Game 4 of 82: Celtics fall to 0-4 after loss to Memphis

The Celtics drop game 4 to the Grizzlies 88-95.

Avery Bradley, Mike Conley

In the 1st quarter Jeff Green came out aggressive, hitting a bank shot in the first 2 minutes while Avery Bradley got into early foul trouble yet again, which led to Crawford coming in and getting 3 assists in 2:28. The Grizzlies went on an 11-0 run to lead 11-4, before the C’s made back to back 3’s by Faverani and Jeff Green. Pondexter answered straight back before Bass converted a reverse layup to cap off a 8-3 battle, cutting it to 3 with 6:43 left. Memphis answered the Boston run with a run of their own going on a 6-0 blitz to lead 22-14. Jeff Green converted an and 1 to cut the lead to 6 with a little under 3 minutes left.  The Celtics finished the quarter on a 9-3 spree to trail 24-27. Jeff Green had 11 points on 3-5 from the field,,1-1 from 3 and 4-5 from FT.

The second quarter started with a Memphis 6-2 run to lead 33-26. Sullinger follows his own miss to tip it in, Crawford gets a steal and slams it down then Lee hits a jumper to cap off an 8-0 Celtics run to put them in front. Green hits a turnaround J with 2:38 left to give us a 5 point lead. Celtics finish the quarter 24-13 to lead 46-50 at the half (originally 52 but a Faverani basket was reviewed and taken away). The Celtics shot above 50% in the half and 90% from the line while keeping Memphis to 42% from the field and forced 7 turnovers in the 2nd quarter alone!

After the half the Celtics started flat as the Grizzlies went on a 18-7 run to take a 66-57 lead with a little under 5 minutes remaining before the Celtics caught fire, starting with a 3 from Jordan Crawford & ending on Jared Sullinger’s 3rd career 3 pointer (2-3 on the night) capped off a 15-0 Celtics rally to finish the quarter and give the C’s a 72-66 lead heading into the last.

The 4th starts and went back and forth for a little bit before Memphis made a 8-2 run to tie it with 5:08 left. The quarter goes back and forth again before Bass nails a mid-range jumper to bring the Celtics within 1 with 2:11 left. That was the last score the Celtics got, as the offence went ice cold down the stretch as Memphis went on to win it 88-95 (outscored 29-16) as the Celtics move to 0-4 for the first time since the 1969-70.

This game has been similar to all the others as we’ve been in them all, but just gone cold down the stretch and critical turnovers at the end cost us. Bayless scored all 15 of his points in the 4th while Jeff Green scored nothing at all in the last. The Celtics shot 47% from the field & 83% from the FT line but we only assisted on 14 of 33 made field goals while Memphis assisted on 23 of their 36.

Notable statistics:

  • Jeff Green 22 points on 50% from the field and 9-12 from FT along with 5 boards.
  • Sullinger, Bradley & Crawford all scored in double figures 16, 14 & 12 respectively.
  • Sullinger finished with a +12 and Courtney Lee a +17 in which Lee finally found a bit of a rhythm hitting 4-5 from the field including 1-1 from deep.

Personally I’d like to see a starting line-up of Crawford-Bradley-Green-Sully-Bass next game to see how it works.

Bear Trap: Boston Celtics @ Memphis preview

Memphis Grizzlies logo

Memphis Grizzlies logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a horrible game it was. The Celtics were so horrible at defending the pick and roll, you could have used the swing gates at Woolies and they would still have died. Brandan Wright was ballin’ thanks to the porous defense.

Stat check: The Grizzlies have won 7 of their last 10 games. They are currently 9-0 at home.

Game time: 24 March 2013, 1100hrs AEDT

Watch it on: NBA League Pass

Roster changes:

  1. Rajon Rondo (ACL) and Jared Sullinger (back) are out for the season.
  2. Courtney Lee rolled his ankle late in the Mavs game. Courtney claimed that the sprain was mild, but no official statement on his status tomorrow

Top enemy performers:

  1. Scoring: Zach Randolph (15.8)
  2. Rebounds:  Zach Randolph (11.8)
  3. Assists:  Mike Conley (6.2)

Keys to the game:

