Monday, January 26, 2009

Clear Statements

When the Celtics went through their 2-7 slump I was the first to say I was concerned. Loses in Los Angeles and Cleveland are not what had the Coach worried to the point where he thought the Celtics may be a tired team this early in the season but it was the back to back road loses in New York and Charlotte coupled with a terrible home loss to the Rockets that had Coach thinking the Celtics had lost some significant steam. I LOVE being wrong.

On Thursday the Celtics were on the second night of a back to back in Orlando riding a new six game winning streak and you could feel the hype around the game. The Magic had been playing great ball and they were amped for the opportunity to take down the champs. The Coach was pumped up as well and after a pregame burger courtesy of Molly's on the east 23 it was time for this statement game. The statement came in the form of defense, the same defense which is the reason why the Celtics are champions. Boston held Orlando under 20 points in three of the four quarters. The Magic are avering 102 points per game this season, the Champs held them to 80 on their home court.

Paul Pierce turned in a gritty 27 point 10 rebound 4 assist performance that is a perfect representation of the type of player he is. Orlando simply has no one on that team that can guard the Captain man to man. But as always it was more than Pierce, as well as more than the big three, it was BIG BABY. Glen Davis, came off the bench to score 16 points in 21 minutes of action. It was his defense however that made the biggest difference as he and Kendrick Perkins took turns on Dwight Howard holding him to 11 points. This is nothing new for Big Baby as he has had this effect on other bigs in the past as his strength and leverage really bothers low post scorers. The Celtics simply controlled the pace of the game and showed Orlando that they have some work to do.

After two days of rest of Green returned home to host Dallas yesterday. Great job as always by the NBA putting together a Sunday doubleheader the off week before the Super Bowl. It was great starting the afternoon with some high definition parquet and a Jimmy T sandwich courtesy of the "Pistol". Thanks to a 74 point first half, yes, 74 points, 20 from the smokin Ray Allen this game was gone as fast as the Coach knocked back his sandwich. It was a slaughter. Allen made four 3's, and Ed House again came off the bench to nail seven from deep and the Champs cruised to a 124-100 victory. While the hot long range shooting is always a huge ingredient for success it was KG and Rondo that set the tone early. Garnett got whatever shots he wanted early as Dirk was over matched against the ticket from the first touch on the left block. Then it was Rondo running Dallas' tired legs ragged as he had 14 assists and 4 steals to go along his 13 points. The Celtics were a +28 with Rajon on the floor, which signals dominance.

The second half of the double header took us out West for Lakers Spurs at Staples. San Antonio coming off three wins last week could not find a groove as the Lakers defense quicky became the story. They held the Spurs to just under 38% from the floor which included 5-23 from deep. The real story for LA continues to be their depth and yesterday was no different. Jordan Farmar returned from a knee injury that has sidelined him for 18 games to give the Lakers 14 points in 17 minutes off the bench and Trevor Ariza, yes the same Trevor Ariza the Knicks used to get Steve Francis lead the second unit with 17 points as the Lakers cruised to a 99-85 victory. When Ariza was with the Knicks and then Orlando you could see there was talent, you could see athleticism and if you paid any attention and knew how to read you could see that he was a very young rookie after only playing one year of college ball at UCLA. The guy just needed some seasoning and a coach to give him a role that fit his skill set. Phil Jackson has done exactly that. With Ariza, Farmar, Sasha, Odom and Radmanovic the Lakers have serious players that can mesh with the starters and bring it each night. These reserves give the purple and gold consistant shooting, ball handling and athleticism that sets them apart of the rest of the second units around the league. The Lakers now lead both the Spurs and the Hornets by eight games in the loss column for best record in the west and they remain ahead of both the Celtics and Cavs by precentage points for best overall record in the league.

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