Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump
“They saved us,” said Doc Rivers. “Semih, Nate and Baby – that whole group – they were absolutely terrific. They won the game for us. They went from a six- to, what, 15-point lead with our bench on the floor. We got stops and we executed. And Nate was terrific.”
[...] “We came out in the first half and played as well as a team can play,” said Rivers. “We were defending. We kept them off the glass. We played with great energy. We were running the ball up the floor. We were getting into our offense early.
“And then we did the exact reverse in the third quarter. We relaxed. We just kind of let them play. They’re too good to let your guard down, and we did that – and a veteran team should never do that. We got away with it. Even though we won by a big margin, you can’t do that.”
That first half was awesome. It was as good as it gets with the Celtics. The bench outscored OKC's bench 21-6. Rondo dropped 8 assists. The Big 3 combined for 30 points. Everything was working.
Then in the second half, the first unit got passive and the second unit didn't play. So Doc is right to say "we" relaxed… because he relaxed too. In the first quarter, he started subbing with 5:43 left and by 2:08, everyone but Ray was subbed out and he ended up sitting a minute later.
In the third quarter, only two guys got off the bench: Glen Davis at the 4:05 mark and Marquis Daniels with :51 left. Once the second unit came back out to start the fourth, the lead started to grow again. In the fourth quarter, the second unit executed the offense and the ball went to the open man… who then took the shot. The first unit came in and started running plays for individual guys and then figuring it out when things broke down.
Seems to me that the plan that worked in the first half might be something you went back to in the second half… especially when the starters come out predictably passive. Why not send them the message halfway through the quarter that "hey, we don't have to endure this crap this year… we're going to put the bench in there to play with some energy"?
What I don't get is why the starting unit doesn't understand that when you come out of the half like that, you end up playing MORE minutes because you let the lead slip away. This was a perfect game for them to sit out the entire fourth quarter with a 30-plus point lead and rest up for a back-to-back game with Dallas.
Luckily, the bench was there. This was a game the C's would have lost last year in very frustrating fashion. This is one where the bench saved us. If we're focusing on the positive… this is it. This is the depth paying off.
On Page 2, the C's explain Nate's buzzer beater
Rivers breaks the play down: "We always do that if it’s the last shot, we try to throw all guards on the floor and try to get them in before the other team can't sub and get the bigs out. It's like snapping the ball [in football] before the [other team can institute a] replay [challenge], before they throw the red flag out. With two seconds left, it was nice to get the shot, because we had matchups. I think it was Krstic or whoever guarding Nate. It was still only two seconds, but we’ll take the luck though."
With Rondo blanketed by Westbrook, taking away the first option of having him sprint the length of the floor, Robinson slipped quietly into the backcourt, hauling in the long inbound feed from Garnett a few strides from the center stripe. He made two dribbles before hoisting the shot, his body turning to shield himself from a scrambling Krstic.
Robinson adds his perspective: "They denied Rondo [the ball], but they didn't have any other guards in. They had a big guy — Krstic — and the other guy — Aldrich — they came up and I just let it go. It felt good."
My favorite part of the whole thing is Nate just flying out of bounds after the play ends. He just jumps and disappears into the crowd.
Very interesting to see how much thought goes into the last two seconds of play.
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston: Mob scene | Postgame notes: Great potential | WEEI: Fastbreak: Celtics silence thunder | Baby might be NBA's best 6th man | Herald: Speaking highly of Semih Erden | Globe: C's steal Durant's thunder | Shaq stays on board | Erden fits right in | CSNNE: Jermaine O'Neal has minor procedure on his knee | Celtics' bench goal: kick the other bench's butt