In a highly anticipated match up between teams who have been involved in 2 blockbuster trades over the past 3 seasons, the Celtics prevailed over the Timberwolves 92-81. For the second game in a row, the team seemed to struggle to find chemistry in the first quarter but then picked it up as the game went on. The bench play was a bit ragged, but they managed to hold a lead and pull out the win even though the starters were on the bench for the 4th quarter.
From watching the first 2 games it appears that the three amigos will do fine sharing the ball and the spotlight. It will depend on matchups and on who has the hot hand as to who will star in any particular game. In the first game, Pierce came on strong in the 3rd quarter and was the high scorer. Against the Wolves, Ray Allen was the star. It also puts to rest the questions about Ray's ankles and shooting from the first game. He shot 11-14 from the field and 5-8 from beyond the arc on the way to 28 points along with 1 rebound and 1 assist. For his efforts, he was given the Tommy Award for the game.
Kevin Garnett filled up the stat sheet with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks and 6 turnovers. He didn't stand out in any one area but helped out all across the board. He scored only two points during the stretch before halftime, but he set up Perk for two straight dunks and had a steal in between. Speaking of Perk, he had a very nice game with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in 24 minutes. I expect Perk to get better and better as the season goes on. He and KG play well off of each other and I love what I am seeing from him so far. Batista came in as the back up center today. He seemed a bit nervous but from what I saw, he should be one of the players that makes the team. He finished with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals in 19 minutes of play.
The 3rd part of the triad, Paul Pierce had a rather quiet game with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal and played well without forcing anything. Pierce was able to kick back and let the game come to him and he didn't have to try to take over the game since Ray was hitting on all cylinders. Even at the post game press conference, Pierce was able to relax after the game while KG and Ray faced the media at the post game press conference. Tony Allen was again aggressive on drives, but still looks awkward when he dribbles the ball. He struggled with his shot going 1-8 from the field for 4 points to go with 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals. It is going to take a few more games for him to shake the rust off.
Rondo did a good job once again of running the offense in his 26 minutes of play. He finished with 4 points, 1 rebound, 6 assists, and 4 steals. Behind him, House didn't score as he did the first game, shooting 1-3, but was able to run the offense for the second unit. He finished with 2 points and 2 assists. Pruitt shows promise, but he struggles against pressure and may take some time to adjust to the pro game. He finished with 1 foul and 2 turnovers.
Posey played 16 minutes off the bench and finished with 2 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. Scal played 12 minutes and finished with 8 points on 3-5 shooting with 1 rebound and 1 assist. Big Baby finished with 4 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist in 7:20 of play. Like Pruitt, he shows promise and had a couple of very nice plays around the basket. Jones finished with 5 points and 2 rebounds in 6:18.
Powe, Manuel, and Wallace didn't play as Doc tries to sort out his roster. Powe has shown too much good stuff in this preseason and summer league not to make the team. I would assume that he isn't playing because Doc knows what he has in him. The final 2 spots are going to come down to Manuel, Wallace, Jones and Batista and I would expect to see Doc playing them more in the preseason to get an idea of what he has in each one so as to know which of the 4 to keep.
As a team, the Celtics were out rebounded 37-33. That surprised me because I thought we hit the boards better than that while watching the game. We had 13 steals in the game which is pretty amazing. Our turnovers were down to 15 as opposed to 21 for the Wolves. Not too bad for just the second game together. The more this team plays together, the better the chemistry will be. We are already seeing some very good things, including a much improved defense. This is going to be a very fun season.
As for the former Celtics, word before the game was that Al and Green were doubtful because of ankle injuries. Neither started but both did play. Telfair started and had a solid performance with 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists. Ricky Davis was on fire to start the game but cooled off in the second half. He finished with 18 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal. Gomes was the solid player we all grew to love. Nothing spectacular but a very solid 9 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist. Big Al came off the bench to score 5 points with 6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 blocks in 24 minutes. I really feel for Al. He loved being a Celtic and never wanted to be traded. I can't help but hope that maybe things won't work out for an extension in Minny and he will be able to come back to Boston. It is pretty unlikely, but I can hope, anyway. Gerald Green played only 10 minutes and finished with 4 points and 2 rebounds. To my amazement, Theo Ratliff is more than just an expiring contract. I think he played more in this game than he did all last season for the Celtics. He finished with 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 17 minutes.
Now we wait for another week before the next game. The team will be working on chemistry and defensive schemes between now and then and we can expect even more good things to come.