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Essay: Too Little Too Late For The Celtics

Last night the Celtics offense made three-day old vomit look delicious. They put 26 of 78 shots in the basket, for an embarrassing 33 percent. On 14 attempts from behind the three-point line, three went in. Already thin without the liberating Avery Bradley healthy enough to play, Boston headed into this game in desperate need of getting something from their bench. Instead, Mickael Pietrus, Greg Stiemsma, and Keyon Dooling combined to go 2-10 (Ryan Hollins played 10 minutes and didn’t attempt a single shot. He did, however, badly miss two foul shots).

But hey, these are the Boston Celtics. They’re a team in love with the mid-range jumper, so we had to know a game like this was coming sooner or later. After scoring 27 points in Game 5, Brandon Bass went 2-12. Yay! Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, the starting backcourt, went 8-25.

But wait, it gets much worse. This was Kevin Garnett’s shot plot.

Notice anything funny? That’s right, the paint is completely white, void of red squares and green circles. That’s…that’s just inexcusable. Garnett is Boston’s great advantage in the series. Philly chose to double him on the catch and he’d either kick it out to a teammate or turn it over. The Celtics responded by constant pick and pops that finally started to fall, but as everything nice that this team did, it was all too little, too late.

Here’s a typically beautiful side out of bounds play run at the end of the game to get Ray Allen a wide open three-pointer. As Garnett takes the inbound pass, Pierce curls around a screen set by Bass to take a handoff. As he’s moving above the three-point line towards Boston’s bench, Allen sprints along the baseline in the opposite direction, first utilizing a screen set by Garnett, and then another set by Bass. By the time he arrives in the corner, he’s as wide open as he’s ever been, leaving a margin for error on Pierce’s slightly misguided skip pass. Allen leans over to make a pretty good catch, quickly lines his shoulders towards the basket, and allows his smooth operator stroke to take hold.

Later on, Doc Rivers chooses to run the exact same play the Celtics used with the game on the line three years ago. Ironically, in Philadelphia. It’s a simple pick and pop, with Allen setting the screen on Pierce, then fading to the three-point line where a large individual wearing green will then afford him some space with yet another pick. Last night’s execution was better than three years ago, but the shot just didn’t fall. Here they both are.

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