Sunday, December 30, 2012

Back-to-Back Blowouts in Cali

The Celtics didn't even stand a chance on their trip to Los Angeles on Thursday night. A blowout from the start in which Chris Paul and Blake Griffin did not even have to touch the floor in the fourth quarter. The Clippers extended their win streak to 15 games against Boston in more than convincing fashion with a final score of 106-77. The Celtics did not come remotely close to reaching their potential as a team, nor was anyone's individual performance particularly inspiring either. Kevin Garnett had a team high 16 points in what was an ugly box score.
This is not to take anything away from the Clippers who were fantastic in their display of teamwork and athleticism. LA showed what a true balanced team looks like after Boston felt that they had put forward their best game of the season just one game earlier in Brooklyn. The starters played almost identical minutes to the bench (partly due to score), but make no mistake this Clippers team is the deepest in the league. Paul and Griffin played well when in the game as well as the rest of the starters, but lets focus strictly on the bench for a moment. Lamar Odom came in and scored only four points in 29 minutes, but also provided 13 rebounds, five assists, and four blocked shots. Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford both played 23 minutes scoring 21 (game high) and 17 respectively. Ronnie Turiaf and Eric Bledsoe also play significant minutes, and keep in mind that both Chauncy Billups and Grant Hill still have not played in a game this year.
If this team does not scare you, or you don't consider them elite, you don't know basketball.

Things were not much smoother two nights later against the Warriors in Oakland. You could argue the Celtics at least had a shot at coming back in the fourth quarter before the Warriors blew it open and walked away with a 101-83 win. Although they are not the Clippers, the Warriors are developing a nice young nucleus and boast a 21-10 record under first year head coach Marc Jackson. Again Boston was lackluster on the offensive end, led by Courtney Lee with 18 points. Jared Sullinger was solid with 12 points and eight rebounds. Rajon Rondo was out of uniform with a bruised hip, but that is no excuse for the poor showing. Stephen Curry (22 points, nine assists) and David Lee (20 points) led the way for Golden State. Youngster Klay Thompson had 13 and rookie Harrison Barnes stepped up with 15 to go with eight rebounds.
Here is Paul Pierce after the loss on the identity of the team; "We gotta figure out who we want to be. Do we want to be a defense first team? If we're not going to be a defensive team, we gotta be a better offensive team. It's gotta be something. We still gotta find our way." Clearly Doc Rivers needs to establish what kind of team this is going to be when his Captain is questioning it. The Celtics will try to avoid being swept on their road trip Sunday night against the Kings.

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