Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Doc Rivers: "It was a good win, a bloodbath. But I thought it was beautiful." Celtics beat Knicks 96-86.

I talked about it before and Bill Simmons talked about it with Steve Kerr in his BS report: did the Kendrick Perkins trade take the fight out of the Celtics? Have the Celtics lost their fight? Are they less physically intimidating post-trade? 

These questions have arisen because, frankly, the team has played like the wind had been taken out of its sails. That wasn't so last night, and it was such a relief to see. After getting their butts handed to them in Houston and playing the worst that they have in years, they traveled to New Orleans and squeezed out a win against a much inferior team. In the face of these less than impressive last two games, I was nervous about the match up with New York. The Knicks are a team dealing with identity issues of their own, but the prospect of facing Amare and Carmelo was daunting. The Celtics did nothing to quell these fears in the first half, scoring just 37 points while allowing the Knicks to put 51 up on the board. There were some signs of life in the third... But they really turned it up in the 4th. 

Paul Pierce had THE LOOK on his face, and it was so good to see it back. He was a man possessed: The Celtics were going to win that game, no matter what. He scored 13 points in the final frame. And his teammates were right there with him. They displayed hustle and passion that has been missing in recent history. KG out hustled Amare, sprinting and wrestling with him for loose balls. Ray Allen got clocked and blood gushed out of his head, but he returned to action and spread the floor just by being there. And Rondo.... People were saying Rondo was "back" after that game in New Orleans. He wasn't. He was back last night. Shots falling for him around the basket (13 points), and he broke double digits in assists, with 12. But it wasn't about the numbers- it was about his hustle. He stifled Chauncey Billups. He fought for loose balls- most notably tracking down a long offensive rebound in the fourth, out-running Amare and hitting it off of him out of bounds to regain Celtics possession. Oh and he inadvertently elbowed Carmelo in the face ('Melo later got 6 stitches)... But he did that because he was fighting for control over a wild inbounds pass, and wrestled the ball away from Mr. Anthony. Yes! Carmelo started off on a roll, and it looked like he was going to score at least 40. He ended up with just 22 points, and only scored 5 points in the second half. 

It was the kind of win that the Celtics needed. They played together, they didn't waver and they out toughed a team boasting one of the most physically imposing guys in the league (Amare). And mostly, they showed that they're still a team that possess the will to win. And they imposed it in New York last night. Sorry Spike!

No comments:

Post a Comment