Thursday, May 29, 2008
The Celtics made this one more difficult than it should have been in the 4th quarter. But we'll get to that later. First, I would like to officially welcome Ray Allen back to the NBA and the Boston Celtics. Ray-Ray was 9 for 15 (5 of 6 from 3) from the field, and finished with 29 points. Finally having a reliable outside threat in Ray Allen allows the Celtics offense to be more flexible, and to exploit gaps created down low when Allen gets attention.
The rest of the starting 5 had great nights. Pierce ended up with 16 points and 6 assists. Kendrick Perkins had the game of his life, knocking down 18 points, and collecting 16 rebounds. Rajon Rondo only had 7 points, but he also had 13 assists, 4 steals and 6 rebounds. Kevin Garnett led the team in scoring with 33.
But the Celtics' performance in the 4th quarter was a problem. They led 84-71 after 3, but things became entirely too interesting. With about 9 minutes left on the clock, the Celtics offense melted away. They lost both their aggression and their poise. It was almost as if they felt victory coming, and focused too much on not letting it slip away, instead of pulling it closer. From 9:15 to 4:26, a stretch of nearly 5 minutes, the Celtics had 1 point (from a technical free throw) and no field goals.
The Celtics played great in the last minute. Ray Allen hit that 20 foot jumper to put the C's ahead 102-99. And all the important free throws down the stretch went in. But they shouldn't have been in that position.
This team lacks a killer instinct. When up by a good amount, but not a blowout amount, the Celtics seem to get nervous. Teams like the Hawks might fade away when they're down in the 4th quarter, but teams like Detroit don't. Here are just a few things the Celtics need to do in the 4th:
1. Drive to the hole and draw fouls.
2. Shoot the friggin' ball!!! This one goes especially to Garnett, who seems to always pass to players covered more heavily than he is.
3. Play tight defense. The Celtics did this well last night, but they have to keep doing this. All those open looks Wallace and Billups got for 3 kept this game close down the stretch.
4. Make Ray Allen an outlet. If they're covering the paint tightly, then find Allen on the outside and he'll make it rain. Three pointers down the stretch are extremely demoralizing to an opponent.
And Rasheed, stop bitching about the officials. There have been some pretty bad calls in this series on both teams. Grow up.
Tedy, does The Coach know you're doing this?
I guess he does.
Nice cougar, Coach.
Game 6: Friday night in Auburn Hills.
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AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
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AP Photo/Winslow Townson
A brilliant start by Wakefield was wasted last night as the Red Sox fell 1-0 to the Mariners. Wake went 8 innings, allowed 5 hits, 0 walks, struck out 8, and yielded a solo homerun. But the Red Sox offense was only able to muster 2 singles off Erik Bedard. The Sox never even got a man to 3rd base.
Only Mike Lowell and Manny Ramirez were able to get hits. The Sox did work 6 walks, but couldn't string anything together. Their biggest threat was in the top of the 9th when they had runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs, but Coco Crisp grounded out up the middle to end the game.
The Sox are now 1-5 on their road trip, which came on the heels of a 7-0 homestand. Their inconsistency, and their inability to win on the road continues to boggle the mind.
Still no official word on Matsuzaka's shoulder. He flew back to Boston today and will have an MRI tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Sox have an off-day before beginning a 4 game series in Baltimore. Josh Beckett faces Daniel Cabrera. The Sox are 0-2 against the Orioles this season.
AP Photo/John Froschauer