Things got chippy. Very chippy. Glen Davis was body-slammed by Kurt Thomas, then gave him a shoulder-check of his own. Paul Pierce scuffled with Jerry Stackhouse, as the two tangled up on the floor. Scott Skiles was tossed for berating the men in stripes. Think these two teams know they’ll probably play each other in the playoffs’ first round?
Before it was chippy, it was ugly — Andris Biedrin’s free throw form ugly. 23.8% shooting in the first quarter for Boston, 33.3% for Milwaukee. Only 33 combined points, as Boston trailed 18-15. Commissioner David Stern thought about taking the potential Bucks-Celtics series off television. Nobody wants to see a brick-fest like that.
But the Celtics overcame the slow start to post a 105-90 victory, and the game would be salvaged. Play picked up. Aggression was everywhere. Physicality was the word of the night. Stern, wherever he was, probably even cracked a smile as the technicals piled up and Boston’s score ran into triple digits. Maybe these two teams can generate excitement after all. The Bucks tried to ugly the game, but the Celtics got to the hoop. Paul Pierce began hitting midrange jumpers, and never stopped. Rajon Rondo started creating plays. Defense led to offense, and offense stopped being offensive. A balanced effort brought the Celtics back from the brink of another unspeakable loss. As the play got more physical, the Celtics got stronger. Somebody forgot to tell Milwaukee not to wake the sleepwalking former champs.
Before the Celtics arose from their deep slumber, Rasheed Wallace – of all people – kept the Celtics in the game. 10 first-half points, a couple nice passes, and even a couple offensive rebounds. It wasn’t his fault, though, that he played so well: Playing on the same court as Kurt Thomas and Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed felt young for the first time in years. Felt spry, even.
After watching the Celtics shit the bed against New York and Washington recently, I had been hesitant for the C’s to enter the playoffs. Can they still play ugly? Do they still know what it means to try? Would they ever get a stop again?
If Boston’s performance in Milwaukee tonight was any indication, they still possess the ability to dial it up, reach deep down inside, and stand toe-to-toe against the toughest teams in the league. Beating a Bogut-less Bucks squad didn’t guarantee postseason success, and it didn’t mean Boston has permanently snapped out of its funk.
But it sure as hell did get you fired up for the playoffs, didn’t it?
- Pierce led the Celtics with 24 points, on 10-17 shooting.
- Ray Allen had an incredibly efficient 21 points, on only seven shots. He was aided by 11-11 shooting from the line.
- Rondo undressed the Milwaukee Bucks with two separate ball fakes. One had John Salmons turning almost an utter 360. Rondo finished with 15 points and 10 assists.
- Glen Davis had 11 points and 7 boards off the bench.
- Rasheed finished with 12 points and 7 boards.
- Kevin Garnett did not play. Doc Rivers said he wanted to give KG rest after seeing KG’s poor performance against Washington.