The common refrain we've heard (and said) all year is that the Celtics are just too old to compete. Granted, it was just one game, but man what a game. Maybe what Ray Allen said yesterday was accurate. Maybe it wasn't age so much as it was conditioning - which seems to be coming around. At the very least, Doc Rivers is impressed.
"We ain’t going to get much better than this defensively, and I think it’s a good blueprint for them,’’ Rivers said. "But it also tells them how hard it was. It’s hard work. I mean, Avery was dying out there. But two weeks ago we couldn’t have done this anyway, honestly, because of conditioning. We would never have lasted. So now it’s a good sign we’re getting in better conditioning. "I knew we were going to compete. You could feel it. You really could.’’
Even Dwight Howard had to tip his hat and admit that he was beat.
"You have to respect everybody," he said. "You have to respect every team you play, and they’ve been a great team in the past. But I don’t think we came out as a team with the right attitude and the right energy. . . . "Even myself; there’s no way KG (Kevin Garnett) should be beating me up and down the floor. There’s a couple of plays where he beat me up and down the floor, and there’s no way. You know, he’s 40 and I’m 25 (actually 35 and 26, respectively). I just can’t allow that to happen. I have to step up and be the leader for this team, and when they see me doing things that are out of my character and not playing the way I play, then it falls to everybody else. So I have to do a better job and police everybody else."
Count Stan Van Gundy impressed as well.
“That’s the most dominating defensive performance at least that I’ve ever had against me. There’s no singling anybody out. It’s the first game, I think, in my career I’ve ever been through where literally not one guy played well. We didn’t play well. So there’s no finger-pointing, and it’s why you get dominated. Not one guy had a good night, and I’m foremost among them.”
SVG and Dwight will have another chance on Thursday. Then we'll see if this game was a fluke or the start of a nice trend.