After an emotional Game 1 comeback ended in a violent confrontation and subsequent suspension of the Celtics vocal leader, the Celtics proved tonight that they posess something no team can take away: resolve. The Celtics never gave up on either end of the floor, regardless of the score. This simple fact was more telling of the team’s ability to “flip the switch” than anything they have said or done all season. The naysayers and the realists will say this is just one game and that all this means is a 2-0 series lead. I say this game was fun. This game taught the Celtics that good things will come if they play their game- and make their opponent do the same.
The initial reaction is to give the game ball to Glen Davis, but how can you give the ball to Baby and not give it to Ray Allen. And if Ray gets a piece of that, then Rajon Rondo surely deserves a slice. If Rondo’s getting some, than Kendrick Perkins cannot be far behind. The only sensical thing to do, is throw that game ball in a wood chipper and let the entire team dance around in the Spalding confetti spraying out.
- The story starts with the player whose expectations were modest and ended up being easily exceeded. Glen Davis played like a franchise power forward tonight, more than filling-in for Kevin Garnett. The guy that was too slow to match up against more athletic power forwards (Michael Beasley), too short to match up with true centers (Jermaine O’Neal), and cannot take it to the hoop without getting his shot blocked defied the odds tonight (well, almost. He still got his shot blocked more than five times). Davis stepped up tonight predominantly with his energy, but really gave the Celtics that extra boost with his ability to draw contact. Davis was poetry-in-motion while absorbing the barrage from the Heat front court. More crucial to the effectiveness of Baby’s game was his ability to hit the free throws that accompanied that contact. Baby was 9 of 11 from the free throw line, and visibly unhappy with his two misses. If Big Baby wants a new nickname, Uno Uno just cannot be tolerated. I propose a simple, “G.D.” Not in reference to his initials, but to represent the reaction one has when he knocks down a 15-footer. Or when G.D. crawls on the floor, striving for a loose ball. Or when G.D. fights much bigger players for boards he has no business securing. Or when he just shows off those pearly whites after making a solid defensive stance. That reaction? An exuberant, “Gawd Damn!” Enough said.
- The three hundred pound Batman was not without his Robin. Ray Allen started this game just lying in wait. Allen set the tone for his game by attacking the basket early. One particular instance of Allen’s aggressiveness stands out with prominence. This occurred in the first half where Ray power-dribbled right by Mario Chalmers for an easy lay-in. This move hearkened back to the time Allen embarrassed Sasha Vujucic in the 2008 Finals. Some times, Ray Allen can take it to another level. After ratcheting it up a notch, Allen began picking his spots and never looked back. Once Allen’s first three point shot ripped twine, it was all gravy. Allen finished the game 7 for 9 from deep. Most of these threes came from moving without the ball and from ending up in the corner in the best position to catch and shoot in rhythm. There was a distinct moment in the third quarter where I remember saying to myself, “Ray hits a three right in Wade’s grill.” Only to quickly add, “…in Haslem’s grill” and “…in Haslem’s grill again.” It was beautiful thing to witness and it really put this game far, far out of reach.
- A cursory look at the box score would make the causal observer believe that Rajon Rondo had an “average-for-him” game. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rondo set the tone of this game by continuously pushing the ball up the court and not allowing the Miami defense to get adequately set up. On the defensive end, he pressured the ball every time a Miami guard brought it up the floor. Seriously, Mario Chalmers is going to see a close up of Rondo’s face in his dreams tonight. Rajon chipped in with 12 assists, but how many of his teammate’s assists were made possible by Rondo’s game management? I would venture to guess somewhere between “many” and “all.”
- Kendrick Perkins had a solid overall game. It is pretty obvious that this entire Celtic team has learned how to “contest without contact” from Kevin Garnett. This only bodes well for the Celtics given the slight increase in latitude the officials give to player on player physicality in the playoffs. One gripe I will continue to have and harp on with Perkins is his patented “Perkins shuffle.” I counted at least five traveling violations on Perk, only two of which were called (if I remember correctly). Someone needs to sit him down and show him the tape of his Nordic Trac legs. Perkins is a pretty mild-mannered dude when he is not in the trenches, and will probably admit to every correctly called traveling violation. In the meantime, he continues to unjustly complain to the officials to the ire of everyone. Aw well. I suppose I can handle it if games keep coming out the way this one did.
- Dwayne Wade will never concede a game and he will never stop fighting. The barrage of three point shots he hit in the second half were nothing short of amazing when you remember how shooting is the least reliable of his many talents.
- There were a TON of half-amazing plays from the Celtics- and I noted everyone of them in my in-game notes. Perhaps when I have more time, I will annotate them for you. For now, I will humbly request that Zach do one of his brilliant video posts showing a clip from ten minutes to go in the game. My description will not do it justice, but I will try: Tony Allen drives in and nearly loses the ball out of bounds. He tight-rope-walks the baseline and fires a pass to Pierce who, caught falling out of bounds in a tight-rope-walk of his own, has to move the ball to Rondo on the wing. With the shot clock winding down, Rondo is forced to take a step back three- which he KNOCKS DOWN. This play was one part “everything going the Celtics way” and two parts “desire.” Most of all, this play was indicative of the aggressiveness the Celtics exhibited the entire night.
Enjoy this one everyone, because this was just one game, and it was a great one.
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