Celtics offense struggles without Garnett, Bass


Celtics offense struggles without Garnett, Bass

DALLAS Not having Rajon Rondo available is certainly a blow to the Boston Celtics' chances of winning.

But not having Kevin Garnett or Brandon Bass?


Monday's 89-73 loss to Dallas was yet another reminder of just how not having either one of those players available makes things a lot tougher for the Celtics when it comes to scoring.

Garnett has missed the Celtic's last two games while attending to what teammate Paul Pierce referred to as, "a family matter." And Bass is out with a left knee injury that will keep him off the court until some time after the all-star break.

Conventional wisdom dictates without Garnett and Bass, that just means more shots for Pierce and Ray Allen, right?

Not exactly.

Because both Garnett and Bass fall under the umbrella of being power forwards who can "stretch" the floor with their long-range shooting, their absence has made it easier for teams to defend Pierce and Allen.

"You could see it (Sunday night at Detroit)," Rivers said.

Just about every time either Pierce or Allen had the ball in their hands, at least two Pistons defenders were waiting or were close by.

That strategy employed by Detroit, was back on Monday night being implemented by Dallas.

"Our identity this year is that we're a defensive team," said Mavs coach and former Celtics player, Rick Carlisle.

But even Carlisle recognizes that the short-handed nature of the C's roster now, was indeed a factor that helped his team win.

"Their team was depleted to a great extent, so that's a mitigating circumstance," Carlisle acknowledged. "I understand that. But the other guys they threw out there were hard-playing guys and they played well. We had to play to win."

And that play included making sure that Allen and Pierce didn't get too many good looks, well aware that it would be easier with no Garnett or Bass in the picture.

Pierce, who had 20 points against the Mavs, will be the first to tell you that it's tough not being able to have the kind of freedom he's used to offensively.

But he totally understands where teams like Dallas are coming from.

"You've got to understand that if I was on the other team, I'd do that, too," Pierce said. "Especially when you don't have guys like Kevin and Rondo and Brandon out there, guyswho can space the floor. They have a good game plan and we've just got to figure out ways to get other guys the ball, and other guys need to step up and like I said, weather the storm."

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.