The serendipitous Celtics came out on top in game one, no thanks to Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, or Ray Allen.
A fortunate roll off a stingy rim with less than a shot clock remaining in the game saved the Celtics from a tie score and the horror of head coach Doc Rivers designing a final play to win game one at the TD Banknorth Garden and maintain home court advantage against LeBron James’s Cavs. However, long before the game came to such a dramatic end, three central Celtic characters failed to live up to their casting.
First, Doc Rivers. Boston’s head honcho once again showed his tragic flaw in all its glory. The first half, and second quarter in particular, highlighted Doc’s questionable substitution patterns. Rajon Rondo, who had dominated the game in its early proceedings, saw the second unit stumble under Sam Cassell’s direction after the starters handed their lesser known teammates an early 10 point lead.
While Cassell proved vital in the second half, his slower style poorly complements the faster-paced Celtic second unit. One could say that had Doc not left Cassell in the game so long in the second quarter the aging lead guard wouldn’t have been in rhythm late in the game when his big shots were needed; an equally logical critic would insist that had Doc merely spelled the young firecracker point guard with Cassell or the forgotten Eddie House’s services and sat an evidently struggling Ray Allen in the game’s second frame, 48th minute heroics might not have been necessary.
Next, we have the two-headed monster of Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, who combined to build a chimney with 16 bricks in 18 field goal attempts. There’s no easy answer here. Sometimes shots don’t fall, but on these nights a team must refocus its offensive gameplan. Pierce and Allen have enough finishing moves to operate on the blocks, freeing up Kevin Garnett to catch and shoot off their initiative, displaying his deft mid-range stroke. Should the smaller two-thirds of the Boston Three Party continue to falter from profundity Thursday night, posting the two up on the blocks or giving Tony Allen some burn would help ease the strain on the Parquet Posse.
There are lessons to be learned and thanks to be given after a game in which LeBron James looked out of sorts and turned the ball over a whopping 8 more times than he met nylon from the field. Should Doc find a steady rotation, utilizing his deep roster to its fullest, and help set his two star swingmen back on track, the engine that could 71 times and counting should jump out to its second straight 2-0 series lead.
Sidenote: The Emergence continued against Cleveland, as Perk was a dominant defensive and rebounding force, and solid offensive contributor. Perkins’ defense on pick-and-rolls was phenomenal.