Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett finished with reasonably strong statistics, and if the Celtics adhered to the mantra that any win is a good win, then everyone might have gone home happy. But none of those three played as well as their stat lines might suggest, and it has been a long time since the Celtics were satisfied with ugly victories in the regular season.
Pierce looked the sharpest on paper, with 27 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes. Rondo seemed to direct the offense effectively with his 12-point, 12-assist, two-turnover performance. Garnett put in the hard work up front, ending with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Yet all three had hiccups that contributed to the Celtics losing a 16-point lead and needing to fend off the Wizards until the end of the 89-86 win.
Pierce shot 4-for-11 and committed two turnovers in the first half. Although he came on strong in the second half with 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting and 3-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc, he was a nonfactor in the second quarter, when Washington outscored Boston 30-23 and got within single digits by halftime. Rondo was superb for three quarters, recording a double-double in less than 30 minutes of floor time, but he committed two crucial turnovers that enabled the Wizards to tighten the score in crunch time. Garnett carried the Celtics early on and was 7-for-10 from the field entering the final frame, but he missed all five shots he took and ended up with one point in the fourth quarter.
These guys are going to become more consistent. The point is not to nitpick on their games but to point out that, so far, inconsistency is an across-the-board trait for the Celtics. The new players may get most of the attention for their struggles in getting melded into the system, but the established stars bear responsibility in carrying the load in the meantime.
CHRIS IS NOT POPPING YET
Seeing Chris Wilcox back on the court was encouraging, not only from the Celtics’ perspective but from the perspective of any person who has followed Wilcox’ efforts to rehabilitate from heart surgery earlier this year. He tallied three minutes in Friday’s loss to Milwakee and stretched his legs a bit more Saturday by playing nearly eight minutes in Washington, D.C.
Wilcox is still a ways from being the floor-running gazelle he was for 28 games last season. He did not even bother to attempt a shot and picked up two personal fouls against the Wizards. He also looked a step slow in reacting on defense, although it was not clear whether that was because he is still working his way back physically or because he is getting used to the slight changes Celtics coach Doc Rivers made to Boston’s offense since Wilcox was sidelined in March.
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