Another week of games under our belt, four more wins added to the East’s best record and it seems like the offensive swagger is back as the Celtics averaged 105.25 points in each of those four. It looked as if this would be a pesky stretch of games with the offensive-minded Knicks, rival Detroit Pistons, young and restless Minnesota Timberwolves and Atlantic foe Toronto Raptors. The first two of those games were in Boston while the latter two were on the road. Believe it or not, the Knicks’ and the Timberwolves’ games were the most competitive of the bunch. The Celtics really only played three quarters against both the Pistons and the Raptors as they ran away with both games early.
The Celtics have been playing their stellar defense all season, but the offense was struggling for most of the season up until this week. The Big Three weren’t always clicking, Rondo was looking offensively inept and there were stretches of games where the bench would contribute absolutely nothing to the effort. Watching the games this week and you would have thought you were watching last year’s team because there was nothing stopping the Celtics from winning this week.
As I said earlier, the Knicks and the Timberwolves put up the biggest fights this week. In both games, the Celtics continued their trend of getting down early. Against the Knicks, the Celtics trailed early but opened a nine point lead heading into the half. We would inflate the lead here and there, but the Knicks scored basket for basket with us. In the end, they just couldn’t chip away at the lead and ended up losing by that same nine points. The Celtics went to Minnesota, marking Kevin Garnett’s first trip back to the Target Center and the rout was on. But it wasn’t like that the entire game as the Celtics were down for almost the entire first half. The third quarter was when the Celtics pulled away as they won the quarter 35-10 and there was no looking back.
I won’t be one of the people to say that this team is better than last year’s team because it just isn’t… yet! James Posey and PJ Brown were two huge losses from last year’s team and they both played key roles in winning the title. James Posey is being replaced by Tony Allen, who is doing a great job, but his lack of ability to guard some power forwards in the league is a downer. PJ Brown was our key big man off the bench with experience and leadership. We thought we had a shot at Antonio McDyess, but he will be returning to Detroit. Patrick O’Bryant is definitely not the answer. Leon Powe, as great as he has been for us, just isn’t able to replace what PJ Brown gave us. Hopefully we can scoop a big man down the road for the stretch run, but I couldn’t begin to theorize who that player may be.
With 15 games played through the season, the Celtics are a scintilating 13-2, with their only losses to the Pacers in our first road game of the season and the Nuggets at home. Other than that, we have looked great and are definitely showing that we are still the best team in the East. I hate to say it, but Christmas Day will be when we find out if we are still the best in the league as we travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers. With 14 games between now and then, I don’t think anything less than a 10-4 effort is acceptable. Being 23-6 heading into a Christmas clash would be a great goal to achieve.