No Place Like Home
The C's cruised to a 114-83 victory over the Wiz, and it really wasn't even that close. Last year, though, it may not have ended this way. The C's were losing games to teams they should have easily beaten. What's worse is that it was happening on their home court to boot.
Not this year though. So far, the Celtics have embraced the we-must-protect-this-house attitude at home, along with their us-against-the-world attitude on the road. The result? A 9-2 start in which the C's find themselves as one of only three undefeated teams at home.
"We have a lot of pride in protecting our home," Paul Pierce said. "We know we didn't play well at home last year as we did in previous years, so that's something that we want to get back to and trying to establish our home nigh in and night out.
"We don't want to give anybody any confidence when they come in here. We want to make this building a special place, and you can see it coming."
It's hard to pinpoint why the Celtics played so poorly at home last season, but the fact that they did has stuck with them - and may be the difference this season.
"Like I said last year, I didn't know why we were losing games," Doc Rivers said. "We just didn't play with energy and didn't play well. And right now we are playing well. And they talk about it a lot; they said even before the game, ‘a home game.' So that's good."
After 358 minutes and 48 seconds, Delonte West finally made his re-debut in a Celtics jersey. Suspended for the first 10 games of the season (weapons charges), West had been hard at work off the court staying in game shape and getting ready for when his time would finally come.
With 3:12 left in the 1st quarter, West' name was called and he was greeted by a standing ovation from the Garden crowd. He finished the night with 12 points, five rebounds, and four assists in 21-plus minutes of action - most of it coming in the second half.
"You know, rusty a little bit in the first stint," Rivers said. "I thought after halftime he probably got his legs a little bit and he just played terrific."
West didn't accompany his teammates on their latest road trip and instead stayed to work out at the Celtics' training facility in Waltham, MA. The extra time has paid off, and given West a jump-start on his catch up back to NBA speed.
"Delonte looked really good," Kevin Garnett said. We saw him when we got back form the road trip, and you could tell he'd been doing double days. We get the feedback from hid work, and we're just happy that he was out there."
It has obviously been a roller-coaster ride for West up to this point, and you can bet he's as happy as can be to be back playing in the league again.
"For a minute there in the summertime I thought I wouldn't see an NBA court again. I thank the Lord, ownership here, the coaching staff, and Danny Ainge. They know what I'm about. I'm just blessed to have this opportunity to do what I love to do."
Tonight's game situation didn't call for West or any other members of the second unit to really take charge. With the lead at 15-plus points throughout the game, West knew the goal was just to keep it that way and not try to do too much.
"Guys that know me, I don't really force much," he said. "I let the game come to me. With that second unit sometimes you got to force the flow. When you're up 20 or 15 it's hard to go out and want to be aggressive. You want to maintain the lead and give the starters some rest."
Speaking of Rest
As usual, there's always talk about how the starters are playing too many minutes. Sure, it's a cause for concern over the long course of the season, but early on is it really an issue?
Before West came back, Ray Allen was averaging just under 40 minutes per game. Pierce was in the high 30's and Rajon Rondo was over 40. Granted, there were three overtime games that made those averages climb, but the fact remained that these guys probably shouldn't play that much over the course of the long season.
Tonight was obviously a different story, as the C's didn't even need them in the 4th quarter. Rondo was the only player who reached the 30-minute plateau (30:14), and five of the bench players played at least 15 minutes. No doubt Rivers would take those minutes any night, but you can't expect a blowout like this too often.
Still, the fact that West, Glen Davis, and Marquis Daniels will be able to come in and hold or build the lead while Pierce and Allen rest is essential to the team's success.
"As I said earlier, the first ten games ... I don't really care about minutes. I told our group that over the last two days, ‘Now it's time to get our minutes to where we want to work them now.'"
He Said It Best:
Gilbert Arenas: "These are one of them games where you;re on the playground and you beat somebody up, and then the real bully comes and beats you up. We played great last night. We beat a team we're all jumping up like, 'Yeah!' and then the big fish came and whooped us up."