The knock on the Celtics was that they might have the best record, but they hadn't played the best of the West. Tonight, the Celtics played one of the West's top teams and came out on top. Without KG, the Celtics could have had an excuse for a loss, but they came up big and pulled out a tough win.
With 35 lead changes and 51 ties, it was a hard fought game on both sides. Ray Allen got off to a quick start with 15 points in the first quarter as the Celtics shot 50% and held the Mavs to 26%. The game was tied at the half as the Mavs shot much better in the second quarter getting up to 43% while the Celtics cooled off a little to 42%. The Celtics were also out rebounded 21-16. Ray Allen finished the half with 22 points. After an all star snub, he may have felt he had something to prove. He finished the game with 26 points on 11-20 shooting to go with 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal.
In the third, it was Pierce who came up big. Doc made a great comment that during the half he told Pierce that it was really Ray who made the All Star team and let him get a little mad about it. After a slow start, Pierce finished the game with 26 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block. James Posey was big in this game, playing great defense on Dirk and making two huge plays at the end of the game. With the Celtics up 2, Posey got inside for a big rebound and hit two clutch free throws. Then, he stepped into the passing lane and made a big steal and hit two more free throws to ice the game.
Rajon Rondo was incredible in this game. He had a double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds (6 on the offensive end). It is amazing when a 6'1" point guard can out rebound the centers and power forwards on both teams. He also had 4 assists and made a huge play to secure the win for the Celtics. The score was tied at 90 with 58 seconds left to go. Pierce missed a jumper but Rondo grabbed a rebound away from Dirk and put it in. Just an amazing play. Eddie House came in when Rondo had to go out with 2 fouls and finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Scal started at power forward in place of KG who sat out his third game. He had no points, no rebounds and 2 assists in 16.5 minutes. It seems to me as though Big Baby would make much better use of those minutes. Leon Powe once again had a very good game. He finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds (3 on the offensive end), 1 assist and 1 steal before fouling out in the 4th quarter. What didn't show up in the stats was his defense and the charges he took. He is just such a tough player inside. I am happy to see him finally get playing time. Perk finished with 5 points and 6 rebounds in just 18 minutes. Tony had just 1 assist in his 14 minutes of play.
This was a big win for the Celtics as it answers some of the critics who point to their record and add an asterisk because they didn't play any of the top teams in the West. Tonight the Celtics played one of the best in the West without Kevin Garnett and pulled out a win. Now the Celtics have 4 days off before playing the Cavs and they will get a much needed rest along with some practice time that is also needed.