The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – Any win over the Spurs at home is a sign of a team with rare focus. The Celtics,now 8-1 on the road after last night’s 90-83 win over the Spurs, are one of those teams. They are 3-0 on their current trip, heading into tonight’s game in Oklahoma City. “We’ve been a good road team over the last couple of years,” Paul Pierce said. “We know what it takes when you get on the road, and the concentration you have to have. San Antonio’s a very good home team, but I think we’re really starting to get into our groove right now.”
Pounding the Rock – As inconsequential as RJ was, Blair was essential. Every one of his best qualities was on full display tonight: his soft hands, his relentless approach to rebounding, even his beyond-his-years post moves. His impressive outing is even more meaningful when you consider what kind of start he had to overcome: in his first minutes on court he tried to grab a defensive rebound with only one hand and scored a beautiful layup on the Celtics’ hoop. It was that kind of night for the Spurs, but Blair didn’t let it get him down for long. Blair moves without thought: when he’s on, everything’s automatic for him.\
Me, Celtics Town – Last night, you saw that selflessness in action, from all angles. You saw Tim Duncan working throughout entire positions in an attempt to seal his defender and get an angle for an easy lay-in. You saw Kevin Garnett foregoing ten-foot jumpers to throw bullet passes to Kendrick Perkins under the basket. You saw DeJuan Blair, 6’7″ in high heels, a man with no ACL’s, registering 18 points and 11 rebounds almost strictly by his non-stop activity and undeniable motor. (Not to mention his great hands.) You saw Rasheed Wallace, old and out of shape, hustling his rear end off to make a defensive rotation and contest shots that otherwise would have been open. You saw Matt Bonner — slow, outmatched and, well, slow — scratch and claw his way to nine rebounds, even though every other player on the court had considerably more athletic ability. You saw Paul Pierce, struggling to a 2 for 9 shooting performance, shake off his frustration and take it out while defending Richard Jefferson and Manu Ginobili, whom Pierce helped harass to combined 7 for 25 shooting. You saw pure heart, determination, and team play from everywhere.
Boston Globe – After Brian Scalabrine missed a 3-pointer in the first quarter, Blair bounced up for the rebound — then promptly shot the ball into his own basket. “That sums it up right there,” Spurs guard George Hill said. “Things weren’t going our way tonight.” Asked in the locker room about the bucket he scored for Boston, Blair went silent for several seconds. Then he broke into a smile and said, “I tried to grab it with one hand but I should have grabbed it with two. That’s never happened to me before.”
After Blair’s tip-in at the 2:47 mark, Rondo drained a 19-footer with two minutes to play that pushed Boston’s lead back to six points.
“When he steps into his shot, he’s a good shooter,” Rivers said. “When he thinks about his shot, he’s not and I don’t think anyone is for that matter. There was no thinking about passing in that shot.”
Defensively, Rondo blocked a shot attempt by Tony Parker with less than 30 seconds to play, and then had the presence of mind to knock the ball off Parker before it went out-of bounds.
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – Not many nights have passed Doc Rivers’ 48-minute test, and even last night the vote was contested. “We still haven’t played for 48 minutes,” Kendrick Perkins said. “They had 20 offensive rebounds tonight, and that’s not right. This wasn’t one of our best games, but we did a lot of good things during this game.” Or maybe, like two years ago, they are destined to win ugly and ignore the aesthetics meter.