Honorable Mention: Boston Celtics (29-22) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (25-28)
Date: March 30, 2012
Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Final Score: 100-79
Key Players: Kevin Garnett (24 points, 10 rebounds), Paul Pierce (21 points, 9 rebounds)
Top Plays: 1:01 (Rondo alley-oop to Garnett), 1:27 (Brandon Bass, drive and vicious slam)
Rundown: The C’s, who had been rolling since the All-Star break, took down the Timberwolves easily. The Wolves were without rookie phenom Ricky Rubio and forward Michael Beasley, although many within the Timberwolves organization may have considered the latter a plus. Garnett dominated Kevin Love in Garnett’s old stomping grounds, momentarily putting to rest the idea that anybody besides himself could be the best power forward in Minnesota’s franchise history. In an encouraging development, Boston dominated both the first and fourth quarters, putting together a strong start and a strong finish.
What it meant: Not a lot. Boston proved that they could put away teams that needed to be put away, as the Wolves were struggling mightily by this point. They continued to show offensive versatility, and Avery Bradley continued to shine on both ends, scoring 17 points. Other than that, this game meant very little in the grand scheme.
But this is my list, and, as an Iowa resident, this was a chance to see the Celtics against the team closest to where I live. So…shut up. It was a big win, guys.
#10. Boston Celtics (7-9) vs. Orlando Magic (11-5)
Date: January 23, 2012
Location: TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA
Final Score: 87-56
Key Players: Paul Pierce (19 points, 7 rebounds), Brandon Bass (19 points, 8-14 shooting)
Top Plays: 1:17 (Jermaine O’Neal tries to fight Dwight Howard; many lawlz were had), 1:27 (Bass harrasses Orlando, causes turnover, puts Glen Davis on a poster)
Rundown: The Celtics demolished Orlando, holding the Magic to 56 points, a franchise record low. Brandon Bass continued to impress off the bench, and he seemed to have a little more motivation against the team that dealt him for Glen Davis. Early in the game Orlando kept pace, but the Magic managed just 20 points in the second half, ten in both the 3rd and 4th quarters. The Celtics held every Orlando player not named Dwight Howard to seven points or fewer, and the Magic as a team shot just .277 in eFG%.
What it meant: The Celtics were struggling out of the gate. After losing their first three games, including an embarrassing loss to the Hornets, Boston had inched over .500 with four consecutive wins over the Pistons, the Wizards (twice), and New Jersey. But as the schedule hit another rough patch, the C’s lost five consecutive games again, dropping home games against Indiana, Dallas, Chicago, and OKC, and an away game against the Pacers. The only wins the Celtics had managed before Orlando came to TD Banknorth were against teams that would later find themselves entrenched deeply in the lottery.
Then the Magic arrived and delivered a hefty dose of Prozac to fans who were giving up hope on the Big Three era. Boston reminded everyone, perhaps themselves included, that with tough, stingy defense, you don’t need to score as many points to win. This would be a common theme for the rest of the year: the Celtics were 2nd in the NBA in defense, and 25th in offense.
Though Boston’s season didn’t turn around until after the All-Star break, this game was a foretaste of the feast to come. The main course was a defensive juggernaut that propelled the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals. But more on that later. For now (“now”being Jan. 23), the Celtics were reassured that despite the slow start, they were still a proud defensive team that was able to dismantle one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, holding a pillow over the face of Orlando’s offense until any signs of life had been stifled.
Follow Tom on Twitter @Tom_NBA.
- Glen Davis suspended by Orlando Magic for two games
- Celtics plan to trade Glen Davis, perhaps acquiring Brandon Bass
- Ray Allen exercises contract option for 2011-2012 season
- 33 things I know about the Boston Celtics after three games
- NBA GM survey 2012: Bass most underrated acquisition, Ray Allen purest shooter, Rondo among toughest