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.
Gary Washburn, Boston Globe – “So . . . this is the team we have longed to see. The Celtics who are the aggressors, who don’t blame fatigue and injury, and who relish the tougher parts of their schedule. Consecutive games at Houston and Dallas are a difficult stretch for any NBA team but the Celtics spent the past two nights sending a clear message to the rest of the league. They have a lot of basketball left and there are 13 games before the playoffs to tighten up the weaknesses.”
Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston – “Not only did the Celtics top a Mavericks team that had won nine of its last 10 overall while surging toward the top of the West standings, but they did it on the second night of a back-to-back, mustering the energy and swagger that’s been missing for much of this calendar year. ‘It’s a good win,’ admitted Celtics coach Doc Rivers. ‘Number one, [Dallas is] playing so well. They’ve had [two] days off, had prep time for us, [while] we played last night, and, to come in and come back at the end and take the game away from them was huge for us. Our starters were the key today. They played terrific. Our execution down the stretch the last three or four games has been unbelievable. So, yeah, this was a good win for us. Big win? Yeah, I guess. But it’s just a good win for us.’”
Tim McMahon, ESPNDallas – “The Mavs, who led by seven points early in the fourth quarter, failed to get a field goal in the final 3:04. The Celtics completely shut down Dallas’ go-to plays with the game on the line. The Mavs’ most important possession of the game was a miserable display, with Boston throwing it out of whack by fronting Dirk Nowitzki at the 3-point line, causing a poor pass from Jason Terry that led to a Nowitzki turnover … and a door-slamming layup at the other end by Rajon Rondo. That layup with 1:18 remaining, which stretched the Celtics’ lead to six, was Boston’s eighth bucket in nine possessions. ‘At the end there, we couldn’t hit a shot, nor could we get a stop,’ Jason Kidd said.”
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “‘We’re on the road and it was tough atmosphere and yes it was probably one of our better games,’ Rondo said. ‘We’re getting closer, but we’re nowhere near there. We’re OK, but I wouldn’t be too excited yet. We just have to keep playing like this.’”
Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston – “Celtics coach Doc Rivers has wanted to re-establish Paul Pierce as the team’s go-to scoring option late in recent games. With 10 games scoring in double figures out of 12 appearances this month, Pierce seems to be heating up, particularly after topping 26 points or more over the past three games. Even still, Rivers wants to see him more selfish at times. ‘[Pierce is] starting to get his confidence,’ said Rivers. ‘Right now he’s still searching a little bit. You can see it during the middle of games more. I got on him in a time-out because I thought he was looking to pass too much, which I don’t think I’ve ever had to say that to Paul, and told him to just be aggressive. ‘Just be who you are,’ and he was that. I thought Rondo was sensational as well in the pick-and-roll package down stretch.’”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “Rivers put his second unit on the floor to start the fourth quarter, even though the Mavericks had all the momentum after Jason Kidd hit a 3-pointer to give Dallas a 70-69 lead with 1:13 left in the third. Nowitzki then hit a turnaround fadeaway from 15 feet that put the Mavericks up, 72-71, to end the quarter. ‘I said, OK, if we get down by 6 then I have to sub,’ Rivers said. When his starting five was on the floor, Dallas had no answer. But he didn’t want to burn them out. ‘I told our staff we have to buy minutes for these guys,’ Rivers said. ‘I was literally subbing on the clock. I just kept looking at the clock and even though they [the second unit] were not scoring at all, they weren’t running away from us.’”
A. Sherrod Blakely, CSNNE – “Although he only had eight points on Saturday, he grabbed nine rebounds and tallied five steals. ‘Perk and I were playing defense,’ Garnett said. ‘If we had a chance to score, then score. But other than that, our focus was playing defense and I thought we did a good job collectively.’ Indeed, Boston’s win on Saturday was nothing close to a one-man operation. It serves as an example of what can happen when the C’s play at a high level, which they will surely have to do if they are to have any shot at being one of the last teams standing. ‘One day you have a great game, the next day it changes based on who you play,’ said Celtic guard Ray Allen. ‘We’re always encouraged, even when we lost a couple here and there. Yeah, we were disappointed and trying to figure out what to do, but confidence-wise, we just have to keep looking forward.’”