The Boston Celtics wrapped up their four game in five nights stretch with a 103-83 loss to the Detroit Pistons Sunday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Rajon Rondo managed 12 points and 10 assists in the loss, but it wasn't enough to stop Greg Munroe who threw in a game high 20 points to go with 13 rebounds. The Celtics came out of the gates strong, at one point building a six point first quarter lead. But it was all down hill from there as Boston's offense stumbled in the second quarter and never got on track again. The Celtics fell to 6-5 and, while showing signs of pulling everything together, are still clearly a work in progress.
Jeff Green followed up a Leandro Barbosa layup with layup of his own with 9:15 remaining in the second quarter. The Celtics wouldn't hit back to back shots again until the fourth quarter. Boston came out of the gates strong with a 25 point first quarter. Then for whatever reason the offense just evaporated. Initially the Celtics were getting good shots and just missing them, then they got confused and stopped moving the ball. The offense disappeared in the second quarter and just never got back on track again. It was one of those games where they just couldn't hit a shot and the defense wasn't good enough to make up for it.
Where is the D?
Anyone who has watched the Celtics for the past few years knows that bad shooting nights are going to happen. The way teams get past that is by playing strong defense, strong enough to keep them in games while their offense struggles. This has been the Celtics identity and key to their success, particularly last year. That has not been the case this year. There have been games when the offense has looked great and they have won these games. However whenever their offense has struggled their defense hasn't been good enough to keep them in it. This is not a recipe for sustained success. The Celtics have the tools to be an excellent defensive team but thus far it has not happened. They need to get on track and soon.
For What It's Worth Rondo's Streak Survives
The Celtics were trying to a win on Sunday. But when it became clear that that was not going to happen coach Doc Rivers did a good turn by his point guard, leaving him in and allowing to go for his 10th assists to keep his 33 game streak of 10 plus alive. Rondo accepted the high fives after Jared Sullinger canned a jumper to give him his 10th rather sheepishly. He actually looked slightly embarrassed as he clearly wanted a win more than he wanted the assists. However while the game was a wash the Celtics still decided to see what they could do for him. It was a nice moment from a team standpoint even though the team played awful on Sunday.
What It Means
It's easy to overstate the importance of games like this. It's easy to view a team with championship aspirations losing to a cellar dweller like the Pistons as a sign that the sky is falling. However the reality is that Boston just had a really bad game. They got good shots, they just couldn't hit them. It happens. The worrying thing is the lack of defense, which has to improve and soon.
After playing four games in the last five days, and seven in the last ten, the Celtics mercifully get a few days off before the San Antonio Spurs arrive to give the Celtics a test on Wednesday with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m.
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