Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tale of Two Halves; Game 3 Preview

Just when we felt things couldn't get any uglier... YIKES. The Celtics were once again very competitive, proving that they can indeed beat the Knicks... in a 24 minute game. Boston followed up game 1's 25 point second half (eight in the fourth quarter) with a 23 point second half in game 2! The Celtics shot a laughable 19% in the second frame, after shooting 56% before the break.

The game-plan was clearly to get Kevin Garnett more touches, but foul trouble followed KG throughout the entire game, until it got to the point on the scoreboard it was not even worth putting him back in. Although it was nice to see KG so heavily involved in what Doc Rivers wants to do on offense, it didn't work.

There were numerous problems in game 2 for the Celtics; here is what stuck out. Garnett is not healthy. Even though we only saw him in limited minutes he does not seem comfortable attacking the rim, too many fade aways from him. On top of whatever previous injury is nagging him, KG was also holding his stomach area a lot late in the game, potentially suffering another injury. Garnett is a warrior and will play as hard as he can through it all, but Boston truly needs 100% of his capable production more than anything to turn this series around.

The other major issue is the point guard position, it is non existent. Now I have been one of the Rondo haters all year long, but I'm sticking to my guns and saying that this is not a "no Rondo problem", this is a "no point guard problem". Avery Bradley looks like a deer in headlights handling the ball. He is having issues with turnovers, and besides being a good cutter to find around the rim has provided nothing on offense. Rondo certainly would have shined in the pace of game 2, but Boston is not finding a true PG before Friday night.

So how can Doc Rivers stop the bleeding? I see two ways to fill the void and Courtney Lee is not one of them (although Lee should be getting Jordan Crawford's minutes - smaller issue). The first, and most likely, is to give Jason Terry a big bump in minutes. He played 34 minutes last game without turning the ball over, and seemed to find a bit more of a rhythm. Maybe coming back home he can improve even more off his game 2 performance. Getting Terry off the bench early for Bradley could be a good boost, especially going to him early (or even starting him) in the second half where Boston has seen their problems.

The more unlikely option is to have Paul Pierce play the point guard spot. Bradley would be the two guard (and I would still get Terry in there early), but Pierce would be the prime ball handler and decision maker. Now Pierce has been turning the ball over a lot himself, but Doc trusts him, maybe turning the rains over to him gives Pierce more confidence. If the Celtics were ever in need of a classic Paul Pierce playoff performance, Friday night is the time.

IF the Celtics can get Garnett going and solve the lead guard crisis, who is to say they can't make a series of this? But that is a big if that we will see play out on Friday night at our Garden. The Knicks will be hungry and would love to get the brooms out in Boston. Hope for some home cooking in the first game at the TD Garden since Patriots Day.

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