A night after one of the most exciting victories of this young season, the Celtics kept things right on track by defeating the Atlanta Hawks 102-90. With news that star point guard Rajon Rondo would be sidelined 1-2 weeks (from the ankle injury he sustained last night versus the Knicks) Nate Robinson was ready to fill the void. Robinson has started 4 games in place of Rondo this season. In those contests he has averaged 16.5 points per game, 5.5 assists per game, and 2.8 steals per game. Though his offensive efforts weren’t as brazen on this particular evening, he still helped steer the ship towards the Celtics 12th consecutive victory.
It would be hard to argue had the Celtics looked flat-footed tonight. After all, they ran the gauntlet yesterday against a young, energetic Knicks squad. New York completely dictated the pace of the game, as each team took over 80 shots, for a total of 234 points. This is nowhere near a regularity for the Celtics — a team that prides itself on defensive intensity. Luckily, Pierce erased any such concerns by draining the last second jumper which will appear in highlight packages for the rest of the season. Rivalry? They think not. Staying true to the mantra, the Celtics had to continue to take things one game if they wanted to extend this streak past 11 consecutive wins. The task at hand this evening was Atlanta.
Mindful of avenging their 23 point defeat at the hands of the C’s several weeks ago, Atlanta came out determined early. Marvin Williams led scoring with 8 of the Hawks first 12 points. Someone certainly needed to step up, as the Hawks have been without one of their key playmakers as well in Joe Johnson. After undergoing surgery on his elbow, Johnson has missed the entire month of December and doesn’t figure to be back in the picture until mid-January. That news was surely met with a warm welcome from the Celtics staff. Johnson has earned his stripes as a bonafide Celtics killer over the years.
The game produced a good number of short spurts from each club. The Celtics were finally able to put together their first substantial lead midway through the 3rd quarter. The C’s held a slight edge at 57-56, then hit three straight buckets to open up an 8 point lead. First a KG layup, followed by an emphatic dunk by Semih and finally a 3 rattled home by Pierce. Boston looked like they finally might have control of the contest ending the 3rd quarter up by 10. Facing Marvin Williams in the later stages of the game seemed far more innocuous than Joe Johnson.
Boston let go of that lead immediately at the start of the 4th with their starters on the bench. The Hawks two stars of the game Jeff Teague and Marvin Williams put together a quick 6 points, narrowing the C’s lead to 2 with 10 minutes to go. Atlanta, however, relinquished this advantage just as quickly as they attained it. A similar triage as before put the C’s right back on top by a commanding margin. Big Baby hit a jumper, followed by another Pierce 3 and finally a Semih lay-in. The lead was back up to 9 at 84-75, and the C’s had no thoughts about letting it slip again. Overall, Pierce seemed to be the man who would fill Rondo’s shoes tonight with 15 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds. KG added to his stellar season with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Sixth Man of the Year candidate Big Baby had 18 points and 10 rebounds off of the bench and helped the C’s exert a 50-36 point advantage in the paint. Marvin Williams led all scorers with 26 but in the end it was not enough to trump the Celtics who are just steamrolling everything in their path.
The Celtics try to make it 13 in a row as they host the Pacers at home for another Sunday matinée. Indiana is 11-13 on the season and are losers of 6 of their last 8.
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.