This one hurts quite a bit, doesn’t it?
I know it’s rather remarkable that the Wolves (7-35) were even competitive with the Celtics (34-7) tonight. It’s even more remarkable that they had a great opportunity to win the game, and should have emerged with the win. But man, our squad was in the driver’s seat with 23 seconds remaining, and they frankly handed this game away.
The play that’s sure to generate much discussion is the Corey Brewer inbound sequence, as Brew was nailed for a five-second violation. For starters, Brewer needed to call a timeout, since absolutely no one was open…Corey just lacked awareness on that play. If you’re inbounding the ball, you need to be counting down from five to zero in your head. And secondly, the inbound play itself was ridiculous…again, Corey had no options because everyone was covered. Witt’s inbound play failed to free anyone up.
And here’s what is even more insane: On the next inbound play, the EXACT SAME THING happened. Marko had no options, and was forced to call a timeout. It’s inexcusable that inbound plays, of all things, played an instrumental role in deciding this game. Truly a case of the Wolves snatching defeat from the hands of victory.
Witt had Marko and Bassy make the final inbounds passes of the game…problem is, that decision was too little, too late. I must question Wittman giving inbound duties to a rookie at a critical juncture of the game—I’m a Corey Brewer rube, but there are definitely more reliable passers on this team. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.
With their meltdown in the final 40 seconds or so, the Wolves dropped an extremely winnable game. But even though the ending was a crushing one, this team still deserves major credit…they fought valiantly, and we can’t forget about the intensity and passion they displayed for virtually the entire game.
(Click "Read More" to continue)
Telfair was great. He came up HUGE in the final five minutes, knocking down key jumpers and draining a finger roll late in the fourth quarter. He’s having himself a great six-game stretch, as his shooting has been much-improved during the past two weeks (in a future article for the site, I said he’s inconsistent at best from the perimeter…well, that certainly hasn’t been the case during the past several games).
Bassy was in a zone tonight…simple as that. He was shooting lights out from the perimeter.
McCants also played a gutsy game. Like Bassy, Rashad shot the ball well—but more notably, he grabbed seven rebounds tonight—which, obviously, is uncharacteristically solid production on the boards for McCants. He played harder on the defensive end than I’ve seen him play in a while, and I saw a definite determination from him on almost all of the rebounds he snagged. This sounds simplistic, but I don’t think the reason for Rashad’s strong rebounding needs to be very complicated: He wanted to grab those boards, and wasn’t going to be stopped.
And that’s what makes Rashad such a frustrating player…when the guy plays with intensity, with desire, he makes a great impact on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, we too often see Rashad lagging on the defensive end—and that’s disappointing, because I have no doubt he can make a quality contribution on defense if he’d play with high intensity on a more consistent basis.
I’d have liked to see Rashad get more touches…his shot was certainly dropping, but he didn’t get enough opportunities on the offensive end, in my view. When Rashad’s in the zone, you’ve gotta keep feeding him the ball until he stops making shots.
Even though he’ll get ripped for that inbounds play, Corey Brewer deserves a ton of credit for his defensive effort. While not dominant on defense when matched up with Paul Pierce, he did successfully frustrate Pierce—nothing was coming easy for Paul when Corey was guarding him. Pierce ended up shooting 4-15 largely because Brewer always had his body on the longtime Celtic…there were no open lanes for Pierce, no easy baskets.
Also promising: Brewer shot 4-8 from the field. He had another solid shooting performance
Here’s something I noticed—I glanced at Brewer’s efficiency rating, and throughout the entire 2007-08 season he currently stands at a +6.12. Yes, his shooting has generally been an ugly sight, and he’s making a few too many turnovers for my liking—but if his efficiency rating is any indication, good things are happening when he’s on the court.
Al Jefferson’s up-and-under move against KG was easily the
most memorable moment of the evening for me.
KG actually had
The defensive effort from our squad is definitely worth noting. I’ve complained time and time again about poor effort on the defensive end, but you’ll see no such complaints today. The defensive intensity the Wolves displayed was truly a sight to behold…they forced the Celtics into 23 turnovers (meanwhile, the Wolves only had 13).
Wittman clearly made certain that Garnett would be a relative nonfactor in this game. When Garnett got the ball, help defense soon arrived. He only took five shots tonight, but as is usually the case for Da Kid (and I do realize how inappropriate that nickname has become), he was dominant on the defensive glass.
Something I’ve seen from some message boards: A few people are irked by KG’s reaction following the final buzzer. For those who missed it, he kinda grabbed both sides of his jersey and tugged it, apparently trying to make sure people noticed the word “Celtics” on his uniform. Personally, I have no problem with that…this was obviously a meaningful game for Garnett, and besides, all of us know what an emotional guy he is. He’s clearly going to be ecstatic after beating his former team.
However, one thing confused me…as was stated in the forums, the Celtics acted like they’d won a championship following the game. There were guys running out on the floor to hug their teammates, players pumping their fists and waving towels. Closed-circuit to the Celtics: You just beat a team that’s 28 games under the .500 mark.
The way most of the Celtics reacted, though, you’d have
thought they just knocked off
So, in conclusion—I can completely understand why KG was so psyched following the game, but the reaction of the entire Celtics team left me scratching my head. I’m sure Doc Rivers addressed that issue to his squad following the game.
I don’t believe in moral victories (although if I did, maybe I wouldn’t be so negative about the Gophers football program…after all, according to coach Brewster, the team went 12-0 in moral victories last season). Very rarely do I think that a victory can somehow be derived from a loss…either you win or you lose. I have an all-or-nothing atttude towards that subject. But, with that said, this game approached moral victory territory for the Wolves.
Their intensity on the defensive end combined with the
Celtics bumbling play on the offensive end had the
The last 23 seconds of the game may have been disastrous, but now that the initial disappointment of the loss has started to wear off, I’m feeling very good about what I saw from this team tonight. The inbound blunders are inexcusable mistakes, but really, the Wolves deserved to win this one.And if this game is any indication, the "KG returns to Target Center" showdown in a couple weeks should be a memorable one.