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Highlight Gallery: Celtics 96 Raptors 73

Today’s Highlight Gallery features a parade of Celtics heading to the basket. It starts triumphantly but ends badly, and includes some bile directed at one member of the Toronto Raptors.

3. It’s been such a brutal month for Avery Bradley that some extended run in garbage time was a desperately needed tonic. Things started out poorly (the specifics of which we won’t rehash here) but then he found his footing and registered a couple of dunks. One came on a smart baseline cut and this one off a mid-court steal.

2. For three quarters, the only way the Raptors could stop Rajon Rondo was by fouling him. Here, he’s too quick for even that.

1. On this play, Rondo loses Jose Calderon off a Paul Pierce pick and gets a mismatch on James Johnson. The C’s clear the side and let Rondo attack Johnson in an ISO, which he finishes with a driving, spinning layup.

Notice, too, how Calderon puts in exactly zero effort at avoiding the mismatch in the first place.

0. I hate everything about this last play after Kevin Garnett passes Rondo the ball.

The NBA’s insistence on penalizing based on outcome rather than action means this was downgraded from a flagrant-2 to a flagrant-1, but this is about as dirty as fouls get.

Rondo makes a back cut along the baseline and has a clear lane to the basket. Linas Kleiza rotates to cut him off. As Rondo takes off, Kleiza hits him once with his left arm. That’s defensible as a good hard foul, and even more understandable considering the lifelessness that had permeated the Raptors defense up until that point (Boston had basically gotten anything it wanted all night, usually off of three passes or less). Kleiza was trying to wake his team up and act on new coach Dwayne Casey’s mandate to prevent layups.

I’m good with that.

But then Kleiza comes down with his right arm and gives Rondo an extra shove towards the floor – while Rondo is in mid-air and unable to protect himself. This play could easily have resulted in Rondo walking off with a shattered or dislocated elbow or wrist. That’s not tough defense. It’s a cheap shot. And it’s cowardly.

This is exactly the kind of play the NBA should be cracking down on. But Rondo walked off, so they won’t.

Here’s another thing I hate about this play, because it’s emblematic of the softening of this Boston roster: nobody did anything about it. There was no confrontation between the C’s and Raptors and even if it would have amounted to just pushing and bluster, it would have indicated this team still has the fire necessary for me to believe they can turn this season around.

Imagine what would have happened if Boston had James Posey, Tony Allen and Kendrick Perkins on the floor when Kleiza pulled that move. I don’t long for any of their returns (okay, maybe TA) but for the collective attitude and physicality they added to this team over the last four years. It’s not there anymore. Boston is a team that can be pushed around. And they won’t always push back.

So yeah, the C’s are back on the winning track, but there’s a lot of ground yet to gain if they expect it to lead anywhere.

  • Jivansky

    I like the way C's played the game tonight and that is called teamwork.
    This is the beginning of their winning streak.

    Let's go C's!

  • vik melb aus

    Vik Melb Aus,

    This team tonight played like the CELTICS… renounded, pushed the rock, started the quarter shooting well all the things we knew the C's would be.

    The comment about fight in the celtics, if you watch the game more than anything I think the team was worried it was a injury like last season. When rondo got up Kg was standing behind while he was at the line and it looked like Kg was saying shit to Johnson and you could tell it was a warning to the raptors to watch it etc hence no more hard fouls happened in the paint for the rest of the game.

    Right now the team has to be smart they cant afford anyone being suspened and i think the maurity kicked also rondo looked well enogh as he asked Doc not to take him out of the game.

    People are pancking too much in beantown and the media is just as bad as anyone a a few ago ray allen was the only trade piece as pierrce and kg were too old, now they should get rif of pierce….

    I hope this team prooces everyone wrong.. the team qill come together and then we will see

  • W2.

    Valid point about the Celts maturity….but still….there are rules to the game. Me thinks if JO or PP were on the floor at the time things may have gotten a bit spicier.

  • -jp

    Was at the game and thought about how 2 years ago a raptor player would be on his butt within 2 minutes of the Rondo injury. Weird how that attitude changed with this team. Good win overall as long as Rondo is ok

  • CG12

    I think that Pietrus can be that guy who brings a little swagger and edge to the Cs. He was annoying as hell when he played on the Magic, which usually means you'll love him when he is on your team. I am definitely digging Pietrus.

  • skeeds

    eh, not too worried about the lack of badassery right now. Swagger comes with wins. I did like KG right to Kleiza's face the next 2 possessions, drawing 2 fouls and effectively sending him to the bench in 45 seconds.
    I'd love a shove from Stiemsma though. With no Perk and no Rasheed, who's gonna teach the kid how to bump heads, talk trash after he blocks a guy, and rack those T's up? fundamentals!

  • IBleedGreen
    • CelticsBIG3

      What a weird, weird dude. Why would you pull your pants off over a call? Did you fnd it strange that the announcers made no light of the fact that he just pulled his pants down, or that none of the Spurs players seemed to notice?

  • JMess

    I like TA and everything, but I'm surprised to say you'd rather him back than Perk.

  • LACelticsFan

    I agree that someone is supposed to protect our young allstar PG. Someone anyone shouldve been right in Linas face, barking hard. Hard enough so that the ref crew wouldve had to break them up.

  • Chris from Danvers

    Interesting points about the about toughness of the team. The situation with Rondo may have been handled a little differently in the passed. Definitely would have been more talking. As for this team, ironically, Dooling and Wilcox might be their two toughest players in terms of people you don't mess with (think of Dooling actually getting into it with Ray Allen). Would definitely have been a different story if they were in the game.

  • Pauper

    It's about time someone picked up on the lack of toughness on this team. Although the heat was more athletic last year, I thought they intimidated this team with Chalmers, Haslem, and Jones all acting like a bunch of thugs. When Wade gave Allen that big forearm to the chest with Allen trying to set a screen in the playoffs, no one sent Wade to the deck afterwards. Even when JO retaliates, he does it and then walks away. The team needs to get Steimsma and Wilcox into shape and dishing out some hard fouls to show people they can't just run over this team.