I have a simple song for all of you, one that unfortunately I just can't shake. In the name of all high gods, why can't the Celtics score more? On the most primal basketball level, you've got Garnett, Pierce, and Allen all on the same team, with a supporting cast just competent enough to not ignore. I know that this Boston team wins like the dickens (until the playoffs), but is there anyone made happy by seeing this trio struggled to each top 15, even on a good night?

I think Barkley said something similar to this, or at least said these two things within the same five-minute window of time: This is not no Big Three. Big Three's drop 20 a piece, easy, on any given night. You know, like Arenas, Jamison, and Butler.

Paul Pierce used to throw up 30 points like it was nothing. Ray Ray would hit threes in his sleep, then throw in some moves to the hoop to cement his star status. And Garnett, even though he never liked scoring, was the nervous center of an offense and always piling up points. Now, this team lives and died by Posey's threes and Rondo's jumper. That's why you take on one Hall of Famers and two borderline cases?

I get all for one and one for all, and that this team is built on functionality. But at the end of the day, a stud is still a stud. There are plenty of points to go around. And damn it, Boston could use them. Like really, how exactly have they all suppressed that instinct to bust loose, to be the star they know themselves to be? It's called asserting yourself, and with talent, it breaks games open. Unless this whole Celtics thing is a conspiracy theory to mask precipitous declines in these three All-Stars games.

We talk a lot about stars and style and all that, and this is a perfect case of why it really matters. Whatever Boston's put together as their plan for the future, it's squelched something in these three stars. They've sacrificed some of that unpredictability, that desire to run shit, that need to overcome everything in their sight.

When I bitched about what Garnett's become in Boston, I was roundly crucified for wanting him to suffer on the tundra, where his myth rose up into the sky like the Northern Lights (which are probably not visible from Minnesota). But watching them now, this team could definitely use a little of the live-wire KG, the slightly out-of-control Pierce, or the suave justice meted out by Allen. I know they want to win, and are convinced they're doing the right thing. I mean, for a minute, the Spurs won like this (though not anymore. . . ).

But they won a little before. And when they did, it came from being stars, from exploiting their talents and allowing themselves to open up and roar. As a matter of fucking course. Why that's so at odds with sticking together and being friends, I have no idea. Commitment to a cause is admirable, but if Boston wants a championship, Garnett, Pierce and Allen need to stand the fuck up and remember who they are. I know there's such a thing as playoff basketball. I also know that three stars and solid support should be whupping LeBron and his valley of knick-knacks.

Unless, of course, they are no longer stars. How you lose that, how it doesn't bubble up at moments like this, is a mystery to me.

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At 5/13/2008 12:49 AM, Blogger Tom said...

I think part of it is their stunning inability to get to the foul line. In the last two games, KG has shot 5 total free throws. That's rediculous. Paul Pierce only had 2 FTAs tonight, and he used to be perhaps the best player in the league at drawing contact.

Neither of them attack the basket any more at all. Is this because of age? Or have they really taken Ubuntu past the realm of usefulness and into a more destructive arena?

Watching Kobe yesterday proved to me how crucial FTAs are to a star in the playoffs. By all accounts, he had a terrible game. His shot was off, he looked hurt, and even tentative at times. But he still ended up with 33 and 10, because he attacked the basket and either got fouled, or got easy buckets.

At 5/13/2008 1:01 AM, Blogger Carter Blanchard said...

Before the season started I wanted to be contrary and question a lot of the hype around the Celtics by arguing that a superstar + a superstar + a superstar does not necessarily equal 3 superstars. But then the season started and they were wrecking shop so I figured I might have overestimated the complexity of the calculus of stardom. But these playoffs have me revisiting all those old concerns.

The example I was thinking of at the time was adding Glen Rice to the Lakers. Ya he became the perfect spot-up shooter and a great complement to a championship team, but there was almost no evidence of the franchise player that had been in Charlotte just two years earlier because of the new hierarchy.

At 5/13/2008 1:02 AM, Blogger Caleb Tyler Adam said...

actually, we do get the northern lights here once in a while. they were actually pretty wicked one night about three years ago.

still, the point stands.

At 5/13/2008 1:21 AM, Blogger Brendan K. said...

I have never agreed more with a post-game sentiment. I want more for a post-Wolves KG, but is this proof of just how hard it has to be to watch Eastern Conference ball in this day and age?

At 5/13/2008 2:12 AM, Blogger Martin said...

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At 5/13/2008 2:23 AM, Blogger Martin said...

