First game of a back-to-back without Rajon Rondo? No problem. The Trailer Blazers came into tonight without a victory in the Garden since 2004 and the Celtics made sure it stayed that way, crushing the Blazers 56-33 in the first half and holding on for the easy victory. There was a moment in the second half where it looked like the Blazers might put together a run, but consecutive 3′s by Barbosa and Green iced the game for the Celtics long before the final buzzer sounded. Lets get to the bullet-points (all positive for once!):
- Jeff Green showed up tonight in a big way. He scored a team high 19 points on 6-13 shooting, but had an even better night than the numbers might indicate. Jeff Green threw up two half-court shots and was forced into two awful shots at the buzzer by his teammates. Without those, Jeff Green would have 19 on a very efficient 6-9 shooting. He was active in every facet of the game and finished with three rebounds, two assists, four steals, and a block. He racked up five personal fouls because he was actually active in the paint on the defensive end of the floor (a very good sign going forward). With Green the issue continues to be consistency, but it was nice to see him step up on a night where the team needed it.
- Jason Terry had a very good night as well, scoring 17 points on 11 shots. Any night with a Terry dunk is probably going to be a good one, and he continues to look more and more comfortable in the Celtics offense.
- Courtney Lee filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. He continues to struggle with his outside shot (0-2 tonight) and flub some easy finishes at the rim, but he found away to get it done and on a night where the C’s needed a distributor he did his part.
- Jared Sullinger stepped up on a night where Wilcox was limited and Collins was Collins with nine points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes. He was active on both ends of the floor, playing solid defense and even taking a charge (makes me cringe every time). He even seems to be developing a bit of a rapport with Terry. What can I say? I love Sullinger. He’s just such a smart player, there was a play early on in the game where Sullinger’s defender turned away from him and he immediately cut to the basket and was rewarded with the easy two. It’s little things like that that make him such a great addition to this team.
- On a night where they played without a true point guard the Celtics had 20 assists as a team (the Celtics average 23.6 normally). The ball movement was crisp and clean, especially in the first half before the Celtics started to check out. The Celtics held their own on the boards (out-rebounded by only one), and won the turnover battle. A great team effort all-around.
- Kris Joseph got the call up tonight, but with Jeff Green healthy he didn’t get on the floor until garbage time. He did score his first NBA points though, so congratulations to him. The D-League appears to be paying dividends for Joseph, who looked notably more aggressive and confident than he did during summer league and preseason.
The important take-away from tonight was that the Celtics were able to execute on both ends of the floor without their all-star point guard. The Celtics have been a defensive mess all season, but tonight they held an average offensive team to 34% shooting, and kept their offense chugging along even without Rondo. There’s no rest for the Celtics however, as they’re off to Milwaukee to face the Bucks tomorrow night. Worst-case scenario? The Celtics go 1-1 on a back-to-back without their point guard, hard to complain about that.
Follow Jordan on Twitter: @OffensiveG