Friday, March 21, 2008
Suck It Cuban
Regardless of what happens tomorrow night in New Orleans against the Hornets, the Celtics road trip has to be considered wildly successful.
With last night's 94-90 win over the Mavericks (44-25), the Celtics (55-13) completed the extremely rare sweep of the dreaded Texas Triangle. In doing so, they became the first team since the Kings in Nov. 2001 to complete the task.
After missing the last three games, Ray Allen came back with a vengeance last night, hitting the biggest shot of the game (a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left that put the C's up two). Allen sat for a good portion of the fourth but he still managed 21 points. Paul Pierce (22 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks) and Kevin Garnett (20 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals) also did some fine work all game.
The key to the win for Boston was its defense. Josh Howard led the Mavs with 24 points and six rebounds while Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points, 19 boards and six turnovers. Jerry Stackhouse added 17 points while Erick Dampier and Brandon Bass both notched 10. Oh and since the Mavericks picked up Jason Kidd (2 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals), they're 0-7 against teams over .500
For the game, Boston held Dallas to 39.3% from the floor. The C's are now 24-2 when they hold opponents under 40%. Even though Boston couldn't shoot (34.5%), they got to the line more (30-35 vs. 18-24) and took advantage.
Nowitzki was having a great game until the fourth quarter-a common theme to him this season. He was 0-6 in the fourth and only scored on two free throws while the C's continually harassed him into forced, tough shots.
Boston also made the most of its steals advantage (10-2) and only turned the ball over eight times which is amazing on the road.
All of this offset some terrible shooting by almost every Celtic. Rajon Rondo (0-7) and Sam Cassell (1-9) combined to go 1-16, Pierce was 6-14, Allen was 7-17 and KG was 7-22. James Posey was another standout, with 12 points (including a clutch 3-pointer) and four rebounds.
The road trip comes to a close tomorrow night as Boston travels to New Orleans to take on the only team they haven't played yet in the NBA this season. Everyone keeps waiting for the Hornets to fade but they're back in the top spot in the West so they seem pretty legit. It'll be fun to see Chris Paul (currently the best point guard on the planet) up close. I feel like he should be getting much more MVP consideration for the job he's done so far.