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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Miracle: The Celtics Remember How To Play Defense, In Brooklyn

I doubt that many people saw it since it tipped off shortly after 12 p.m. on Christmas (God bless DVR) but this afternoon at the Barclays Center, the Celtics turned in their best defensive performance of the season with a complete 93-76 win against the Nets.

I'll rule that the victory was the most important of the season for the Celts since this was the beginning of a very difficult four-game road trip. From here, they are off to California for three games. This was the third time they've held their opponent under 80 points, not surprisingly they are 3-0 in those contests with this being the lowest point total.

Boston (14-13, 5-8 away) improved to 2-3 in the last five years on Christmas, their last win came in 2009 against Orlando. Brooklyn (14-13, 9-7 home) could never get on track, they scored 24 points in the first quarter but then were held to 18 or less in the final three quarters. The C's also handed the Nets their first head-to-head loss after Brooklyn won the first two meetings of the 2012-13 regular season.

Rookie Jared Sullinger had a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds as the Celtics had four guys in double figures yet none of them were named Kevin Garnett (8 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks)) or Paul Pierce (8 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds). Rajon Rondo led Boston with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Jason Terry added 11 points while Jeff Green scored 15 off the bench.

After a great start to the season, the Nets have quickly come back to Earth. They have a bunch of good players but no real go-to scorer or team identity. Robot Brook Lopez had 15 points and eight rebounds while Gerald Wallace put up 15 points, six rebounds and three steals. Deron Williams (10 points, 6 assists) was a non-factor which is hard to explain, haha he must have been up all night building toys for his kids. Yeah, something like that. Joe Johnson scored 12 points but as always, he was invisible.

The Nets were up 24-22 after the first quarter but the Celtics turned it around to 56-42 at halftime. Boston outscored Brooklyn 17-16 in a grimy third quarter before putting it away in the fourth quarter (20-18).

Boston shot 8.8% better from the field (49.4%-40.6%), they grabbed five more rebounds (41-36) and handed out 11 more assists (25-14) with four more steals (10-6) and nine less turnovers (20-11). The Celtics imposed their will on the Nets with 12 more points in the paint (46-34). I'm sure that was all thanks to Jason Collins (4 points, 4 rebounds).

The next two games have the potential to be some of the best of the season for the Celtics. They are both at 10:30 p.m. EST but there is no excuse since you probably don't have to work the rest of the week and they fall on a Thursday and Saturday. On Thursday (10:30 p.m., TNT), the C's are at the Clippers (21-6, 1st in Pacific Division) then on Saturday (10:30 p.m., CSN) they are at the Warriors (18-10, 2nd in Pacific Division). Do yourself a favor and watch these games, I can almost guarantee that they will be entertaining one way or another. Believe me, I very rarely say that about the NBA.

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