The Celtics seem to have entered their annual January swoon again this season and last night may have been rock bottom in terms of defensive effort. Some nights the shots won't fall even for an elite team that's on pace to finish the season shooting over 50% from the field. However, for a team that prides itself on defense, their "effort" last night was simply inexcusable.
KG or no KG there was no viable excuse for the weaksauce the Celtics attempted to cook with last night. They got a gift before the game even began when Houston's leading scorer, Kevin Martin, was ruled out because of a wrist injury. That didn't stop the Rockets from blasting the Celtics to the tune of 53% shooting from the field, capitalized by some absurd shooting in the final quarter.
Make no mistake the Celtics amazingly (and not deserving) had their chances to win the game. They entered the fourth quarter trailing by just six points. But a combination of bad offensive possessions, bad defense, and some ridiculous shot making by the Rockets gave the Celtics their second consecutive loss. In the process, it allowed a red hot Miami Heat team to take control of first place in the eastern conference. The C's keep talking about the importance of every game and having home court advantage throughout the playoffs in order to help seek redemption from that elusive "Game 7."
So how did it fall apart? Well they were pretty bad all night, but below is a low-light clip of just the fourth quarter issues.
Q4 Breakdown: Mike Gorman tells us how a storm warning is in effect for the northeast… he should have included "inside the Garden" as well.
- Courtney Lee misses a floater, but Jared Jeffries leaps over Luke Harangody for the tip-in
- Jermaine O'Neal breaking Doc's "No 4th quarter technicals" rule by getting a senseless technical foul
- Patrick Patterson banking in a jumper over Harangody
- Aaron Brooks hitting a fade-away baseline jumper over Nate Robinson
- Chase Budinger with the easy jumper over JO
- Lee hitting an absurd floater at the end of the 24 second shot clock
- Jordan Hill nails a jumper over JO, who barely makes an effort… Patterson is also flying in for the offensive rebound in case it misses with all four other Celtics standing around
- Patterson with another jumper over Big Baby
- Paul Pierce jacking up a three way too early in the shot clock
- Pierce then up-fakes Shane Battier and instead of driving to the basket, does a pirouette, steps back behind the line and jacks up another bad three
- Now with confidence, Brooks drills a transitional three with the Celtics on their heels
- Lee misses a tough shot, but Battier soars over the lazy boxing out for the offensive rebound/tip-in
- Brooks now brimming with confidence, hits the most tightly contested shot on the quarter, a three over the out-stretched hand of Marquis Daniels
- Down by 7 with just over a minute, the Celtics put together some good defense, then Rondo fires a bad pass that could have went to either Ray Allen or Pierce, instead it went to neither and out of bounds
- Still down by 7, Pierce jacks up a deep three as soon as he gets over half court
- Down by 6 with about 20 seconds left and coming out of a timeout, Rondo fires a fastball over Ray's head and out of bounds
So as you can see the Celtics didn't help themselves on either end of the floor. In any season there will be games like these but the Celtics need to be careful and not completely replicate last season's post Christmas record, otherwise they will be traveling to LA again for game 7 not to mention Miami as well. The majority of their remaining January games are winnable for the most part so there is plenty of time to erase this game from recent memory. GreenLights should be up at some point, but there wasn't much to take from this game.