Some people like sunsets. Others prefer works of art. Not me. Give me a balanced box score any day of the week and you can keep your walks on the beach and watercolors. Outside of Phoenix coming in to the Garden at 12-24 and not being an elite team, just look at the numbers:
39.3% and 2-12: The Suns made 33 of 84 shots and shot 16.7% from behind the three-point line. A lot of people have credited the return of Avery Bradley. Certainly his lock down defense is a problem for opposing back courts and the rhythm of their offenses, but AB's effort is becoming contagious. Danny mentioned it in his weekly interview on WEEI this afternoon; I'm paraphrasing here, but he basically said that when you see how much effort Avery's putting in on D, it becomes infectious. Last night was a great example. Avery left last night's game at the 7:09 mark of the third quarter with the Celtics clinging to a 55-54 lead and never returned. Over the final 19 minutes of the game, Phoenix would score only 25 points with Bradley on the bench.
Outside of Rondo (31) and Sullinger (34), nobody played over 30 minutes: Sullinger is only 20 years old so I don't mind that the youngster logged in a couple of extra minutes. When the roster was assembled this summer, we were two--if not three--deep at every position. With Wilcox returning soon, the team should settle in on a fluid ten man rotation with Jason Collins, Leandro Barbosa, and maybe even Fab Melo with the occasional cameo. Danny also has two roster spots to play with at the deadline if he wants to bring in another vet to fill out any pressing needs before the post season.
Balanced scoring: There are going to be nights when we're going to need to feed our best scorers or someone's going to get hot and drop 30, but hopefully, there are more nights like this where the scoring is balanced. Against Phoenix, the rotation players shot between 8 and 11 shots with only Courtney Lee taking five (with two trips to the line). I can't stress this enough: everybody on this team can score and in a variety of ways.
For example, at nearly the quarter mark of the season, both Jason Terry and Courtney Lee have been miserable on the perimeter, but over the last couple of games, we've seem them take it to the rim more. Jet's floater in the paint had been missing in the early part of the season. C Lee has flourished in transition, turning defense into offense. And on the anniversary of his heart surgery, we're seeing Jeff Green become the mean green mismatch machine Danny signed him up to be. Against smaller 3's (Steve Novak, PJ Tucker) and slower 4's (Michael Beasley), Green is simply too big and too fast.
Points of turnovers: During the current winning streak, the team has tallied 17 points (off of 19 Pacers TO's), 24 (21, Hawks), 15 (14, Knicks), and 16 (16, Suns). One of the mandates last summer was to get quicker and more athletic in order to compete with the changing game of the NBA and the Celtics have done that. With the defense back in the Top 10 and rising, it's only going to help them in their transition game going forward.