With two games and two wins in the books, I have a few thoughts on the games, the players and the Celtics in general.
First of all, even though I still feel a little bad about trading Al Jefferson and Gomes, mostly because those two guys loved being Celtics and I really believe that they are going to be very good players, I was very wrong about getting Kevin Garnett. I was skeptical at first, but all those doubts are gone. This guy is so intense. Whether on the court, on the bench or in the huddle, he is a leader and is just so much fun to watch. When he is in the game, he just plays so hard and the intensity just oozes out of him. When he is on the bench, you can see him yelling encouragement and instructions to the guys on the floor. Even at the end of a 40 blow out in preseason, he was on the sidelines yelling to his teammates just as if it was game 7 of the finals. And in the huddles, well, you have to see it to believe it. Here is a Youtube clip that is making the rounds.
With KG dominating the huddles and time outs, Doc may do a good job this year after all.
In the last game against Toronto, the Celtics hit two milestones. Ray Allen passed 17,000 points and Paul Pierce moved up from 7th to 6th on the Celtics' all time scoring list.
When I finally got to see Ray Allen's clutch game winner against Toronto, one thing stood out to me and that was immediately after the shot, with 2.6 seconds left, Posey immediately turned to guard the inbound pass. No one had to tell him to do so, it was instinctive. The last time I saw that type of instinctive defense was when DJ immediately turned to guard the inbound pass after the Bird steal and DJ's layup against Detroit.
At the end of regulation against Toronto, I had a flashback. There was Paul Pierce with 14 seconds left holding the ball at the top of the arc and dribbling out the clock, only to miss over the defender at the buzzer. I have no idea why this happened. With Pierce shooting Antoine-esque type numbers 4-17 for the game, he most certainly was not hot. We got 2 other stars over the summer so we didn't have to see Pierce in ISO's at the end of the game any more. I have to believe that if we had moved the ball we could have gotten a better shot for someone. Ray Allen was hot and he should have taken that shot. KG had the mismatch. I really hope I don't have to watch that too many times this season.
I am surprised that Powe hasn't gotten any playing time. He looked very good in preseason and Doc just gushed about how much he approved since last year and that he would definitely be part of the rotation and yet Leon played a total of 2:30 in both games and that was after the game was already decided on opening night. I have to believe that Leon would be much better than Scal, who has been averaging 19 minutes per game. If I have one disappointment so far this season, it is not seeing Powe get time and having to watch Scal play 19 minutes per game.
KG has had some critics who say he disappears in the clutch and isn't willing to take the last shot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although KG didn't take the final shot, he was in position to do so under the basket had Ray not been open for the 3. Also, he was huge in OT with 3 straight baskets and setting the pick to free RA for the game winner.
Watching our three stars, all concerns of how they would play together have disappeared. Whoever is hot and whoever has the best matchup takes the shots and leads the way. Their games complement each other. Pierce is a slasher, Ray is a jumpshooter and KG plays more inside. They mesh very well.
Perk is crucial to this team. It may not show in the stat sheets, but his presence on defense in the paint makes a huge difference. Half of KG's rebounds are because Perk is blocking out to allow him to go after them. In Toronto, when Perk was out the Celtics go NO offensive rebounds. When he was in the got 8 offensive rebounds. That speaks volumes. He has to learn how to cut down his fouls, though. In fairness to Perk, a lot of his fouls are ticky tack fouls, especially in the Toronto game, there were so many bad calls that it really wasn't his fault. Everyone on the Celtics who were playing defense were picking up fouls at an alarming rate. Perk won't score the most and won't be the top rebounder, but what he does on the court allows his teammates to score and to grab rebounds. He does the dirty work that often goes unnoticed, but what he does is crucial to the Celtics success.
That brings me to my next thought. After the Donaghy scandal over the summer, I thought the officiating would be much better. I figured that they would be working hard to be sure there was absolutely no appearance of impropriety. But, after the Toronto game, it seems like more of the same. The refs in that game obviously had an agenda as so many of those calls were horrible. When even the Raptors fans can't believe how many bad calls are going against the Celtics, you know the officiating is bad. Stern needs to set up an oversight committee made up of owners and impartial observers to make sure that the refs aren't working with an agenda. If he doesn't do this, there will be more trouble ahead for the NBA.
The Celtics are playing defense. As a matter of fact, the Celtics are playing great defense. This has to be the most exciting development this season. We have very good individual defenders in Perk, Rondo, Posey, and KG but what is more exciting is that we are playing good team defense. The signing of Tom Thibodeau may be the most important signing (other than KG) this off season. If they continue to develop defensively, we definitely will have a chance at the Championship. Everyone knows that defense wins championships. This season already has been exciting and it is only going to get better.
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