Running Diary: Not much defense as Celtics down Raptors

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Before you read this, please promise me one thing: Promise me you won't ever, ever let me go to another NBDL game.

I live right next to Springfield, where there is a new NBDL team, and tonight was opening night. It seemed like fun, plus my friend bought me tickets for free, so I decided to go. After all, it was professional basketball. How bad could it be?

The answer? Pretty. F---ing. Bad. By the time we left, with eight minutes still left in the game, the Springfield Armor were losing 92-58, and I still wasn't sure how they'd even scored 58 points. It was so bad that my brother and I had conversations during the game like this one:

Tommy (my brother): How many points do you think you could score if you played in this game?
Me: Probably 15-20. I'm a better shooter than any of these guys, and they don't exactly contest shots. If I played the full 48 minutes, I'd have at least 15 or 20.
Tommy: Yeah, that sounds about right. I was thinking the same thing.

And we were dead serious! Meanwhile, I'm the same guy who quit my division three basketball team after not getting any minutes whatsoever. And my team was one of division three's worst programs. I'm not exactly what you would call a super-talented player. But I was convinced -- and, frankly, still am -- that I could have score 15 or 20 points if I played the full game. Even though the Armor had only scored 58 through 40 or so minutes.

Honestly, the most talented player in the gym wasn't even a player. (And, surprisingly, it wasn't Armor coach Dee Brown either.) Nope. It was the guy who participated in one of the shooting contests during a timeout. In the contest, he had to sink three foul-line jumpers and three three-pointers in a minute in order to get the prize, whatever the prize was. He made his first five shots, leaving him with half a minute to make the final shot.

Since I'm telling you the story, you know he ended up making the last shot, but listen to how he did it: Instead of shooting with half a minute left and getting a few chances to win the prize, he waited until the clock ran all the way down, leaving himself with one pressure-filled NBA three-pointer to collect his bounty. Needless to say, he canned it. And, with that sixth made shot, he had made more field goals during a one-minute contest than the Armor did in the entire second half. The NBDL: Where a random fan picked out of the crowd being better than the home team's players happens.

Now that you know just how bad the level of play was, you can imagine how excited I was to get back to the Celtics game. (Which I had DVR'ed.) Think about how hyped I must have been to get back when I kept getting tweets like "The Celtics are shooting 83%. Not in the first four minutes of the game. Nope, it's almost halftime.", "Paul Pierce just crammed on Chris Bosh's head.", and "The Celtics are threatening to break their record for highest single-game field goal percentage." I couldn't wait to get back and get the horrible taste of the NBDL out of my mouth.

I knew the Celtics had won by the time I got back, but I had to see for myself and decide what I thought about this one. Here is what I came up with, a running diary of my thoughts as I watched the game:

First Quarter

  • First good news of the telecast: Tony Allen is still out tonight. Thank you, Tony, and please, take your time coming back.

  • The first Celtics bucket: A Ray Allen 15-foot jumper. Not only did no Raptor contest it, but no Raptor even seemed to know that Ray was shooting.

  • Tommy Heinsohn on Andrea Bargnani's defense: "I tell ya. That Bargnani, he's got his feet stuck in spaghetti." Comcast Sports New England telecasts: Where racial slurs happen.

  • Of the Celtics first 12 points, ten of them are on easy layups or dunks. Make that 12 of the first 14. Nope, make it 14 of their first 16. Actually, 16 of their first 18.

  • Mike Gorman just said, "First one to 140 [wins]", and it doesn't even seem like he's exaggerating. The Celtics are having layup lines, and the Raptors aren't having much more difficulty scoring than the C's. The game has been tied seven different times, and it's mostly because neither team can buy a stop.

  • The Celtics are shooting 9 for 10 from the field, but are down two, 20-18. If you've ever imagined what it would be like to watch NBA players play H.O.R.S.E., here's your chance.

  • As good as the Celtics look offensively, getting layups and dunks whenever they want, they weren't taking care of the ball at all in the first quarter. Their 6th turnover of the game came with three minutes still remaining in the first. They could play a lineup of five Tony Allen's and probably not have that many turnovers. On second thought, nahhhhhh.

