Where meaninglessness happens and where it also matters. Last night’s Celtics vs. Wizards game had no direct bearing on playoff seeding as the Celtics were primed to play the Sixers in the first round had all the other teams done what they were suppose to do. Use any “this is why you play the game” speech you like but the fact of the matter is, the other teams involved wouldn’t fall-in. The Bulls got smoked by Toronto and the Sixers “upset” the Cavaliers (they started Wally Szczerbiak in Lebron James’ spot…).
Such a good news/ bad news situation. Good news: Cavaliers did not tie the ‘85-‘86 Celtics’ for the best record at home this season, thus it is now official that they won’t get every bragging right this season (and hopefully they won’t get any more). Bad news: The Celts now play the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. The team that just picked up a veteran center in Brad Miller and a dynamic scorer in John Salmons and have been playing very well as of late (despite the huge loss to a surging Toronto).
Celts fans might be a little on edge about this match-up after losing the last and only meeting with the Bulls new personnel by failing to hold a late lead and letting the Bulls shoot over 50%.
All that being said, there are two big reasons why I am not worried about the series with the Bulls that were also big factors in tonight’s game; their names are Leon Powe and Glen Davis.
Leon Powe is back from injury and reminding us why a) every Celtics fan loves him and b) why he won a fan appreciation award at half time. Scoring six points and pulling down five boards by halfway through the first quarter, Mike Gorman quipped that he was on pace for 48 and 45. Not quite. He finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds on 6-10 shooting. Certainly not shabby. If you’re a fan of basketball, it’s impossible to not root for a guy like Leon Powe. His amazing over-coming-obstacles story aside, he just plays hard every time he gets in the game.
Not to be outdone, Glen Davis continued to show tonight why he has effectively replaced Kevin Garnett while he nurses that sore leg of his. Davis scored 21 points and, most importantly, only had three fouls in 30 minutes (two of those fouls were to prevent fast breaks). If the Celts are going to make a deep run in the playoffs, they’re going to need all of their “bigs” to stay out of foul trouble. Since we can already discount Mikki Moore from staying out of foul trouble, we need the rest, especially Davis, who in the past has had a propensity for picking up ticky-tack fouls based on his bulk, to play good defense.
The rest of the bench (or in this case, the starters) played very well. The Celtics and fans could not have asked for a better way to end the season and here’s a few reasons why:
*The bench got meaningful minutes and played well enough to instill confidence in themselves and us alike.
*Bill Walker used his athleticism to give Celtics fans a preview of things to come and to show the Wizards what they missed out on.
*Eddie House beat Danny Ainge’s Celtic single season (say that five times fast) record for highest three-point field goal percentage.
*Stephen Marbury passed extremely well in the lane.
*Gabe Pruitt did not get any DUI’s on the way to the basket, but did make a nice pass to Powe.
*Glen Davis made a three pointer to beat the shot clock at the end of the game.
Before tonight’s game started, I had three of my own keys to the game.
1) Will the Celtics’ bench play well enough to deserve meaningful minutes in the playoffs?
2) Will Marbury play well enough for us to feel good about him being on the team?
3) Will the Celtics defend Caron Butler well, the only player the Wizards have that is anywhere close to guys like Lebron and Kobe?
Two out of three ain’t bad, right?
Butler scored 39 points on 13-20 shooting, hardly the line we want from anyone playing against us. However, let’s play the game where we put things in perspective: most of Butler’s points came in the third and fourth quarters where the Celtics bench, a group not used to playing that many minutes, were probably tired and lacked some die-hard motivation.
All in all a win’s a win. The Celtics played hard and had fun and they deserved to have fun after watching Cleveland pal around after their blowout win last Sunday.