Running Diary: Rondo, Rondo, Rondo as Celtics overcome Warriors

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rajon Rondo has played some fine basketball this season, and has been one of the C's best players, if not the very best. I've been on record as saying I loved his selflessness and great team play.
But tonight was the first game his play finally approached what he did in last season's playoffs. Remember, back when he was aggressive and destroying teams? Back when he didn't give a damn who was guarding him or how he was being guarded? Rondo was a monster in the playoffs, and he was a monster tonight, especially in the second half.

He was going to the hoop and, instead of kicking it out, attacking all the way for layups. He was snatching rebounds, pushing the tempo, and disrupting the Warriors offense. After 30 or so minutes of emotionless play, Rondo was the one who took the Celtics' collective head out of its ass by burning Golden St. time after time.

I'm so happy about Rondo's breakout performance that I haven't even talked about the first half yet. Do I even have to talk about the first half? God knows I don't want to.

It was an abysmal performance during which the Celtics went through the motions and didn't do much of anything right. Perkins scored a lot, but nobody rebounded, nobody contested shots, and nobody stopped penetration. Players like Vlad Radmanovic -- players who have no business driving by a toll booth, never mind a professional basketball player -- got into the teeth of the Celtics defense and made plays. The C's showed no heart, no emotion, and no energy. It was a listless, lackadaisical performance that I would like to forget. Like, now.

The second half was a different story, as the C's finally snapped out of their funk and looked alive. Rondo was the catalyst, but everyone had a little extra pep in their step. The C's held Golden St. scoreless for a span of over six minutes in the third quarter, and their offensive ball movement picked up as the defensive rotations improved.

It's funny what a little energy will do. The C's have looked horrible for a few games now, but when they pick up the intensity, when they do the little things, when they actually look like they're trying, the Celtics can look unbeatable.

And Rondo's play went a long way towards helping them look that way tonight. At least in the second half.

Here's a running diary of my thoughts during the game, while it was going on.

First Quarter

I'm going to start things off with a great pregame tweet from ESPNBoston's Chris Forsberg (follow Celtics Town on twitter here):

ESPNForsberg: Mikki Moore enjoying his time on Golden State. Says players call him the O.G. Reporter asks if that stands for "old guy."

My thoughts? If I called Mikki Moore O.G., it would probably stand for "Oh-my-goodness-I'm-glad-he's Gone.

O.G. is in the starting lineup, and he was booed by the Boston crowd. In other news, the over/under on time before O.G.'s first foul in tonight's game is two minutes. I have the under.

It wasn't just under, it was way under. O.G. commits his first foul 18 seconds into the game. I think it was the longest he's ever been on the court without committing a foul.

Vladimir Radmanovic is guarding Kevin Garnett to begin the game. I'll repeat that: Vladimir. Radmanovic. Is. Guarding. Kevin. Garnett. If he has a pulse, he should have a big game.

Garnett may not have a pulse. If he did, he would not have been dunked on by O.G., like he just was. Wow, Garnett was just dunked on by O.G. That's way, way more shocking than it would have been if O.G. played a full half without committing a foul.

Right after posterizing Garnett, O.G. committed his second foul in the first three minutes.

The Celtics are having their way with Golden State's defense. Then again, so would my 4th-grade CYO team. 9-5, Celtics.

Unfortunately, the Celtics' now-porous defense is also getting shredded. 13-9, Celtics, but Golden St. is really getting some good looks.

The C's should have an incredibly easy time scoring down low tonight. As already mentioned, Garnett is being defended by Radmanovic. Another matchup: The Rondo-thin Anthony Randolph is guarding Perk. Perk just sealed him all the way under the bucket and drew the foul on Garnett's entry pass. Celtics should feed the ball down low every single time they have the ball.

On the other side, the C's bigs will really struggle to guard the more mobile Warriors bigs. And no, I'm not talking about O.G.; I mean Randolph and Radmanovic.

O.G. back in the game with 4:30 left in the quarter. I'll let you know when he picks up his third foul.

The Warriors are so small that even Rasheed Wallace seems content with playing on the blocks. He was on the blocks his first possession, which ended up with him kicking it out of the post to an open Celtic outside, then scored out of the post his second possession. It's odd to see Rasheed in the post, and even odder when you realize he still possesses a lot of post-up skills. It makes you wonder why he spends so much Goddamn time out at the three-point arc.

Huh? Raja Bell? Wasn't he going to get surgery? I guess he's going to play for now while the Warriors are short-handed. Or maybe me reading the headlines rather than the whole article led to me missing where it said his surgery wasn't scheduled for a little while. Frankly, I don't know, and if it was someone more important than Raja Bell, I'd probably find out. But I've got bigger fish to fry than Raja Bell.

C's are winning, 27-23 after the first half. They shot a ho-hum 59% from the field, and are getting whatever shots they want. The Warriors, though, are keeping it close by spreading the floor and actually outrebounding the Celtics. There is no excuse to be outrebounded by this squad. None.

Second Quarter

J.R. Giddens played the end of the first quarter, and is playing the start of the second quarter now. Umm, maybe the Celtics DO need Andres Nocioni? In all seriousness though, I would appreciate it if the C's didn't spend $21 million over the next three years on a player who may or may not even be able to crack the rotation this season. He's a tough, gritty player, but Nocioni plays little defense and can't do much of anything on offense besides hit open threes. Please, Danny Ainge. Don't do it.

O.G. foul update: It's a miracle, but he still only has two fouls.

Ew. Ew, ew, ew. I know Rasheed Wallace is old, but he doesn't have to look like he never ran a fast-break before. In case you didn't see it, 'Sheed got a steal, passed it off to Rondo who dribbled it upcourt and fed a running 'Sheed on the right win for an easy layup. Well, it should have been easy. Instead, 'Sheed looked like he had the slowest seizure in the history of mankind, half-running and half-walking into his defender and losing the ball in the process. I just puked in my mouth a little.

