It takes two to tango, or in this case, it takes two to contribute to historically bad offense. The Celtics were everywhere, making the same rotations they had missed lately. They defended like pitbulls, like a team (rightfully) pissed off after two straight bad losses, like a team desperately trying to hold onto the East’s number one seed. No shots came easy tonight, for Milwaukee. And the Bucks did not make very many tough ones.
In basically every way, the Celtics dominated. On the glass, Boston led 50-32. Assists? 19-13. The Celtics shot better, made more free throws, blocked more shots, and stole the ball more often. At halftime, the Celtics had scored only 39 points. Still, they led by 17 points. Yes, the Bucks had scored 22 points at halftime, while shooting 22.9%. All those misses left a whole lot of rebounds for the taking. But one Celtic rebounded the most. That would be Nenad Krstic.
Does playing alongside Kevin Garnett immediately make a center more feisty? I ask this question, of course, because Krstic continues to rebound the ball like an oddly-mustached, somewhat-balding version of Kevin Love. Do you want to know how many times Krstic reached double figure rebounds while playing for the Thunder this season? Exactly once. Now, he’s gobbled up 29 rebounds in the past two games, a stat sure to confound Krstic’s former coach, Scott Brooks, when he reads the box score tomorrow morning.
That box score will not prove be kind to the Bucks. At least, they can take solace in collectively beating Jimmer Fredette’s career high. In Fredette’s 52-point explosion against New Mexico on Friday, he shot 22-37 from the field. The Bucks, while scoring 56 points tonight (or, the least points in Bucks franchise history and the least points ever allowed in Celtics franchise history), shot 22-70. That’s a scorching 31.4%. Milwaukee’s leading scorer for the game, Earl Barron, scored ten points. Nobody else scored in double figures. It was as if the Bucks were the Space Jam Monstars, and they stole Adam Morrison’s, ahem, talent.
While the Bucks busied themselves throwing bricks, Jeff Green (again) looked impressive. He only shot 4-10 on his way to 11 points, so he wasn’t perfect. But he makes the game look easy, in ways sixth men can’t normally do. I know Green’s flaws, and I understand them. He’s not a great rebounder (read: he really sucks at rebounding), and he’s not exactly known as a devastating defender. Yet he has a rare ability to make basketball look simple. Talent oozes out of his pores, even when he doesn’t always play with perfect efficiency.
At some point in the first half, Tommy Heinsohn said something like, “Remember the championship season in 2008? The Celtics had a sixth man that year who played great defense.” Mike Gorman interjected something to the affect of, “His name was James Posey, Tommy. You bumbling idiot.” Without missing a beat, Tommy next became the first person in world history to make a Sasha Pavlovic-James Posey comparison. I imagine Posey has never been so deeply insulted.
Speaking of insults, Carlos Arroyo was cut from the Miami Heat. One man’s loss is another’s gain, as Arroyo has run the offense like no other backup point guard in the Big Three era. It’s early, I know. But in Sam Cassell, Eddie House (though I love him), Stephon Marbury and Nate Robinson, Arroyo doesn’t have much competition. He didn’t play perfectly tonight — hell, he missed four of the five shots he took. Still, he’s a true point guard. He runs the offense. He quarterbacks the squad. He pushes the pace in transition, and finds his open teammates.
Arroyo finished with six assists, which, oddly enough, was twice the amount Rajon Rondo passed for. That makes eight assists for Rondo during his last two games combined, and he does seem a step slower than he did at the season’s beginning. He did receive quite a bit of rest today, playing only 23 minutes. All the starters, actually, got some nice time on the pine — nobody in Boston’s starting lineup even played thirty minutes.
Paul Pierce continues to have springs in his sneakers that weren’t there last season. Ray Allen can still shoot. Glen Davis returned, and played well. Troy Murphy balled out, providing hope. And Kevin Garnett still plays both ends of the floor quite well.
Every Celtic finished with a positive plus/minus. Every Buck finished with a negative plus/minus. At one point, Davis and Jon Brockman collided in the paint. “Which is like banging two Coke machines against each other,” said Gorman.
56 points. Wow.