The Celtics now have their longest win streak of the season after soundly beating the Raptors 90-77 and winning their 9th in a row. The Raptors, who were on a 4 game win streak of their own, never led in the game and fell behind by as many as 23. They got the lead down to 10 at one point, but that was as close as they would get.
The Celtics won this one once again with defense. They held the Raptors to 23.5% shooting in the first while shooting 61% themselves. And it wasn't just the starters doing the dirty work. At the end of 1, the score was 27-17 and with a lineup of Posey, House, Davis, Pierce and Tony Allen on the floor they increased the lead to 33-17 in the first 1:24 of the second quarter. The Celtics held a 50-36 lead at half time holding the Raptors to 29% shooting for the half.
There was a 14 minute delay to start the second half when a leak was discovered that was making the floor wet near the free throw line at one end of the court. They got the leak stopped and the Celtics picked up where they left off in the first half. Whenever the Raptors would make a run, the Celtics would answer by tightening up the defense. This was their 9th straight game of outscoring the opposition in the third quarter.
Tony got his second straight start with Ray Allen staying home to rest his ankle. Tony seems to be getting closer to his old form with every game. He made some nice drives to the hoop and hit some outside shots while once again excelling defensively. He finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Rondo beat Calderon time after time and finished with 14 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals in only 24 minutes. As with Tony, we can watch him growing in confidence and ability with each game.
Perk played solid defense in the paint and finished with 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots. Perk's presence opens up the games for the others as he is excellent at boxing out and allowing KG and Pierce to grab rebounds. Many of his contributions won't be seen in the box score, but if you watch the game, you can see that he is playing his role and doing good things on the court. Big Baby played 17 minutes and did some nice things on both ends, finishing with 5 points, 1 rebound, and 1 block.
Pierce had another very solid game with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal. He is becoming a very well rounded player doing a bit of everything for the team and not just having to score. On one play, Pierce was hit hard across the face in front of the officials and no call was made. Pierce was given a technical for complaining about it when he very clearly had reason to complain. The officiating in this game was on the whole very bad. At best, the refs are incompetent and at worst, they have some type of agenda for not making very obvious calls or making calls on fouls that haven't occurred. Maybe they were trying to be sure the point spread was covered.
KG again provided the intensity and finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 1 steal. You know you have something special when your power forward leads the team in assists. James Posey won the Tommy Award for his energy and defense in the game, taking charges and hustling on both ends of the court. He finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block and took several charges to draw offensive fouls on the Raptors. Eddie House also came off the bench and played good defense while hitting some big shots and finishing with 11 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block.
Scal played 3 minutes and hit one shot on the baseline for 2 points. Pruitt came in with 23 seconds to play. Powe was set to come in but he was coming in for Posey who was at the line and Doc called him back to the bench. But Posey, showing a concern for his teammate immediately committed a foul to allow Powe to get into the game for the final 20 seconds and the last two plays of the game. That says a lot about both Posey and the chemistry and camaraderie on this team.
There were three other Celtics teams who started out 19-2: The 57-58 team, the 63-64 team and the 84-85 team. But, there is only one team that started out 20-2 and that was the 63-63 team that went on to win the championship. The Celtics have tied that team for the best ever record to start the season and if they can win on Wednesday against the Pistons, they will move into the record books with the best record ever to start the season.
The defense that this team is playing is incredible. From the starters to the bench, this team is capable of swarming on defense and completely disrupting the opposing team's offense. Mike Gorman made the comment that in his 27 years as a broadcaster for the Celtics he has never seen a team play better defense. That is saying a lot. The Celtics now are ranked first in 5 different defensive categories. They are holding teams to a league best 87 points per game on 41% shooting. The big test for this team will come on Wednesday when they face a very poised Detroit team that has been together for many years now and who play some very tough defense themselves. It should be a fun game to watch.