The Celtics fell to the Nets tonight 104-96 to drop their record to 10-13 and cut their Atlantic Division lead to a game and a half over Toronto.
Boston came into this one riding a streak of six wins in their last eight games on the back of stingy defense, allowing more than 93 points just twice in that stretch. But in tonight’s contest against the Brooklyn Nets, Boston had absolutely no answer for the Nets’ front court. Nets big man Brook Lopez scored 24 points on just thirteen shot attempts, shooting an impressive 76% from the floor. The Nets also received a huge boost from the return of Deron Williams. The former all star point guard dropped in 25 points to go along with eight assists in his first game back from an ankle injury. Lopez combined with former Celtic Kevin Garnett and reserve Andray Blatche to produce 36 points and 21 rebounds all from the forward and center positions, a problem that Boston will need to address to see continued success.
The Celtics certainly didn’t roll over in this one though, cutting the lead from fifteen to five in the fourth quarter. The Celtics offensive efforts were buoyed by an extremely strong second quarter, mainly from Avery Bradley. Bradley scored fifteen of his team-high 22 points in the second period, including one stretch of carrying the team with ten straight points. Jared Sullinger spent the majority of his energy trying to stay with Lopez and Garnett on the other end of the floor, but still managed to drop in fifteen points and produce the highest +/- of any Celtics starter. After being announced as the Player of the Week, Jordan Crawford was only able to score fifteen points on sixteen shots.
So what can we take away from this one? I think it’s quite clear. You can’t take a single night off in this league, especially if you’re a talent-strapped team like the Celtics. I’m not saying Boston came into the game slacking, there was certainly plenty of motivation to play well, but we have certainly seen better defense and effort from this unit. The strong push at the end of the game was nice to see, as Bass finally got things going with some energy, but it was too little too late. Seeing Pierce battle against the Celtics pains me to no limit, even more than the loss. The Celtics will look to get back on the winning side of things with another vengeance game against former coach Doc Rivers tomorrow night.