Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Welcome Back, TA AKA "Sugar"

I'm sometimes critical of plus/minus, but this is one those games where the plus/minus stats tell the story. The starters were sluggish, and the bench was on fire. You'll hear a lot about Eddie House's monster game (a career best 8-for-9 from deep), but the real story tonight was the return of Tony Allen, the would-be Posey of the '08-'09 version of the Celtics.  (It may only be because I watched the Mosley-Margarito fight on HBO last night, but Tony Allen looks like Shane Mosley. Like every other boxer ever, Mosley's nickname is "Sugar," and sugar, as a substance, is tantalizing and yet ultimately bad for you. This is an apt description of TA. In this little slice of the Internets, TA will be known as "Sugar.")

Sugar made all five of his shots from the field, and they were all at the rim. There are two ways to interpret this:

Half-full: Sugar's eFG% on jumpers is 26.9 percent, so he should be taking the ball to the rim.

Half-empty: Sugar will never be an effective offensive player on a consistent basis until he learns how to shoot. And he's kind of a train wreck off the dribble.

I'm a half-empty guy (and, really, who likes half-full sorts of people?), but with Sugar you have to be satisfied with him being healthy, playing solid defense and creating some offense for the second unit. He's not going to learn how to shoot jumpers this year. If he can avoid brain dead turnovers (and he had three tonight in garbage time) and slow down just a bit on offense, he can be a productive bench player. We can't ask anything more of him.

Other notes from an easy win:

• The C's starting lineup reasserted themselves in the third quarter with some help from a lazy-looking Sacto D. In one stretch, the Celtics ran the same play over and over: either Rondo or Ray Allen (usually Rondo) brought the ball up the sideline, threw an entry pass to Garnett in the post and cut hard along the baseline. A simple give-and-go. Rondo got three easy lay-ins on this play in a five-minute span. Overall, the C's starting lineup scored on nine of 11 possessions in one stretch, and only once in there did they need to use anything but a lay-up or a free throw. 

• Speaking of easy shots, Rondo went 10-of-15 from the field and took exactly ONE jump shot the entire game, according to his shot chart. (And, yes, he made it, and it was from 21 feet out off a hard dribble/step back move. It was maybe the most confident jump shot Rondo's taken all year. Progress, people). The little guy got to the rim with no resistance. 

• One other shot chart note: Glen Davis was 5-for-6 from the field, and only one shot was a jumper--and even that was from just 10 feet out. Great to see Baby becoming an aggressor on offense again instead of settling. Baby, for now, has passed Powe on the depth chart, and I'm not sure I understand why, unless Doc was just that impressed by his performance against Orlando last week. Powe was out there for garbage time with Walker and O'Bryant while Baby got to relax on the bench and forget that KG made him cry in public a month ago. 

• The C's defense in the third quarter was sloppy, but it looked to me like they were experimenting a bit in a meaningless game. They had Pierce playing way off John Salmons as Salmons camped out beyond the three-point line. Pierce stayed at the foul line and roved around to try and prevent anyone from penetrating into the lane. It was the most I can remember the C's deviating from their man-to-man, and it didn't really work. The Kings moved the ball around and found cutters in the paint for good looks that drew fouls. Interesting to watch, though.  Did anyone else notice this? 

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