I think part of the impetus for a star to shine is the absence of a clearly brighter star. Remember that TMac was subdued in Toronto under the blinding glare of Vincesanity (back when VC gave a damn). Eventually TMac fled to Orlando where a stroke of misfortune sidelined Grant Hill and thrust TMac into the spotlight to let his star shine. Lets not forget that even now, despite having achieved bonafide stardom, TMac still plays better and truly shines only when Yao is out. In that same vein, Pipen in '93 was an accomplished future hall of famer and three-time champion. Yet Scottie only began to put up MVP/superstar type numbers during Jordan's sabbatical and he even developed a matching prima donna attitude when Phil dared to turn to a lesser star for the games final play. Of course when the G.O.A.T returned to claim his throne, Pipen promptly relinquished the superstar play and tantrums, returning to his familiar 'best supporting actor' role. Even Kobe was forced to hold back his fiery ability to drop 81 in a game while still in the presence of the slothful yet brighter diesel star.

Could it be that in order for Pierce to go back to converting on out of control forays to the basket or ill-advised three-pointers that some how go in, Pierce needs the thrill and urgency of knowing that there is no sweet-shooting Ray Allen spotting up in the corner and that there is no insane rebounding/tip-in machine in KG on hand to clean up any stray shot. With the same reasoning applied to Ray and KG? Lets not forget other famed superstar parties that crashed and burned- the big 4 2004 Lakers and the Barkley/Drexler/Hakeem and Barkley/Pipen/Hakeem Rockets of the 90's.

At 5/13/2008 2:24 AM, Blogger Steve S. said...

Honestly, you have to believe me, I try not to make my comments too much into "Can the Dialectics Shoot Hoops", but I fear a sort of Stalinism taking hold. Good basketball ball should appreciate and empower the individual for the benefit of the collective, not restrict and confine towards the same ends.

wv: fxtjzqi
Fariq X "TJ" al-Ziqi -- Chad Ford's favorite prospect for the 2010 draft after he realizes hyping Euros is soo last decade, and moves on to the Saudis.

At 5/13/2008 4:03 AM, Blogger Ian said...

I originally read that second picture as O.G., son of O.G. and was trying to figure out who the O.G. was, Pierce or KG.

But I guess Cassell is probably the most O.G. on that team.

At 5/13/2008 5:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An "alpha dog" player like KG shouldn't be allowing himself to get shut down by Sideshow Bob to the tune of 2 points in the entire second half of a close playoff game. For all his chest-pounding and primal screams, this could be the lasting image of KG: http://www.flickr.com/photos/57046793@N00/2488487925/

At 5/13/2008 12:15 PM, Blogger The wondering Mind said...

It turns out that the hero in you does need a clear lack of other qualified heroes to raise up and save the city. See the diminished role of the man of steel in the justice league, or even Julius Caesar in the first triumvirate. Sometimes the whole is less than the sum of it’s parts and that clearly is the case with the Celtics. Does anybody remember that Michael Finley was a career 20 points a game score and was still considered the man before he was cut for cap reasons? He went from that to the present incarnation just like that. The tendency is for a vacuum to be filled by the object with the greatest gravitational pull, the presence of three objects that have equal or close relative force might result in operational inertia. The law of inertia, Newton's first law of motion is often stated as “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” That unbalanced force is what is missing from the Celtics.

At 5/13/2008 12:31 PM, Blogger jawaan oldham said...

It could just be that Doc's grind-it-out Pat Riley bullshit playoff ball style is holding the guys back. Conservative coaching---playing not to lose instead of GS/Atl "fuck it, let's set ourselves on fire and if we make it to the other end of the court it'll be amazing---is a blight.

At 5/13/2008 1:28 PM, Blogger Matt said...

I agree with j. oldham up there; it's not that it's impossible for three stars to coexist, it's that their guidance in this unprecedented situation is off. If Doc knew what was good for him, he'd tell those three to just play, tell the rest of his team to ride along. I think Doc has them second-guessing, and so far it seems none of the three has the star quality to rise above and choose a different path.

At 5/13/2008 1:48 PM, Blogger David said...

you know, BS, you're right. KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce should be more like Washington's big stars and score 20 a night each. Then, they too could be watching the second round of the playoffs from home. Gimmie a fucking break.

At 5/13/2008 2:03 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

KG, Allen and Pierce could do that in their sleep. Be a real BIG Big Three and still do all those special defense and selflessness things that have them. . . going seven games with the worst team in the playoffs and getting walloped by a one-man team on the road. Yeah, they're really rolling.

The Wizards don't lose because they have three stars. They lose because that's all they have.

At 5/13/2008 2:35 PM, Blogger Martin said...

