Game Notes: Grizzlies at Celtics
The return of Trick or Treat Tony.
by Jonathan Evans
Now that the post-All-Star break lull safely in the rear view mirror, the allure of the postseason is right around the corner. With Boston still making sense of their new pieces, the match-up with a young surging Memphis team is a welcomed test for both teams heading down the home stretch.
“You couldn’t pick a better team for us to play right now,” Doc said before the game. “They’re good in all the areas we’re weak.”
Doc’s remarks proved telling in Boston’s 90-87 loss that was equal parts an escape and a gritty triumph by Memphis. The Grizzles took Boston’s punch and, behind tough performances by a couple of ex-Celtics, hung in for the win.
After a lackluster start, Boston kicked up their defense but couldn’t get much going on the other end. Suffering from high turnovers (17) and low shot attempts (69), the Cs couldn’t buy a big bucket when they needed it. Also troubling for Boston was their inability to get more touches for their best wing scorers in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Be it over passing or missing makeable shots, Boston couldn’t bust through down the stretch.
“I’ll take [allowing] 90 points a night, we’ve got to score more,” Doc said bemoaning Boston’s execution. “Paul’s got to get more touches.”
While Boston clumsily made their surge to steal the win, Memphis admirably stood their ground and didn’t wilt to the Playoff atmosphere that engulfed the arena.
“They clearly played through us tonight,” Doc said after the game. A telling quote that speaks to Grizzles’ growth and burgeoning toughness.
“I told our guys we’ve gotta win these games,” Leon Powe said. “We need to graduate to that level.”
Giving praise that is simply begging to be visualized in Photoshop, Rivers said that “Leon was the baddest man on the planet tonight.”
Indeed, Powe was an aggressor, tying a team high with 13 points in just 17 minutes. For better and worse, his fellow ex-Celtic teammate was right there with him. Visibly juiced to be going against his old team, Tony Allen was there with tough defense and horrible airballs and nothing in between. It’s worth noting that Memphis pulled this one out despite subpar games from both Mike Conley and Z-Bo and with Tony Allen acting in the most Tony Allen-iest ways possible. (Yes, that’s meant to be both a compliment and condemnation of TA.) Their balanced box score is a testament to their growth from promising group of individuals to a team that can actually grind out wins against quality opponents.
Here are some notes on how this one went down:
– Tony, eager and energetic early, getting out on the break and gambling for steals. Tony turnaround hook – misses. He’s taken a team high five shots so far.
– Rondo, doing his best KJ over Hakeem impression, falls short against Marc Gasol. Other end, Big Baby’s British Bulldog impression on Sam Young is on the money. Young hits both freebies, 14-11 Memphis.
– Big or small Boston has been sloppy early. OJ Mayo’s steal gives Boston 6 turnovers here in the first.
– With their second unit in, the Grizzles don’t miss a beat. They’re talking on defense and have active hands. Mayo bottoms a baseline jumper to put Memphis up seven and force a Cs timeout. Tony Allen is very happy.
– Ugliness continues for the Cs on offense – 12 missed shots, 9 turnovers. The Cs are running things through Krstic with mixed results. There are some bad turnovers but also some good post moves and passes.
– Ray Allen bottoms back-to-back threes. Despite the sluggish start Boston down just two and are now the aggressors on both ends.
– Big man moves from the junior Gasol who rips rebound from Green and takes it through Celtics bigs in the paint for lay in. Next time down, he sets up on Davis, spins off him, drives baseline and slams it home.
– Pierce three caps a 12-2 Boston run. Better defense from Cs has been key, plus getting away with a few hard hits on drives doesn’t hurt matters.
– KG has rendered Z-Bo more or less irrelevant. The same can’t be said for the other bigs as Powe continues to take it to Baby. This must’ve been what the Cs’ practices were like in ’08.
– Pretty Tone is in the building. TA steal leads to a breakaway two-handed slam. Since it’s TA, it’s worth noting that he sticks the landing.
– Three from the top of key from Pierce pulls Boston to within one. That’s 18 second-half points from The Truth.
– TA on Ray. Jab step, step back, jumper, airball. For those keeping score at home that’s back to back airballs from Tony.
– So far Memphis is up to challenge and hanging with the Celtics. They’ve taken the Cs’ punch and are not only still standing but fighting right back. Knicks, hope you’re taking notes.
– Boston force Z-Bo miss with the shot clock running down. Ensuing break, Rondo back rims floater to more or less end it. Moments later, Baby rushes a three that misses. Then Pierce’s last-second three misses.
– Tony Allen is quite happy.