The Celtics lost to the Clippers (in LA) by 29 points lastnight. The truth is this isn’t as newsworthy as we want it to be. The Celtics are a .500 team with a slightly worse than middling offense (18th in Hollinger’s PER), a slightly better than middling defense (11th in Hollinger’s PER), and a “can I get that sandwich without rebounds?” aversion to rebounds (29th in Rebound Rate, better than only Dirk-less Dallas to this point). To make mediocre worse, last night’s game followed a cross-country flight on the day after Christmas, a holiday in which Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce competed to out-spoil their grandchildren. Not a winning recipe.
On the flip side, the Clippers are 16 games over .500 (now winners of 15 in a row) with a demonstrably excellent offense (4th in Hollinger’s PER), an even more excellent defense (2nd in Hollinger’s PER), and a “can I get that sandwich with a side of dunks?” love of dunks (2 of the NBA’s top 5 dunkers). Plus, this game was at home two days after Christmas, which the team celebrated by wrapping and unwrapping Chris Paul to endless delight. Good times all around in Clipper Land.
Still, let’s see what the box score tells us about this not-surprising, still-kinda-surprising beat down.
1. The Clippers are Straight Up Deep: You can point to the fact that Matt Barnes and Willie Green combined to go 8 of 13 on threes, but those guys are good three point shooters. You can point to the fact that Lamar Odom grabbed 13 boards, dropped 5 dimes, and logged 4 blocks in 29 minutes, but when Lamar Odom isn’t fat and lives near the ocean, that’s the kind of thing he does. You can even point to Eric Bledsoe going Danny Ocean with 6 steals in 19 minutes, but Eric Bledsoe is really, really good at stealing basketballs, so….the Clippers are just deep.
2. Poor Sully: Jared, I love ya. You’re an Ohio guy and all Buckeye, all the way. But last night was a nightmare matchup for you and it showed. Fouling out in 18 minutes?? C’mon bro. I know Blake, DeAndre and Lamar present “athletic challenges” for you on defense, but it sounds to me like every time they ran away from you, you wrapped your arms around them and held on for dear life. This portends bad things for your future.
3. The Unique Terribleness of Jason Collins: Mark Titus has popularized the notion of the Club Trillion stat line: 1 minute played, no other stats registered (12 zeroes behind the one). This has become the height of basketball irrelevance. But, last night, Jason Collins introduced us to something much worse: The 17,000,001,000,003 Club! You read that right, folks! Last night, Jason Collins played 17 minutes of an NBA basketball game, failed to take a shot, dish an assist, grab a steal, or, for that matter, do anything of statistical note, aside from stumbling into a single measly rebound and clumsily handing out three fouls. Congratulations, Jason, you are the worst!