Perhaps there is something to j. oldham's point. I would liken the warriors/hawks carefree style of play to what we see during the all-star games. Ray Allen (my pick for this year's ASG MVP over Lebron for his clutch 4th quarter scoring) showed that when allowed to shine, he still has some sweet shooting left in him. This invalidates Shoals questioning whether ubuntu is simply a cover up for Celtics trio's decline. The irony lies in the fact that Ray's all-star game coach happens to be his current coach. Perhaps the whole exhibition game moniker is the only thing that allowed Doc to move away from the sloan/popovich/larry brown conservative principles that he aspires to emulate. what could these celtics do with a mad scientist like Don Nelson or D'Antoni? A Rondo, Ray, Pierce, KG, Posey/Perkins line up looks like it could pull-off Golden States positional revolution- KG can play all 5 positions, Pierce can play 4 positions, Ray can play the 1, 2 or 3? Who knows? Of course there is the whole looming pall of history that says- DEFENSE, CONSERVATIVE OFFENSE AND PLAYING THE RIGHT WAY wins championships! Doc is definitely between a rock and hard place on this one- I don't even know that the right answer is- I just know they are employing right now does not seem to working.

At 5/13/2008 4:16 PM, Blogger Jason Gill said...

For whatever you may say about coaching or bright stars the fact of the matter is that these three are still not clutch AND a little older than before. Sure KG hit that 23 footer to win game 1, but last night he disappeared, Ray stayed disappeared and Pierce just didn't have it in him.

All of the other legit teams have multiple 30pt guys (Pau, KB; West CP3; TD, TP, MG; CB, RH, Sheed, TP; Dwill, CB), while nominally this is the case for the celts, the reality is they maybe still have one and more likely no guys who can do that.

There is no reason that a team with a superstar and playable cast should have lost last night at Cleveland but the celtics did. And that means something.

At 5/13/2008 5:04 PM, Blogger Marcus said...

Pierce and Ray Allen were never superstars. Pierce was always a classic big-scorer-bad-team type, and Allen was a complementary player. And Garnett's playoff problems are well known.

Plus, this Cavs team is starting to show signs of what the trade was designed to bring them. Lebron plus anybody who can hit open jumpers is a formidable combination.

My guess is still that the Celtics will wrap it up fairly easily at home, where the refs will allow even more physical defense on the Cavs and will be more solicitous of Garnett on the offensive end.

But I'm just not surprised by what I'm seeing. People forget so quickly how the Cavs took Detroit to 7 two years ago, and beat them in 6 last year. You think this Celtics team is clearly better than Detroit?

At 5/13/2008 8:18 PM, Blogger Martin said...

sorry Marcus but you are either a hater (aka criticize with little information to back up your venom) or you clearly know little to nothing about the respective careers of Pierce and Ray Allen. Paul Pierce once defeated a higher seeded Pacer team in a 7 game playoff series almost single handedly. I believe it was in the 02/03 season. In one of the games Pierce scored 21 fourth quarter points. Despite Pierce being the focal point of the Celtics offense, something that every Pacer recognized, they were powerless to stop him. And we are not talking about the current pasty, lead footed Pacer team, but a squad that had Harrington, Artest, Bender and J Oneal- all of whom are/were very good defensive players. In fact for a while there was a legitimate Pierce vs Kobe argument. Of course Kobe came out on top, but the fact that they were mentioned in the same breadth says something. Pierce who you label a "classic big-scorer-bad-team" type actually has a more impressive playoff resume to date than KG whom you atleast acknowledge is a superstar.

Ray Allen is no slouch either, he has been hitting clutch fourth quarter shots from when he was a Husky in the 90s up until the most recent all-star game when he erased a double digit East deficit on his own and paved the way for Lebron to close out the West with his signature poster dunk over Dirk. Ray Allen was also the star player on the surprising 2004–05 sonics team that won 52 games and made the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference.

Pierce and Allen may have had their share of losing seasons- hey even Kobe could not lift the Lakers into the playoffs in 06. But make no mistake about it- Pierce and Allen can (or at least very recently were) go-to-players on winning teams. They may no longer be go-to-players but no need to downplay their past achievements and label them career losers/inferior players to prove some thesis.

At 5/14/2008 12:40 AM, Blogger knowing is maxo said...

as a huge reggie miller fan i feel required to point out that for what its worth, isiah thomas coached that pacer team you're referring to.

At 5/14/2008 2:47 AM, Blogger Martin said...

Point taken KIM, I agree that the Pacers coaching was mediocre to terrible, but Pierce lighting up Artest and JO consistently had a little to do with his star play. I just don't think we can explain away the Celtics current 4th quarter scoring droughts on Pierce and Allen having never been that good to begin with. Their skills may have atrophied at an accelerated rate this year, but at some point in the recent past they were blue-chip 4th quarter scorers. I think its more of a mental than talent block- either Doc is screwing with their games or they are finding it hard to co-exist yet remain assertive in the presence of other equal or better stars.

At 4/13/2009 2:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




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