  1. Dark horses — Tayshaun Prince & Jerryd Bayless. The Grizzlies are a great defensive team, and they have gotten even better when they acquired Tayshaun Prince in the Rudy Gay trade. In the last 10 games, Prince has averaged 6.3 rebounds and 0.6 steals.  Offensively, Prince has not made an impact but he still averages 10 points in the last 10 games. As for Jerryd Bayless, Memphis has not been shy going to him as an offensive option because of his performance thus far. In the last 10 games off the bench, he has averaged 13.3 points/game, making 46% FG [40/106], and 50% 3FG [18/36]). It’s definitely worth while to keep an eye out for these two guys.
  2. The Big Men Problem. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol are a terrifying pair, for different reasons. Randolph is a pure grit-n-grind player, hustling and working his way down low for the ball. Gasol’s high basketball IQ allows him to identify the opponents’ game plan and funnel them into help defense. Both are physical, tough guys who excel at moving and rebounding the ball. The Celtics have been playing small ball as of late, and it will definitely take more than simple offensive sets to get the ball into the paint. This also means that defensively, it will hurt our chances at rebounding the ball (even more).
  3. No downtown shooters? Got it. Since the departure of O.J Mayo and Rudy Gay, the only consistent 3 point threats are Mike Conley and new addition Jerryd Bayless. Conley is still struggling to find his stroke, which leaves Bayless as the real threat. This works in our advantage because our guys will be able to cut a little slack in trying to close out the 3-point shooter and do more work in the paint. That is, if no one suddenly gets hot and burns us from downtown.

Today’s game was nothing short of disappointing, but no point crying over spilled milk. Just have to keep moving on.

TRAP GAME ALERT: Celtics are on a back-to-back game! However, Memphis is also on a back-to-back, which may work in our favour.

Fun fact #1: The Celtics have won all 5 of their previous visits at Memphis.

Fun fact #2: The Lakers lost today. That always brightens up my day.

Starting 2013 with a growl: Grizzlies @ Celtics preview

Can the guys in green start 2013 off the right way?

Can the guys in green start 2013 off the right way?

Game time: 2013 starts off with the Grizzlies at TD Garden tomorrow, 1130hrs AEST.

Watch on: Make sure your League Pass is primed and ready to go, because..

Roster changes:

1. you do not want to miss the comeback every C’s fan has been waiting for:

Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford

Avery Bradley and Jordan Crawford (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Avery Bradley’s debut performance. All hail the team saviour! (I’m kidding.)

2. Rondo is not 100%, so he is listed as day-to-day for now with his hip bruise.

3. Wilcox is still out with his thumb injury (sprained ulnar collateral).

Defense

While I’m not hoping for the Celtics to morph directly into the tenacious defensive monster it has always been, some improvement on pick and roll defense (with Bradley’s contributions) would really be nice.

Memphis as always is an offensive juggernaut in the paint, anchored by the twin towers Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Unlike the Utah Jazz however (who thrive on the inside exclusively), the well-balanced Grizzlies have long-range threats in the form of Wayne Ellington (bench), Mike Conley (PG) and Rudy Gay (SF).

1. Limiting layups
Bradley’s return isn’t exactly the second coming of James Posey while he shakes off his rust, but I’m hoping it will be enough to limit the layup lines the C’s have been giving away (refer to last game against the Kings). Dribble penetration must be limited.

2. Denying the twin towers on offense
When it comes to one-on-one coverage, expect either Randolph or Gasol to kill us. KG is not going to be playing the full game, Wilcox is out, Bass is definitely not going to be enough and Varnado is still an unknown on post defense.

I’m not sure what the game plan is, but I would expect double-teams to be thrown at them once the catch is made, with lots of subsequent scrambling (read: defensive rotations) all over the place. The only problem with this idea: rotate too slowly, we get burnt.

3. Defensive rebounding/second chance points
This is just another of those things that’s harped about on every single game so far. It’s especially important on teams that emphasize offensive rebounding like the Jazz and Grizzlies, because it can and will sway the scoreline by 4 points: a putback (2 points), and a loss of transition (2 points).

The point I’m trying to make: if we don’t rebound on D, we lose. Of course, we lose if we can’t make the bloody baskets too, but getting stops is more important than scoring IMO.


Summary: Have realistic expectations, understand Bradley is not going to change things in his first game, and hope for the best on rebounding and help defense. Call me pessimistic, but it feels like a potential loss.

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