|A professional effort||03.21.09 at 10:44 pm ET|
There is nothing better than the NCAA Tournament. The games are exciting, the emotion is unparalleled and the size of the field and the format is perfect. It is the best post-season in all of sports, and this comes from an NBA guy who thinks the college version of hoops is a vastly inferior product and is far more interested in Lionel Hollins’ rotations than Coach K’s histrionics.
But as awesome as it is to see Siena take down Ohio State, there is something to be said for putting together a win like the Celtics did last night. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable to watch and the atmosphere inside the Grizzlies building was like the BPL at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday. (Did you catch the guy sleeping in the fifth row with about four minutes left?) One shining moment it wasn’t. (Click here for a recap).
But the Celtics were, in a word, professional. One night after taking down the Spurs they went into Memphis with tired legs and did what they had to do. This was a solid step forward for the C’s who had lost a little bit of their swagger last week.
Six more observations from a subdued Saturday in the middle of March madness:
1. When Kevin Garnett is in the game everything changes. The defensive intensity picks up, the offense flows better, the tempo gets faster. Rivers experiment with KG is a noble one and it’s to his credit that he has resisted the urge to play him more minutes. There are a lot of coaches who talk a good game about things like this and then push the panic button when things get tough. Credit Doc for that one.
Credit Garnett for his 10-point, four-rebound effort, as well. The plan appears to be to give him a little more work on Monday against the Clippers (four minutes in the second, four in the fourth). That seems like a workable idea. The test will be Wednesday when the C’s go to Orlando.
2. You could do a lot worse in your bracket then going with a team that has Mike Conley, OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, Darrell Arthur and Hakim Warrick. The problem with the Grizzlies is the only veteran on the roster is Greg Buckner. If they get a little time to develop, and if Marc Gasol continues to be an effective presence inside, they might have something there. But what are the odds that owner Michael Heisley keeps the team together? The Grizz are just treading water until the next collective bargaining agreement.
3. Doc made a conscious effort to keep Paul Pierce’s minutes down and that also seems like a very good idea. The Truth has logged major playing time this year and while it’s tempting to keep him out there at all times (especially without an obvious backup) keeping him somewhat fresh will be a major challenge down the stretch.
4. Interestingly, Rivers opened the second quarter sans Big Three and then went to a Stephon Marbury, Eddie House, Ray Allen lineup for a significant stretch of the second and fourth quarters.He seems intent on doing a little tinkering with the second unit, which is exactly what he should be doing right now.
5. Big Baby had a huge first half, following up on his solid effort against San Antonio. Before he got hurt Leon Powe was turning some heads with his play. It remains to be seen what the backup big man rotation is going to look like come playoff time but right now Baby and Powe are making their case to play big roles.
6. Safe to say that the acquisition of Marbury has accomplished at least one thing so far. House has flourished as the designated shooter while Marbury handles the ball. E-House is averaging over eight points a game and shooting over 50 percent from 3-point range playing off Marbury, while Steph looked cool and calm running the offense last night, as well. Granted it’s not like the Memphis guards were channeling TR Dunn, but it was a good night for Marbury.
6A. If Bill Walker isn’t in the slam dunk context next year, there ought to be an investigation. In the spirit of Darryl Dawkins, that dunk he threw down on Arthur, the former Kansas forward, should be called the: Rock Chalk In-yo-face-Jayhawk Tomahawk Jam.