Going into this game we all felt it would be a good test for this team with one of the better teams in the West coming in. They are ranked #9 in the NBA.com power rankings and many put them among the top teams in the West. They have legitimate all stars in Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin. I was ready for a battle and a close game but I wasn't ready for what I saw. The Celtics were totally dominating from the beginning to the end.
To give you an idea as to how dominating they were, they shot 72% from the field for the first half while allowing Denver to shoot 38%. At the half, the Celtics had 25 rebounds to 9 for the Nuggets and they had 11 steals in the first half alone and finished with 20 steals for the game. They led by as many as 41 points and the final margin of 26 doesn't do justice to this game.
The starters were totally dominating and there were a few plays that just made me sit back and go wow! One was where KG passed into Pierce in the lane and Pierce immediately threw a behind the back no look pass to Perk under the basket for a dunk. Another was where Rondo passed up court to Pierce who immediately tossed up an alley oop for KG who caught the ball with one hand in one movement had a monster one handed slam. There were a couple of miscues, but for the most part, this team looks like it has been playing together for years.
Once again in this game the Celtics defense was great both individually and as a team. In his post game press conference, KG said that they want to be known as a defensive team and that is very exciting because it is defense that will win #17. He also said that the team didn't finish as well as they know they can as they started to get a little sloppy in the 3rd and early in the 4th. Pierce added that nobody cares who gets the credit on this team and indeed they are playing very unselfishly. They had 32 assists on 49 baskets. The passing and ball movement have been a thing of beauty, as has the team defense.
As for individual efforts, all three stars came up big with KG leading the way. He finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block and for his work, won the Tommy Award. This guy is so intense. I know I say that all the time but it just amazes me. In the huddle he is so animated and always encouraging and giving instructions. In one huddle with the team up 40 points, KG was telling everyone to keep their face and keep their focus and intensity. In the 4th quarter, with the team up by 30, KG was not sitting on the bench, he was kneeling in front of it and yelling out encouragement to his teammates.
Ray Allen scored 22 points to go with 3 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals. These were very quite points as it didn't seem as though he was doing that much but it was all in the flow of the game. Pierce had a game high 26 points with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. Again, this was a very unassuming performance for Pierce as he got all his points in the flow of the game and didn't force anything. He made two incredible passes that just kind of took your breath away.
Perk had a very solid game with 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block. Again, Perk was in there doing the dirty work on defense that was crucial to this win. Rondo had a solid game also finishing with 14 points mostly on drives to the basket, 4 assists and 4 steals. House came in for Rondo when he picked up 2 quick fouls and did a good job finishing with 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Tony also took another step toward getting back to pre-injury shape, playing 18 minutes and scoring 4 points to go with 3 rebounds and 4 assists. He doesn't have his lift yet or is explosiveness, but he is getting quickness back and made a couple nice drives to the basket. Scal played 15 minutes and as always, did some good things and then some bad. He finished with 5 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist. I still would rather see Powe get his minutes.
I don't understand why Doc doesn't play Leon more. He really looked good in the preseason and Doc said that he has improved a lot since last season and that he would be a part of the rotation and he has played a total of 6 minutes in 3 games. Good things seem to happen when this kid is on the court and he should be getting some playing time. Tonight he played four minutes and had 4 points and 1 rebound. Good things happen when Powe is on the court mainly because of the effort and energy that he brings to the game. I really don't understand Scal getting so many minutes and Powe sitting on the bench. Even Big Baby has gotten more minutes than Leon. Big Baby played 9 minutes in this one and had 3 points and 1 rebound.
Posey played 7 minutes and left the game with back spasms and didn't return. It wasn't clear how he injured the back but he moved slowly in obvious pain as he left the floor in the second quarter. He is scheduled to have an MRI today. Hopefully it won't be serious and he will be back to action soon. In another curious move, Pollard had a DNP in this game.
The scary thing about this team is that as KG said in his post game press conference, they are "just scratching the surface of what they can be." Of course, there is the possibility that there will be set backs, but so far what I have seen from the new look Celtics is absolutely incredible.