On Thursday night the Celtics started out their three game road trip against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Celtics come in off a blowout win on Christmas day against the Nets in which the team was firing on all cylinders. The Clippers own the league's best record at 22-6 and had a 14 game winning streak coming into the night. The Celtics looked to start off their trip ending the Clippers streak but we embarrassed in every aspect of the game getting blown out losing 106-77.
The Celtics came out with their newest line-up featuring Rondo, Terry, Pierce, Garnett and Collins. The team got off to a rough start offensively and defensively allowing numerous easy transition buckets. The Celtics also committed 9 turnovers in just the first half adding to their struggle offensively looking really out of rhythm. The Clippers shot lights out in the first half shooting 54.3% and it seemed like just about every shot was dropping. Blake Griffin uncharacteristically was nailing jump shots while Jamal Crawford hit numerous circus shots after solid overall defense. Going into half the Celtics trailed 60-47 as Jeff Green couldn't get off a corner three in time to beat the buzzer.
Of the starters Rondo tallied the most minutes with 34 but really struggled to score. He had numerous shot attempts that are typically routine but simply wouldn't go down. He shot just 4-12 on the night for 10 points while adding 6 assists, and 5 rebounds. These issue also plagued the rest of the Celtics players, Paul Pierce struggled offensively shooting 5-13 for 12 points and a plus minus of -27. Kevin Garnett was about the only starter who produced regularly as the Celtics high point man for the night finishing with 16 and 4 rebounds.
The Clippers might have the deepest bench in the NBA and still are without their veterans Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill. They had four players who finished with 10 or more points, led by Matt Barnes who had the game high with 21. Coming in teams know the Clippers can score fast and in highlight fashion. To beat this team you need to play solid defensively and back it up with execution offensively. Rondo did a good job guarding star point guard Chris Paul who scored just 8 points but had 11 helpers. However, it wasn't nearly enough as the rest of the Clippers scored at a high rate.
At about the 10 minute mark in the fourth, with the game was out of reach and the lead increased to 25, Doc decided to insert the bench and give the veterans some rest before playing again Saturday. This was a very rough game to watch as a Celtics fan, the team was clearly frustrated throughout the night. Instead of trying to fight through their difficulties we seemed to simply accept defeat and settle for tough contested shots. The team's consistency struggles continue to be the storyline of the year and we're left wondering what team might show up every night. Hopefully with a day off on Friday the team can watch some film and regroup for a better performance in their next game.
The Celtics will look to recovery from this terrible loss going into their next game Saturday as they face the Golden State Warriors. This will again be a tough game for the team as the Warriors are right behind the Clippers in second place in the Pacific division with a record of 19-10. The game starts late again as it's in Oracle Arena, tipping off at 10:30pm eastern time.