Let me start with the illegal screen Kevin Garnett was called for. It was a foul. Stop complaining about it, people. I'll talk more about that call later.
The 82-81 score is misleadingly close. The game was tight, but not that tight.
The Celtics dug themselves a hole again. But they couldn't recapture the same clutchness that propelled them to victory in Game 1. Frankly, they didn't play very well in the 4th quarter after they'd made it a close game. They had several chances to take the lead from Philly, but didn't hit the shots.
Then there were some bad decisions. Why is Rajon Rondo shooting jumpshots with less than a minute left? I'm a big Rondo supporter, and don't mind him shooting when he wants to, but in that situation? The Celtics had let the shot clock tick down and Rondo didn't have much of a choice. But why let it come to that?
Philly had turned the ball over with a shot clock violation. Rondo took the ball up the court. KG was setting screens, trying to get Ray Allen open. Pierce and Bradley were on the other side of the court standing around. Rondo was also standing still, directing Garnett and Allen. The shot clock ticked away and Rondo missed a rushed 16 footer.
Philly got the rebound and Evan Turner gave them a 76-75 lead.
The Celtics wasted an opportunity. The 76ers took advantage of one.
After that, Ray Allen missed a weird sideways fade-away. There was time for the Celtics to work for a better shot (13 seconds on the shot clock), but I guess the called play was to get Allen the ball. He got it. He wasn't in good shooting position. He shot. He missed. Philly scored again.
Then it was 78-75, and that's when Garnett committed a foul. And notice how I phrased that. I didn't say "was called for a foul." He committed a foul. The ref called it. Boston is exploding in rage over an official making a correct call.
There will be moaning from Celtics fans about how it was a foul but the ref shouldn't have called it because there were 10 seconds left in the 4th quarter. So the ref made the right call at the wrong time?
There's some weight to that argument, but not much. It was a foul. Garnett was called for the same thing earlier in the 4th.
And the Celtics were still down by 3 even if the call isn't made.
I hate NBA officiating. It's one of the reasons I find regular season games almost unbearable to watch. The refs are inconsistent. To me, it's an unpredictable variable. Like the weather. The key is to be good enough to win in any weather, or win no matter what inconsistency the refs have on a given night. Last night's inconsistency was that KG was called for the same foul at 7:46 and at 0:10 of the 4th.
The Celtics weren't good enough last night, regardless of what the refs called. Before KG's foul, Rondo messed up, Allen messed up, they missed shots, they scored a total of 24 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, they allowed Philadelphia to go on a 14-0 run in the 3rd quarter.
There are legitimate things the Celtics have had to struggle through. Pierce is clearly hurt. Losing Bradley for most of the game had an impact. But the refs didn't cost the Celtics this game. The Celtics cost themselves the game.
Game 3 in Philly Wednesday night. I'm still very confident.