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Celtics Fall Again. Welcome to Westworld.

The Boston Celtics just lost their second straight game on the last possession of the night…to teams they should be beating easily.

This after beating the Orlando Magic in Orlando while holding them to 77 points and 33% shooting.

To quote James Brolin in Westworld….

“That’s not supposed to happen.”

Brolin had just been unpredictably bitten by a robotic snake. The Celtic can be unpredictable and are a bit snake bitten themselves.

The Cs’ own journey out west was supposed to be fun and entertaining. Wins over the Clippers and Warriors were long booked in Celtic fans’ minds. Instead, they got eye brow raising, heart aching losses.

It was a romping good game for basketball fans. A number of athletic plays by NBA stars and role players alike were had on both teams. Yet, neither team seemed able to hit many three point shots. And turnovers. Oh, the turnovers. And don’t forget to mix in one unusual strategy move at the end.

In this contest, two of the NBAs most talented, up coming young guards, Rajon Rondo and Monte Ellis, put on a scoring show worthy of the price of admission alone.

Rajon Rondo scored 30 points and Monte Ellis dropped 37 from everywhere on the court, as both made cases for being all stars. While Rondo was again being left open often (by Ellis), and dared to hit open jumpers, Ellis was hitting difficult shots all night. Rajon responded this time by hitting 8 of 12 jump shots of his own.

As the 4th quarter was drawing down, in somewhat of a duel, Rondo scored 8 straight Celtic points. Ellis countered with three huge baskets of his own to protect a small Golden State lead.

A Kevin Garnett lay up with just over a minute left made the score 98-101. It would be the last basket made of the game.

Unusual Finish
After being fouled by C.J. Watson, Ray Allen made one of two foul shots with 4.4 seconds left. It left Boston down 99-101. In a surprise move, Ray then threw the ball hard at the basket to intentionally miss the next one, hitting the backboard but missing the rim. That resulted in a TO, giving the ball to Golden State.

In a move never before seen in an NBA basketball game (by me), Doc Rivers stationed his two tallest players, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, in front of Watson, the player throwing the ball in. Garnett and Perkins went crazy jumping and waving their hands. When Watson was unable to get the ball in, the Warriors called time out and substituted the taller Vladimir Radmanovic as the player to throw the ball in.

Perkins and KG again waved wildly, causing a huge distraction as Radmanovic was forced to throw a football pass leading Ellis to a spot in the back court. The scheme almost worked as Ellis started to fumble the ball a bit as he got to it. But he recovered and the Celtics were forced to foul him. Monte made both foul shots essentially ending the game.

Different Night Same Result
In this contest, Boston built an early 18 point lead, gave it up and led by one at the half. After exchanging a one point leads with the Warriors for most of the third quarter, the Cs tied the score at 84 all on a Rasheed Wallace three pointer with 9:38 left in the game.

Radical Environmentalists

For all the preseason talk about playing all out, all of the time, the Celtics are apparently pacing themselves after all. It has been quite a while, if at all this season, since we have seen 48 minutes of hard, hectic basketball from the Beantown Ballers a/k/a the Green Machine.

Winning 11 straight and 14 of 15 until this trip, every indication would suggest they are in fact, the Green Machine. But, in their greening of the NBA this season, you can call them the Radical Environmentalists. They are determined to conserve as much energy as possible in each game.

Turnovers= Recycling

As might expected, they were also into recycling. Acting as if it had a 10 cent deposit on it, they kept returning the ball back to the Warriors….like 25 times. Strangely, the Warriors got into the spirit and gave the ball up 18 times themselves. Both teams are eager thieves. Warriors are first in the NBA in steals, the Celtics are second and both were (say this with a droll English accent)… a bit sloppy passing.

The energy conservation has come back to bite them twice in a row now. No doubt, Paul Pierce is missed. No doubt, Kevin Garnett’s leg is still healing. And those are two big factors. They are a different team offensively without Pierce and a different team at both ends sporting a KG that’s a bit less mobile. But they have enough offensive weapons to win against most NBA teams on most nights and defense is largely effort and execution in the first place.

Ray Allen

Ray Allen shot his way to 24 points on 10 of 21 attempts, getting to the line for 3 of 5 free throws (call that a Ray Allen foul shooting slump), but only managed 1 of 7 from the three point line. He added 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

Even in poor shooting games where he wasn’t hitting anything last season, you could count on Ray Allen to pull a Truman Capote. He would step into a deep one at the very end and…in cold blood… flick the bottom of the net and pull out a few close ones. Even in the games he spoke softly, he carried a big shot. He is a conversation ender.

With 36 seconds left in this contest, Ray came completely around the court from underneath, as he has done so many times before, breaking off his defender just enough on a screen, Ray received the pass from Rondo and missed one as he was falling slightly away from the basket. No Clutch Cargo this night.

With Paul Pierce out, Rajon Rondo has become more offensive minded. He led the Celtic scoring and made 11 of 18 shots. For the first time this season, he took more jumpers than lay-ups.

For some Celtic fans, it was still a good game to watch, but not one where you like the ending. To others, it was another opportunity lost to a team they should have beaten handily.

Tony Allen played well again and showed that he is one of the best finishers on the team and in the league. He had an insane finish against Rony Turiaf’s 6’10” body and outstretched arm for two…and one. It was outstretched against outstretched, as TA extended his shooting arm to get it over Turiaf’s extended shot blocking appendage. He had 6 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. He did add 5 turnovers in a reversion to earlier habits.

Monte Ellis Enters New Level This Year
I always knew Monte Ellis had game. He has huge game, and a huge contract to match. He has really come along over his young career. With Stephen Jackson gone, he is becoming the face of the franchise. He now makes off balance, well defended shots as confidently as say…Paul Pierce. He is a big time, confident scorer and plays some defense as well. He had 20 points at the half on 8 of 13 shooting.

Rajon Rondo’s game keeps smoothing out a little bit every game. Even after missing two free throws at the end of the last game, Rondo jumps back in the deep end of the pool in the first half by attacking the basket and getting to the line for 7 foul shots…making 5.

Ray Allen clicked with 18 first half points on 8 of 12 shooting. He went 2 of 9 in the second half.

The Warriors of ‘The Don’ don’t win much but they don’t give up easy either. And they will pick you clean if they can.

After the Celtics went up 18 points in the second quarter, the Warriors storm back to tie on the back of 10 steals, 6 by reserve point guard C.J. Watson, tying a Warrior franchise record. Watson added 8 first half points, and 3 assists.

Davis was active with 3 points and 5 boards, 4 offensive but also had 4 TOs in 10 plus minutes. He left with a sprained ankle in the second half and didn’t return. The sprain is said to be minor.

Kevin Garnett finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds, but he, Perkins, and Wallace weren’t effective keeping the Warriors out of the paint nor could the Celtics stop them from running.

After starting out by out running the Warriors with 10 fast break points to Golden State’s one, the Warriors ended up with 20 fast break points and 46 points in the paint. They also added 14 offensive rebounds, with Radman leading with 5 o-boards.

Kendrick Perkins was top board man with 14 rebounds and 5 offensive as well. He scored 8 points on 4 of 5 shooting in 28 plus minutes and received another unwarranted technical foul, in my opinion.

Rasheed Wallace was 2 of 5 shooting…all from the three point line and added 4 rebounds.

In Westworld, you paid a lot to played a role from the past. How much the Celtics will pay for losing these two games only time will tell.

Things don’t get any easier as the Celtics next play the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. The Suns gave the Cs there first loss of the season, just routed the Lakers, and are tough at home.

Welcome to west world where nothing can go wrong…go wrong…go wrong.

Thomas Halzack

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