The Celtics are 20-2 in spite of a very strenuous schedule in their first month that included 6 back to back sets. They have avenged their first loss with 2 wins against the Pacers but one of them came very close to being another loss. They are saying the right things and seem to have the right mindset, but, it is going to get harder and harder to keep winning. Every night, teams are getting prepared for them and will give their very best shot at beating the champs. It would be great if they can stay on top and have home court advantage through the playoffs again. We saw last season how important that home court was for them. But the key is for them to continue to improve, especially the bench.
The bench has been fairly inconsistent so far. One night they are stellar, the next they are getting a stern lecture from KG for being so bad. But, in fairness, they were missing Tony and didn't really have a playmaker on the court at the time that they gave up that lead and aroused KG's ire. We have a lot of young guys on the bench. Big Baby and Leon are growing game by game. Tony is still finding his way but looking good. Eddie House brings veteran leadership off the bench. And that may be why Doc has been playing Scal more. Just for some veteran leadership to keep this unit together.
Much has been made of Big Baby's crying on the bench, and from all I have read and seen, it wasn't so much what KG said to him and he wasn't upset with KG, he was upset with himself and his play that led to KG's rant. His emotion just shows how much he wants to win and I think this incident will make him a better player in the long run.
KG has taken intense to a new level. I still chuckle at the comment on one of the other boards about how if the refs don't call the fouls KG's way they are afraid that he will "intense all over the court." KG may be the only player in the league that can make intense into a verb. He holds his teammates to a high standard, one that he holds himself to by the way, and he isn't afraid to let them know when they aren't reaching it. But, give Doc credit for knowing when to let his intense star take over a huddle and for letting him make the point. There have been incidents around the league where players have taken their teammates to task in a huddle and later have been disciplined for it. Some coaches aren't secure enough to let someone else have their say. Doc really is the right coach for this team.
I love it that the Lakers are obsessed with the Celtics. The Celtics have definitely gotten in their heads and that is a good thing. I just loved that article in the OC Register where the Lakers were watching the Celtics/Pacers game in their locker room. Vujacic refuses to wear green. They are lifting weights because they are still smarting from being pushed around in the Finals. The Celtics are in their heads and that is going to give the Celtics an advantage in the long run. And speaking of the Lakers, they lost to the Kings last night.
Rajon Rondo has taken his game to another level recently. The difference in this team being good and great is Rondo's aggressiveness. When he slacks off, the Celtics as a team do also. When he is aggressive on both offense and defense, he makes the Celtics near impossible to beat. It amazes me though that people still doubt this kid. We know about Gary Payton's sour grapes. And now Indy Cornrows has this little tidbit from the OT game against the Pacers:
During the game, a scout near me responded to a carry call on Rajon Rondo with a “thank you” response. I noticed Rondo moving the ball around a lot during the Tuesday game, so I mentioned that he gets away with that quite a bit. The scout admitted he wasn’t a fan of Rondo’s game and that if he was on another team with average talent Rondo would be considered a garbage point guard. That surprised me because Rondo seems to be a good fit, but the scout’s point was that, as we witnessed first hand, finding KG running the floor or Ray Allen and Paul Pierce for kick outs would make any PG look good.
Ahh, the unnamed scout. Could he be scouting for the upcoming Christmas day matchup? It is amazing how the so called experts are not willing to give the Celtics any credit. Yes, Rondo has some pretty special options to get the ball to on the offensive end. But, the key is that he gets the ball to them. His play has been stellar. If anything, he has more pressure on him playing with KG, Pierce and Ray. He had a monster triple double and that wasn't handed to him by the big three. He earned it with his play. On NBA Game time, Chris Webber gave him some love and after they quoted Perk about how Gary Payton hated on him, Payton said that Perk was his rookie when he played with the Celtics and he knows that his comments were meant to fire Rondo up to play up to his potential. Sure, Gary.
And, I can't leave out Perk. I love this kid. He has also taken his game up a notch this season. He is making strides on the offensive end and he is still one of the best post defenders in the league. He is learning how to "intense" on the court from KG and unlike KG, he doesn't have superstar status and whereas KG can get away with a look or a question, the refs are determined to make Perk into an example. I could tell the last couple games he is trying hard to control his emotions on the court without toning down his tough play. And Perk's contributions continue to go way beyond the box scores. His presence and his defense are just so important to this team. I felt bad for him when he missed those two free throws at the end of regulation vs the Pacers. You could just see by the look on his face that he was beating himself up over it. I am glad that Pierce came out of the phone booth and sent the game to regulation and it was great that Perk came back and scored the first two points in OT from the free throw line. And when you think about how young Perk and Rondo still are, there is still plenty of room for growth.
Even though the Wizards are only 3-15, it is a game that is worrisome. The Celtics in the past have had a habit of playing down to their competition. They better not take this team for granted because Butler and Jamison are still dangerous and you know they are going to be gunning for the Celtics and play them tough. After the Wizards it is the Hornets, Jazz and Hawks, all of which will give the Celtics a tough game. You have to know that James Posey will be hyped for this game and do his best to help his new team beat his old team and let the Celtics know they should have given him that 4th year.