It was an interesting night for the NBA, one which can best be described as “Twilight Zone-esque.” Detroit dominated Cleveland for a half. Charlotte dominated the Lakers for a whole. And New Jersey hung around with Orlando enough for Celtics’ fans to take a little solace home (lies!).
Luckily, the Celtics did not see the same type of unlikely result. They also did not see any perimeter defense. In fact, neither team played anything resembling perimeter defense. Ray Allen spent the majority of the first half enjoying a healthy mix of three balls and wide open midrange jumpers. Unfortunately, he handed his hot-hand to Lou Williams in the second half, who proceeded to shred the Celtics for whatever they gave him- which was a lot.
The Celtics played extremely lackadaisical when it came it closing out on the Philadelphia shooters. Shooters may be a bit of a misnomer. The Celtics were extremely slow at contesting Philadelphia’s chuckers- probably for good reason Philadelphia really doesn’t have very good shooters. That being said, this is the NBA and players are going to knock down wide open jumpers regardless of what is written on the scouting report. The Celtics did not allow themselves to take advantage of a poor shooting team. For a poor shooting team like the Sixers, easy shots are made hard by a simple run out and tough shots are made damn-near impossible with a good contest. Despite the poor perimeter D, the Celtics came out with the a nice, convincing win (“convincing” is said, of course, a bit in jest as this game was pretty close throughout).
The second half may have been all Williams for the Sixer’s offensive, but the first half offensive burden belonged to Elton Brand. Brand has not played up to his reputation, nor talent level, since coming to Philadelphia, but any educated basketball fan knows that this guy is a stud and can go off at any time. He did just that in the first half- which is a but disconcerting given the height advantage Kevin Garnett possesses. It wasn’t until Big Baby subbed in for Garnett that Brand began to slow down. In this way, the Celtics became the beneficiaries of a physical, but loosely called game. In fact, I’d say a good 1/4th of the 36 fouls were intentional in one way or the other. Given this, Baby was able to chest Brand up and make him absorb a hit before shooting- clearly hampering his game.
This game stayed fairly close until Rondo seemed to unleash himself in the second half. It must be hard seeing a one dimensional player (Williams) have so much success going one-on-five when Rondo is working on getting his teammates involved, playing passing lanes, and hustling for offensive rebounds. Rondo made the most of his opportunity being the main offensive threat by taking it hard to the bucket and getting to line numerous times in the second half.
In my opinion, there is really only one highlight from this game worth mentioning (and feel free to tell me how wrong I am. It’ll only cause me to go back, rewatch, and enjoy- win, win!). In the third quarter, Big Baby crashed the boards off a missed Robinson three and corralled the offensive board. He quickly passed the ball out of the post (something that in and of itself is a highlight given how many times he’s given an offensive rebound right back by trying to power past seven footers) to Rondo who rewarded him moments later on a pick and roll. Baby made an excellent cut as Rondo whipped a bounce pass right by Williams giving Baby an easy glass tapping layup. I had to watch it again to make sure Rondo didn’t throw the ball through Wiliams’ legs. He didn’t.
Dagnabbit! SportsCenter Top Plays! He’ll get you if it’s the last thing he does…..
It is still early so I am going to end this prematurely and go out (hooray for social lives). If you are not out, you should be. It’s Friday and we all know we have had long work weeks.
Oh, and everyone keep Rodney Stuckey in your thoughts tonight. He’s a baller who plays the right way.