Fast Break: Spencer Hawes, 76ers slap Celtics silly
|10.15.12 at 9:30 pm ET|
The Celtics started Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Jared Sullinger and Darko Milicic, marking the fourth different Doc Rivers starting lineup in as many preseason games. In Philadelphia, few showed up — namely Sixers fans, centers Kevin Garnett and Andrew Bynum, and the C’s cohesiveness.
When all was said and done after an atrocious 107-75 C’s loss, only Pierce (16 points) and Brandon Bass (11 points) reached double figures, six different Celtics committed at least two of the team’s 20 turnovers and Milicic left in the second half with a sore wrist. All that said, let’s sort through the ugliness.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Turnovers and turnover: As analyst Tommy Heinsohn said at halftime, when the C’s had already coughed the ball up 14 times (Pierce 4, Milicic 3, Rondo 3, Sullinger 2) and experimented with roughly 9,736 different lineups, “There was no chemistry. It was boiling over into turnovers.” Few if any lineups appeared to have any continuity. Given the Celtics are only midway through the preseason, it’s probably too early to be concerned about excessive experimentation, but the earlier Rivers can discover which units work best together, the better.
Off center: Without Kevin Garnett, who would normally treat Spencer Hawes like Hulk treated Loki in “The Avengers,” Rivers turned to Sullinger and Milicic to guard the Sixers center. Often, the former proved too small and the latter too slow to challenge the rangy 7-footer. Understandably, the Celtics didn’t want to play Garnett in back-to-back nights, and Rivers likely wanted to experiment with his big Garnett/Milicic lineup against Brook Lopez and the Nets on Tuesday night. Still, Monday was further evidence how important KG is to the C’s chemistry.
Project Green light: Green may have guarded everywhere from the 2-4, but that didn’t mean he did it successfully. While NBA plus/minus statistics aren’t always the best indicator, he was a team-worst minus-28 against the 76ers. After reaching double digits and shooting better than 50 percent in his first three preseason games, Green made just 3-of-9 attempts, missed all three of his long-distance attempts and committed two turnovers. Outside of an unchallenged slam dunk, he failed to take advantage of a matchup against offensive-minded Nick Young.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Defensive specialists: While the Celtics struggled as a team, defensive stalwarts Courtney Lee and Jason Collins showed glimpses of how they might change games on that end of the floor. In one short span during the first half, Lee contested two shots — including one stop of Evan Turner on a fast break — and Collins sandwiched a couple blocks around a charge. That’s a far cry from a hobbled Ray Allen and a healthy Ryan Hollins.
Bass contribution: Given the fact he didn’t start for the second time this preseason — this time sitting behind both Sullinger and Milicic — Bass continues to do what he did most of last season, quietly go about his business knocking down shots. He contributed 11 points and six boards, mostly in his more meaningful minutes.
Home for Christmas: Even if Dionte Christmas didn’t contribute much during the game (1-4 FG), the Temple product earned a warm welcome from the few Philadelphia fans in attendance. He was also the first of the trio seriously vying for the final roster spots (Christmas, Kris Joseph and Jamar Smith) to see playing time — another sign he has a leg up to make the 15-man roster. “I didn’t know he was going to throw me out so early, but he did,” Christmas told Comcast after the game. “I played well with the starters.”