The Boston Celtics hit the snooze button throughout the first half, but woke up sometime in the middle of the third quarter and won a physical, intense contest over the visiting Indiana Pacers, 103-94.
In my preview of the game, I wrote about why I was nervous for tonight’s game, and that was before I knew Kevin Garnett was sitting out with a knee injury. Well, in the first half, Kevin Garnett’s enthusiasm and energy was sorely lacking as the Celtics- except for Rajon Rondo, who was everywhere, tipping balls and leading the charge- again came out flat at home.
In the second half, Boston brought the Thibadeau defense, energized by 5 steals from Paul Pierce and 6 from Rajon Rondo. Offensively, Ray Allen had a big game, attacking the basket aggressively on his way to 23 points and 7 rebounds.
Pierce shot horribly for most of the game, missing his first 9 shots, but made key plays late in the 4th quarter to secure the win. Pierce finished the game with 21 points, 12 of them in the pivotal 4th quarter.
Shockingly, NBA-journeyman Earl Watson led the Pacers to a 15-point half time lead with 17 first half points. Without Danny Granger, however, Indiana lacked a go-to-guy and couldn’t make the important baskets down the stretch.
Once again the Boston Celtics had trouble defending the hybrid power-forward who can space the floor; in this case, Troy Murphy, who finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds.
The Celtics finished their home stand, moving their record to 22-5, best in the Eastern Conference. Kendrick Perkins added 19 points and 8 rebounds, and provided impressive interior defense in the second half, along with Rasheed Wallace.
A delicious Christmas day showdown with the Orlando Magic, complete with holiday food and drink. I’m salivating already. Not sure if it’s the thought of revenge against the Magic or the thought of dill dip, kielbasa, and a pint of cold beer. Either way, I’m excited like a kid on Christmas Eve.