Thursday, January 6, 2011

Recap: 12 points, 22 assists, 10 rebounds, 6 steals. Rondo. Game 34.

The bottom line: This game was advertised as being a clash of the titans, and it lived up to the hype. The Celtics shot 61 percent from the field for the game, but still only won by 2. It was a struggle the whole way through. When the Celtics went up by 9, 105-96, LATE in the 4th, and I literally said out loud, "That should do it...." Only to be kicking myself for saying it seconds later, as the refs helped the Spurs out with a couple of consecutive (to be politically correct) questionable no-calls, and the Spurs rattled off 7 straight points, to make it a 2 point game. Have you heard about all the strange stuff going on? 1000 blackbirds falling dead from the sky on New Years Eve? And more recently, millions of tiny fish turning up dead at the same time in the Chesapeake bay? Well, conspiracy theorists were given even more fuel for the fire last night- Ray Allen missed 2 free throws with 8 seconds left in the 4th quarter. They would have sealed the game! But they rimmed out. Apocalypse, anyone? Luckily Paul Pierce came up big on the final defensive stand of the game, blocking a Manu Ginobili three, and the Celtics won. The bottom of the bottom line: A really great win for the KG-less (and Kendrick Perkins-less + Delonte West-less) Celtics. 

Hero material: I love words. It rarely happens that I can't find the right word to properly befit a situation, but in the wake of the clinic Rondo put on last last night... I find myself in that position. Here are a few, but they don't do him justice: prodigious, phenomenal, wondrous, magnificent... and I'll end simply, with "GOOD." His performance last night wasn't so good just because he dished out 22 assists. It was so good because he did whatever he wanted all night long. In crunch time, when the Spurs dared him to be the one to score, he knocked down shots when they mattered most. He made sure no passing lane was safe for the Spurs, with 6 steals. Ooohh, and that block. The picture isn't the best... But the block was timed absolutely perfectly, and I don't know if I've ever seen a swat come with so little body to body contact. Again. Perfect timing. You know what the best part is about Rondo playing so well? It enevitably means that other people are playing well, too. Ray Allen was hot all night and he scored 31 points on 13-16 shooting. I wish he would have taken 30 shots. Paul Pierce was his regular heroic self, even though the refs had some kind of personal agenda against him the whole night, and Glen Davis scored 23 points (one away from his season high) and generated an offensive foul against Richard Jefferson late in the 4th frame. Yeah buddy. Oh, and another person I think deserves recognition: Jermaine O'Neal. I'm hearing lots of people around town talking about they want to dump Jermaine O'Neal for Rasheed Wallace. I, too, have been frustrated by Jermaine's lack of play due to his steady stream of injuries... But in no way do I believe the Celtics would be better off with 'Sheed. Maybe 'Sheed was funnier (I will say BALL DON'T LIE for the rest of my life), but really... even though Jermaine is still rusty- he had a good game last night and he gave the Celtics 22 good minutes. He played good defense against Tim Duncan and he made his presence known in the paint, with a couple of nice blocks. I believe that the little 5-10 foot jumpers will start to fall for him, and that as he becomes more comfortable in the Celtics system, he'll develop a rhythm out there and perform better. If he can stay on the court consistently for another month, look for him to show considerable improvement. That is something we could never say about 'Sheed last year, since my man never even bothered to get in to shape. Also, Doc Rivers deserves a shout out. He's always good, but last night he dared to go small (Rondo, Robinson, Daniels, Pierce, Davis) and it worked out really well.

It would also be good to check in on my keys to winning the game, from yesterdays post.
-The Celtics were able to effectively control Richard Jefferson. It was not a Reggie Miller like night for him.
-The battle of the boards was won by the Spurs. Sure, the Celtics had 36 rebounds, but only 5 of them were offensive. The Spurs on the other hand, had 37 rebounds, and 15 of them were offensive. Wamp!
-They ran! Nobody runs routes in the NBA like Ray Allen. I can only imagine how many miles he runs over the course of 48 minutes, but it's enough to make me tired just thinking about it. It made Manu Ginobili tired, and he probably went to sleep last night and dreamt about fighting over, through, and under Celtics green picks. Not only did they keep the pace up, but they kept the ball moving, as is apparent in Rondo's 22 rebounds. Swooning!
-The Celtics also got a pretty good night out of their bench. Nate Robinson didn't play much, but he did a good job in his 16 minutes on the floor. Marquis played a solid 17 minutes, and contributed on both ends of the floor. He guarded a variety of people and did a good job at it. He also scored a couple of key baskets. And, as was aforementioned, I thought Jermaine played a pretty decent game. Look for the bench to become even stronger as the team (hopefully) gets healthier.

Looking for more? Check out this piece by Dan Shaughnessy, over at the Globe. A very nice read.

1 comment:

  1. The battle of Titans was won by the 2 smallest guys on the court- Rondo and Nate. Nate had a few but very key moments.