The Celtics end their two game slide with a very convincing road-win over the Toronto Raptors. A fourteen point win against the Raps is to be expected of a team that fancies itself a Championship contender. Still, this evening’s game had its share of teachable moments.
First off, this Celtics team is extremely deep. The Celtics platooned the O’Neal brothers in the middle, getting 18 big minutes out of both of them. Things in Celtic center land are expected to get a lot better when Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett return from injury. That said, they could do worse than having Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal eat up minutes.
Secondly, this Celtics team is going to get outrebounded. Even though most of the rebounds in this game appeared to bounce right to Raptor players, it’s not like the Celtics getting outrebounded is fluky. The Celtics had their own glass cleaned for them to the tune of 19-2. Again, while most of these boards were the long-rebound/bounce-right-to-the-opponent type instead of the battling in the trenches type, the disparity should not be overlooked.
Thirdly, Rajon Rondo is amazing. Make no mistake, Rondo was extremely rusty. He threw the ball out of bounds (5 turnovers). He had no chemistry with the starters or the bench. He, at times, appeared hobbled by his ailing ankle. Even with all of that, Rondo still had 8 assists and played 34 minutes. Rondo’s first assist was probably his best play:
Half way through the second quarter, Rondo broke a pair of ankles on his way to giving Paul Pierce a wide open three point make. If you watch the above clip again you’ll see Jose Calderon get embarrassed on Rondo’s initial crossover and then Julian Wright get caught by a head fake into a fake crossover. I don’t think I have ever seen a fake crossover come that far to the other side of a player’s body. Even coming off an ankle injury, Rondo is able to use his speed to blow past his opponents before they can even establish their defensive stances. He is certainly not all the way back but tonight was a good sign.
Well, almost a good sign. There was still this beaut’ from the second half:
Yes, you are seeing that correctly. That is Linas Kleiza doing a two-step on Rondo’s already-injured ankle and that is Rondo writhing in pain. Luckily, this little mishap looked to scare Rondo more than actually hurt him as he didn’t even leave the game. For those of you who watched the game, I think I heard your collective sigh of relief from my house.
Rondo wasn’t the only person who got stepped on in this game. In the second half, Glen Davis caught a little friendly fire by way of Jermaine O’Neal’s high top:
I am just happy that this little kiss failed to dissuade Glen Davis from taking charges in the future. Davis seems to have a short memory considering he successfully took a charge on DeMarr DeRozan on the very next play. We can argue whether or not either of these were actually, by definition, charges (I say there weren’t….Oh come on, Davis’ feet were sliding both times….listen, just because he took a hard hit doesn’t always mean it’s a legit charge….alright, alright, calm down. They were both charges….(no they weren’t)) but what we can’t argue is the positive outcomes Davis’ charges have caused this season.
Glen Davis’ energized play did well to mask his abysmal outside shooting. Davis is edging his way further and further out on his jumpers and the results have been mixed. Here’s Davis’ shot chart:
Going three for eight beyond 15 ft. does not inspire any confidence in this Celtics analyzer. Despite this poor decision-making, I wouldn’t be surprised if Davis was shocked to find out just how far away from the basket he is on these attempts. I also could be more upset, but many of these shots came when he was wide open. That said, he was usually wide open because he was so far away from the basket and out of the known Glen Davis range. To recap: Davis was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Davis would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them.
I’m not quite sure why Davis has not been able to extend his range beyond 15 ft. Perhaps it’s a lack of practice because it’s certainly not a lack of confidence. Whatever it is, the flies in his eyes doesn’t help.
Enough with Glen Davis and his shot selection. The Celtics won and to the fans of winners go the spoils. And by spoils I mean this dramatic throw down by Pierce. What some viewers may not have noticed due to the jump-out-of-your-seat living room posturing this dunk surely engendered, is that the Celtics went right back to a similar play on their very next possession. Tonight, good things happened when Paul Pierce turned the corner. This time, Pierce wasn’t able to throw down another crowd-pleaser due to DeRozan going under the Rondo screen and recovering extremely well/fast. Instead, Pierce was able to kick it out to a wide open Ray Allen who drills a three. Great stuff:
By “Celtics” I mean this play best exemplifies “Celtics Basketball”. Just look at the ball movement. The double-teams commanded. The unselfishness. It’s just beautiful.
That’s it for now. Tomorrow the Celtics take on the lowly Timberwolves who have been playing pretty good basketball this season- despite what their record may suggest.