Celtics-Spurs review: Celtics worn down

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Celtics-Spurs review: Celtics worn down

SAN ANTONIO Aside from being on the short end of a 103-88 road loss to San Antonio, Doc Rivers liked a lot about Saturday's game.

But as the game wore on, it appeared as though the Celtics were simply worn down.

"I thought we played hard," Rivers said. "I honestly thought we got fatigued. So that's something ... we have to get in a little better shape because we want to play at that pace."

Rivers added, "it was a good pace; the game was a good pace. It was a fun game to watch. But the difference was I thought San Antonio was used to doing that and continued to do it throughout the game. They were able to sustain their play, and we couldn't. I thought that was the difference in the game."

It is disturbing to say the least that we're just barely past the first quarter mark of the season and the C's are already showing signs of being unable to sustain the necessary energy levels needed in order to play deep into the playoffs.

Even Kevin Garnett acknowledged that fatigue might have been a culprit in Saturday's loss - Boston's second straight in as many nights.

"Second half, you could see the fatigue come tired legs," said Garnett who quickly added that there are, "still no excuses. You step on the floor, you suit up. You have to perform."

Lately, the Celtics' performances haven't been good enough to do the only thing that truly matters to this franchise - win games and lots of them.

Here's how some of the keys identified prior to tonight's game actually played out as the Celtics will have three days to regroup before they return to the floor with the goal being to get another winning streak started on the road at Chicago on Tuesday.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Rajon Rondo had a near triple-double of points (15), assists (13) and sadly, turnovers (seven) in the Rockets loss. Look for him to do a much better job in terms of limiting his miscues despite San Antonio's better-than-average defense.

WHAT WE SAW: Sadly, Rondo had another seven-turnover performance which was among the many problems that plagued Boston on Saturday night. It was quite a different story for his counterpart on San Antonio's roster, Tony Parker, who easily won this individual matchup with a game-high 22 points and eight assists; and of course the game as well.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs Tim Duncan. Two of the greatest big men of this generation, every opportunity to see these two champions duel it out in the twilight of their careers should be cherished.

WHAT WE SAW: Saturday's duel won't go down as one of their best, but each did their part to keep their respective teams in the game. Garnett had 13 points on 6-for-13 shooting while Duncan grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Do not be surprised if Paul Pierce has one of those statement-type performances. He had 18 points against Houston, but did so shooting 5-for-18 from the field. Knowing the Houston loss was a step back in the team's develop and growth this season, look for the Captain to try and get the C's back on track.

WHAT WE SAW: The Captain had a solid all-around game (18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, five rebounds, four assists and three steals), but it wasn't nearly enough for the C's to get a road win over San Antonio - always a challenge.

STAT TO TRACK: The Spurs have evolved into an offensive power, averaging 104.8 points per game which ranks second in the NBA. Keeping them under 100 points scored is the key to beating them, evident by four of their six losses this season coming when they fail to reach triple digits scoring.
WHAT WE SAW: San Antonio cracked the 100-point plateau with a steady game offensively by scoring 25 or 26 points in every quarter of play that proved to be too much for the Celtics to contend with on Saturday night.

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
 
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
 
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
 
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
 
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
 
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
 
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
 
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
 
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
 
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
 
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
 
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
 
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
 
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
 
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
 
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
 
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
 
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
 
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
 
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
 
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
 
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
 
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
 
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.
 
 

Hardy: 'Celtics haven't reached that next level status'

Hardy: 'Celtics haven't reached that next level status'

Greg Hardy, Chris Mannix, and Glenn Ordway discuss what the Celtics should have done before the trade deadline, and what they need to do in the offseason in order to reach the next level in playoffs.