May 12, 2012
Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 1: Boston Celtics (1-0) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (0-1)
Aldridge: “As this series goes on, there’s no rest for you guys, there’s a game every other day. You’re an older team, it may be difficult, how do you…”
Rondo: “It may not be. Look at us. We’ll be fine.” [Drops mic, walks away.]
Just prior to the start of the second half of Saturday night’s Eastern Conference Semifinal kick-off between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers, TNT’s Dick Stockton passed along the following bit of statistical ephemera: in 2011-’12, the Celtics were 1-22 in games in which they had trailed by 13 points.
April 20, 2012
Game 64: Boston Celtics (37-27) at Atlanta Hawks (38-25)
After Wednesday night’s 102-98 win over the Orlando Magic secured the Atlantic Division title and a number four seed in the playoffs, the Boston Celtics chose to put their stalwarts on ice, giving them some much needed rest in preparation for the rapidly-approaching second season. This meant that the starting lineup for your Boston Celtics in Friday night’s matchup with the Atlanta Hawks looked like this:
The Celtics lost accordingly (97-92), though not before cutting the lead to one six times in a dogged rally that spanned the game’s final 13 minutes.
April 18, 2012 Game 63: Boston Celtics (37-26) vs. Orlando Magic (36-26)
“Whenever you’re undermanned, like Orlando is, and you’re undersized to begin with, you have to cut down on the turnovers, shoot a high percentage, and then not give up the easy basket.” –Hubie Brown
One night after collapsing beneath the weight of a preposterous onslaught of three-pointers (Steve Novak + J.R. Smith = 50 points, 15-20 from downtown) in a 118-110 loss to the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics clinched the Atlantic Division title and a playoff four-seed with a 102-98 win over the Orlando Magic. The Celtics finished their nightmare stretch of seven games in nine days with an admirable 5-2 record, though they picked up a few dents in the chassis along the way.
Now entering the final turn of the 2012 season, the Boston Celtics are at present engaged with the most grueling stretch of scheduling they’ve faced all year: seven games in nine days, with two back-to-backs on either side of three in a row. As documented in Episode 26 of “The Avery Bradley Chronicles,” the C’s took the first two of the run, following up a stirring 115-107 victory over the positively villainous Miami Heat with an ugly 88-86 overtime win over the decidedly unsexy Atlanta Hawks.
On paper, three in a row against the Toronto Raptors (22-39), New Jersey Nets (22-39) and Charlotte Bobcats (7-52) seem about as gimme as a back-to-back-to-back can. The three teams are amongst the bottom seven in the league in Basketball-Reference’s Simple Rating System, a points-above or –below average measurement of team quality (click here for an explanation of the system as it relates to football). If the Bobcats’ current mark of -13.54 holds, it would be the second-worst in NBA history, just over a point ahead of the 1992-’93 Dallas Mavericks’ -14.68.
April 10, 2012 Game 57: Boston Celtics (33-24) at Miami Heat (40-16)
On December 27, the Boston Celtics started Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Sasha Pavlovic, Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal in the second game of their season, a 115-107 loss to the Miami Heat. Brandon Bass, Keyon Dooling and Marquis Daniels combined for 40 points in 75 minutes off the bench. The Celtics allowed 69 points in the first half and trailed by as many as 20 points in the third quarter. According to Hayes Davenport at CelticsHub, “they were outrebounded, outshot, and overwhelmed by the defense.”
On April 1, the Boston Celtics started Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett in the rematch and absolutely eviscerated their opponent. Greg Stiemsma, Keyon Dooling and Sasha Pavlovic combined for 13 points in 58 minutes off the bench. The Celtics scored 91 points and held an offense that presently averages 100.3 points per game on 47.4% shooting to seasons lows of 72 points and 34.8% shooting.
April 7, 2012 Game 55: Boston Celtics (31-24) at Indiana Pacers (34-22)
Two nights after turning in what Doc Rivers called “an unacceptable effort” in their “worst loss [of this] year,” the Boston Celtics came to play, snapping their two-game losing streak with an 86-72 win over the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers shot 35.1% from the floor, marking the seventh time this season that the Celtics have held an opponent to a field goal percentage lower than 36.0. Only the Chicago Bulls (eight games) have been so stingy more frequently.
The Celtics appeared to take Rivers’ public task-taking to heart. They played with an energy and purpose that was sorely lacking against the Bulls on Thursday. The defining stretch of the game was a 13-0 run that spanned over seven minutes in the first half. Keyed by Greg Stiemsma’s four, count ‘em, four, blocks, the Celtics held the Pacers to 0-11 shooting, and collected three turnovers to boot.
March 26, 2012 Game 49: Boston Celtics (27-22) at Charlotte Bobcats (7-40)
Paul Pierce has the best smile in the business.
A large part of the Captain’s appeal is his easy manner on the court. Few players wear their internal lives on their faces during a game the way that Pierce does. This is not to say that most players aren’t expressive; certainly, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett exude a terrifying intensity that is matched in degree by Chris Bosh’s douchey preening and Jason Terry’s indefatigable swagger. Rajon Rondo’s stone-to-the-bone poker face is expressive in a counter-intuitive sort of way; exaggerated in its Buster Keaton-like solemnity.