Boston’s first win against Orlando was a statement.
We can beat a winning team.
The second win against Orlando was an exclamation.
Count us out at your own peril.
Their third sraight win against winning teams — and fourth consecutive victory overall — was more business-like. There would be no insanely ecstatic Kevin Garnett interview with Craig Sager tonight. Doc Rivers would not jump around the sidelines and Brandon Bass would not shove Paul Pierce with joy. Not after Boston’s 94-87 victory against the Indiana Pacers. In the absence of three starters, Boston’s fourth straight win came tonight on the second night of a back-to-back, and it’s a story that’s starting to seem habitual:
The Celtics are rounding into shape. They are forging an identity as a defense-first squad. Paul Pierce can still reach Greg Jennings status (put a team on his back). And contributions are beginning to come from all angles, including Chris Wilcox, E’Twaun Moore and Avery Bradley.
Tonight, the Celtics experienced offensive droughts. Garnett couldn’t find his sea legs for the first half. Pierce shot 3-11 before intermission. Bass missed a few jumpers. The offense, led by Bradley and Moore rather than Rajon Rondo, sometimes looked awkward. Not when Pierce took over in the third quarter, but still.
Yet Boston’s energy level remained high. The Celtics forced Indiana into 30 percent shooting for the first half and 35 percent for the game. Mickael Pietrus brings a level of spunk, Wilcox played like someone lit a match in his jock strap, the young guards play as if they guzzle twelve Red Bulls apiece before each game, and Pierce and Garnett are back to providing their usual hustle plays.
The Celtics are playing like the Celtics, and it’s starting to seem like the Celtics might take off their coats, grab themselves a snack and make themselves comfortable.