  • The Celtics hit 12 of their first 13 shots, and the one miss was a Ray Allen missed lefty runner on the C's first shot. For those of you who still haven't gathered this, that means they hit 12 shots in a row. Not too shabby. Here's one of the shots they hit:

  • Watching Hedo Turkoglu play defense makes me realize 1) how good Dwight Howard is defensively, to be able to hide Hedo's deficiencies, and 2) how good a coach Stan Van Gundy is, to be able to hide Hedo's deficiencies. The duo of Chris Bosh and Jay Triano hasn't quite had the same success in making Hedo's defense somewhat permissible.

  • This Toronto team is historically bad defensively. Any time you put two of the NBA's softer big men on the same team, then surround them with a whole bunch of soft, slow-ish players, it's a recipe for defensive disaster. The Raps just give up layup after layup, and when they aren't giving up layups they're giving up wide open jumpers. It's unbelievable how bad they are on "D".

  • The C's shot 83% for the ENTIRE FIRST QUARTER, and are up 33-27 at the end of one. Really, it should be far worse, but the C's defense is still suiting up in the locker room and their offense is throwing turnovers left and right.

    Second Quarter

  • Early in the second quarter, 'Sheed got a steal, bulldozed an official, then missed an awkward pullup five footer on the break. Less than a minute later, Sheed picked up a technical foul, and the refs had gotten their revenge. Meanwhile, Tommy Heinsohn acted like Rasheed is an absolute class act, saying "I'm getting tired with these officials. I'm getting tired with that type of nonsense, that call. I mean, the guy is upset because he goes to one end of the floor, goes to the basket, doesn't get a foul"... and then Tommy just kind of trailed off without finishing his sentence. Either way, he apparently thinks Rasheed doesn't deserve his technicals, despite Rasheed being the league's technical leader for, oh, about the last fifty some-odd years, and the fact that he argues just about every single call made against him.

  • The C's defense is non-existent. Somehow, they are only up two points despite scoring just about every time they've taken a shot.

  • Why, oh why, does Rasheed Wallace not go into the post more often? Especially when he's mired into a seemingly oh-fer-the-season slump, wouldn't you think he would at least try his post game out a little? Well, he did in this game. First post touch: Drop step towards the baseline around Bargnani for an easy bucket. Second post touch (on the very next play), an unblockable fadeaway turning towards his left shoulder for another bucket. Please, Rasheed, don't be allergic to the paint. You are far too talented on the blocks.

  • I'm not sure exactly what he said, but Rasheed just started woofing at Turkoglu while the two were walking to their respective huddles to begin a timeout. After the game, I received a tweet from thew Globe's Gary Washburn that said: "Rasheed wallace on hedo turkoglu: 'flop. Thats what turkadodo do. Flop.'" It's too bad for the Raptors that "Turkadodo" is too busy flopping to play any semblance of real defense. Also too bad for the Raptors: Nobody else on their team plays any semblance of real defense, either.

  • Paul Pierce just scored on Marco Belinelli, and Mike Gorman said something to the affect of, "It's like Pierce looked up, saw he had Belinelli on him, and decided he would go ahead and score." Gorman might as well have said, "It's like Pierce looked up, saw he was playing the Raptors, and decided he would go ahead and score."

  • 'Sheed is doing it all in the first half. He's hitting from inside, hitting from outside, rebounding, and blocking shots. When he plays like this, he helps the Celtics SO much. Unfortunately, most of the time he's too busy living in a tent at the three-point arc to play so well.

  • Comcast just had the following "Roundball debate of perfection": Who is the perfect Celtics shooter? A) Ray Allen, or B) Jo-Jo White. There is no C) option. Now, I know Ray Allen is a great shooter, and so was Jo-Jo White, but don't you have to include a certain white shooter on the list? And, for those of you out there wondering, I don't mean Brian Scalabrine. Larry Bird, people. Doesn't he deserve to at least be an option on the Goddamn list? They called Ray Allen "Jesus" in He Got Game, but they called Larry Bird "Jesus", or at least "Basketball Jesus", in real life. Let's just say the "Roundball debate of perfection" could use a little tweaking.

