The Celtics' current three-game winning streak will hopefully be extended tonight against the Washington Wizards. To make sure that happens, the C's would be wise to continue to incorporate what has worked so well for them over the last three games. Here are four things that stuck out last week:
Balanced Scoring - The streak began last Tuesday against the Pistons, in a game where Paul Pierce only scored nine points. Fortunately, he was the only starter to not reach double figures, as Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Rasheed Wallace all scored 10+ points, along with Glen Davis and Nate Robinson, who also notched double figures off the bench.
The next night against Charlotte, Pierce came back, going off for 27 points on 9-13 shooting. Allen, on the other hand, managed just three points, yet the Celtics won by 24. Then came Philadelphia, and Ray was back with 16 points, tying Rondo for the second highest total on the team behind Garnett's 22 (It's great seeing his jumper fall with consistency again). The Celtics have enough offensive weapons to keep opponents honest - something that always serves a team well come playoff time.
Bench Play - The pine guys were the driving force behind the first win of the last three. Igniting a fourth quarter run against the Pistons, Robinson and co. finished that game with a total of 39 points, good for over a third of the team's total. They then followed that performance up with 46 points against the Bobcats and 29 points against the 76ers. Robinson has so far been the spark we were hoping he would be, and Glen Davis has exhibited a worthy amount of hustle down low. With Michael Finley set to dress tonight, let's see if the newest old-timer to join the crew can add another element to what is becoming a very productive second unit.
The Rajon Rondo - Kevin Garnett Pick-and-Roll - The on-court chemistry between these two is paramount, and no longer is it noticeable solely on the alley-oops. This pair tore Philly to shreds in the third quarter on Friday night, with Garnett acting as the stone wall, and Rondo turning on the afterburners as soon as his man lost a step on him. Rondo tallied 14 points in the third quarter alone, with nearly every single one of them a direct result of pick-and-roll action with Garnett. Some teams might be better suited to defend the pick-and-roll, but with Randy Foye and Andray Blatche or Al Thornton set to get the assignments tonight, Washington does not appear to be one of them.
Defense - Something that should go hand-in-hand with this group, like peanut butter and jelly or macaroni and cheese. Yet in the four games prior to this current streak, the C's were allowing 108 points per game. Things have settled down since though, with the Celtics allowing just 88.66 points per game over this three-game streak. Surely Detroit, Charlotte, and Philadelphia might not be as capable offensively as Denver, New York, or Cleveland, but the Celtics were expected to hold these three most recent teams to respectable totals, and with Detroit being the lone exception (100 points allowed), the Celtics did just that. Tonight's another opportunity for the Celtics to shut down an opponent's offense, as the Wizards are averaging just 83.3 points per game over their last three games.
A modest three-game winning streak against three beatable opponents isn't awe inspiring, but it's one of the first steps towards this team working its way back into form as the playoffs continue to draw closer. Let's keep it rolling.