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Wednesday, 24 April 2013 12:35

Celtics' lack of talent catching up with them

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Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Celtics’ lack of talent catching up with them

Just last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder went down 0-2 before rallying to beat the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.

That is unusual. So unusual in fact, that only 14 other teams in the history of the league have accomplished the feat. In the NBA, teams that lose the first two games go on to lose the series 94 percent of the time.

With apologies to Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, this Celtics team isn’t nearly as talented as that Thunder squad and Tuesday night was a stark reminder.

Jordan Crawford – the same Jordan Crawford who couldn’t get meaningful minutes for the Washington Wizards - logged 25 minutes for the C’s. Jason Terry hit some shots Tuesday but he can’t guard anyone and truthfully has been just short of abysmal all season long. For all his length and athleticism, Jeff Green’s penchant for disappearing remains his most noteworthy attribute. In Game 2, Green had 10 points on 3-11 shooting with just one rebound and one assist in 35 minutes.

Most tellingly, with Garnett sitting courtesy of early foul trouble, debate stormed on Twitter over coach Doc Rivers’ decision to insert Chris Wilcox and not Shavlik Randolph.

Chris Wilcox and Shavlik Randolph.

That right there should tell you all you need to know about the talent on Boston’s roster.

After a quiet Game 1, Boston’s plan Tuesday night was to get the ball to Garnett early and often but two ticky-tack fouls in the first three minutes of play threw a wrench in those plans.

"I thought the fouls on Kevin were horrendous and had a huge affect on us," said Rivers. "He never got his rhythm when you could see he was going to have a game. It hurt us."

It hurt them, but it was not the only reason for Boston’s loss.

Once again, the Celtics’ defense was mostly good enough to win. They limited New York to 42 percent shooting from the field and while the Knicks led in rebounds, foul shots and three-pointers, it wasn’t by much. But Boston has a habit of lapsing defensively when things start going wrong on the other end of the floor, and that was fully apparent in Game 2, where once again, Boston simply couldn’t score. They had trouble getting into any rhythm offensively, shooting just 37 percent from the floor and 26 percent from deep.

Those offensive woes and subsequent defensive lapses are precisely what leads to performances like Game 1’s eight-point fourth quarter or Tuesday’s brutal third quarter in which the Knicks outscored the Celtics 32-11.

As long as Garnett and Pierce are in the lineup, Boston won’t go down without a fight, and they’ve proven they can hang with the Knicks for long stretches, (they’ve actually led at the half in both games). But as the Celtics head home for Games 3 & 4, they will have to figure out how to overcome both a 0-2 deficit and an increasingly apparent talent gap.  

If history is any indication, they have their work cut out for them.