Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce deserved a night off. After all, he has been playing the entire season with a pinched nerve in his neck. Factor in that he has carried the team on his back with his stellar all-around play since the season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo and it was clear Pierce was due for some rest.
The Celtics believed the perfect time to rest their legendary small forward was against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats in the first of back-to-back games. With the Bobcats entering the contest on a 10 game losing streak and a season worst 37 games below .500, it appeared head coach Doc Rivers and the organization were making the right call.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, the Bobcats came to play on Monday night as Charlotte clearly felt disrespected by Boston’s decision to rest Pierce against them.
Gerald Henderson scored a career-high 35 points for the Bobcats on 11-of-19 shooting from the field, while Josh McRoberts posted a double-double, chipping in 13 points and corralling 10 rebounds. The Bobcats led by just three at halftime but the Celtics were unable to contain Henderson as the lead grew to 15 by the end of the third quarter. The Bobcats led by as many as 28 as they dominated the Celtics, beating Boston for the second time this season.
The Celtics could never get into any offensive rhythm. Their two highest scorers for the night, Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford (each adding 14 points apiece) were a combined minus-38 in the plus/minus point differential. Kevin Garnett, meanwhile, had arguably his worst game of the season, adding just five points and two rebounds in 20 minutes played.
Even without Paul Pierce, the Celtics should have taken care of business tonight against the struggling Bobcats. But the Celtics sleep walked through the entire game, getting dominated on the boards (48-29) as their lack of energy was appalling.
The Celtics best effort should be expected the next two games. The Celtics host the mediocre Toronto Raptors tomorrow night as Boston looks to wipe away the memory of this blowout loss. Then, the Celtics will have a rematch with these Bobcats on Saturday night at the TD Garden as Boston looks to tie the season series at two games apiece with a win. Look for the Celtics to bounce back and potentially dominate the next two games.