This one was really painful to watch. There were a host of reasons why the Grizzlies lost tonight, many of which were of their own doing. However, there were a few things that were not their fault that led to a Celtics win. In the game thread, we had a couple of Celtics fans stop by. Neither of them was a troll, so it was good fun all around. At one point there was a bit of a debate in regards to officiating. The feeling from Boston's perspective was that there were a few questionable calls. I'd agree with that, but I'd also argue that Memphis got flat-out hosed at several points. Marc Gasol was having a bad night anyway, but it didn't help that the Celtics were continually able to manhandle him in the post.
That being said, I don't want to take credit away from the Celtics; they earned this win. The Grizzlies failed to defend the 3-point line, and Boston made them pay. It got to the point where mid-way through the 2nd-quarter, anytime they shot from 3, I assumed it was going in. Tony Allen sat out tonight's match, but we really needed him. If nothing else, maybe he could've got a hand in someone's face. Memphis actually made several nice runs to cut down the lead, but the Celtics answered every one of them with a barrage of 3's. The most memorable came early in the 4th, when the Grizzlies cut down the lead to 6 only to see the Celtics get the lead back up to 13 in less than 2 minutes. It didn't help that the basketball gods decided to grace the Celtics tonight; for some reason, every one of their rimmed shots seemed to fall in while all of ours bounced out. Even Kevin Garnett managed to hit a 3, while Mike Conley missed several wide-open attempts.
The game was played at a surprisingly fast pace. My best guess is that both teams wanted to do the Boston fans a favor and get it over quickly so they could go watch their Patriots play in the Super Bowl. As you'd imagine, there were turnovers galore, with each team coughing the ball over 10 times by halftime. Surprisingly, it was the ancient Celtics who ran the young Grizzlies out of the building. Paul Pierce was inexplicably the first one to the other end on several occasions. Simply put, the Grizzlies had no intention of playing good transition defense tonight. The lack of transition defense was indicative of a larger theme of the Celtics outhustling Memphis tonight; they also finished with 45 rebounds to our 38.
One of the few bright lights in an otherwise dreary match was Rudy Gay. He single-handedly kept us in the game in the 3rd and early in the 4th, and helped lead several runs, including the beginning of the 2nd half where he immediately scored 4 points and had a nice block. Most of his points for the night came off those contested jumpers that always seem to go in anyway (Kobe Bryant sends his love), and he had 21 points and 7 boards for the night.
Tomorrow night we're back at home to face San Antonio. Hopefully Tony Allen will be back in the starting line-up, as we saw how inspired the Grizzlies played on the defensive end without him tonight. Have fun watching the Super Bowl everybody.