Did anyone really expect the Celtics to sweep Sacramento, LA, Portland and Denver out West? I didn't, which is why today's 114-105 loss to the Nuggets doesn't bother me much.
They came out flat. Very flat. When Rondo (15 points, 11 assists) looks like he needs a 5-hour energy drink at tip-off, you know the team is in trouble. Denver piled up 37 first quarter points. But the guys fought back. They chipped away at a 20 point lead and trailed by 7 at the half. And then with 5 minutes to go in the 3rd, this game was tied at 66. Unfortunately, we wouldn't see much defensive intensity the rest of the way. And it didn't help that J.R. Smith was nailing 25-foot three pointers in the 4th quarter.
In my game preview I stated:
Celtics will likely need to be sharp from 3 in order to keep pace with
the high-scoring Nuggets, but Denver is among the league leaders in
defending the arc.
At 2-for-13, the Celtics were anything but sharp. Ray Allen was the only Celtic to hit from 3.
Kevin Garnett (15 points, 7-13 FG, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks) looked healthy. There was one play that got me thinking he might actually become an impact player again. As Nene was making a move towards the hoop, KG swooped in from the weak side and swatted his shot. I haven't seen him make a move like that in 12 months.
On the flip side, Paul Pierce (5 points, 2-10 FG) is hurting. The thumb injury is really affecting his shot. The energy was there, just check his defensive stats (4 blocks, 2 steals).
"There's some pain when I catch the ball, and it's really affecting my
shot," he said. "That's the reason I'm not as aggressive."
"You go by feel," Pierce said. "I tried to play off instincts, and my
instincts are to shoot the ball. But it's not the same shot."
I wouldn't be surprised to see Pierce sit out Tuesday's game with the Knicks.
Ray Allen had 25 points in gulp, 43 minutes. You can't blame Doc. Without Nate Robinson, his back-court depth is severely limited.