Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 7:00 AM
The last two second halves in the Boston Celtics/New York Knicks series were notable for historic incompetence. The Boston Celtics literally had no idea how to get the ball in the basket with the game on the line twice in a row! They scored 25 points in the second half of Game One…then 23 points in the second half of Game Two. Again, not in quarters, but in halves!
*The loss of Rajon Rondo is a big problem against a good team because the Celtics need a ball distributor. They most have a collection of players right now who can’t create their own shot. They can hit open looks off a pass (though that skill seems to be fading too). But, the veterans don’t have speed any more, while the younger guys are overmatched unless they get a couple of steps on the way to the basket.
Boston could get by without Rondo in the second half of the season while playing in a weak conference against a schedule that saw a lot of opponents just going through the motions. In this series, New York has been fairly casual on defense in the first half…but they’ve clamped down significantly in the second half. Boston has no options vs. the Knicks when they clamp down like that.
*The Celtics have fallen way behind the league curve on three-pointers. You’ve seen a few teams in the postseason already make a run at 10-11 made treys per game. Boston is 5 of 20 and 5 of 19 in the first two meetings with New York. That’s low volume and a low percentage. Probably the single biggest reason Boston couldn’t break 80 points in Madison Square Garden (78 and 71 scored so far) was that they were only getting 15 points a night from behind the arc.
*The Celtics have turnover issues. Rondo had a tendency to make turnovers too. But, this team is ridiculously sluggish in a halfcourt set. They lost the ball 20 times in Game One…out of only 89 possessions! This wasn’t sloppiness in a run-and-gun game. This was a team that couldn’t pass or dribble well even when things slowed down dramatically. They did cut that number to 11 in the second game. They still lost the category to the Knicks, and probably will for the bulk of the series.
*The Celtics often don’t even bother to offensive rebound. The priority under this coaching regime has always been to get back on defense when a shot goes up. You can get away with that when Ray Allen is drilling jumpers, and when others are making open shots off passes. Allen is gone. Team shooting is worse. And, there aren’t any second chance opportunities after the misses.
So, we have a team that’s:
Likely to turn the ball over
Likely to miss their first shot
Unlikely to rebound that miss
And, that’s how you get squashed when at top team turns the screws.
Maybe the Knicks will relax on defense for 48 full minutes because of their 2-0 series lead. Maybe Boston will start making some three-pointers now that they’re playing at home. If they can get to 8-9 makes in a game, they’ll be in position to score a victory. But, the turnover troubles and offensive rebounding ills are going to continue…making it extremely unlikely that they can win four of the next five games to advance to the second round.
Should you take a shot on Boston as a small home favorite in a must-win situation? Or, is it a joke that Boston is chalk when they’re playing so poorly against one of the hotter teams in the league? JIM HURLEY has some ideas about that game and the rest of Friday’s card. You can purchase the full Thursday ticket with your credit card right here at the website. If you have any questions about NBA Playoff or full season MLB service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you Saturday to get caught up with Memphis/LA Clippers, as our intense playoff coverage continues through the early rounds. Don’t make a move on any busy day until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say!