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If Not Now, When? C’s 102, Hawks 90

 

ESPN Box ScoreHoopinionPeachtree Hoops

I honestly don’t know what it would take at this point.

This was the first game in which both Shaq and Rondo were out. But despite those major injuries, back-to-back exhaustion and Nate Robinson trying to see how many different kinds of mistakes he could make, the Celtics won tonight. And it wasn’t close. I predicted this, but I’m still amazed.

Tonight was enough to make me believe the claims that this team won’t give away the regular season like they say they did last year. Actually, I’ve always been inclined to believe that the “veterans wait for the playoffs” defense from last season was A) a defense mechanism in reaction to genuine bad play and B) led by Rasheed Wallace, whose face should be on a poster in Celtics security headquarters this season so he can be forcefully ejected from the building if they see him coming near this team. But I don’t think we have to worry about that coming up this year. This team is really good, and they really want to win.

Garnett was running hot tonight. Ray was Ray. Paul Pierce ran the point like it was his natural position after Nate Robinson made clear his intentions for the evening. And Glen Davis played among those guys like their equal.

That was the thing about tonight: each of those four stars of this game looked exactly as good as any of the other three. The system gave them each their shot, they all got great looks because the Hawks D couldn’t focus on any of the four of them, and they all made good use of their time with the ball.

More on those good basketball players and Nate Robinson in a little while. Oh, and this:

  • someguyinsac

    That definitely was a flagrantly bad acting job by Pachulia, but other than that I did enjoy tonight's game.

  • Nate teh Great

    Please. Let the Nate hate go. "those good basketball players and Nate Robinson"? Are you kidding me? Nate is not Rondo and never will be. He brings a different skill set to the team (he can shoot, and is a better on the ball defender).

    If that terrible Nate Robinson doesn't score 14 points, we lose this game. Yes, the 6 turnovers is a high number, but he didn't do anything so horrible that it warrants that idiotic comment.

    Some perspective is in order I think.

    • I_Love_Green

      Nate is a better defender than Rondo? What on earth….

      • Nate teh Great

        "Better on the ball defender". Rajon plays the passing lanes as well as anyone in the league today. However, he consistently let's PG's as fast as he is (or even slower) beat him off the dribble. He's usually trying to get the steal from behind or hoping the "bigs" pick him up.

        Nate does a better job of pressuring the ball.

        • TedL

          This is just not true. Nate lets opposing PGs by him all the time, he fouls more often (including fouls on jump shooters – ugh), and his height means people shoot over him more easily. Also – if you're thinking about Rondo's recent play, don't forget he's slowed by injuries.

          I don't hate on Nate, but he's not a plus on-ball defender.

    • JCP

      While I agree that the Nate Hate might be a little (just a little) excessive, I think you're being a little hasty in your response. At least let Hayes get his argument out there before you start refuting it.

    • playingitout

      Tell ya what… I like Nate, always have. But when you say "he didn't do anything so horrible," I must beg to differ. The man chased a backcourt ball — possession of which Atlanta had NO WAY of getting — SAVED it FOR the Hawks, then THREW IT DIRECTLY TO A HAWK, which quickly led to a Hawk 3-pointer. The single stupidest, insanest play I've ever seen. No really. It doesn't get any stupider than this.

      So, I like the guy…. but you gotta wonder if he's got the neurons to stay on this team. I mean….. come ON……….

      • Nate teh Great

        If you have the game on DVR, watch that play again. KG is trailing the play, and more than likely called out to Nate that he was there. If you've ever played a game of basketball in your life, you've either yelled to a guy ahead of you on the break that you're trailing or you've had someone alert you if you're the ball handler. I know I've thrown away passes because I thought I had a trail man.

        Give credit to the Hawks player for not giving up on the play, but don't think for a minute Nate just crazily ran down a loose ball and threw it back into play for no reason.

        And "The single stupidest, insanest play I've ever seen."? Then you probably have not seen very many basketball games.

        • playingitout

          The problem with the play, and the reason Doc had his head in his palms after it, was not that he threw the ball away… it was that he was chasing it in the first place, since it was a BACKCOURT VIOLATION and there was NO WAY for the Hawks to get possession once the ball crossed midline. Nate saved their turnover and THEN threw it to them… literally as if he were playing for the Hawks. So yeah, I think it really was the stupidest, insanest play I've ever seen. (Could be wrong of course… can't remember every play, ever… but you get the gist… I'm sure.) Maybe he was trying to hot-dog/hero it, or something…. who can know… soooo ridiculous.

  • kricky

    Nate has filled in nicely for Rondo. I think he deserves a bit of credit here. PG is not his forte and he did hit some big shots. Admittedly it was an up and down game for him, but with more ups than downs.

    Pachulia is an absolute abomination. Only a mother could love someone like him. Probably one of my leas favorite players in the league. Seeing him get Offensive Boards in last year's reg season losses was just too painful and one of last season's low lights.

  • TedL

    Best defensive adjustment of the night: For most of the night, the Celtic defending the Hawks' PG went over the screen on the pick and roll, letting the PG get to the rim time after time. Finally, the 4th quarter Nate started to go under the screen and the damage stopped. Saw the same thing against Spencer last night. Force him to prove he can make that outside shot!

    • TedL

      Um. The Knicks point guard would be Ray Felton. Not Felton Spencer… who last played pro ball 8 years ago. D'oh.

      • JCP

        Oh, snap. You told him off… oh, that was you. Haha

  • KY Celts fan

    That flagrant wasn’t near as bad as it looked. Zaza, like a typical European player, had to flop around a lot as if Baby’s hands were on fire.

  • Tom W

    this is my favorite quote of the night…"They still had three Hall of Famers out there," said Hawks forward Josh Smith, who scored just one point on 0-for-8 shooting. "I'm not making excuses, but we still had two of our main scorers out also."

    Hey, Josh? That's called an excuse. You are making an excuse. Haha.

  • Mike

    Bradley looked a little too green (no pun intended) out there maybe that's why Doc hasn't been giving him too many minutes even if that's what he needs right now. On the other hand Harangody might be getting more minutes 'cause I think he held his own and surprisingly he's a pretty good shooter and can score.

  • stab

    while bradley is still trying to get over his jitters, you gotta keep in mind that harangody has been playing since the preseason. however, if doc wants to use bradley, he has to start using him more. if not now, when??? playoffs?

  • stab

    oh, and zaza's reaction was hilarious. looked like big baby stuck a taser into him

  • DonL

    I agree stab. Bradley's got to play and last night and the next two weeks will be good opportunities to get some run. 4-5 minutes a half would at least help him get over the butterflies. Mistakes are going to happen, but the youngsters can't learn from them if they're not allowed to go out and make them in the first place.

  • JCP

    So far we have Baby w/ taser, and Baby w/ hands on fire to explain that flagrant foul. May I offer Baby as TSA agent?

  • Robert

    The way this season is going, it's going to be the Big Three playing 3 on 5…and still managing to find a way to win.

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