BOSTON (CBS) – I can’t imagine what was going through the mind of Kelly Olynyk.
Other than that, well, this has to feel like a video game.
This, believe it or not, was my big take-away from this past week. Not the Jeff Green buzzer-beater, not the four-game win streak, not Jordan Crawford channeling DWill, JKidd and DRose to the point calling him “JCraw” started to feel not all that wrong.
It was LeBron vs. Olynyk.
Why? It underscored what the win in Miami was really about. One of my favorite NBA object lessons.
Mess around with the game, it will mess around with you.
With the Heat taking command of the game in the fourth quarter Saturday night, Kelly Olynyk, about two hours of NBA court time under his belt, found himself switched on to LeBron James. The 3-time MVP, the best player in the world, moved the ball back and forth, left hand, right hand. From where we were calling the game, it looked like he was salivating.
Forget Kelly, I can’t imagine what LeBron was thinking either.
Because the sheer number of options he had in that situation were too much for me to comprehend.
But, on this night that had a meant-to-be feel all throughout, it turns out the options were too much for him as well.
LeBron, who had dominated, who’d been the only member of the Heat to play with championship pride. Who had kept the game under control while his teammates treated the night like a video game you could play while scrolling through Instagram at the same time. He had a chance to finish it.
But LeBron, on this night, with a rookie so fresh-faced in front of him, his Celtics teammates call him “Sunshine,” simply dropped the ball off his massive calf and it slowly dribbled out of bounds.
Fifteen minutes later, Gerald Wallace and Jeff Green went Flutie-to-Phelan for the Miracle on Miami sequel. One of the great Celtic moments in the 13 years Max and I have been doing this. But the Heat made it possible.
When I wrote here two weeks ago how this tanking thing exists in the talk show world, not the real one, when I said last week on Adam Kaufman’s Celtics at Seven show that the Celtics “will beat Miami or San Antonio at some point,” this is what I meant.
There are simply too many things, too many variables on a given NBA night to not enjoy watching this story unfold. Or preferably, listening to it, if you’re into that kind of thing. In a league where the best player in the world can stand one-on-one in front of rookie with 10 days NBA experience and drop the ball out of bounds? Well, KG said it best.
By the way, my buddy Paul Flannery of SB Nation nailed the aftermath in Miami.
Leave a lot of men on base, it will almost always burn you. Settle for three in the red zone instead of six time and time again, trouble is coming. Go 0-for-7 on the power play, waste a 5-on-3, it’s a matter of time.
And if you weren’t convinced, four days after the upset of the young NBA season, the Celtics lost all the 50/50 plays, failed to get key defensive rebounds, missed seven free throws while committing 26 fouls… all adding up to a home loss to Charlotte.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done.
Mess around with the game, the game will mess around with you.
Fun with numbers, week three….
- The 57.7 % shooting for the Heat was the most the Celtics have given up in a win in 15 years: March of 1999 when a Charlotte Hornets team led by rookie Ricky Davis shot. Friday was the first time since March 3, 2007 that the Celtics won a game with a field-goal percentage lower than 36% and 3-point percentage worse than 15%.
- The Celtics first three wins were double-digit comebacks (the comeback win over the Jazz was the first at the Garden in 19 months — the 2012-2013 Celtics didn’t have a single double-digit comeback win at home all year.)
- My favorite bizarre-world stat through the first nine, when defensive field goal percentage is one of the telltale signs in the NBA? When the Celtics hold teams to under 46% from the floor, they’re 2-3, when they allow better than 46% shooting? 2-2. Makes no sense. But we’re going to be saying that a lot about this season.
- For example, Gerald Wallace is the only qualifier in the NBA whose three-point shooting percentage (43.8%) is better than his free-throw percentage (29.4%)
- 10 assist/0 turnover games by Celtics the last two years? Rajon Rondo 1, Jordan Crawford 1. Established NBA point guards like Raymond Felton, Ricky Rubio, Damian Lillard and Kyle Lowry? Crawford’s 3.33 A/TO ratio is better than all of theirs.
- Kris Humphries had been a victim of the numbers game so far, but it hasn’t affected his numbers. He completed his first 48 minutes as a Celtic during Wednesday’s game, the results? 48 minutes, 20 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks. Not bad, but how about this; in those 48 minutes the Celtics outscored the opposition…by 33 points.
- If it feels like the Celtics are playing an inordinate number of November road games, your sense of inordinance is spot-on. The Celtics will play 10 of their 41 road games before Thanksgiving. In the last ten years, they’ve averaged just 5.5. By the way, in case you haven’t noticed, the annual Christmas road trip, like Disney on Ice at the Garden, is gone. Just as well, the Celtics went 4-0 on that trip in the championship season of 2007-2008, but lost 14 of 18 on that trip in the five years since.
Sean Grande has been calling Boston Celtics games since 2001. You can hear the 2013-14 Boston Celtics on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the new radio home of the Celtics!