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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Who Woke Up The Celtics?

I don't know where it came from but what transpired in the third quarter tonight might be later viewed as a turning point in the Celtics' season, that is if they go anywhere in the playoffs (all that really matters to this team).

Boston (16-17, 6-11 away) was down 53-38 to Atlanta (20-12, 11-6 home) at halftime but they somehow turned it around with a 33-9 third quarter. The Celtics held on for a 89-81 victory at Philips Arena, for what easily has to be called their best road win of the season.

It's hard to ever take the Hawks seriously, even when they have a good record since all they do in the postseason is choke. They had lost last night so like Boston, they were experiencing a dreaded back-to-back game. Winning both contests, in very different fashion, should do wonders for the Celtics' shattered confidence.

Paul Pierce (26 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists) and Rajon Rondo (14 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals) were brilliant while Kevin Garnett (14 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals) and Brandon Bass (10 points, 3 steals) also did their jobs.

Former Sixer Lou Williams (28 points) always kills the Celtics and he looked well on his way to a career night when he dropped 16 points in the first quarter alone. Jeff Teague had 17 points and three steals while Josh Smith had 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals.

Boston won because of three things which never go out of style: they hit the glass (44-36 rebounding advantage), passed well (27-18 assists) and took care of the ball (eight less turnovers than the Hawks).

After getting tomorrow off, the C's wrap up this very tricky three games in four days stretch with their first meeting of the season against the new and improved Knicks (23-10, 1st place in Atlantic Division) on Monday (7:30 p.m., CSN) at Madison Square Garden. Boston has a chance to go 3-0 against three likely playoff teams. The Knicks hit a million 3-pointers a game and Carmelo Anthony (28.9 ppg, 2nd in the NBA; 6.3 rebounds) is probably playing the best basketball of his NBA career. The good news is that the Celts usually match up well with the Knicks for whatever reason.

UPDATE 1/6: Today, the Celtics waived rookie Kris Joseph and forward Jarvis Varnado. They were both playing on non-guaranteed deals and the deadline to be guaranteed was tomorrow at 5 p.m. This opens up two roster spots as teams around the NBA make similar moves. Perhaps, it's also a precursor to a bigger trade/move down the line. We shall see.

UPDATE 1/7: Rajon Rondo was suspended for tonight's game against the Knicks. I watched the game on Saturday at Atlanta on DVR so I missed it (and nobody talked about it afterwards) but apparently he made contact with a referee after a call. It seems pretty bogus but then you remember that Rondo had been suspended three times in the last year. So yeah, he gets no leeway around the NBA and all the referees are rightfully keeping an extra eye on him.

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