Let me start off by saying that this loss is not as embarrassing as my title suggests. Friday night’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers? Now that was embarrassing. The Boston Celtics got a triple-double from Rajon Rondo in that game and still lost to a team that had only recently been riding a 26-game losing streak. That game, my friends, will go down as the low point of the 2013-2014 season for this team.
Last night’s game against the Detroit Pistons? It was disappointing to watch the Celtics fritter away a 19-point third quarter lead, yes, but when you step back and really compare these two teams, the end result was pre-ordained. Boston only had nine players active for this one, and coach Brad Stevens chose to give his starting five the majority of PT tonight, resulting in some tired Celtics once the fourth quarter rolled around. And speaking of his starting five, you could make the argument (and who would argue against you?) that it was really more of a starting 2, with 3 bench players receiving starter minutes. When you look at it this way, the fact that Boston blew a 19-point lead and lost isn’t the surprise; the surprise is, how the hell did the Boston Celtics even build up a 19-point lead in the first place?
The answer to that question is that Detroit doesn’t know how to play defense, a fact I pointed out in my scouting report prior to the game. The Pistons allowed Jerryd Bayless to look like an All-Star against them, letting him score 25 points on 10-for-19 shooting. I like Bayless, but there’s a reason why Memphis was okay trading him for Courtney Lee. That reason? Bayless is not a 25-points-per-game player. Meanwhile, Jared Sullinger, whose three-point shooting percentage of .253 ranks among the league’s worst, nailed his first four attempt from behind the arc, en route to a 22 point, 10 rebound evening. Jeff Green scored 23 points. Phil Pressey scored 12 and handed out 11 dimes. Kelly Olynyk chipped in 11. As a matter of fact, every Boston Celtics player who logged 20+ minutes scored in double digits. Following Friday’s disheartening loss to the 76ers, the Celtics to a man came out ready to redeem themselves, and they took the fight to the Pistons.
So why did I write that Celtics pride was preparing to take an early vacation? Because the Celtics were beat in large part by back-up guard Rodney Stuckey. Yep. Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons comoeback with 26 points off of the bench. Sure, Detroit’s starters got their points, but Stuckey was the catalyst who led the Pistons back, and Boston couldn’t stop him. Think about that: as much as the Boston Celtics wanted to win, they had no answer for Rodney Stuckey.
Boston’s current eight-game losing streak has them standing all alone as the fourth-worst team in the NBA with five games to play, so take the rest of the season off, Celtics pride! Between this year’s draft and whatever savvy moves the Celtics’ front office make in the offseason, you’ll want to be well-rested for the 2014-2015 NBA season, when you should be surrounded by a much stronger roster of Boston Celtics players.