Of all the teams in the Atlantic Division, the Raptors have the biggest possibility of giving the Celtics problems. They have Bosh and Bargnani inside and have good outside shooters. They also have a good and quick PG in Calderon. But, they also have 9 new players since last season and a lot can be said for continuity and keeping a team together. Last night, the continuity and chemistry of the Celtics won out over the Raptors who hung with the Celtics in the beginning but were out run in the second half. Their starters hung with the Celtics starters, but there was no contest when it came to benches.
The big story from last night were the alley oops from Rondo to Garnett that were converted in spectacular fashion. As we witnessed KG getting back to his above the rim ways, Celtics nation breathed a collective sigh of relief. He converted not one, but 3 alley oops in this game and is looking more and more like the KG of old. The game was physical and KG even took a hard hit on the side of his face and didn't miss a beat.
Lester Hudson is continuing to make Celtics fans take notice. With every game he is improving and maturing. I think it comes from his maturity and age coming into the league. He's actually older than Perk who has been in the league 6 years already. I like what I have seen from Hudson and something tells me that questions about who is our back up PG are going to be answered the more we see him play. I really like the thought of a second unit of Sheed, Big Baby, Daniels, House and Hudson. Hudson can run a team and is showing that he can hit the shots when he needs to as well.
I'm loving what I see from Perk this season. He has improved on both offense and defense since last season. He is much more mobile this season and has more lift as well. His maturity is also showing in some of the plays he makes. There was one rebound that a couple of years ago, Perk would have grabbed and then pulled down to gather for the put back. But last night, he went up and with a soft touch tipped it back in for the score.
These replacement refs are enough to frustrate even the most even tempered player. They seem to call every little incidental bit of contact and it seems as though they are stopping play about every 30 seconds. There are a whole lot of whistled being blown. Someone needs to let them know that a little bit of contact is ok. The Celtics are a physical team and having the refs this whistle happy is not good for this type of team.
For all those worried about Rondo, you can stop worrying now. He has looked great in the last two games. His jumper is still very inconsistent but he still has that quick first step that allows him to get to the hoop to score. I also believe that has the season goes on, he'll get the jumper going.
I like what I am seeing from JR Giddens. He is very active on the boards and on defense. We are deep on the wings, but I can see him earning some playing time this season if he keeps playing like that. He may see time in the D League just because there are players ahead of him but I can see him earning time before Tony Allen does.
At one point toward the end of the game when the Celtics starters were all on the bench and the bench was finishing up the work on the court, well ahead of the Raptors, the cameras focused on a very intense KG screaming instructions and encouragement to the players on the court. Next to him was a very amused Rajon Rondo just cracking up. It was pretty funny. I have no idea what KG could have been yelling so seriously at his teammates on the floor but obviously Rondo found it amusing.
Now we have to wait until Sunday to see another game when the Celtics travel to Toronto to play the Raptors once again. By that time we should have Sheed back full strength and our bench will be even more dominant over theirs.