Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/31/12
The Celtics have some problems, as their opening night loss to the Miami Heat made clear. One of those problems involves having far more quality guards than Doc Rivers can fit in his rotation, although that is the problem the coach is least likely to complain about. A quiet bench was due to join the listless defense and directionless offense as culprits in Boston's loss on Tuesday before Leandro Barbosa started the fourth quarter and nearly changed everything. Barbosa, who also started the second quarter but went scoreless in four minutes, hit his first six shots and dropped 16 points to turn a 19-point deficit into four points. The Heat never really slowed him down and Barbosa never actually cooled off, but the Celtics had dug themselves in too deep for a comeback to be realistic. "If you get into a scoring contest and Barbosa's on the floor, you're going to feel pretty good about it," Rivers said. "That's how he's played. That's how he's used to playing. I love the way he attacks. He's clearly not scared of the moment. He bailed us out. We got back in that game down the stretch and it was because Barbosa was on the floor." Jason Terry only got off the bench for six minutes in the final quarter because Barbosa was playing too well for Rivers to mess with success. Terry and Barbosa give the Celtics two former NBA Sixth Man of the Year award winners on their bench, and the combination could be intriguing -- if Rivers did not also have to figure out how to work in Courtney Lee and, eventually, Avery Bradley. That may be a problem Rivers will welcome, considering all the other things he has to worry about in the coming weeks, but it is still a sensitive situation, especially if every player continues to play well. RAGE-ON RONDO If Rajon Rondo seemed a bit, um, perturbed at times, the Celtics' wide deficit may have had something to do with it. Merely losing is not enough to set off the young point guard, though, usually. Typically there is something more going on, be it involving the officials or the other team. As it turned out, that something was neither the opponent nor the referees, according to Rivers. The frustration may have stemmed from Rondo's own teammates. "Rondo was a little frustrated because he was running plays to get to the second or third option and no one was executing," Rivers said. "When you're the point guard and the guys are in the wrong spot all game, that gets frustrating." Rondo posted a stellar game statistically with 20 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds, but he never seemed fully in control of the game. Perhaps his teammates' unwillingness to stick to the gameplan contributed to that feeling. GREEN SCREENS Jeff Green's second "debut" with the Celtics did not go the way he probably imagined it all those months while rehabbing his body from heart surgery last January. He played 25 minutes but scored only eight points. Most disturbingly for the Celtics, though, was how Green went back into his shell like he did back in 2011, fresh off the trade that brought him to Boston from Oklahoma City. He took only four shots and did not facilitate the offense like he did in the preseason. File this one under not reading too much into one game. Green was assigned to cover LeBron James most of the time he spent on the floor, which may have worn him out so much that his effectiveness at the offensive end was affected. Paul Pierce seemed to suffer that same affliction, as he shot just 6-fot-15 from the field and needed nine foul shots to reach his team-high 23 points. Green was victimized on screens, with James using every mistake Green made into an open jumper or an alley-oop dunk. It looked exactly what one would expect if you put a player who had not played in 16 months up against the reigning Most Valuable Player. Matching up with James can have a lingering effect, even when he is not guarding a player directly. KING ADDS TO HIS HOARD It has been a long time since James lived through anything he had never experienced before. At 27 years old he has won three league MVP awards, played in eight All-Star games and collected All-NBA and All-Defensive First Team honors every year since 2008. When he received his championship ring in a ceremony prior to Tuesday's game, though, James encountered something he truly was entirely unfamiliar with. The failure to win a title had hung over him like a specter, and he had a look of pure joy on his face when Heat owner Micky Arison presented him with his elusive ring. Within minutes, Celtics fans could go back to vehemently rooting against James, but hopefully for a moment they appreciated this last bit of innocence in the greatest player in the world. We will never see that expression from James again, because he will never again win his first championship. Now, back to your regularly scheduled booing. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.
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