The question went from being “What if the Nets – those Nets –beat the Celtics” to “what
if the Nets – those Nets – beat the
Celtics by 20.
The possibility was there Brook Lopez, Coutney Lee and Devin
Harris were giving the Celtics fits. The Nets were getting to the line at will and
with a 94-76 lead with five and a half minutes left, it looked like the Nets
had a chance to hand the Celtics their second blowout loss in as man games.
They would have to sustain a Celtics rush, however. Led by
Kevin Garnett, bending rims with his dunks, and Ray Allen slicing the nets with
3s as he tried to do the same to New Jersey’s lead, the Celtics went on an 18-8
run that got them within arm’s length. But that’s as far as the Nets would
allow them to get.
a team on pace to be the worst in NBA history, picked up just its sixth win of
the season, beating the Celtics 104-96 on the parquet.
Lopez finished with 25 points and seven rebounds. Lee, who
left the game in the fourth quarter, scored 21 points, hitting a jumper that
hushed the home crowd in the third quarter. And Devin Harris scored 23 points
along with five assists.
Meanwhile Celtics fans waited on a comeback that never came.
The Celtics put the Nets on the free throw line 41 times and
the Nets knocked down34 shots.
made it to the line just 11 times, hitting nine.
Kevin Garnett was one rebound shy of a double-double (26
points and 9 assists), but by the time he turned it on, the Celtics needed a minor
miracle to recover.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers made a concerted effort to rest his
starters early, but by the time they were all back on the floor the Celtics were
in a hole that wound up being too deep to climb out of.
(15 attempts to 5). None of the Celtics’ regular starters has played more than 15 minutes in the first half, and with two off days coming up, you get the feeling Rivers is making this a half-day for his players.
“Bored with the process”
After leaving the locker room without saying a word Thursday night, Kendrick Perkins opened up completely before this afternoon’s game. When he said that sometimes it seems like the Celtics play like they’re bored — something he’s said before this season — all Doc Rivers could say in response was that they were certainly playing that way.
Guys are really anxious to get to the playoffs. You’ve got your veteran guys – ‘Sheed, KG – you can tell with this regular season really don’t excite them. Even with Paul and Ray. We’ve still got to go out here and compete. It’s not an excuse for losing. You can just tell that guys want to get to the crunch time, get to playoffs.
For example, the Atlanta series when they swept us, we took it to heart, but it wasn’t like a big deal like how everybody else tried to make it. I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. We come into games, we’re focused. We’re not trying to lose games. But sometimes you can see that maybe we sometimes do get bored with the process and you can’t do that.
There was no actual practice yesterday in Waltham. Players went in, got some shots up and lifted some weights, but when they all came together, head coach Doc Rivers sat them down and had them watch “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals.” Today, the sign above was in the locker room for the first time, and Kendrick Perkins said seeing that movie might explain where it came from:
Those two guys kept saying as far as individual things, they achieved great things in life but it was all just about team with them. They wanted to win more than anything. I think that’s where that came from
Doc told us yesterday in practice. He asked a question: How many guys are willing to give themselves up for the team? And everybody raised their hand. He was like giving yourself up for the team sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone. Not taking as many shots as you usually take. Taking a charge for somebody or whatever it may be. He kind of just went around the room and pinpointed what he expected out of each guy.
It’s always good to remind us sometimes. Just to get us back in the right frame of mind, keep us on track, just let guys know what their role is on the team and stuff like that. We’ve still got one goal and that’s to win the championship. Just take “self” out of the equation.
Welcome to the Garden …
… where the Celtics and Nets don’t look drastically different than they did when they met three weeks ago.
The Celtics came out of the all-star break and won four of their first five, going 3-1 on the road and showing flashes of the team that started the season 23-5. Then the Cavs came through. They pounded the Celtics 108-88, rushing them by 21 points in the fourth quarter, and If time hadn’t expired Cleveland would still be extending its lead.
Doc Rivers pulled his starters with 2:50 left in the game. Blowing another halftime lead to a good team left Celtics Rivers sounding listless (“There’s nothing I can do about it,” he said), Rivers. And Danny Ainge put the responsibility on the starters, who went a combined 5-of-21 in the second half.
The Nets are only one win better (5-52) than they were when they came in Feb. 5 and took a 96-87 loss, keeping alive the possibility of being the worst team in NBA history.
Via the Wall Street Journal’s Daily Fix blog:
At their current pace, the Nets will finish with seven wins, or two fewer than the nine put up by those 76ers, against 73 losses, in the worst 82-game finish in NBA history (and two fewer than the Nets’ Jersey neighbors, the Jets, won in a 16-game schedule last fall).
This year’s Philly team has done its part, sweeping their first three games against New Jersey despite winning barely a third of the rest of their contests — though [Fred] Carter, Philly’s leading scorer in 1972-73, has indicated to the current coaching staff that he wouldn’t mind holding on to the record.
There are reasons to think the Nets can grant his wish and avoid infamy by at least tying those woeful 76ers’ win total. The Nets’ wins have come against four teams, and they’ll play three of them — fellow Eastern Conference clubs Chicago, New York and Charlotte — again a total of four times. Sweep those four games, and the Nets can drop their other 21 and still finish with just 73 losses.
Paul Pierce will likely sit out again today, but the official word will come from Rivers in a few moments.