The first game back from the NBA All-Star break didn’t go quite as planned as the Boston Celtics fall to the Denver Nuggets 97-90. What started out as a fast paced, up and down, no half court offense kind of game, slowly wore out the Celtics as they looked to have nothing left by the end of the game. Boston couldn’t get the shots to fall late in the game, and at times there was a breakdown in defensive execution.
Early in tonight’s contest, the Celtics came out flying, running the floor very well, keeping up with Denver’s up-tempo offense and actually went into half with a one point lead. But by the third quarter, things began to go south as Boston was outscored 29-20 and was looking at an eight point deficit going into the fourth.
By the fourth quarter, the Celtics turned it up a notch and started playing great defense early in the quarter. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the offense as Boston missed big shots down the stretch and failed to get looks in the paint to get the easy layup. What really hurt the Celtics tonight was that they went back to old habits by playing a half court offense, which resulted in rushed shots to beat the 24 second shot clock.
It was just one of those nights as key players didn’t step up in key situations. Paul Pierce had an abysmal night only scoring 10 points on 2 of 14 shooting from the field. When the leading scorer is having bad night, and no one else is there to pick up the slack, a loss is usually the result. Avery Bradley on the other hand had a great night early in the game scoring 10 of his 17 points in the first quarter, but after those 10 points, he didn’t score again until the fourth quarter.
To me, tonight was a precursor to what could come if the Celtics don’t sign some free agents or make trades. Boston got tired at the end of the game, and there was no one to go to who could carry the team to the victory. Tonight’s game was also an example of where this season might be heading; start out with energy and then completely run out of gas near the end of the game. That right there is what we’ve seen from this team the last two seasons in the playoffs.
The Celtics look to get back on track as they take on the Los Angeles Lakers tomorrow night. It’s a tough loss, but they’ve got to shake it off and steal a game against an old rival.