It took yet another overtime period to get it done, but the Celtics managed to come out on top versus a Bulls team that displayed a bevy of courage this evening.
At the halfway point of 4th quarter the Bulls posted a 7-0 run to gain their first lead of the contest, going up 84-81. The Celtics were able to regain the lead in the late going, behind key back to back jumpers from Garnett and Davis, but again their efforts were thwarted. Luol Deng hit two massive 3′s in response, leaving the game tied 96-96 at the end of regulation.
In overtime, Big Baby scored 5 and Pierce hit two key baskets for 4 points to lead the way. Doc was heard in ESPN’s “Wired Up” segment telling Pierce to “bring it on home”. Out of the timeout Pierce made perhaps the feed of the game, threading a pass in to a cutting Ray Allen for an easy lay up that gave the C’s a decisive 108-103 lead.
Even before the contest began, it seemed as if the past would indicate this being a match-up that would produce some fireworks. Besides the allure of two of the East’s top teams going head to head, there were also a great deal of subplots for us fans to salivate over. For starters, the return of Tom Thibodeau. For the past three years Thibodeau spent his time crafting the Celtics highly feared and venerated defensive front. If there were ever a defensive coordinator position in the NBA, Tom Thibodeau would almost certainly be its poster child.
In addition to Thibodeau’s return, our prodigal red headed stepchild returned home (no I am not using those terms in a pejorative fashion), Brain Scalabrine. In a moment of great levity, Doc Rivers attacked Scal immediately upon his checking into the game, putting Big Baby on the block versus his old teammate. A moment of inspiration ensued, as Scal held his own and reminded everyone in Boston just why we love him so much–his tenacity (as it certainly wasn’t his skill). Also, as always, Rondo got another shot to face-off against one of the league’s premier PG’s in Derrick Rose, a match-up that always seems to galvanize the masses.
The Celtics were able to open up a substantial lead in early going of the 2nd quarter behind an impressive 11-0 run. Marquis Daniels provided a well received spark off of the bench, a position usually reserved for the quarky Glen “Big Baby” Davis. Daniels tallied a quick 11 points, to help the bench assume a lead of that exact margin halfway through the quarter. Eventually Baby picked up his play as well, scoring 8 points in the first half to help make up for a lackluster effort on the part of Pierce and Garnett. The two combined for a disappointing 4-16 from the field after 24 minutes of play, but the Celtics still strolled into the locker room with what felt like a comfortable 11 point edge.
The solid play continued into the 3rd behind newly anointed starter Jermaine O’Neal, who scored 6 straight points, and 8 of 10 over the span of a 5 minute stretch. With both Shaq and Perkins out of the lineup, O’Neal proved his worth finishing with 12 points in the game on 5-6 shooting. As has been the case this season, O’Neal’s minutes were limited (only 19 overall), but that didn’t seem to squash any productivity this time around.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, their inability to close out games plagued them once again. Behind the spectacular play of Deng and Noah, the Bulls showed why they are being considered a serious contender in the Eastern Conference this season. Luckily for Celtic nation, the C’s were able to eek out another victory in the extra five, but not always will they be so fortunate. The Bulls are becoming an experienced squad themselves, as we should never forget the grueling playoff series that these teams participated in just two short years ago. Rose played spectacular ball, per expectations, ending the evening with 18 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds. Noah was the game high scorer, putting up 26 points and 12 rebounds, while Deng also impressed with his 20 points and two crucial threes to tie the ball game.
Ray Allen was the C’s high scorer, putting in 25 of his own, and Rondo rose to the occasion in this pivotal PG match-up, ending the night with 10 points, 11 assists, and 4 steals. For now the Celtics are getting away with lackluster 4th quarter play, but if such play persists it will almost surely result in losses. The C’s will look to put together four complete quarters this Sunday as they hit the road to face the a rising Oklahoma City Thunder squad, led by this summers team USA superstar, Kevin Durant.
If you were fortunate enough to be watching the game on the national telecast, you’ll have heard Mike Breen, Marc Jackson, and Jeff Van Gundy weigh in on the cancer-gate scandal. The fiasco earned itself a solid 5-7 minutes of airtime, where to my expectations Marc Jackson found the situation to be absolutely egregious, and Jeff Van Gundy flat out didn’t care. I’ve always been a believer that Marc Jackson has been sipping on the Tony Dungy Kool-Aid, as he always seems to take the straight and narrow path, judging those who don’t act in a stand up manner. I understand the disclosure of his opinion is part of his job, but in this particular instance it’s also a luxury that I’m afforded. Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, Marc can shove his sanctimonious words. JVG, on the other hand, is the man. I see him as an over-representation of the regular American man. He cares little about the morals of the game, has regular bouts with delirium on air, is years past balding, and also a very very ugly man.
Now don’t misconstrue my opinion on the overall issue here. Personally, I don’t see why cancer-gate warranted such an extended conversation on air. Trash talk in sports is common practice. What’s said on the court should be left on the court. I have no problem believing that KG made those statements (except almost certainly laced with expletives), but I also don’t care. I know Kevin Garnett is certifiably insane, and a great deal of that insanity spills out onto the court. I also take great solace in the fact that he is being backed by all corners of the organization. One thing you can say about this team is that they ALWAYS stick together. I’ll root for a team like that every day of the week. Besides, Kevin Garnett may run his mouth regularly, but I can almost guarantee his bark is infinitely worse than his bite. After all of the jawing he’s done have you ever seen him once get into a real physical altercation? Me either. I’ll just throw my arms up in the air and walk aways from this situation as Kevin would.
After another hard fought contest, the next couple of games will be a real test for the C’s, as they hit the road for 4 straight, including the Thunder, Mavs, Heat, and Grizzlies. Boasting a 5-1 record at the moment, the Celtics should consider themselves lucky to break even at the end of this next week.
About the Author
Written by Michael Johnson
I am a recent graduate of Endicott College having earned my Bachelors Degree in Communications. I bleed green and will until I die. If you'd like to talk sports I'm available on facebook and my email address is Johnson3448@comcast.net. You can also follow me on twitter @johnsoncookie.