Overall, the team looked tired. They're 3-8 in their last 11 games, but things are not as bad as they appear, just like they weren't as good as they appeared earlier in the year. The Sixers have actually outscored their opponents (89.8 to 89.5) over the last 11 games. Eventually, a ball will bounce their way.
In short, they are who we thought they were, even if we allowed ourselves to hope for better when the year started.
Philadelphia's loss put the Celtics 1.5 games back in the division. So the formula is simple: Beat Houston tonight, beat Philly tomorrow, move into a tie for the division lead. For all of you saying "OMG WE GOTTA AVOID THE 7 OR 8 SEED AT ALL COSTS!!!"… well… this would be how you do it. The division leader can be no worse than a 4th seed.
It's not going to be easy. The C's play Philly on a back to back… and by then we're asking for the team to be on a six-game winning streak. And even if the C's do win the next two, they've got that 8 game road trip with a lot of tough games looming. Holding on to the lead will be harder than getting it.
But it's there… the division lead is within reach. It's up to the C's to go get it.
On Page 2: Doc is going to stick with Keyon Dooling
"Keyon basically missed the beginning of the year, then he missed a big stretch [late in the first half due to injury]," said Rivers. "Keyon hasn't played a lot of games and he's had very few practices with us. He's just trying to get his rhythm. What I love about him is he plays hard every night and he plays with energy. And he's a threat behind the 3[-point line]."
Over the last 10 games, Dooling is averaging 3.1 points and 1.3 assists over 14.6 minutes per game and shooting just 24.3 percent from the floor during that stretch. The one thing Dooling doesn't lack is confidence, however, and even though he made just 1-of-9 trifectas in wins over Milwaukee and New Jersey, he isn't afraid to keep firing away. For the season, the 12th-year guard is averaging 4.9 points and 1.3 assists per game. Dooling's only bucket Sunday came on a 21-foot jumper late in the first quarter and he finished with two points, an assist, and a steal over 9 minutes, 24 seconds against the Knicks.
I know this news will elicit some eye rolls. We want to just plug in player and have them play up to their maximum potential right away.
It doesn't always work that way, though. Keyon is struggling to find his way, but Doc is confident he will find it. And the Celtics need him to find it, because even though he's getting a lot of time at the 2, Keyon is also going to be running some point… and we need someone to step up there to give Rondo a break. I know he's 26, but you can't play him 42 minutes a night. You can't do that in a normal NBA season.
You have a problem with Rondo's consistency? Getting a few extra minutes of rest will help. That's where Dooling comes in… we hope.
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: C's unlikely to trade any of the big 4 | Rivers gives Rondo more play calling duties | Player poll ranks Rondo 12th best to start a team with | ESPN Boston: Rondo, KG passed up for honor | WEEI: On Kevin Garnett playing center | Can Rondo make the C's dangerous again | Herald: Celtics react to evidence | Globe: Rondo hitting his stride | MWDN: C's galvanized by trade rumors