Remember the "best defense in the history of the NBA" talk? I may sound a little like Jim Mora, but here goes: Best Defense?? Best Defense?? I just want to get a stop!! It's 41-39, Celtics with just under six minutes left, and they can't seem to stop anyone.

The Warriors have very, very little defensive intensity. Whenever the Celtics get a little ball movement, they get easy looks, but when the C's are going one-on-one they've had a little tougher time. Move the ball, Celts. Offense is extremely simple against Golden St., I promise.

Meanwhile, the C's have no defense whatsoever. The Warriors aren't just getting good shots, they're getting layups and dunks. Radmanovic has gotten into the teeth of the Celtics defense time after time. Boston's help "D" doesn't just seem bad, it seems nonexistent.

Giddens is inserted with four seconds left in the half for defensive purposes, just in time to win the "Tony Allen Award" for inadvertently fouling a shooter at the least opportune time. Congratulations, J.R., you are the winner of a brand new basketball tutor!

Celtics leading 49-48 at halftime, after a 3/4-court one-handed heave by Garnett swishes, but gets taken away for being after the buzzer. The Celtics are going through the motions, not working hard on defense, and not caring enough to move the ball offensively. It's like the last two seasons, and the first five games of this season, are long-lost memories. Big props to @Jose3030 for the video.

By the way, the C's are being outrebounded 21-14 at halftime. By a team that starts O.G. and Vlad Radmanovic. If you aren't embarrassed by that stat, you're either a) not a Celtics fan, or b) not capable of being embarrassed.

Alright, everybody, I feel better. I just switched the station to ESPN, where the Wizards are playing the Cavs, and I was instantly cheered up. I looked over at the Wizards' bench, and I started to say to my roommate, "Mike Miller looks like a weird-looking dude with that hair." Then I realized you can't look like a weird-looking "dude" when you look like a woman. Why does this make me happier? For all the bad defense, all the poor offense, and all the shitty rebounding the Celtics have shown recently, at least they don't have a player on their team who looks like a woman.

Third Quarter

The Celtics are, to keep this story short, being outworked. The Warriors are getting layups, rebounds and winning all the loose balls. It looks like the Celtics' morning alarm still hasn't gone off.

I think it's about time Doc re-institutes the morning shootaround. Maybe then the C's will wake up in the morning, rather than waiting until the third or fourth quarter to finally snap out of their deep slumber.

O.G. finally picked up his third foul. It took him about 24 minutes of game-time, or approximately 24 times the usual amount of time it takes him to pick up a foul.

The crowd seems unbelievably on edge. After watching this team play with heart, passion and guts for two full season, everyone in the TD Garden seems uneasy to watch such a heartless effort. So do I.

Earth to Kevin Garnett. Earth to Kevin Garnett. Aren't you supposed to be the most intense player in the league? Aren't you supposed to keep your teammates on their toes and pump them up? Start crawling around on all fours, Garnett. Your team badly, badly needs an infusion of your supposedly contagious energy.

Never mind, Garnett, you don't need to bring energy. Rajon Rondo will do it for you. Rondo made a few very nice takes in a row, and all of a sudden the Celtics are moving with a purpose on both ends for the first time in the game. It's nice to see, but it makes you wonder why it took 30 minutes for the Celtics to show a little life. 70-59, Celtics.

By the way, according to Chris Forsberg, Golden St. just endured a 6:01 scoring drought. So much for the porous defense, I suppose. A lot of it has to do with Rondo; he's everywhere right now. (Although he just waved Raja Bell by on his way to the hoop when the Warriors finally broke the drought.)

Rasheed Wallace just argued a foul call vehemently. Shocker. But the reason I'm telling this story is that Tommy Heinsohn remarked about Wallace, "Get this guy an ice cube to calm him down." Classic Heinsohn material.

80-68, Celtics at the end of the third, and they actually showed signs of being a good basketball team during that quarter.

Fourth Quarter

A quick run by the Celtics to start the fourth puts this game pretty much out of reach, 86-70. Red Auerbach, wherever he may be, can now light up his victory cigar; the Warriors are capable of putting up a lot of points in a hurry, but they can't possibly stop the Celtics enough to make up the difference.

I don't want to tell Red to put his stogie away but, well, he might want to put that stogie away. Golden St. just had a six-point run to cut the lead to ten. I still don't think Golden St. has a chance, but you can't exactly count them out yet. Actually, yes you can. Even after a little run, the Warriors are not coming back. Not against the Celtics, no matter how bad they looked in the first two and a half quarters of this game.

Eddie House got a little hot and drained a coupled in a row. It's amazing how streaky a shooter he is. Sometimes, he'll seemingly go through weeks, even months, without missing, but other times he's a cold as a New England winter night.

Ray Allen is putting Steph Curry on the blocks. I'm not sure if Ray's had more favorable matchups so far this season than he usually does, but he seems to be spending a lot more time in the post this season. I'm still not accustomed to seeing Ray punishing opposing guards down low, but he's been doing it with a lot more frequency this season, and he actually has a pretty polished post game.

If I heard this right, this stat is ridiculous: The Celtics were the 23rd straight team to surpass 100 points against the Warriors. I'm not sure if it's true, and I feel like it can't be, but DAYYUUUUMMM, that's wild if it is.

The bum squad is in with a couple minutes to play, and this one is officially over. Rondo gets a well-deserved rest, finishing with 18 points, 12 assists and 7 rebounds.

Last update: The Celtics wound up beating the Warriors on the boards, 36-35. In other words, they beat O.G. and co. by one measly rebound. It may look bad, but they were down seven boards at halftime.


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