Blog Entry

What ails Celtics? Don't jump to conclusions

Posted on: May 6, 2011 2:38 pm
 
The Celtics' defense has been a constant during the Big Three era, and their defense wasn't the main culprit that sent them home to Boston in a 2-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference semifinals. 

Their top players' birth certificates also have been far down the list of things occupying Doc Rivers and his coaching staff over the past 72 hours. Rather, it's the Celtics' offense -- in particular, their shot selection and location -- that put Boston in precarious circumstances against the younger, more athletic Heat

The rampaging work of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, of course, will continue to be of utmost concern when the series shifts to Boston for Game 3 on Saturday night. But in reality, the Celtics did as good a job as can be reasonably expected in forcing Wade and LeBron to rely on jump shots. According to HoopData.com, 20 of Wade's 41 field-goal attempts in the first two games came from beyond 15 feet. For James, it was 21 of 44. 

The kind of jump shots are important, not just the fact that they're jumpers. The Celtics would prefer Wade and James to take more spot-ups, where they're much less effective, as opposed to jumpers as the pick-and-roll ball-handler or coming off a screen. But all in all, the Celtics can't be too unhappy with Wade shooting 5-for-12 from the field between 16-23 feet in the series (including 0-for-5 in Game 2) and James shooting 4-for-14 from the same distance. If Boston's defense can force them to take more spot-ups in particular and more mid-range jumpers in general, it's logical to assume they'll shoot the same or worse on the road. 

The bigger problem for the Celtics has been the failure of their own mid-range game, especially when it comes to their biggest mid-range threats, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Using HoopData.com to extend the distance for Pierce and Garnett to the 10-23 foot range, they've both been abysmal in this series. 

Garnett got only four mid-range shots in Game 1 and missed all of them. He got more opportunities in Game 2, but was only 6-for-14 for a 6-for-18 total from 10-23 feet in the first two games. Pierce's problem isn't just ineffectiveness, it's the fact that somehow a player who has spent his entire career carving up opponents with an assortment of deadly mid-range jumpers has attempted only five shots between 10-23 feet in the first two games against Miami; he's 2-for-5. Some of that can be explained by his ejection with seven minutes left in Game 1 and his stretch in the locker room due to a strained left Achilles' tendon in Game 2. Some of the rest can be explained by Miami's defense, which has been superb -- and when it hasn't, has benefited from speed, length and strength that the Celtics can only dream about. But Pierce has still found room to attempt 11 3-pointers, making only four of them. That's too many 3's for a player who is accustomed to doing his best work inside the arc. Pierce attempting more 3-pointers (11) than Ray Allen (10) is no recipe for beating the Heat. 

If the Celtics are going to protect their home court, quell the talk about how they're too old and ready to be ushered out of the championship mix by Miami, and give themselves a chance to get back into the series if and when it shifts back to South Beach, it's all about the jumpers. Defensively, Boston has to force Miami's two stars to keep taking them -- and more of the spot-up variety as opposed to off pick-and-roll or screen action. On the other end, Garnett and Pierce simply have to regain their mid-range effectiveness. If they do, it'll open up dump-downs to Glen Davis or Jermaine O'Neal for easy baskets and also loosen up the double teams on Allen beyond the 3-point arc. 

If not, it'll only fuel more talk about how the Celtics are too old -- which may be true, but isn't the biggest reason they're in this predicament in the first place.
Comments

Since: Jan 22, 2009
Posted on: May 7, 2011 11:48 pm
 

What ails Celtics? Don't jump to conclusions

If any of you think the Celtis are done,think again. They will win 2 in Boston,and if they get one in Miami it's over in the garden



Since: Jun 14, 2008
Posted on: May 7, 2011 4:56 pm
 

What ails Celtics? Don't jump to conclusions

Agree with some of the comments here.  What "ails" the Celtics is only that they have lost 2 road games to a higher-seeded team.  They have been outplayed, and very well might lose this series--they might even get blown out in Boston.  But as of yet, the Heat have just held serve.  They can be an excellent team, or they can struggle, and if Boston plays a bit better, the series might be a toss-up a week from now.  These losses have not been about "being old"--the Celtics have had forever to rest.  And they aren't really about bad match-ups either--just the inevitability of struggling to contain a very good, determined team with 2 and a quarter superstars on it.  We'll see tonight and Monday if this is a fatal deficiency or just the normal grind of a difficult NBA playoff series. 



Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: May 7, 2011 3:15 pm
 

What ails Celtics? Don't jump to conclusions

Look Berger, here's the deal.

With all that the Heat have done (supposedly), with regards to the Big Three scoring ALL those points and grabbing ALL those rebounds, they won Game 1 by ONLY 9 points and Game 2 by ONLY 11 points (neither game a blowout by ANY means!). It's not like the Heat won by 25 and 30 pts respectively. NOW, this series heads to Boston where Miami hasn't won in years. So to all those knuckleheads out there (most of them Heat fans as well as you, Berger) who say this series is over, check yourself! Remember the saying: The series really only starts when the home team LOSES.

Miami only did what they were suppose to do in the first two games. That is hold serve on their homecourt. That's it! This series ain't over... not by a longshot! Miami fans: Be careful....don't celebrate too soon.....



Since: Dec 4, 2007
Posted on: May 7, 2011 2:54 pm
 

What ails Celtics? Don't jump to conclusions

Everyone is saying that the Celtics will show up tonight.... In reality, this is the most important game for the Heat since the 2006 finals.... They are going to come out with a ton of energy and wipe the courts with the Celtics... If the Heat go up 3-0, they knows it over!



Since: Dec 8, 2008
Posted on: May 7, 2011 2:47 pm
 

What ails Celtics? Don't jump to conclusions

Miami is just playing better and Wade/LEbron are just better athletes.   Boston will win maybe one game and thats it


statforthat
Since: Apr 8, 2011
Posted on: May 7, 2011 10:53 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Oct 5, 2007
Posted on: May 7, 2011 9:22 am
 

What ails Celtics? Don't jump to conclusions

The Celtics will get back into this thing starting tonight...not saying they will win the series because it's a tough road for them and anything can happen but the Celtics will show up tonight and make the Heat look silly!!!



Since: Dec 4, 2009
Posted on: May 6, 2011 7:28 pm
 

What ails Celtics? Don't jump to conclusions

I love idiots like zonetwilite, be very afraid if this series goes back to Miami 2-2 because if it does Boston will take it. Miami needs to win one in Boston to take this series because if this series becomes tight Lechoke will start to feel the pressure and crumble like he always does. Miami is a great front running team when everything goes their way. When the pressure gets turned up their softness comes out and they choke. Thats why they lost a ton of close games in the regular season. C'mon Boston shut up all these Heat bandwagon fans who have been following them since October!!!



Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: May 6, 2011 7:10 pm
 

What ails Celtics? Don't jump to conclusions

Twilight zone boy.....you need a forklift to remove the s**t from your brain if you think this series over.



Since: Mar 5, 2007
Posted on: May 6, 2011 6:54 pm
 

What ails Celtics? Don't jump to conclusions

The Heat will wipe them by 20 in the garden and fans like you will need a fork lift to keep their bottom lips from draging the ground.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com