  • Kendrick Perkins is really an underrated passer. He usually makes one or two passes a game that make me scratch my head and wonder how Perk saw the pass when a lot of point guards wouldn't. (Okay, maybe just a lot of power forwards wouldn't make.) This time, it was a wraparound pass to a wide open Garnett underneath the bucket. Perk can do a lot of surprisingly good things with the basketball in his hands.

  • The Celtics shot 67.6% in the first half. The problem? The Raps shot 66.7%, and actually lead the C's by one point at halftime. The first half was simply a clinic on how NOT to play defense, for both teams. Layup, after layup, after layup, on both ends. Somehow, despite negative defense on both sides, the two teams have combined for 24 turnovers. Go figure.

    Third Quarter

  • The second half started out much the same as the first, with the Raptors getting unmolested shots at the hoop. A layup, a dunk, and another dunk were results from Toronto's first three possessions. Since I am DVR'ing this, I know the Raptors only scored 17 points the whole third quarter, but it looks right now like they are ready to have another 30-or-so point quarter.

  • The C's were down 61-57, then rattled off a 13-0 run that only ended when Amir Johnson hit a free throw to make it 70-62. During the run, the C's "flipped the switch", finally putting together a stretch of good defense and maintaining their prolific offensive output.

  • It might just be playing a team softer than a baby's bottom, but the Celtics are pounding the ball down low and scoring easy buckets all day. It bothers me when KG and Wallace spend too much time on the perimeter, because the trio of those two and Perk should be absolutely dominant down low on both ends.

  • By the time the third quarter was over, the game was over, and I'm getting kind of restless. I just want to see Pierce's dunk...

    Fourth Quarter

  • Well, I saw Pierce's dunk and, of course, I want to say a couple things about it. First, there's no way Pierce intentionally kicked Bosh. To kick him, while simultaneously skying through the air and dunking a basketball, would have been almost impossible. Still, he certainly kicked him. On another note, somebody needs to tell Jay Triano to shut the f--- up. For some reason, he started yapping at the Celtics about something being bullshit. I don't know whether he was talking about Pierce's kick, Pierce's taunt afterward, or what, but I DO know that instead of getting into a shouting match with Rasheed after a Pierce dunk, Triano should have been more focused on coaching his defense.

    Dunks happen, offensive fouls happen, and trash talk happens, Triano, but you don't have to make it worse by getting into a shouting match with Rasheed after it. Just shut up and coach your team. It's your defense, not Pierce's dunk, that was bullshit. If you want to argue Pierce should have toned it down a little, I agree, but it's not the coach's place to do something about it. The referees called a technical foul, and the coach should just let bygones be bygones. There is no need for a coach to ever get into a shouting match with an opposing player. Not over a little taunting, at least.

  • Somehow, Doc Rivers ended up with a technical foul after Triano was up in Rasheed's mug screaming his head off. You wonder what in the hell goes on in NBA officials heads, sometimes.

  • Instead of watching the end of this game, I'm just going to put that dunk on repeat:

  • Before I go, I'll leave you with some stats:

  • Eddie House was the only Celtic to take a shot and not shoot at least 50% from the field. He was 1 for 3.

  • Rondo had more assists (11) than the entire Raptors starting five (8).

  • KG and Perk were both perfect from the field, combining for 14 for 14 shooting and 30 points. That would have been a lot more impressive had their degree of difficulty not been higher in layup lines than it was in the game.

  • The C's shot 62.3%.

  • Despite playing a frontcourt that would have been overpowered by Mikki Moore, the C's were outrebounded 31-26.

    I'm sure there are some other wild statistics from this one, but I have yet to unearth them. Just know it was an unorthodox game with some blistering shooting, and that the Celtics had no problems putting Toronto away once they put it into first gear in the third quarter.

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