Kevin Garnett (left) cannot bear to watch his team’s lackluster play while Paul Pierce (right) looks on.
The Boston Celtics are in the midst of a four game losing streak and just came off a winless road trip through New Orleans, Dallas, and Memphis. The news got worse today when Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge announced that Kevin Garnett will be out for at least the next two weeks with inflammation in his left ankle.
Garnett missed the 105-88 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on March 16th with a left abductor strain and the 105-103 loss to the Miami Heat on March 18th with the flu. He returned last Wednesday when the Celtics traveled to New Orleans to take on the Hornets. Doc Rivers said Garnett aggravated the injury in the 104-94 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. Garnett did not suit up in the loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. Then Garnett went for an MRI on Sunday.
With a hobbling Garnett, the Celtics suffered too many breakdowns against the Mavericks with Brandan Wright exploding for 23 points and eight rebounds. After the Celtics got off to a hot start, the Mavericks were able to control the paint and get important rebounds from Wright and Vince Carter when the Celtics pushed the Mavericks’ advantage into single digits. The Celtics’ pick-and-roll defense also suffered without Garnett on the floor.
The Celtics were also without guard Courtney Lee against the Grizzlies. Lionel Hollins and the Grizzlies coaching staff took advantage by inserting Jerryd Bayless with Mike Conley in the backcourt whenever Avery Bradley was on the floor. Bradley is more of an on-ball defender while Lee can cover the other guard. With two weak defenders in Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford, Bayless erupted for a career-high 30 points to lead the Grizzlies to a 110-106 victory over the Celtics. Rivers was forced to empty the bench with the Celtics facing a double digit deficit in the fourth quarter. The reserves got the Celtics back in the game, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
The Celtics are fighting for potential home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs while to trying to avoid getting the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference to face the Heat.They are four and a half games behind the fourth place Brooklyn Nets while only two games ahead of the eighth place Milwaukee Bucks. There is a crucial home game against the New York Knicks on Tuesday night. The only good news is that Lee is expected to be back on the floor against the Knicks.
While the team is already depleted by injuries, the last thing the Celtics needed was to hear that they will be without Garnett, who is their emotional leader and best defender while there is only 14 games left in the regular season.
The Boston Celtics will need strong interior play from Brandon Bass.
It’s the end of the world for the Boston Celtics. They failed to sell off their aging core that includes franchise cornerstone Paul Pierce. Would the Celtics be better off trading Pierce and Kevin Garnett for thirty cents of a dollar?
If the Celtics moved Pierce or Garnett for a player like Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks, they would be in a worse position than they find themselves now. Smith brings the same attributes as Rajon Rondo at a different position. The one key difference is Rondo has improved his shot while Smith hasn’t. Defenses can sag off Smith and force him to take long jump shots. Also, Smith has dealt with maturity issues on the court. He was suspended for one game in January by his team because of an incident in practice. The Hawks had lost six of seven games at the time and they could not afford their best player to cause trouble. Smith would want a max contract after this season since he is an impending free agent and he is not worthy of that type of money.
During the recent road trip, the Celtics went 2-3. The most disappointing loss was against the Portland Trail Blazers, yet the Celtics redeemed themselves with a 110-107 overtime victory over the Jazz in Utah on the following night.
What do all of these dates have in common? Well, all of them have taken place in the past year and all of them take place during basketball season. More importantly, all of these dates are ones where Rajon Rondo has been suspended for some type of on court issue. Lets revisit them, shall we?
The first incident took place in February last season during a game at Detroit. After not receiving a foul call following a hard drive to the basket, Rondo tossed the ball and hit the official in the chest. Rondo received a double technical, was ejected from the game and resulted in a two game suspension. The Celtics lost both games while Rondo was suspended.
The second incident also involved a referee, this time taking place during the 2012 playoffs. During a quarterfinal match up against the Atlanta Hawks, Rondo was once again arguing an official’s call and bumped a referee in the final minute of the game one loss. Rondo once again received a double technical, was ejected from the game and would later be suspended for game two of the series. The Celtics won that game behind a 36 point effort from Paul Pierce.
The Boston Celtics lost three straight games after beating the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day. All three losses came on the West Coast and they were all by double digits. The Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Sacramento Kings easily handled the Celtics. While the defeats to the Clippers and Warriors were understandable because those are two of the hottest teams in the NBA, the defeat to the Kings was tough to swallow. The Kings are just 11-20 and DeMarcus Cousins had come off a team-induced suspension for yelling at coach Keith Smart. When the Celtics came back home on Wednesday, they fell to the Memphis Grizzlies, 93-83. The Celtics allowed an average of 108.3 points per game. They are 17th in the league in points allowed per game (98.1 points per game) and their opponents are shooting 37.5% from beyond the arc.
Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett are calling their teammates to reflect on whether they are truly committed to helping the team achieve success. The Celtics are below .500 for the first time since they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers on November 9th. This team has failed to show they are capable of winning a championship based on their lackluster play, especially on the defensive end of the court.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin had the upper edge over Brandon Bass and the Boston Celtics.
The Boston Celtics finally showed what they were capable of in their 93-76 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas. Unfortunately, they fell right back into their routine of losing a game after the Los Angeles Clippers crushed the Celtics, 106-77, on Thursday night.
Throughout the first two months of the 2012-’13 NBA season, the Celtics have played well in spurts, but they have not been able to seize consistency. They have taken one step forward and two steps back. Their longest win streak has been three.
This team has relied too much on Kevin Garnett’s defensive intensity, Paul Pierce’s scoring, and Rajon Rondo’s playmaking ability. Their complementary players such as Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, and Brandon Bass have struggled. Green has improved over the course of this month which was highlighted by his 15-point output in the win on Tuesday, but he hasn’t seemed to put his whole package of skills together on a game-to-game basis. Lee seems to be losing confidence with his outside shot. He appears to be attempting to take the ball to the basket frequently without much success. Bass’s shot is not falling and his defense has suffered. This is part of the reason why Doc Rivers moved Bass to the bench while starting Jason Collins (Collins is better at setting screens and improves the Celtics interior defense). Collins is also a 7-footer while Bass is an undersized power forward at 6-8. Jared Sullinger has shown he is a great rebounder when he is on the court and he has a niche for making plays in the paint, but he has been plagued by foul trouble. Sullinger leads the team with 85 fouls and he only averages 17.7 minutes per game. He needs to adapt to the NBA and it doesn’t help that the officials know he is a rookie so he will not get the benefit of calls.
Courtney Lee’s aggressiveness has picked up on the offensive end over the past three games.
The Boston Celtics are nearly a quarter into their 2012-’13 regular season with a 10-8 record. Through seventeen games, the Celtics have battled inconsistency on both ends of the court.
This year the Celtics’ roster appeared to be deeper than in the past five years since they acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to form the Big Three with Paul Pierce. With Allen leaving the Celtics for the Miami Heat in July, they replaced him with Jason Terry. Terry has performed fairly well other than allowing Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings to get by him for the go-ahead basket in the Celtics’ 91-88 loss to the Bucks on Saturday. Terry missed a couple of treys in the final minute.
The Celtics’ bench was supposed to be strong this year with players such as Jeff Green, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa, and either Jared Sullinger or Brandon Bass. They lost Darko Milicic, who had an ailing mother overseas, for the season. Milicic was supposed to be an upgrade over Greg Stiemsma last year. Milicic’s height (7 feet) and interior defense were supposed to help the Celtics, but that never materialized. Instead, the Celtics have used undersized forwards such as Chris Wilcox and Sullinger in the frontcourt with rare cameos from Jason Collins.