A visibly peeved Celtics squad looked like they had quite the score to settle this evening. The C’s posted their best performance of the season so far, storming out of gate on the road vs. the Hawks. Opening up with authoritative 24-6 run to start the contest, the Celtics held an already insurmountable 39-13 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.
Embattled by two disappointing losses in a row, the Celtics looked completely deflated in match-ups against the lowly Toronto Raptors and Kevin Durant-less OKC Thunder.Without their star point guard Rajon Rondo for the 2nd straight game (pulled hamstring), the Celtics once again turned to offensive sparkplug Nate Robinson to run the offense. Against the Raptors Nate led the team in scoring with 22 points, but clearly lacked the intangibles that Rondo provides on a nightly basis. It would be easy for the Celtics to start making excuses under such circumstances, but they acknowledged that they have no one to blame but themselves. Pierce remarked before the game that their commitment to the defensive end had been wavering as of late, and called the Celtics perhaps the worst 2nd quarter team in all of basketball.
Well on this particular evening, none of the aforementioned negatives seemed to matter at all. Despite their struggles in the last couple of games, tonight the Celtics had a thirst for vengeance for another reason altogether. Last season the Hawks pulled off an improbable sweep of the season series against the C’s — 4-0. The Hawks, ecstatic about this accomplishment, used it as the headline banner for their website, claiming “Now Boston Knows!”
The Celtics and Hawks have crafted quite the rivalry over the past couple of seasons, mostly stemming from the Celtics continual struggle against the team from the dirty dirty. The athleticism of the Hawks has given the Celtics fits, while they’ve mostly been able to breeze through the rest of the NBA (except for teams with Baron Davis) with relative ease. Tonight, the only team that looked to possess any athleticism was the Celtics. The Celtics fed Shaq in the post early, as he dominated the paint to the tune of 6 points and 5 rebounds in less than the first 6 minutes of play. The Celtics led by 26 after 12 minutes, and turned to their next task of playing through their much maligned 2nd quarter of play. Although the C’s were outscored by 4 in the quarter, they still maintained their stranglehold over the Hawks, heading to the locker room up by a margin of 22.
The smooth sailing continued for the rest of the contest, as Nate Robinson, was able to pull off his best Rajon Rondo impression with 16 points and 10 assists at night’s end. Though the feeding was easy, as the Celtics were making nearly every shot they took, that shouldn’t detract from Nate’s dominant performance tonight. He has proven more than serviceable in Rondo’s brief absence. The dominance really extended to all of the C’s that played meaningful minutes, as KG stuffed the box score with totals of 17 pts, 9 rbs, and 5 assists. Paul and Ray also played quite efficiently, posting a combined 22 points on 10-17 shooting. Shaq, however, was the man of the night in my eyes. Anyone who doubted the move to sign the Big Diesel has surely been silenced by this point. Shaq ended the night with 13 points and 11 rebounds (1 of 3 C’s with a double-double) and absolutely dominated the paint. This is essentially the story of his career, however, so there is nothing new there. All of the starters played less than 30 minutes, and were able to rest for the entirety of the 4th quarter.
With the ignominious defeat, the Hawks have slipped to 3-5 at home this season, and are losers of 5 of their last 6 in the dirty dirty. Crawford shot his usual inordinate number of shots, connecting on only 3 of the 14 that he hoisted up. Thankfully the Celtics were able to face a Hawks squad in disarray this evening, otherwise everything being said about the Hawks might be reverted right back to the C’s themselves.
If you’ll mind my hubris for a moment– I believe that I am just the charm the Celtics needed. While I missed the last two games due to prior engagements, I had a feeling that the C’s were going to have a dominant performance this evening. Mainly because I was watching–and planning to write on– this evenings contest. It seems as if I am the fuel to their collective fire, as I’ve yet to actually witness the Celtics lose a game this season. With the free time I possess, I watch about 2 out of every 3 games they play, so I’m definitely going to need to step my fandom up a bit if we want this team to actually have a chance of going anywhere.
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.