The Boston Celtics proved last night that they can win on the road against a championship contender. Therefore, the outcome of tonight's game, at the Celtics' home opener, against a non-contender, was no surprise to anybody.
The Celtics manhandled the Charlotte Bobcats 92-59 Wednesday night at the Garden, on what can definitely be called a balanced attack. Ray Allen, who hit two timely three-pointers in the 2nd quarter, led all scorers with 18 points, while four other Celtics also scored in double digits.
It was the defense that stood out above all things tonight, as the Bobcats could never get into a rhythm, scoring only 31 points in the first half, and 41 at the end of three quarters.
"I haven't seen that since college to be honest with you," said Shelden Williams, who recorded 12 points and nine rebounds. "That was a great defensive performance by us. An NBA team... scoring in the 50's, you don't ever see that."
Doc Rivers echoed Williams' feelings, saying, "I thought it was terrific. I thought it was great...The last two nights, I thought it has been absolutely wonderful."
Usually when you hear the words "terrific", "great", and "absolutely wonderful" from your head coach, you realize that you've got a pretty special team on your hands. Doc Rivers seems very confident in his players, and rightfully so. Fans watching the game on television last night heard Rivers' halftime speech about winning the championship. Rivers is not backing down from that statement, and he shouldn't have to.
"I was just being honest with our team," Rivers said of his halftime speech that was caught on camera during the Cavaliers game. "That's our goal- I don't think it's a secret... We know what our goals are; it's not like we're fooling anybody. And we're going after it."
It is also no secret that defense wins championships. If they continue to play games with the same defensive intensity they have showed so far, that 18th banner that Paul Pierce talked to the fans about before the game will seem more and more realistic.
Paul didn't stop talking at that point. In fact, the Celtics can attribute many of the Bobcats' 18 turnovers to talking on the court.
"When we're talking on defense, it starts with Rondo at the top and Kevin in the back, guys helping each other," said Pierce. "And we always stress hot hands, and when we're able to get in the passing lanes, force turnover, get out on a break- it makes things easier when you're doing those things."
When it comes to defense, the Celtics definitely preach what they practice.
"[We get pleasure from] shutting people down because we work so hard in practice... You know the majority of our practices are schemes, how we're going to defend, consistencies, schemes night-in-night-out for different people on different types of teams," said Kevin Garnett, who had 10 points to go along with seven rebounds and three blocks.
With the Celtics game in hand by the time the 4th quarter rolled around, the loudest cheer heard in that quarter was when the scoreboard showed that the Philadelphia Phillies were ahead of the New York Yankees 2-0.
While many of the fans in the arena tonight are Phillies fans by default, Rasheed Wallace is one by choice. Wallace zipped up his sweatshirt, revealing the Phillies "P" on the upper left hand side. While Wallace can enjoy the fact that the Phillies may be on their way to winning their second straight World Series, he would like to win a championship of his own this season.
"I think it would be less of us as players, coaches, and a team if we sit up there and settle like ‘ok we just want to make the playoffs,'" Wallace said. "No, that's not our main goal. With good teams you have to set great marks like that. That Bulls team that set that 72-10 record- that was a great team. I don't think that no one tried to shoot for that record since then, so why not us?"