Losers of their last three games, the Boston Celtics arrived at the TD Garden determined to start the New Year off with a victory over the Toronto Raptors. Even without the likes of three starters- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo, the Celtics still managed to defeat the Raptors 103-96.
"We talked about that for all day yesterday, all day today. We're at home, going out on a road trip, and we have to come into the game with the attitude you expect to win. I didn't think we had that attitude in Phoenix. I thought we were going- we showed up and said, ‘what's going to happen?' I thought tonight we showed up with an attitude that we're going to find a way to win. We didn't know how but we're going to find it."
Ray Allen led all scorers with 23 points, and Rasheed Wallace added 16. Kendrick Perkins scored 14 points and grabbed 10 boards.
"We had great veteran leadership with Rasheed and Ray," said Perkins. "I thought they came out, they attacked. And Rasheed, when he plays like that he's pretty tough to guard."
Tony Allen may have had the best all-around game of the night, scoring 14 points, dishing out seven assists, and grabbing five boards. To this point, Allen might have the strangest career as a Celtic in recent memory. Honestly, how many times have our opinions changed on this one guy? When the season started, there weren't many fans who even wanted Tony Allen on the court. And to be honest, he didn't really need to be with the addition of Marquis Daniels. Now with Daniels out, Pierce out, and Rondo out, his minutes have increased and he is now an integral part of this team's success.
"Basically I look at it like I got put in a position to show coach some things I can do, and I think I answered it at times today and hopefully I can, you know, carry this over to the next game.
Ray Allen explains, "It's the stuff that (Tony's) done over the last three years in practice that have made us all better- made Paul [Pierce] better, made me better, and I always look forward to not having to be in the game- if I'm sitting on the bench and I get to cheer those guys on- because they do work so hard."
Understandably so, Giddens and Hudson were hesitant offensively with the ball, but as far as the defense was concerned, they faired well in their first meaningful game.
"I spoke with Lester [Hudson] and J.R. [Giddens] and, these are the moments," said Ray Allen. "You want more playing time, you want to get out there show what you can do. You don't wish anybody to get injured but the situation arises you have to step up and answer the bell and be ready to knock the shot down. If it doesn't go in for you get a great defensive stop."
"I thought J.R. and Lester played great," Perkins said. "I thought they were a little nervous at first, it happens. I thought they came in and did a great job defensively and not try to do too much. Luckily, J.R. is 1-0 as a starter and Lester is 1-0 as a seven-man."
Without Rondo at the point, the Celtics were really forced to get creative with some lineups.
"I never called more plays in a game in my, probably, life," said Rivers. "But we knew that coming in. we knew Tony, he only has a certain amount of plays that he knew as far as at the point and any other ones we had to call. We kept that simple."
"It shows the importance of Rondo," said Perkins of the amount of play calling tonight. "With Rondo on the court we really don't have to call any plays because Rondo will dribble, attack, he's going to make plays for people, he's going to find guys."
Not only are Giddens and Tony Allen getting more playing time, they are doing so in positions they aren't as familiar with.
"It is a little different for certain guys being in different positions," admitted Ray Allen. "Having J.R. in there the whole time, he's really learning the 2-spot (SG) and the 3-spot (SF) and you know Tony he's going from the 1 (PG) to 3 and I was going to the 1 to 3 and we were just interchangeable in bringing the ball up the floor and it just gives us a lot of different looks."
Glen Davis provided a much needed spark off the bench tonight, scoring 15 points and grabbing five rebounds in 20 minutes. It is his presence underneath the basket that the Celtics were especially missing at times earlier this season.
"We've been talking about rebounding a lot this year," said Ray Allen. "A couple games we lost because we couldn't keep the other team off the glass. With Glen on the sideline it hurt us a little bit, because he's a great rebounder. Tonight he just, when he goes up for those boards, he clears his space. He goes to get the ball and he gives us second chance opportunities and he gets us running the fast break."