The last two days have demonstrated a clear issue for Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. The Boston Celtics played a very emotionally and physically draining game against the Lakers on Thursday in Boston. Both teams played hard for not only an entire forty eight minutes, but an additional five minutes as well for the overtime. In the end the Lakers managed to squeak out with a one point victory. However, both teams clearly took a lot out of each other as they went back and forth the entire game with both aging fighters clearly wanting the win.
The next night against Toronto the Celtics starters clearly showed the effects of the war with LA. The offense was stagnant and the defense could put zero effort into rotating to the ball. Doc Rivers had the face of a man getting castrated for a reason. I am more shocked that it took him almost a full quarter to explode on his team the way that he did. (Those that do not know Doc Rivers snapped and called time outs five seconds apart and lit his team up for the way they approached this game)
After lighting up the Lakers for 22 points by running his usual marathon through picks and screens, Ray Allen looked like he had nothing in the tank. Ray front rimmed shot after shot and was not moving like he normally does to get his shot off. Ray also turned the ball over with some terrible passes that were just too lazy. Kevin Garnett led the way with 17 points, but he clearly was not himself. He did not move and attack the paint the way he had in previous games. His help defense was also just a hair too late and the Raptors made it into the paint the entire game for easy baskets. Paul Pierce looked like he had some energy, but with the rest of his teammates not moving, he was forced into some tough isolations that led to bad shots being jacked up. The result was Boston got beat by the very same team that they blew out the previous time they played them.
The problem for Boston is very simple. It is that their core is old. They can still be effective, but the reality is they are going to have games like this where there bodies just have nothing left to give due to the way they played the game before.
The only good news is Doc does have some answers for this problem. He has some solid bench guys like Brandon Bass, Mickael Pietrus, Avery Bradley, JaJuan Johnson, and even Chris Wilcox showed they could play with some serious energy. When Boston was down sixteen points against this Raptor squad, it was the bench that carried the team back to being down only five points. They hustled on defense and made Toronto work. On offense they played without he urgency that the starters lacked. They attacked and moved the ball.
If Doc rotates these guys in and goes with them a little more, than maybe the starters will have some gas for next game. Granted guys like Bass and Wilcox do not match up with a team like LA’s size so there was a reason KG and Jermaine O’Neal played the minutes that they did and Avery Bradley was hurt, but this case is the exception rather than the rule. The Celtics bench can matchup with most teams.
The Celtics need to incorporate these bench guys more than ever to keep the “Big Three” fresh for a playoff run. If he does, than Boston will make some noise come playoff time. If not the Celtics, will be bounced early. Remember Go Green OR Go Home!!!!!!!