Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Everyone Should Be Back On Board The Celtics Bandwagon By Now
Boston (34-24, 21-9 home) won the second night of a back-to-back, 88-86 in overtime over Atlanta (34-24, 15-16 away) at TD Garden.
With the victory, the Celtics improved to 19-7 since the All-Star break while they also leapfrogged the Hawks and Magic for the inside track of the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Rajon Rondo (10 points, 10 rebounds, 20 assists) notched his sixth triple-double of the season (nobody else in the NBA has more than one) and 13th of his career in the regular season which tied recently retired Antoine Walker for second in franchise history behind some guy named Larry Bird (59). He also put up double-digit assists for the 19th straight game, the longest streak since John Stockton's 29 in 1992.
After picking up its biggest win of the season-so far-last night in Miami, the C's didn't have much left in the tank tonight but they still fought through that and came out on top. Despite the fact that Kevin Garnett (22 points, 12 points, 3 steals) and Greg Stiemsma (6 points, 8 rebounds) both fouled out in the extra session on bogus calls, the Green and White found a way to capture its ninth win in its last 11 contests.
I haven't even mentioned that Ray Allen didn't play (resting his ankle) and Mickael Pietrus (8 points, 6 rebounds) made his unexpected return. Brandon Bass had a monster game with 21 points and 10 rebounds. It was a scary few minutes in overtime when it looked like he went down with a serious knee injury but thankfully he bounced up and stayed on the court. Paul Pierce had 14 points but he looked the most tired with 6 for 19 shooting, including 1 of 8 on 3-pointers.
After getting punked last time in Atlanta, young point guard Jeff Teague (21 points, 6 assists) played well for the Hawks. Josh Smith (20 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) was his typical self: making great plays on one end then head-scratching decisions on the next possession (6 turnovers, technical foul). Joe Johnson 14 points (5 for 17 shooting) was held in check by Avery Bradley (7 points) and goofball Zaza Pachulia notched 13 points and seven rebounds.
Boston was +17 in rebounds (56-39) and +9 on offensive boards (15-6) which both have to be season-highs. Rondo single-handily equaled Atlanta's assist output and his teammates accumulated eight assists as well.
I never mentioned the foul disparity, I'm not related to Tommy Heinsohn, but trust me when I tell you that the three clowns working tonight will not be needed in the playoffs. That's for sure. Boston survived getting called for eight more fouls (24-16).
However they choose to do it, the Celts need some rest in the next 24 hours in the worst possible way. Their one and only back-to-back-to-back is this weekend with visits to Toronto on Friday, New Jersey on Saturday and Charlotte on Sunday. If you drew up a three games in three nights scenario where a team could go 3-0, some combination of those three Lottery-bound squads would be it. I'm not saying Boston will go 3-0 but it wouldn't surprise me at all.
This team is on fire and it's been so much fun to watch. The C's have some extra incentive North of the border since the Raptors beat them 86-74 on February 10, easily one of the low points of the season.