After every game, we’ll take stock of how each individual performance affects the player’s overall value.
Rajon Rondo: The 20 points, 13 assists and 7 rebounds make for a spectacular line. The aggressive moves to the rim to get easy (or relatively easy for him) were great. He still had 4 turnovers and stretches where he was sloppy. The bar is higher for Rondo this year than it has in the past.
Paul Pierce: He can still carry the scoring load, but he had a solid overall game. 23 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. He faded a little bit at the end, but it’s clear we can still count on The Truth when we need buckets.
Kevin Garnett: Rough game for KG with a game-high 5 turnovers. He was definitely off, which may help explain, at least a little, why the Celtics defense was also off. He did have 12 rebounds, which is great. He definitely needed more than 8 shots, but Miami was doing a great job fronting him then sending help from behind and making him uncomfortable.
Brandon Bass: Got the starting nod after a lot of debate, and he paid off nicely. He was the first of the Celtics to record a double-double with a 15 point, 11 rebound performance. He was aggressive, especially in the first half, which was reflected in his six offensive rebounds. He also continued to prove to be effective in short bursts defensively against LeBron James. I wouldn’t put him on LeBron for a whole game, but I’m not scared when Bass switches onto him.
Courtney Lee: Lee’s 11 points on 5-6 shooting was great. He got lost on pick-and-rolls a few times, leading to easy Miami baskets. The confusion on defense is reflected in his five fouls. It’s clear he’s still getting comfortable, but it also seems clear that he’ll be quite effective once he does.
Jeff Green: I’m not going to rehash too much with Green. You can read more from the Dump, but it’s obvious to everyone, including him, that he was a no-show. The biggest question out of Game 1 is was this a matchup issue, or was this just jitters/emotions, or if this was a continuation of the Jeff Green of years past.
Jason Terry: He had an early stretch where he was carrying the offense with eight straight points. But those were the only eight points he’d score on the night. The question I have is whether handling the point when Rondo sat was part of the problem. He had three turnovers and only one assist… but that’s not his job.
Jared Sullinger: He got his first NBA points in style, and he also had a funny “welcome to the NBA” moment when he got switched onto LeBron. I can only imagine how a rookie, minutes into his NBA career, felt like staring LeBron down. He actually did a good job, though, despite LeBron scoring. Still, he had trouble guarding the taller Chris Bosh and Doc ultimately sat him the entire second half. I don’t think this is a reflection on his abilities, I think Doc will have a quick trigger with him because he’s a rookie, especially in matchups where he may struggle early on.
Leandro Barbosa: Who expected him to carry the Celtics offense at all at any point this season? 6-8 for 16 points and a fourth quarter explosion that made this game much closer than it probably should have been. I’ll credit Tommy Heinsohn, who did say if you’re ever down big, get Barbosa the ball and let him go off. That worked last night, and almost helped the C’s pull off a crazy comeback.
Doc Rivers: Great call to start Bass, but since we’re next-day second-guessing, you wonder if it might have helped to try some height against the Heat and defend the rim a little. I’m definitely not saying playing Darko or Collins any would have helped turn things around, it’s just a question. I’m not sure what he could have done to get the guys to slow down and not run the Miami transition game, but that approach didn’t help things either.
The Celtics didn’t really run much of a fluid offense, but they still managed to score 107 point. That just goes to show how good the individuals are on this team. It’s possible the Celtics, and Rondo, got caught up in the possibility of running a transition game where one hasn’t existed in past years, but doing it against the Heat isn’t the time to try. Instead of running selectively, the C’s forced the issue, playing right into Miami’s hands.
Defensively, the Celtics are still not close to where they’ll eventually be in the spring. Some of these problems will be fixed with more time together. Some others need more work than that. Things will get better, but it’s clear there’s still much more of the process to be worked through before they reach full potential.