Perk can’t pick up smaller, faster guys without fouling. Ray Allen doesn’t have the defensive awareness to know if he needs to switch or stay on when someone puts the ball on the floor. Rondo continues to gamble. Unselfish teams that pass a lot stand a great chance of shredding apart our defensive.
  • We can’t close out on long-balls.
    This is like the last observation: we are too slow to move and catch up with the ball. While OKC was only 5/11 from behind the line, there were plenty of open looks… including 2 Jeff Green daggers late in the 4th quarter that sealed the deal on Wednesday. Again, we are just too slow on defensive rotations and at times, even lacking that instinctual anticipation to close out on where the ball is going. Houston was a blistering 12-18 from the 3pt. 12-18! Chase Budinger (what a freakin’ name) was 6-8 from long distance, and out of those 8 shots, at least 5 of them were wide open, clear looks. Yes, trash-talking Celtics, a seriously white rookie by the name of Chase Budinger (giggle giggle) lit you up last night.
  • We can’t rebound in the stretch.
    Why even go into this? We can’t rebound for garbage.
  • We can’t compose ourselves to recover when teams break our flow/tempo in the game.
    This is, perhaps, the most troubling observation made during the games. No one on the team, NO ONE, can compose this team when their run ends, or when they have lost control of the tempo in the game. Aaron Brooks had the not-so-secret strategic move last night when the Celtics scored a bucket: push the ball as fast as possible down the throats of the Celtics defense: right up the gut or ripping down the sideline. From there, he would pull up a 24 footer, drive in for an easy lay up, or dish out. Brooks kept us honest and was converting more often than not: 30 points and 9 assists. Whoa. We had no answers on offense. We had no answers on defense.

What to take away from this? What are the essential points here?
The Celtics are old, old, old. The team keeps talking about how they are a a team built for playoffs, and I sure hope they’re right. I have used that rhetoric before: the 2010 Celtics are built for the playoffs.

In Marc Spear’s recent piece on the Celtics:

Through it all, however, Pierce remains confident the Celtics will get better in the playoffs. They won’t have to worry about playing back-to-back games in the postseason, a concern for any aging team. The playoffs also become more of a half-court game, which could benefit the defensive-minded Celtics.
“To be honest with you, I think our team is really built for the playoffs,” Pierce said. “You get into a series, the game slows down. …The scoring isn’t as much. I just think that’s the way our team is built. We got a lot of older vets. That’s what playoff basketball is – executing in the half court.”

The team has done a good job of selling me on this idea that they might be a better playoff team than a regular season team. But… is that just simply deferring the truth? That the Celtics just aren’t that good anymore? Bad habits are made in practice and they show up in games. Bad habits are made in regular season games and make their way into the playoffs. If you can’t steadily do something right, how is it going to suddenly fall into place when the calendar changes and your mind tells you one thing, but it’s so conditioned to do the opposite? So what if we don’t have to play back to back games? That just means more rest for the younger teams that will turn each game in the playoffs into a freakin’ track meet and just run. That’s it. There’s the blueprint for winning against the Celtics: just run. Run and pass the ball around the perimeter. Run and pass the ball to get it moving from outside-in-outside-in-outside.

There you go.

  • Milwaukee? They can run.
  • Atlanta? They can run.
  • Charlotte? They can run.
  • Miami? They can run.
  • Cleveland? They can run.
  • Orlando? They can run.

Boston? They cannot run.

We feel the same way, Paul.

We feel the same way, Paul.

I’m not giving up on this team. I’m not.
But I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that the Celtics cannot consistently execute on either end of the floor. The offense looks out of tune, the defense is inconsistent. That doesn’t mean there aren’t flashes of great basketball on either end… it’s just happening in small bunches, and the Celtics can’t maintain it. You can’t rule out a team like the Celtics because they’re capable of playing great basketball and everyone has seen it… at times. That’s the thing, we’ve only seen it at times. If they’re going to rely on luck to make their good play habitual, then we will look forward to an early exit from the playoffs. If they’re waiting for “the next quarter,” in this case that next quarter being the playoffs… Then oh boy. Like I said, a bad mentality to have.

