The Celtics don’t blow bad teams away.
We know this by now. It has been the case since 2008 when the Hawks inexplicably took the Celtics to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. For whatever reason, whether it be motivation or something else, Boston just doesn’t blow out very many teams. Instead, they grind things out, lose a few games that they shouldn’t lose, and continue on their way.
For the most part, as long as they win, this tendency doesn’t really matter. Tonight, for example, just two of the active players got less than 10 minutes, Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins. Rajon Rondo played the most of any starter with 37. Pierce and Garnett both finished with 32. So it’s not like the starters are being forced to play a ton of minutes that they wouldn’t have to play in a blowout. It’s just a little annoying for the rest of us watching at home.
So. Six in a row. The sixth may have been a bit underwhelming, but that’s fine. The Celtics are three games over .500 and inching forward in the standings. Underwhelming or not, that’s probably good enough for tonight.
Let’s get to a few bullet points:
- After scoring four points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing out four assists in the first four minutes of the game, Rajon Rondo‘s 26th career triple double seemed somewhat like an inevitability. Sure enough, he finished with 17 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, and while his last couple baskets and assists may have been padding his numbers a bit, the rest of his triple double came very much within the flow of the game. Also of note: Bobcats’ guard Kemba Walker managed just 4-16 shooting against Boston’s backcourt.
- Boston won the rebounding battle once again, beating the Bobcats 42-34. Jared Sullinger managed just five boards tonight, but it feels so much more comfortable having him out there when a shooter fires up a jumper.
- Avery Bradley had a strong night offensively. His corner 3-pointers became a staple last season, and although it has taken him a little while to get back in the swing of things, Bradley knocked down four tonight, scoring 16 points on 6-10 shooting overall.
- I don’t mind Paul Pierce shooting 3-pointers and trying to get himself in rhythm. I DO mind him doing it instead of attacking the basket. It should be noted, however, that Pierce took so many 3-pointers because he was being doubled whenever he got the ball in the post. This concern for Pierce’s post game created mismatches elsewhere, but it didn’t lead to a very efficient 19 points for the Truth.
- I mentioned this on Twitter, but I’m not above repeating myself: I watched the Knicks game and finished with a fire burning in my stomach. I was angry, happy, ready for more basketball. This was 99% the opposite. The other 1% is reserved for the win.
- Kevin Garnett was bad tonight. He shot just 2-11 and missed a bunch of shots that he usually hits. He did finish with 10 rebounds however, and he’s been very consistent for so much of the year, so we’ll give him a pass. Plus he had the best unintentional comedy moment of the game, barking “GET THAT S*** OUT OF HERE” directly under the hoop microphone as he swatted away a layup attempt by Kemba Walker.
- Courtney Lee has been improving significantly. He was 4-7 tonight for nine points, and he created a couple of nice shots for himself. Jason Terry, on the other hand, has not been improving significantly. His jumpshot remains “missing” on a milk carton. Tonight his turnovers (1) outnumbered his field goals (0). No bueno.
- One nice moment in the first half: After scoring a breakaway layup and getting fouled, Rondo reached out for a high-five from an army veteran sitting underneath the hoop.
More tomorrow. For tonight, enjoy a win. Not a nice one, per se, but certainly a sufficient one.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.