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Game 74: Where We Maybe Got A Glimpse Of The Playoffs

Boston Celtics 107, San Antonio Spurs 97

Well, we've all been wondering 'what this Celtics team is capable of'. I think while we didn't see the ceiling tonight, we did see a glimpse of what they can do with all the players clicking  (as in hitting their jumpers) against a top tier team.

Do the Celtics play 'down' to their competition? Have they 'coasted' through some games, usually to poor result? I don't know, I'm not a doctor.

What I do know is that tonight was a classic Celtics win. Rajon Rondo showed up with his best game since..I don't even know (22 points, 14 assists, 0 turnovers). Paul Pierce was a hero tonight (21 points, 11 rebsound, 7 assists), and Kevin Garnett could not miss from mid-range (20 points, 9 rebounds, 9-12 shooting).

The game started out pretty even, with the edge to the Spurs. Tony Parker was just carving up the Celtics defense, making them collapse more often than Manu Ginobli when he gets hit by a light breeze (imagine being in a crowd with that guy? You'd need to strap him to your back in a papoose because he'd be falling over everytime someone touched him!). The Celtics though were hitting their jumpers, and that was the story of the game, because without that the Celtics would've been down 20 points at the half. They were letting the Spurs dominate the paint, both in terms of position, and in terms of rebounds. Also, they apparently could not close out on the 3pt line for most of the night (I counted 8 wide-open 3pt attempts in the first quarter alone). 

But the Celtics never let the lead get too big, and by the half they'd closed it to tie the game. The Spurs made a small run in the third quarter that put the game in a bit of peril, but the 4th was all Celtics, all the way.

For weeks I've maintained two things; 1) that Nenad Krstic's presence on the defensive end has been mostly poor and downright atrocious, and that was a huge problem, and 2) that the Celtics defense lately has been as much an issue as their offense.

On both points I was proved wrong tonight. Nenad Krstic (with some help from Baby) held Tim Duncan to 2-5 shooting in the first frame, and it wasn't until the 4th that Duncan really made his presence felt as far as points are concerned. Also, the Celtics shooting kept them in this game, and eventually won it for them. Despite a poor night from Ray Allen (3-11 shooting, but to his credit some big buckets late), the Celtics still managed to shoot over 55% as a team tonight.

While Pierce was awesome tonight, I really cannot say enough about Rondo. Aside from just being able to go wherever he wanted, he was hitting jumpers like he was...someone good at hitting jumpers. There was a sequence in the 4th where Ginobli was guarding him (because both Tony Parker and George Hill were absolutely failing in this), and Manu went under a double screen, despite Rondo hitting a solid 5 or 6 J's already tonight. KG and Glen Davis locked arms, forming a wall and Rondo just strolled up and knocked it down. His passing was on point, but Rondo's aggressive play with trying to put the ball in the hoop was paramount tonight. There was a 10-0 run in the third tonight were Rondo either scored or assisted all the buckets made.

We also saw Jermaine O'Neal play some very good minutes tonight, and even had a Von Wafer sighting. If it weren't for Krstic's injury (on which Danny Ainge had to say "We don't know, but it doesn't look good"), it would be a 100% positive night for the Green. They gained a game on the Bulls, and took one home against the best team (record-wise) in the league.