Things went from “bad” to “worse” for the rested Boston Celtics last night as their post-Christmas hangover showed no signs of abetting. The latest abortion came at the hands of Dr. Nowitski and the Dallas Mavericks who broke through the Celtic lines early in the third quarter and never looked back. Truth be told, it was probably the best German offensive since the early days of The Bulge as Nowitzki was simply unstoppable in the third quarter. ’Sheed ….. no chance. Scalabine …. Next. Big Baby …….Nope. The big German was just too much for the Celtics and once he got rolling, you could see the Celtics wilt and start searching for the white flag. They simply had no defense as these numbers can attest:
The Mavs shot 80 percent in the third quarter and 57 percent on the game.
The Mavs didn’t miss a shot over the first 5.5 minutes of the third quarter.
Eric Dampier-Shawn Marion-Jason Kidd were a combined 17-22, while Kidd supplemented that by knocking down three long balls. That is 37 points on 22 shots, or an effective FG% of 88 percent.
In fairness to Boston’s offense, the Dallas offensive was being met for the first ten minutes of the second half. But last night, you just got the feeling that the Celtics were going to break at some point and break they did with about three minutes to go in the third. A PP three put the Celts up by three with 2:30 to go in the quarter, but the Mavs then closed the third stanza out with a 10-0 run and that became a 24-7 run by the time four minutes had passed in the fourth. Game, Set, Match!
So what is wrong with this club? After all, they are now just 4-7 since Christmas, one of those wins was a miracle and another came against New Jersey. Well, injuries have obviously played a big role but there is more going on here. First off, the defense has been just awful and it now seems like every night, an opposing player has a Manster night against the Celts. Monte Ellis, Channing Frye, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, Dirk Nowitzki ….. the beat goes on and on. And two, it seems that every time this team gets challenged in the second half, it backs down. Big stops are elusive, Rondo can’t get the team easy looks, and the offense grinds to a halt. Time and time again, this club is taking a body shot in the 7th and 8th round and is looking for a standing eight by the time the 10th and 11th roll around. Clearly, some of this will be ameliorated by KG’s return as that will give the club a big defensive weapon and it will shorten some of those questionable bench minutes. But that being said, this club looks uninspired and bored right now. Is all that going to change when KG comes back? Given what I have seen the past two weeks, I am no longer sure that is going to cure all these problems.
Some additional quick hits ……
The Celts miserable FT shooting continues ….. 8-16 last night and that followed a 15-28 on Friday. Perkins has now joined Rondo under that magical sixty percent line.
In the last five Celtic losses that he has played, Sheed is just 3-27 from three point land. Have the Celts been reduced to living and dying on Sheed’s three balls? Jeez, I hope not.
Rondo, coming off three days rest and playing against Jason Kidd, was a non-factor last night. Yes, he had a dozen assists but Rondo should have dominated that game. And as we have seen recently, he was AWOL while the Celts were taking shots in the third quarter.