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.
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe – The Celtics cannot possibly be as good as they were two years ago. How could they be? The key players weren’t exactly athletically young then, and they’re all two years older now. Factoring Wallace into the mix, four of their first six players are 32 or older, and the seventh guy, Eddie House, is 31. Fortunately, they have a powerful young (and ever-improving) big man in Kendrick Perkins and a dynamic young point guard in Rajon Rondo, but they ultimately depend on older players to be as good as players their age can be, and that places a tremendous responsibility on the coach to manage team affairs as efficiently and intelligently as possible.
Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston – “I like taking shots, it’s just when you play with guys that are great at what they do, it’s my job to distribute the ball,” said Rondo. “I’m a pass-first guard. Probably pass second and shoot third. That’s how I play. I’d rather get an assist than score with the ball. I shoot when I have to or I feel the need to. Other than that, I’m fine with getting Ray [Allen] the ball, Paul Pierce, or Eddie House. I’ve got great shooters.” But as Rondo has shown at numerous times this season, he’s capable of taking a game over offensively, and not just by distributing the ball. Take Tuesday, for example. Not only did Rondo score all of his points in the pivotal fourth quarter (the game was tied at 71 after three), but he also registered three assists, which means he was directly involved in 19 of the Celtics’ 27 points in that period. While much of the pregame chatter was about Milwaukee rookie Brandon Jennings (17 points on 7-of-19 shooting) and his prolific offensive numbers, Rondo stole the show.
A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – After being scoreless through three quarters, Rondo seemed to channel his inner Paul Pierce in the fourth, looking to not just penetrate the lane but also finish around the basket. There appeared to be little Jennings could do, even though the rookie has already proven to have the speed to hold his own with most NBA playmakers. But there’s speed, and then there’s Rondo’s jet-booster-pack-in-the-sole-of-his-sneakers speed. He was blowing past Jennings off the dribble and into the lane all night, but frequently passed on potential lay-ups to instead kick it out to a teammate for an easy jumper or possible lay-up. That all changed in the fourth quarter. That’s when Rondo became a scorer, not only from the field but also from the free throw line.
Zach Lowe, Celtics Hub – Within two minutes of entering the game for the first time, TA bullied Carlos Delfino under the rim, received the ball, fooled Delfino with a shot fake and drew a shooting foul. And in that moment, I was thinking: “Yes! This is exactly what the C’s need from TA. The team doesn’t draw a lot of fouls, and that’s one thing he’s good at and oh my freaking god he’s about to convert this into an And-1!” And then he missed a relatively clean lay-up. Didn’t even graze the rim. Then he missed both free throws. Throw in a classic TA charging foul on an out-of-control fast break drive, and I officially ran through a season’s worth of the Seven Stages of TA in six minutes of playing time.
Frank Madden, BrewHoop – Unfortunately, in crunch time the Celtics simply played like the Celtics. And the Bucks, well, they played like you’d expect the Bucks to play on the road against the league’s best defense. After Delfino found Ilyasova surprisingly open for a layup to tie it at 86, Rondo (40% ft shooting coming in) hit a pair of freebies and stuck a mid-range jumper shortly thereafter. It was the capper on a big quarter for Rondo, who scored all 11 of his points in the decisive period, including 5/7 from the stripe. Bogut then turned it over on consecutive possessions, and Garnett dumped a righty hook over Ilyasova to extend the Boston to lead to 93-86. Ballgame.
Jeremy, Bucksketball – Yes, playing hard is great and coming close against the Celtics is fun, but ultimately losing sucks. While this game wasn’t nearly as frustrating as the Cleveland Blowout last Sunday, it wasn’t very satisfying to see the Bucks put it together when they needed it most. If they got a stop, they couldn’t get a bucket. If they got a bucket, they couldn’t get a stop. Ultimately they blew it over a two and a half minute stretch in the fourth. The most difficult thing to swallow about this stretch is the Bucks inability to even get a shot up. Two turnovers by Andrew Bogut and one from Brandon Jennings. That’s the just the strength of the Celtic defense.
Chris Forsberg (again), ESPNBoston – Celtics forward Kevin Garnett put together another brilliant game Tuesday night, scoring a team-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting with nine rebounds as Boston topped the Bucks, 98-89, at TD Garden. And while Garnett, who shot 90.9 percent while connecting on 10 of 11 shots in a win over Oklahoma City on Friday, admitted he’s shooting the ball particularly well right now, he’s hardly conscious of it. “Really I’m not even paying attention to my shot,” said Garnett. “I just know it feels good. I feel great, I feel a lot more explosive. Everything I’m doing in the course of the offense is nothing sparkly, it’s nothing shiny, it’s nothing glossy. I’m just going out there trying to get chances to score, opportunities to be effective. I’m trying to take advantage of them. Other than that, my mindset is more defensive than offensive right now. I’m not even thinking about the offensive end, to be honest with you.
Tom Halzack, CelticsBlog – The 4th Quarter was the Difference. After losing Jennings on a screen on the left side, Rajon drove and scored his first basket of the game with a little jump shot on a beautiful spin move in the paint. That made the score 75-73. The next time down the floor, the Celtics moved the ball around with Scalabrine passing up a three and driving and kicking out to Sheed for a three that energized the house. Score 78-73. Jennings drives to make it 78-75, but Pierce kicks it out to Rasheed for another three to make it 81-75. The Bucks come back to tie it at 86 all on an Ilyasova lay-up, before Charlie Bell fouls Rondo on what Doc Rivers called Hack-a-Rondo.