Snap ReactionThe Celtics came out on Christmas Day and opened up the NBA season in typical Celtics fashion – with drama and pizazz. Boston was without Paul Pierce who is still nursing a bruised heel. The outcome of the game is not something Celtics fans might have hoped for on this Christmas afternoon, but there are many things to be happy about for Boston. Let's take a quick look at some of those things we learned in Boston's 104-106 loss to the Knicks.
The Celtics came out very flat to open the game. It was quite obvious that they suffered from only having two weeks of practice to get a feel for each other both offensively and defensively. First things first, though. The officials for the game were Joey Crawford, Joey Crawford, and Joey Crawford. There, now that we've gotten that out of the way.
Rondo was very aggressive on offense, and his jumper even looked pure at some points during the game. He still displayed a bit of a deficiency in shooting free-throws, but he went 9-12 from the line. I say he displayed a deficiency because the three that he missed were not that close. Aside from that, though, Rajon was splendid. He scored 31 points on 11-19 shooting, had 13 assists, and recorded 5 rebounds and 5 steals. Whether his aggressiveness was natural, or a byproduct of Pierce being out is irrelevant -- we've seen these types of games from Rondo. He was mesmerizing, and he made a point to force the issue as much as possible. And with or without Paul Pierce, that is a good thing for the Celtics.
It seemed early on in the game that Ray Allen was not able to come off of screens and get to his spots very often. A lot of that was probably due to the fact that the team was settling in given that this was the first game of the season. As the game progressed, though (especially in the second half), Ray was able to find his spots and hit his shots. He hit 2-3 from beyond the arc, and put in 20 points overall. His defense on Landry Fields (and his other matchups) was fine. Perhaps the most shocking part of Allen's game today was when he, not Rajon Rondo, lobbed an alley-oop to Jermaine O'Neal. Yes, you read that right. Jermaine O'Neal jumped. And he reached the basket. And he scored the ball when he jumped and reached the basket. It was fun times.
Brandon Bass showed why acquiring him for Glen Davis and Von Wafer is going to be an absolute steal, robbery, heist, or whatever other adjective for "this really should have been illegal" you want to come up with to use. Bass recorded his first ever 20pts-10reb game today (20 points, 11 rebounds on 9-13 shooting), and looked to do everything Glen Davis did for Boston and even more. Goodness, Bass even had 5 offensive boards (ORR of 4.95), and his midrange jumper looked fluid and very well kept during the long offseason and lockout. I like what I saw from Brandon, and if he continues to give Boston that type of performace, or even half of that then I am very confident Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge will be pleased with the acquisition at the end of the year.
All in all, this was a loss that Boston will take any day of the week. They shot 50% or better in the first half, and 51% for the entire game. I hate to get into the whole, "if Boston would have had Paul Pierce then the Celtics would have won", but that's likely the case. Allen, Rondo, and Garnett accounted for 63.5% of the Celtics' scoring today, and even the slightest addition of Pierce to augment that production would have meant a lot given the way the Knicks relied heavily upon Carmelo and his 37 points down the stretch. At the end of the day, though, Boston is 0-1 on this shortened 66 game season, and will play Miami on Tuesday night before traveling to New Orleans on Wednesday. With what we know to be true about aging veterans and injuries, I suggest one thing for Celtics fans. Drop the expectations, enjoy every single win, and hope for Banner 18. This team is capable, but there is still a lot of work to be done, and only 123 days left to do it.