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Payback: Celtics 109 Magic 106 (Full Recap)

 

ESPN Box ScoreMagic BasketballOrlando Pinstriped Post

Not a lot of chirping from the Celtics after the win tonight, but as a team motivated by, amongst other things, arrogance, pride, and revenge, you can be certain that thoughts of the Christmas day loss weren’t far from their minds when the ball was tipped off at the TD Garden.

Turns Out This Wasn't Such A Big Deal After All

The big story is Kevin Garnett’s return. We were reminded again tonight that part of what makes KG great is how he holds everyone accountable, not just on the defensive end where his you-gotta-work-blue comic yapping seems to galvanize the Celtics D, but on the offensive end, where his instincts towards passing, his sublimation of his own ego, gets everyone operating in concert.

We saw that early on as the Celtics moved the ball beautifully, making multiple passes for good looks and getting off to a ten point lead. During this run, and happily, throughout the game, Garnett looked sharp and unhindered by any lingering effects of his calf injury.

Then the bench came in and things took a turn for the worse. Luke Harangody’s first half efforts (honest but ineffective) got him sat for the second half and Glen Davis, who wasn’t bad tonight on the offensive end (good decision-making and 6-10 overall against uniformly taller and longer players) just couldn’t do anything with the Magic’s behemoth center (33 points, 13 rebounds for D12 on the night, aided in part by an impressive new face-up bankshot that looks like a reliable weapon). I can only assume Semih Erden couldn’t give the C’s anything tonight because at least he brings height to the table. A Davis/Harangody 4/5 (or 5/4) is a sure recipe for disaster.

Of course, Doc Rivers wasn’t getting a ton from Shaquille O’Neal tonight so he was shy options. Now that we have KG back, we can start fixating on how much Kendrick Perkins will mean to this team. His rebounding would have lessened Orlando’s 13 offensive rebounds, many of which were of the backbreaking variety after the C’s forced a miss – and then had to defend all over again. His man-to-man defense on Howard would have been welcome and his hard pick-setting would have freed up even more perimeter guys for jumpshots.

By the time the fourth quarter came around, this one felt dodgy, as though the C’s might succumb to the Magic’s inside-outside offensive onslaught and periodically impressive defensive pressure. They were doing a better job closing out and/or staying home on Orlando’s shooters but the long ball kept burning them anyway.Then Ray Allen (26 points, two big three-pointers down the stretch), Paul Pierce (a timely ‘pump fake, elbow jumper, and-one, PP special’), and Garnett (the big steal to put a bow on things) came through for the umpteenth time in the last four years.

After the jump, we hit the lightning round for some quick hits on other notable bits and pieces from this one.

  • Allen continues his magical month, knocking in 8 of his 11 shots. His shooting bailed the C’s out on a few occasions.
  • Pierce took only one shot in the fourth. A democratic offense that doesn’t force shots is fine, but Pierce has to get more shots in tight games against elite teams. This will be a topic to revisit in the season’s second half but with Davis leading the team in shots so regularly lately, the question arises: isn’t forcing it on offense a good thing sometimes? Don’t you need to get your best guys looks more often than not? Okay, that’s two questions.
  • Harangody. Challenged to defend big or fast. A whole lot of the PFs and Cs in the league fit into one of those two categories.
  • Gilbert Arenas is almost invisible out there. I know there are issues of acclimation and injury but that’s an awfully big contract to be carrying for that level of production. Perhaps we’ll see a different Agent Zero by the playoffs.
  • Nate Robinson has been put on this Celtics team to slowly drive me insane. His decision making and defense are consistently inconsistent. We’re only a year into the Robinson era and I’m dreading the next 12 months. I know, I know – shut up and stop hating on Nate.
  • Ryan Anderson. Can really play. Gonna be a huge pain in the playoffs if the C’s end up playing Orlando.
  • Rajon Rondo. 10 points, 13 assists, unremarkable defense. Ho-hum.
  • Reggie Miller seems to be finding his groove as a color guy. He’s been borderline unlistenable the last few years anytime he’s had to feign or force enthusiasm and get all “Mama, There Goes That Man” about things. He’s a sharp guy, with things to say and doing it calmly suits him.

That’s a wrap for this one. More coming from Hayes later this morning at CelticsHub and from the C’s on Wednesday night, when KG again attempts to take out his fury on Charlie Villaneuva, perhaps this time without giving everyone a heart attack in the process.

  • pam

    everyone complains about pierce isos at the end of games. now he doesnt shoot and people complain? i agree there needs to be a middle ground. would love to see more late game garnett/pierce or ray ray/pierce pick and pops late in the game.

  • AussieCeltic

    Boston won points in the paint 52-26 against a team with Dwight Howard! How? Because we fouled them (well…we were called for phantom fouls) and the Magic took 36 free throws instead.

