By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Despite The Losses, The Green Has A Silver Lining
BOSTON – The Celtics may have won only two of nine games since iron man Paul Pierce was injured on December 20th , but those who have followed the Cs must admit that even despite the losses, the Green is a team worth watching.
As the Celtics captain nurses a stressed left foot, CelticNation has gotten the chance to enjoy the maturation of the League’s youngest team. And no other player has stepped it up more than third year pro Tony Allen.
After The Truth suffered his injury in the heartbreaking 95-96 loss to Baron Davis and the Golden State Warriors on December 20th, Allen has averaged 19 points per game and is shooting 69% from the field.
The Chicago native has also scored 20 points or more in the last six games while shooting 55.8% from the field, including 22 points and eight rebounds in Portland when Boston recorded its first win of the New Year, defeating the Trailblazers 89-81.
The victory ended a six-game losing streak, and was Boston’s first without its captain. Allen was also the silver lining in Sunday’s 79-87 road loss to the Orlando Magic.
T Allen recorded seven steals, grabbed nine rebounds, shot 1-for-2 from the deep end, scored a team-high 21 points, and displayed restraint when he was knocked to the floor after receiving a Darko Milicic elbow to the chest.
Instead of getting up and going after Darko in retaliation, Allen made a trip to the charity stripe and knocked down two free throws. The loss against the Magic was deemed the worst first half effort of the entire season by Celtics coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers.
This was just one game after Doc called the 128-119 shootout victory against the Memphis Grizzlies “one of the best team wins”, a game where Allen scored 20 points and handed out six assists.
Allen has not been the only one who has shined in Pierce’s absence. Other players have stepped up their game as well.
Delonte West recorded his first double-double of the season when he scored 16 points and dished out a season-high 11 assists against the Grizzlies last Friday.
West was superb from the field, converting five of his seven attempts and nailing his only attempt from the deep end. Delonte was also efficient in the 104-107 loss to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers last Wednesday, recording 10 points, eight assists, and two steals.
CelticNation also witnessed the elevation of Gerald Green’s game. Immediately after Pierce’s injury, Green scored 20 points, converted three out of six shots from the deep end, grabbed nine rebounds, including three offensive rebounds, in 39 minutes of action.
He followed that performance with 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in the 105-116 loss at Denver the day after Christmas. The next night Green scored 17 points, including 5-for-8 from three-point land, and grabbed seven rebounds in the 77-100 road loss to the Clippers.
During the 104-107 heartbreaker against Cleveland, the 18th pick of the 2005 draft was the go-to-guy in the second quarter, scoring 14 points in the second frame. Green finished the game with 21 points, prompting coach Doc Rivers to call it the best game Green has had to date.
And let’s not forget the Emerald, Big Al Jefferson. Jefferson has regained his brilliant inside game, and is shooting 51.8% from the field and averaging 11 rebounds per game in the last nine games, including 16 points and 15 rebounds (eight offensive rebounds) in the loss at Denver the day after Christmas.
Out of the nine games that the Cs have played without their fearless leader, Jefferson has recorded six double-doubles, including 20 points and 14 rebounds (five offensive rebounds) in the 83-98 loss to Philadelphia on December 22nd, 16 points and 15 rebounds (eight offensive rebounds) in the 105-116 loss to Denver, and 10 points and 14 rebounds (eight offensive rebounds) in the 77-100 loss to the Clippers.
Jefferson has also averaged 15.7 points since December 22nd.
And I would be remised if I did not acknowledge the usually reliable Ryan Gomes. Gomes scored 16 points on 7-for-12 from the field in the win against Memphis, and 18 points and 10 rebounds in the win against Portland, holding Zach Randolph to nine points and 4-for-11 from the field and prompting Rivers to call Gomes’ defensive efforts “phenomenal”.
Yes, there have been a lot of lost games and a lot of mistakes. But nobody can say that the young guns have not been worth the price of admission. And imagine what they can put together once Kendrick Perkins fully recovers from plantar faciitis, Wally “World” Szczerbiak recovers from ankle injuries, and Paul Pierce finally receives a clean bill of health.
Until then, it’ll be interesting to see what will happen, especially when the Celtics host the veteran-laden Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.