Want to talk eerie statistical anomalies? Just take a look at the game between our Boston Celtics and the host San Antonio Spurs. Both teams were 38-81 from the floor. Both teams had 38 rebounds – and in both cases, the breakdown was 11 offensives, 27 defensive. What are the odds? And then you have the struggling stars – Tim Duncan scores only 5 points, while Rajon Rondo goes for six. Yes, it was one of those nights indeed.
But for all of the similarities there were differences, too. The Spurs were the fresher team, while the Celtics looked like a team playing their second game in two nights. (And their third in four days.)
If you ask the players, fatigue isn’t an excuse when it comes to losses. This isn’t an excuse league. It’s all about the bottom line. But if you watched the game it was easy to see that the spring just wasn’t there tonight, especially in the older players, especially late in the second half. Kevin Garnett didn’t play a bad game, but 13 points and 6 boards point to an older player who just didn’t have his A game tonight. Jason Terry started off like a house on fire, but finished by clanging shots and looking like he needed some alone time at the local spa.
Again, no excuses. San Antonio is a phenomenal organization. They are extremely well-coached. They have players who know their roles and they simply go out and execute. Tim Duncan is no spring chicken. Neither is Manu Ginobili. (Hope the knee injury isn’t serious, Manu. You’re a class act.) But the Spurs are a well-constructed team, one that can grind it out and get a W even when they aren’t playing their best. (As was the case tonight.)
Our Celtics still need to grow in this department. Part of the problem may be that the C’s are almost too interchangeable. You have a lot of guys roughly the same size and of the same skill set. And while admire KG’s play in the paint, something tells me the Celtics would be so much more effective with Kendrick Perkins in the five spot and KG working at the four. Let’s face it; KG spends most of his time roaming on the offensive end of the court, and while he’s a tremendous shooter with good range, it leaves the C’s without someone to battle for rebounds.
Clearly, Fab Melo isn’t going to fill that role for the Celtics, at least not this season. He’s too young and too raw, and is going to need additional time to develop. Hopefully he will work out and provide some much-needed size in the paint. It just isn’t going to happen in the immediate future, and for players like an aging Kevin Garnett, the future is now.
Darko Milicic is gone, but he wasn’t going to be the answer. Jason Collins? I love Collins, and I think he’s a great team player and locker room presence, but he’s not that guy, either. Short of a trade, there may not be that guy out there.
So Doc Rivers will continue to coach this team up, and he’ll continue to build game plans that emphasize his team’s strengths. Hopefully the addition of Avery Bradley will provide a jolt. Hopefully Jeff Green will continue to assert himself as the season goes along. Hopefully Jared Sullinger will continue to grow, and in the process earn more minutes.
It’s clearly too soon to push the panic button or to count our C’s out, but it’s time to face facts: These Boston Celtics are a .500 team with more questions than answers at the moment, and as fans we need to continue to support the cause and trust that Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers will figure it all out.