It’s official: The Celtics will play the Miami Heat in the first round of the NBA playoffs. It took the Heat 58 minutes of tanking to somehow still defeat the New Jersey Nets, and thus earn the right to play Boston in the first round.
As for tonight’s Celtics game, ehhh.
Rajon Rondo was determined to bounce back from the brass-knuckles beatdown he took from Derrick Rose last night, and from the outset was a different player than the one we saw in Chicago yesterday. He scored on the break, in the post and from the line, driving and dime-ing his way to 21 points and 15 assists.
Unfortunately, he was playing one-on-five. While Marquis Daniels (13 points), Shelden Williams (12 points) and Nate Robinson (12 points) joined Rondo in double figures, Rondo was the lone starter to play as Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins sat this one out. Short four starters (and Tony Allen), the C’s were relegated to a bench mob for the entire game. It was nice to see Daniels score in double figures for the first time since March 17, and Williams and Robinson took advantage of their opportunities too.
But the story of the night, in a night mostly devoid of storylines, was Oliver Lafayette. Playing in his first NBA game, the D-League call-up notched 7 points, 4 boards, and 2 assists, looking like he belonged in the NBA. His first move was a driving spin in traffic, which he completed with a smooth underhanded dish to a wide open Shelden Williams for an easy bucket. Really, Lafayette should have had at least a few more assists if his teammates hadn’t been dime-slayers, missing open jumpers on a few nice kickouts. He seems to possess a solid outside shot, nice handle, and decent quickness. Could be a keeper for the future as a backup to Rondo.
- Brian Scalabrine made his first action since March 28, finishing with 5 points and 2 rebounds. Clearly, he also drew a nice ovation from the crowd. Still, I’m not sure watching Scal and Oliver Lafayette was what fans had in mind on Fan Appreciation Night.
- Tony Gaffney was inactive, because he is still awaiting league clearanceafter playing in Israel. Gaffney is also rehabbing from a broken foot he suffered while in Israel.