The Boston Celtics lead wire to wire in their matchup tonight, and its hard to find anything that went wrong for them.
Their old core players, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, had good nights. Their young core weirdo, Rajon Rondo, made an odd running hook shot and on that fact alone you could predict the result. Boston's bench did what Celtics fans thought they'd do all along, play D and make 3s, though Jason Terry was not able to able to muster his usual spiteful ass pain effort. (Is it wrong to hope that one day I'll see an NBA player circling Jason Terry, pretending to be a little airplane, while Terry writhes in pain on the hardwood? Probably that's wrong.)
Courtney Lee came alive against his former team, scoring 14pts on 5 of 7 shooting, with 3 ast, a steal and a block in 21 minutes. Boston draftee Jared Sullinger was unstoppable in the first half, showing that jumping ability is overrated, notching 14pts on 7-8 shooting and grabbing 11 boards.
Overall, Boston shot 52% and 40% from 3pt range on 23 attempts. Essentially every thing went perfect for Boston, and they lead from the start. And yet, the Rockets had closed the game to 2pts in the 4th before Boston pulled away again.
Rockets fans shouldn't despair, but its tough to say what the Rockets did well tonight. Even James Harden's 25+ points per game streak ended this evening. Boston played its usual slappy, whiny, defense, but the Rockets had plenty of opportunities to make them change plans, if only they'd hit a FT.
As you probably know, the Rockets offense is a three-legged stool, drives for layups, three pointers, free throws off drives. Tonight two legs were missing with a predictable result.
The terrible FT shooting was contagious tonight, with the Rockets going 12-29 from the stripe. If the Rockets don't hit their FTs a team that plays D like Boston or Utah won't stop what they're doing. One would expect a large FT discrepancy tonight, given the Rockets rim-attacking style and Boston's "They can't call everything defense." The Rockets got enough calls, and it didn't help.
Rockets also shot 9-33 from 3pt land. That is also almost certainly a kiss of death if the poor free throw shooting wasn't enough. The past two games the Rockets have dealt with teams that both defend the paint fairly well against drives, and come out on threes with a lot of energy, while playing a deliberate offensive game. Two low scoring losses have been recorded. This is not a coincidence.
Some sort of mid range game, or post threat, might help here. Despite the percentages in normal usage, it can be helpful to do such things at times. Many have pointed out problems with the Rockets power forwards, and it is true, there are problems. There's no solution in the near term, I'm afraid, though.
Tonight's offering was not a recipe for success. I hope the team will look a bit more energetic tomorrow night in Philadelphia. We are all missing the fluid high scoring Rockets attack.
Since people have grown tired of Three Up, Three Down, I'll offer some awards.
Can't Hit Water From A Boat Award - To Omer Asik's FTs.
Can't Find Sand In A Desert Award - To Greg Smith's FTs.
Drunken Yak Award for Graceful Movement - To The Rockets Half Court Game
Protocol of Regret Award - Jared Sullinger
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Award - Rockets 3pt Shooting
Most Boring In Game Tweet Award - Jeremy Lin
Patience is a Virtue Award - Rockets Fans
There Are Three Celtics Players I Actually Like, It's a Record, Award - Me
Add your own!
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