BOSTON True to form, the Boston Celtics maintained their lopsided-playing ways with a 93-83 loss to Memphis.
It was Boston's 12th double-digit loss this season out of 17 defeats, reinforcing Doc Rivers' greatest fears about his team.
When they lose, they don't just lose: they get blown out.
"It's amazing, the difference for us when we win and lose games," Rivers said recently. "The numbers are startling. That's what we have to improve."
In their 14 wins, the C's have won by an average of 9.1 points per game. In the 16 losses prior to Wednesday's game, Boston was getting beat by an average of 12.2 points per game.
Here are some of the keys identified prior to tonight's game that in some fashion played a role in the C's suffering yet another decisive defeat.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Memphis has one of the best 1-2 frontcourt punches with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Their ability to control the action inside the paint is at the heart of why Memphis ranks among the NBA leaders in points in the paint (43.7, 7th) and rebounds (52.5, 8th) per game.
WHAT WE SAW: The Randolph-Gasol tandem was far from spectacular for the Grizzlies. The duo combined for 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting to go with 15 rebounds.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs Zach Randolph: Although Garnett's production as dipped since moving to power forward, the C's remain convinced that this will benefit him and the Celtics over the long haul. Randolph remains one of the more under-rated talents in the NBA, averaging 17 points and 12.5 rebounds per game this season.
WHAT WE SAW: Garnett did a better-than-average job defensively on Randolph, but it clearly had an impact on his scoring as Garnett had 12 points on 5-for-14 shooting along with seven rebounds. Randolph had six points on 3-for-8 shooting to go with eight rebounds.
"I have to balance it out between being more offensively minded and being defensively minded," Garnett said. "I'm playing against one of the best forwards in the world, and that being Zach. I have a lot of respect for him. I knew it was going to be a bear fight; just getting ready for that matchup. I never once really balanced it out as far as being offensive minded so I have to do a better job with that."
PLAYER TO WATCH: Easily it will be Avery Bradley. His long-awaited return should provide a boost of energy -- or at the very least, better play defensively -- that the Celtics are in desperate need right now.
WHAT WE SAW: His defense was decent, but not exceptional by anyone's standards. He made a couple of baskets on cuts to the basket, which was what got him going offensively last season. He's definitely a work in progress, but certainly showed signs of eventually working his way into delivering the kind of high impact play both he and the Celtics expect from him defensively. He finished with four points in 19 minutes.
"He's a big addition to what we do," Garnett said. Said Paul Pierce, "It's good to really see him out there tonight."
STAT TO TRACK: Scoring will indeed be at a premium for the Celtics against a stingy Grizzlies defense that's giving up an NBA-low 90 points per game. Boston has failed to score 90 or more points in two of their last three games.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston was getting its share of points, but there was one problem. Their defense was giving up even more. After shooting better than 60 percent in the first half and better than 50 percent most of the second, Memphis was having one of its better games offensively as they fended off a late Celtics surge to get the win.
"Percentage-wise we played good defense in the second half," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "We just couldn't score."