  • Devin_in_Maine

    Agreed…It seems to be feast or famine. Either we clear it out for PP to take his man 1 on 1, or he never sees the ball…at least at the end of games. Also, Ray was hitting some pretty crazy shots in the 4th, but I couldn't help but think one of two things. Either the Magic are just crazy good on defense at fighting over screens – or the Cs aren't being strout enough in setting those screens. We should be getting Ray and PP better looks off the screen. Too many running fading away sideways that require all the super-hero skills of our Green sharpshooters.

  • skeeds

    The PP isos late in the game are fine with me, because they're usually complemented by Ray running through 3-4 picks to the wing, or KG sliding to the high-post for an open jumper. And Pierce has given up the ball many times in these situations.
    All in all, having one of the best scorers in the NBA get the final shot, with the Big Ticket and Jesus, the best shooter ever, as his 2-3 options, can't ever feel wrong.

  • DRJ1

    - Nate will improve once Delonte returns and/or Quis is able to carry the entire PG load. PG seems to be poisonous to him. He's MUCH more comfortable at the 2. Yeah, but… he'll still have games when it's just not falling for him. His problem, from our POV anyway, is that we inevitably compare him to our other 2, some guy named Ray something-or-other.

    - In the playoffs, Magic will have to be defended at BOTH the 3-line and inside, and that's tough to do for a whole game. (That's why the Cs only really did it for a few minutes at the end of Q4.) That's what makes ORL such a tough out. But hey… for all we know, somebody will knock em out for us in the first round :)

    - Luke's been better. Could he have been intimidated by the bright-lights/big-game thing? Guess we'll find out soon enough. He works hard, but to little purpose last night.

    - In most of the games so far, PP has gotten his fair share of looks in Q4. This one was an aberration. Probably because Turk was working overtime to slow him down. No problem… Cs have all kinds of ways to beat you.

    - So Ray's shooting around what? 70% or so in the last few games?? Something like that, right? And yet, Baby takes more shots than Ray. Hmmm. Ok, ok… it's never that simple of course. Cs send the ball to whomever's open. I don't think they take FG% into account at all. Whether we think that's right or wrong, there's no arguing that it's working.

    - Cs have been giving KG a few weeks off every mid-season since he got to Boston. Whatever we may think of that, it seems clear that it works. KG came back looking refreshed, healthy, totally ready. Hell… give him ANOTHER break, before the playoffs.

    • Devin_in_Maine

      Totally agree about Kevin looking fresh. He had a bounce in his step for sure!

  • torpid bunny

    I can't evaluate the Orlando trade but this Orlando team unquestionably seems mentally tougher. They had several oppurtunities to pack it in last night, and they didn't go away. It's pretty clear that Hedo and jRich are tougher than Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis. Last year's Orlando team got it's heart ripped out. It won't be so easy to beat this one.

  • diehardceltic

    on Nate, I seriously start hyperventilating everytime he touchs the ball…..am like boy dont take that shot, there is someone else open, then before the words are even out of my mouth……BAM!!!! As in seriously he needs to take a chill pill before I go insane too!!!

  • CG12

    Ray's shooting is just ridiculous. As Reggie Miller said last night, there isn't anyone in the league who is even close to him right now as a pure shooter. I just love that "whump" sound it makes when a Ray 3 goes right down the middle of the basket.

    Luke had a dodgy game, but I feel confident that he is going to be a solid player for the Cs. He is still getting comfortable out there, and you can see that sometimes he is a shade out of synch. And it isn't that he is just slow, if anything he is going too fast and needs to play with a better, calmer rhythm. He is a very good rebounder and solid positional defender. I think he has been getting some ungenerous whistles, but that is going to happen until he gets better established. He also needs to get less handsy – he is often in the right spot but gets called for the grab. Anderson is a tough match-up for Luke. Anderson is bigger and works just as hard.

  • Batman

    Rondo is playing some lazy defense as of late
    He sags off of his guy too much

    • CG12

      I agree. Rondo continues to lose his man way too regularly. We saw him guarding Howard and other Orlando bigs at various points because he didn't bother to chase his man hard enough to prevent the need for a switch on a pick and roll.

  • Jim

    Nate does drive us a little bit up the wall with his shot selection but I really think we have to wait until Delonte gets back and Nate can fit back into the role of a shooter. He is trying and he is still learning the game. Before you get too upset Eddie House has not been lighting the world on fire in Miami so I will take Nate any day.

    • Tom W

      i agree, although poor Eddie was buried in the rotation in Miami after performing pretty well in the first part of the season. If someone made a t-shirt that said "Free Eddie" I'd strongly consider buying one.

    • CG12

      Eddie has been hot recently, since he has been actually playing as a result of the Heat's injuries.

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