Loud and clear
Celtics get the picture by reliving loss on screen
LOS ANGELES — The Celtics woke up yesterday hung over, unable to accurately remember what occurred Thursday night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Coach Doc Rivers was sober for the entire 102-89 drubbing, and to remind his team of its lethargic performance, he pulled out the video and the Celtics were again subjected to how the Lakers’ domination matched their apathy.
The video didn’t lie. The Celtics pride themselves on precise execution, so the average fan likely doesn’t detect all those missed assignments. But the players did. They watched missed screens, poor placement on double teams, and lack of position on rebounds.
They watched a team dressed in green come up short when chasing loose balls and rebounds. In one second-half sequence, Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett were close to a ball clanging off the rim, then watched as Ron Artest beat both of them for the offensive rebound.
The Celtics can point to the tight officiating as the source of their troubles, but the video revealed the truth. They were as sloppy as a Pop Warner game in a rainstorm, and they have one chance to respond with more of an effort or head home down, 0-2.
So the Celtics awoke from their stupor, trickled into Staples Center for practice, and shook their heads when asked why they followed up their Game 6 Eastern Conference finals win over Orlando with an almost unrecognizable outing.
“Well, they had a clip — we had a film clip with all the 50/50 [loose balls, long rebound] plays, and I don’t think we won none of them,’’ Celtics guard Rajon Rondo said, shaking his head at the podium. “They got all the loose balls. They dove on the floor first. They were the more aggressive team. Winning none of those categories, it’s hard to win a game.’’
While the Lakers were efficient and impressive offensively, evidenced by 48.7 percent shooting and a whopping 48-30 advantage on points in the paint, the Celtics blamed themselves for their lack of defensive execution. The Lakers offered no mysteries or riddles in Game 1, they went at the Celtics with ball movement, pick-and-rolls, and vicious attacks on the offensive boards.
The Celtics were burned by dribble penetration, which forced their big men, mostly Perkins and Garnett, to help on defense, which opened up lanes for Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Of Gasol’s 14 shots, 10 came inside the paint, including four layups and a dunk.
Three of Bynum’s six shots were dunks and five were in the paint. The Celtics’ defense did little to push LA’s two big men away from the basket, and it resulted in easy hoops and a nonexistent Boston transition game.
The video also showed that Gasol embarrassed the Celtics with eight offensive rebounds, while Garnett and Perkins combined for three. It also showed a Celtics team that did little to stop entry passes.
“What I do well is make plays for other guys, bring a sense of making sure guys are communicating defensively, bringing a solid presence to that end, and I did none of those things,’’ Garnett said. “For the most part, I don’t think that we played well together, obviously. But I still think there were chances in the game where we could have put a run together and made it interesting, but we just didn’t.’’
So instead of focusing on why they didn’t make their customary push, the Celtics decided to shift their attention to making a better second impression on the Lakers. The Celtics never settled into a groove offensively and struggled defensively in Game 1, and they blamed themselves.
“You can’t play mad, you can’t play angry, you just have to go out there and be an instigator,’’ Glen Davis said. “You have to play under control and at the same time have a sense of urgency. Everybody gets punched. Everybody gets knocked out. It’s all about how you get up the next day and how you react to it. Our reality is that we got punched. We got dazed. We’ve got to go out there and keep fighting.
“This is the Finals, you have to bring your hard hat. You have to bring everything to this, every inch of focus and inch of rest, you have to bring it.’’
The Celtics didn’t like themselves much yesterday. They regretted their belief that their “B’’ game would be good enough to compete with the league’s best. They have one day to sharpen the fundamentals and principles they have mastered — and also forgotten — on several occasions this season.
A team that has almost relished its sporadic nature has to become more consistent or risk further embarrassment.
“It was frustrating,’’ Ray Allen said. “I’ve anticipated this moment since the last time we were here. So you figure, last year losing in the second round, wanting to get back here, thinking about the summertime and then playing the whole season and having a great playoffs, playoffs as a team. And then getting into the game we waited six or seven days [and playing like this]. So it wasn’t my intention. But we are a team that makes adjustments and I feel confident that we will, because we didn’t like what we saw [in the film session].’’
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.