COMMENTARY | The Boston Celtics have once again proved that they have as much heart as just about any team in the NBA.
After starting their conference quarterfinals series against the New York Knicks with a 3-0 deficit, they now sit two victories away from a historic comeback. Each game, they play like they have nothing to lose. One "nothing" they could afford to lose, however, is Jordan Crawford.
Crawford has been a polarizing figure of sorts since Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge traded for him in February. Many fans love his pure scoring ability and aggressiveness on the drive. Others loathe his shoot-first, pass-later approach, and wish he would at least pretend to be interested in playing defense.
Doc Rivers seemed to like Crawford's playmaking right up until the playoffs. Now, he appears to be seeing the 24-year-old's true colors.
In four games this postseason (56 minutes total), Crawford has taken 21 shots and only made seven. He has registered zero assists while turning the ball over three times.
In the convincing May 1 win over the funeral-attired New York Knicks, Rivers kept Crawford on the bench all 48 minutes, marking him a healthy "Did Not Play." The boisterous young guard didn't let lack of playing time keep him from trash talking after the game, though. He nearly started a brawl after allegedly jawing something to Carmelo Anthony about Melo's wife.
The Celtics don't need this. The man brings nothing to the table. Boston prides itself on playing--and winning--the right way. The Celtics would rather let opponents lose their cool because they can't keep up. Plus, the old mantra remains: Act like you've been there before.
Crawford has never been to the playoffs, and he frankly never deserved to make it there this year. He proved in Game 5 what the Washington Wizards already knew when they dealt him for Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins--this kid is nothing more than an attention-craved player.
Let's consider the fact that he finished the regular season with a -167 points differential and a 1.62 assist-to-turnover ratio. He shot 41.5 percent from the field, including only 47 percent from inside the key.
That doesn't even cover the tip of the iceberg. Some people are a matchup nightmare for defenders, while others are a matchup dream for offensive players. Crawford is the latter. At 6 feet 4 inches, 190 pounds, he's undersized against most two-guards. And he's too tall and slow-footed to stay with point guards.
Much of the time, he seems unfazed by his defensive incompetence. He gets crossed up, dunked on or squared up for jumpers, and then just puts his head down and jogs back to the other end of the court, waiting to get his hands on the ball. He lives to score, while the rest of the Celtics live to win.
Ball-hogs and defensive liabilities are fine--most teams have at least one. But a knucklehead player with a knucklehead personality just doesn't work. If he's hurting the Celtics on and off the court, something must be done. Playoff battles aren't won by yapping, or tweeting. They're won with heart, execution and teamwork--three factors absent from Crawford's game.
Crawford is due to make $2,162,419 next year, with the option to make him a qualifying offer for 2014-15. Ainge and the Celtics should just release him now and take the hit. He won't play another minute in this postseason anyway, and he certainly won't jell with Rajon Rondo once the Celts' floor general returns next season.
Sometimes, you have to make an example out of someone.
Sloan Piva lives in southern New England and has been covering the Celtics since February 2013. His freelance work has been published in multiple publications and websites locally and nationally. Catch him on Twitter @SloanPiva.
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- New York Knicks
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- Jordan Crawford