Whether or not ESPN's tandem of Dan Shulman and Jon Barry for last night's Bulls-Celts game suited the audience's fancy, the two broadcasters most certainly earned themselves some credit for one point in particular: So far as hustling was concerned, it didn't matter who was on the floor for the Celtics last night. Virtually from start to finish, the boys in white and green made every effort up and down the floor, and the fellows in red couldn't be bothered to match up in that department.All of Steve's daily posts can be found in the CelticsBlog: NBA blog. Check him out!
There may be no situation in basketball that lends itself to lulls more than that of having a big lead.
On several occasions earlier this season, it seemed that this Celtics team may have fallen prey to just that trap. Back in November, the C's blew a 15-point fourth quarter lead at home against the Heat before hanging on to win by one. Two weeks later in Miami, a 28-point third-quarter lead was whittled down to seven by the midst of the fourth, before the C's rebounded to post another double-digit win. Those aren't the only two occasions that this sort of phenomenon occurred, but they are the two that come to mind with the most ease.
Over the past couple of months, it seems that this trend has been abating (although the Celts could have done without the late third-quarter run from Detroit on Wednesday night).
Last night, the signs of letdown were nowhere to be found.
These Celtics were ready to play from start to finish. From the top of the roster to the bottom, the green intensity came all evening.
It came in the form of KG's lovable nuttiness and the first unit flying off to a 12-point lead at the end of the first quarter and extending it to 20 by halftime.
It came from two count-the-basket-and-one plays courtesy of oft-maligned center Kendrick Perkins.
It came even from the out-of-control Tony Allen. Yes, he was 0-for-4 from the field with four turnovers, but as is almost always the case with TA, his mistakes were born out of a surplus of energy rather than a deficit.
It was there when Ray Allen followed up his own shot and then Paul Pierce's to grab multiple offensive rebounds on one possession in the third quarter of a 75-49 contest.
It showed up when Leon Powe and the Pugnacious Papoose (Infuriated Infant, Nasty Newborn, or the more traditional Big Baby; take your pick) each made the extra effort to block shots on the same possession with inside of five minutes to play in a 20-point game.
It was evident in the newest active Celtic, as P.J. Brown made his debut and promptly grabbed six rebounds in as many minutes.
It came as trigger-happy Eddie House looking to make the extra pass to get the team higher-quality shots inside in the latter stages of a blowout.
And it was all capped off when the Terrifying Toddler jumped over the scorer's table and crashed his 289-pound frame into the stands in an attempt to save a loose ball with less than three minutes to play and the game well in hand.
Just in case all the anecdotal evidence doesn't do it, it's worth remembering that the intensity showed up in the box score, too. That would be the box score that showed that the Celts held the Bulls to less than 32 percent shooting from the field. They were also plus-20 on the glass and blocked nine shots, three of which came courtesy of Perk. They worked their way to the foul line 43 times, converting on 38 of those opportunities. And they never let the Bulls closer than 16 points in the second half, thus allowing for Kevin Garnett to sit the entire fourth quarter and no Celtic not named Rondo (31) to play more than 30 minutes.
Yes, it bears noting that the Bulls likely earned themselves a share of the responsibility here by completely packing it in, especially in the second half. They picked up four technical fouls as a team, and for a good portion of the contest, it seemed that those besides Joakim Noah (and occasionally Aaron Gray) couldn't be bothered to care.
But regardless of what the opposition did on Friday night in Beantown, the Boston Celtics came out to play a full 48 minutes of basketball. They did it on the offensive, the defensive, the glass and everywhere in between.
And for all the dirty work involved, it was a beautiful sight to see.