Once again, we recap the best and worst of the Celtics Opening
Week. So far the Celtics are 1-2 to start the season, having lost both the road
and home openers but winning against the lowly Wizards last night. Let’s take a
look at what else is up in Celtics Nation:
Too ‘hot’ to handle: The Celtics came into Opening Day with one thought: beating the Miami Heat to a pulp. That didn’t happen, as the Heat ran away with the 120-107 victory amidst a sea of questionable and dubious calls. I don’t want to sound like a homer, but I had at least seven or eight calls that went Miami’s way. Still, it was not an excuse for the porous defense and lack of defensive pressure. If there was anything we can take away from that game, it’s that the Celtics offense looks good, even if Jason Terry, Jeff Green and Courtney Lee still haven’t found their strokes yet.
Jared Sullinger and playing under the rim: I really, really like Jared Sullinger. So it pains me to write about his one major shortcoming: his lack of lift and his below the rim style of play. I can relate somewhat to Sully because I play the same way he does, but the concerns are real. Against an athletic team like Miami, Sullinger will get blocked. But he is an old school bulldog and will not give up on plays easily. He will put the ball in the hoop and and I love how he crashes the boards as well. He got his first career start last night against the Wizards as well, so Doc is quite high on Sully. And we have some excellent examples of NBA players with the similar dilemma who have thrived in the league and while I think it’s a stretch to think of Sully as the next Kevin Love, he fits on this Celtics team quite nicely.
Punk play or not, Wade needs to grow up: Please, D-Wade. You’ve had your share of so-called ‘punk plays’, and one of them even happened at an All-Star Game. Granted, it was Kobe, and maybe I should thank you for that, but I can’t forget your pivotal role in breaking Rajon Rondo’s elbow in the 2011 Eastern Semis. I just can’t. I don’t get why you keep complaining when you feel like you were fouled and it was not called, and I don’t get why you were so upset with Rondo not allowing you to coast for a layup. You were winning. You think our boys would allow you to coast for an easy two points just to rub the salt in the wound? Please.
The return of Ray and the ‘cold shoulder’: It was weird seeing Ray Allen wearing white. And while I was a bit moved by his hug with Doc Rivers and his acknowledgement of the coaching staff, I couldn’t help but laugh when he tapped Kevin Garnett on the shoulder and KG didn’t even flinch. I love both these guys, and as Stephen A. Smith acknowledged in his show, they are just being their true selves. Allen wanted to let KG know that all is well and he has love for him, but KG didn’t want any of that. Not in the middle of a game, no less against the hated Heat, at least.
Stopped by the Buck: I honestly thought the Celtics were going to run all over the Milwaukee Bucks, especially after Brandon Jennings’ proclamation that he was upset for not getting the contract extension offer he wanted. I honestly thought the Celtics were going to have an easy time toppling over this overmatched roster with ill-fitting pieces. Needless to say, I was wrong. Brandon Jennings was magnificent, or at least the atrocious defense made him look good, as the Bucks cruised to a 99-88 win in the TD Garden. I didn’t like the booing at all, but I guess the Garden faithful had to do something to light a fire under the team. Cue Kevin Garnett making the ‘pack of hyenas’ speech. Makes me wonder if KG watches a lot of National Geographic or Discovery Channel.
A win is a win is a win: I was up early for this one, as the Celtics got the first win of the season out of the way with an 89-86 thumping of the depleted Wizards. The trademark Celtics defense was on display in the first quarter, allowing only two points for the first seven minutes while scoring seventeen. It was an exciting glimpse of that this team can do when the offense and defense come together. It got a bit too close for comfort in the fourth, but as I have said time and time again, even on a bad shooting night, Paul Pierce will drain that dagger shot that kills the hearts of the opposition, and that is exactly what he did tonight. Props to Kevin Garnett for two surplus defensive plays: getting the youngster Kevin Seraphim to turn the ball over when the Celtics were only up by one, and cleanly contesting Martell Webster’s desperation three pointer as time winded down.
Final thoughts: It’s a long season, and we are still figuring out where the new pieces fit on both sides of the ball. Like the classy former Celtic Marquis Daniels, I will preach patience with the 2012-2013 Celtics, because it will take time to make the adjustments needed. Fortunately, there is plenty of time. It’s not like the Celtics are blowing a late-season division lead already.
That’s all for now, but be sure to check back Tuesday when the
Celtics host the Wizards (yes, them again) at the TD Garden.