Friday, January 6, 2012
The Question Of 2011-12: Will The Boston Celtics Ever Beat A Good Team?
I want to have hope for the Boston Celtics in 2011-12, I really do. However, when they've lost to every half-decent team (plus New Orleans) that they've played so far, I can't help but feel that they are front-running frauds.
Tonight, the Indiana Pacers came to TD Garden and they snapped Boston's (4-4) misleading (since it was against Detroit, Washington-twice-and New Jersey) four-game winning streak with an 87-74 beating that truthfully was never really in doubt.
For whatever reason, the Celts had no rhythm offensively other than Ray Allen, who had a game-high 23 points after missing Wednesday against New Jersey with the flu.
They tied a franchise low with 25 points in the first half. Somehow they were only down eight at that point but the Pacers (5-2) were efficient, younger and had more energy.
Paul Pierce had one of the worst shooting performances (3 of 17) in his career as he was held to 10 points. Kevin Garnett put up his now customary quiet 12 points and six rebounds while Rajon Rondo was held in check (11 points, 9 assists, 3 steals).
Four of the five Pacers that started scored in double-figures. Only David West (2 points, 10 rebounds), who spurned the Celtics' offer to come to Boston, had a bad game. Danny Granger led Indiana with a modest 15 points while Darren Collison (14 points), Paul George (12 points) and Roy Hibbert (11 points, 12 rebounds) all played well.
The two main reasons that the Pacers won were because they owned the glass (47-36 including 14-7 offensive rebounds) and their bench absolutely crushed Boston's (33-14).
George Hill (13 points) and Tyler Hansbrough (12 points) were both big sparks off the bench for Indiana that Boston had no answer for. The normally reliable Brandon Bass had his worst game in a Celtics uniform with five points (2 of 7 shooting) and four rebounds in 25 minutes.
I wouldn't normally say that four games is a reasonable sample size in an NBA season but since this particular one is only 66, I'd say the next nine days are vital for the C's. They have two more huge games at home: Wednesday vs. the defending champion Dallas Mavericks then Friday vs. Chicago. After that, they go to Indiana on Saturday and come home to face Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, January 16.
They need to beat either the Mavs or Bulls and then the Pacers the second time around to show that they are still elite in the Eastern Conference and by extension, the NBA. Otherwise, it's going to be a long and mediocre season.