C’s KICKSIES • Another Episode

I know. A double post and you didn’t even see it coming.
The winner from last night? Aaron Brooks with his black/red HyperDunk Lows. Pretty much awesome.

AB defending Rondo in some Nike Air HyperDunk Low PEs, in a killer black and red. Rondo wearing his all black Nike Air Foamposite Lites ("Ninja Edition").

AB defending Rondo in some Nike Air HyperDunk Low PEs, in a killer black and red. Rondo wearing his all black Nike Air Foamposite Lites ("Ninja Edition").

More Aaron Brooks (one of my fav. non-Celts players, BTW) in the HyperDunk lows. Yes, still beautiful from this angle.

More Aaron Brooks (one of my fav. non-Celts players, BTW) in the HyperDunk lows PEs. Yes, still beautiful from this angle. Foul-Friendly Ray Ray sporting Jordan Hallow Ground PEs with some green NBA "sustainable" socks.

Last one: AB in red hot HyperDunk low PEs.

Last one: AB in red hot HyperDunk low PEs, while being flanked by hideous Adidas TS Supernatural Commanders.

Pierce rockin' his signature Nike Air Legacy in gray. These were also brought out when the C's played on MLK Jr Day in January. The Legacy was profiled as part of Nike's Collection yesterday: http://inside.nike.com/blogs/nikebasketball/2010/04/01/the-collection-30-air-legacy-paul-pierce

Pierce rockin' his signature Nike Air Legacy in gray. These were also brought out when the C's played on MLK Jr Day in January. Luis Scola in his signature shoe by Anta. The Legacy was profiled as part of Nike's Collection yesterday: http://inside.nike.com/blogs/nikebasketball/2010/04/01/the-collection-30-air-legacy-paul-pierce

More Pierce. More Air Legacy.

More Pierce. More Air Legacy.

Piece driving to the hoop in his Nike Air Legacy, while being defended by Chase Budinger in the chic, all black Nike Air Zoom Soldier III

Piece driving to the hoop in his Nike Air Legacy, while being defended by Chase Budinger in the chic, all black Nike Air Zoom Soldier III

TA throwing up a shot in his Adidas Supernatural Creator in personalized Celtic colorways.

TA throwing up a shot in his Adidas Supernatural Creator in personalized Celtic colorways.

Rondo wearing some Ninja Edition Foamposite Lites.

Rondo wearing some Ninja Edition Foamposite Lites, while sitting on Kyle Lowry's face and Peak shoe.

More Rondo Nike Air Foamposite Lites.

More Rondo Nike Air Foamposite Lites. Chuck Hayes defending in last year's Nike Air Blue Chip, and fancy-hair Luis Scola rockin' his signature Anta shoes.

Rondo dribbles around with his Foamposite Lites, while Shelden Williams reacts in his white/green Nike Air Huarache.

Rondo dribbles around with his Foamposite Lites, while Shelden Williams reacts in his white/green Nike Air Huarache.

Tie your shoes tightly, but not too tightly.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sean permalink
    April 3, 2010 2:25 pm

    This Celts team is reminding me more and more of last year’s Patriots team. They cannot beat good teams, they teased us with good quarters at times, and they kept us saying “if they can get it together for the playoffs they can make a run!”
    Anyone remember what happened to the Pats? They got hammered in the playoffs. They had a bad first quarter and paid for it. The more I think about it the more I think the Celts get in a hole early in the first round and pack it in. C’s first round exit is looking more and more likely…

    • April 3, 2010 2:56 pm

      I wish I didn’t have to agree with you… But alas, I do.
      It’s the kind of thing where you don’t want to go ahead and say, “it’s not in the cards this year” because 1) you don’t want to be that kind of fan that gives up on a good (but not great) team, and 2) for the small chance that they do make it through you want to know you believed it was possible.

      I don’t want to be that guy, but…

  2. April 4, 2010 1:19 pm

    Bogut being out would be huge. I’ll be honest, at this stage in the game, I’m not going to sit here and tell you I want to see the best teams because I don’t believe that I want to see that. I want to see the easiest possible road to the Finals. Match-ups matter!

Trackbacks

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