I haven't seen a Celtics game in almost 3 weeks. I believe it's the longest I've ever gone without knowing what the heck is going on with my beloved Celtics. I saw the opener against Philly and then was out of touch with the larger realm of society for a while, "hanging loose". My wedding and honeymoon were awesome, but now it's time slough off the laid back Hawaian atmosphere and get back to reality. (Watching NFL games on Sunday, when I woke up at 8:30am was wierd, to say the least)
I came back to see the C's setting at a 4-8 record, with several friends at home telling me "we stink". I always take those comments with a grain of salt, as many of those friends are pessimists at heart.
Judging by the first half of this game, I don't think we stink, I think we hold the classic benchmarks of young/teams that haven't spent alot of time together: We're inconsistant and we're stupid at alot of the wrong moments.
Now, there were a couple of key game strategies for the Magic and one of them was that they had the advantage on both offense and defense in the paint. Hearing that at the beginning of the game, my natural response was,.....well......DUH?!
However, the C's seemed to score almost at will in the first half (Shot 59%). The Magic announcers mentioned that the C's would likely experience a "cooling off period" during the half. Yep, they did: When the half ended. ;-) This comment came during what I can only describe as an Elmer Fudd "O' Woes me" type diatribe about how bad the Magic are doing this game.
However, the C's also often scored in a fashion that helped to explain to me why a team with this kind of firepower is struggling. When the lead guys on a break pull the ball back out and the next guy taking the relief pass for the reset goes and chucks up a 3 pter, you can guess why the ebb and flow of a team is probably fluctuating alot.
Lots of passing, which I liked. Losing West was information I didn't want to get. Hopefully we won't lose him for the whole season and/or the injury won't make him ineffectual like Jiri's thumb injury did last season. I liked hearing that Doc has sat down with Ricky Davis and asked him to be the Celtics Vinny Johnson. As soon as I heard that said, I said, "the Microwave?! Hell yeah, RD can fit that role well."
PS: Note stating the obvious: Dwight Howard is going to be a hell of a player.
End of first half: Boston: 69 Orlando: 45
The C's started off slow in the 3rd and gave back some of that lead, but kept just enough cushion to prevent calling anything the Magic did a legitimate "run". When Steve Francis fouled out with 6:37 left in the 4th, I sat back with my beer and knew the game was over.
Kelvin Cato was the most recent Center to make the Celtics front court look like crap, at least for the second half. He posted a double-double, along with several facials during his time in the game, mostly during the second half. Former Celtics Brandon Hunter got into the game with 4:56 left and collected a handful of points in the 4th, while Tony Battie gave the C's a few reminders of his prowess when close to the bucket with a few poster-type dunks and at least one blocked shot that qualifies as a "cheap seater".
Those keeping track, Waltah saw less than 5 minutes tonight, being inserted into the game with only 4:28 left in the contest. Those also concerned with Paul Pierce's demeanor of late, should take the following note in mind: NO, he doesn't look happy while he's playing. He looks like a guy who knows he's got to lead and is thinking more about making sure everything on the floor is going right, rather than being smiley-happy. That's just my take, but he looks more concerned about his teammates on the floor, than, well frankly.......I've ever seen him look. To those not sure what to make of that comment, PP spending his time worried about others on the floor is a good thing...A very good thing. I saw a Captain tonight, not the consumate whiner that some have made him out to be over the past few years.
Let's keep it real, the C's didn't play exceptionally well tonight, but a win is a win. Orlando shot itself in the foot alot (Steve Francis' technical and early foul trouble) and Boston got hurt on the boards in the second half (see Kelvin Cato note from earlier), reminding us that without that big lead at the half, this contest may have turned out differently.
Funny moment of the game: Sadly, not a basketball moment, but the Nokia Commercial where the 3 guys are watching an NBA game on the guys live-feed phone and smacked his hand when he tries to answer the phone when it rings.
Annoying moment of the game: Any time the shot clock got to 4 secs or below. Orlando's shot clock has a time-down buzzer from 4 secs and less, which sounds remarkably like the alarm clock that I threw out my dorm room window my sophomore year. ANNOYING is the best way I can put it. ;-)
Final: Boston 117 Orlando 101