"The Celtics are 4-0 against the Raptors this season and are starting to regain the rhythm that sparked them to a 27-2 record."
Allow me to retort. This was about as dead even a statistical game as possible--field goal percentage (47.7 to 47.6), three-pointers (10-24 vs. 9-22), foul shots (21-26 vs. 22-26) and even turnovers (12 for the good guys, 11 for the Raps) were all nearly identical. The Raps were missing Jermaine O'Neal (which would have been significant three years ago) and Jose Calderon (which is significant now), while the C's were without Perk--and will be for about a week.
A dead even game against the Raps at home worries me, even it was the second half of a back-to-back.
Other things that worry me:
• Rondo continues to take very few shots. He was 4-for-9 tonight, and one of those was an attempt at a lob/lay-in at the buzzer off a Pierce inbounds pass from half court.
I am starting this campaign now: I want Rondo taking at least 10 shots per game. I will not stop harping on this. Rondo is averaging 8.3 shot attempts per game. He averaged 9.3 last year. SHOOT RAJON!
One other Rondo note: Will Solomon and Roko Ukic scored 26 points on 11-22 shooting. That's not acceptable, even on Night Two of a back-to-back.
• Big Baby. On a night when the C's played an OT game without Perkins, Doc could only find 13 minutes for Baby. That was his average minutes played last season. He's up to about 17 per game this season, but, as Kelly Dwyer points out (and the numbers back up), Baby's been significantly less productive in '08-'09. His PER is down from about 12 (close to average) to about 8 (terrible), and he's not getting to the line at nearly the rate he was last season (2.2 FTAs in 13.6 minutes vs. 1.7 in 16.8 minutes). Why? Because his shot selection has changed dramatically. According to 82games, only 29 percent of Baby's shots were jumpers last season. That number is up to 65 percent this year.
Let's face it: Baby is a terrible finisher around the rim; he's not exactly an explosive leaper after all. I don't know that I've ever seen a big man miss such a high percentage of his put backs and lay-ups. My guess is he got so discouraged that he's not taking it to the rim anymore. But he's not an effective offensive player unless he's drawing fouls. Just close your eyes and go up strong, big fella!
One more Baby note: I think Dwyer and others are too hard on his defense. He plays well given the right match-up (by which I mean a slower big guy. He was on Bosh briefly last night, and Bosh just blew by him for a baseline dunk). He moves well laterally and he works his butt off to leap out (if not UP) to contest shots. His opponents' PER from last season and this season show he handles centers well (PER around 12) while power forwards torch him (PER around 2o).
Point being: I think Baby can be a useful player if used correctly.
Some good things:
• Chris Bosh scored 18 points in 45 minutes, but he took just 11 shots. Anytime KG and company hold CB$ to fewer shot attempts than Roko Ukic, I'm happy.
• A great game from Pierce. Yeah, he missed an FT that opened the door for the Bargs (welcome to the league, by the way) game-tying three. But there are few players I'd rather have at the line with the game hanging in the balance.
• Gabe Pruitt is contributing. This is interesting. We'll see if Doc plants him back on the bench when Tony Allen comes back.
• Is anyone better than Ray Allen at driving baseline, going up for the lay-in and adjusting to a defensive challenge by bringing the ball back down, ducking under the rim and flicking a shot back over the other side? It seems to go in every time.