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Clash of the Titans

Posted By Warren Shaw On Jan 6 2011 @ 5:10 pm In Boston Celtics | No Comments

Spurs vs. Celtics!

Doesn’t exactly inspire a whole lot of emotion does it? To date the most cruel act amongst the teams occurred in 1997 when the Spurs ping pong balled their way in the Draft Lottery ahead of the Celtics for the rights to draft Tim Duncan. There is no long standing rivalry, no hatred, no chants or taunts, no real history. For what this match-up lacks in raw emotion, it makes up for with historical excellence and potential hall of famers on each team. And oh by the way the teams came into Wednesday night’s tilt with the top two records in their respective conferences, proving their present excellence.

These are not your grandfather’s San Antonio Spurs. While the core players (Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker) and Coach (Gregg Popovich) remain the same, the team plays an almost completely different brand of basketball. Hoisting up 3′s and running up and down the court as if they were a controlled version of the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs came in to the game after a lackluster effort in New York the night before where they lost 128-115 to the Knicks. Cold, irritated, and weary the Spurs looked to give the Celtics the business and right their transgressions from the previous evening.

The TD Banknorth Garden was filled with electricity as always as the savvy Boston fans realized the level of competition Team Green was up against. Luckily the Celtics did what they do best and that is play to the level of competition which was a good thing on this evening. The Celtics held on to beat the Spurs in a playoff intense game 105-103. Ray Allen was hot early, often and throughout as he paced the Celts with 31points on an absurd 13-16 shooting. Coach Poppovich said this about Allen after the game, “Ray needs to work on his shooting a little bit. He only hit 13 out of 16. If it was practice, and you did pindowns, I don’t know if anyone in the league would hit 13-of-16. He does it in game. I think he’s pretty good.” Sarcasm if there was any but in a praising way from Pop.

As good as Allen was, the star of the game was Rajon Rondo. Rondo dominated Tony Parker with video game like statistics. You might want to sit down if you haven’t already seen Rondo’s line: 12pts, 22ast, 10rebs, 6stls, and 1 block. The guy was literally everywhere on the court. Ray Allen helped out with at least 8 of those assist that I can count, nonetheless Rondo was spectacular. What was particularly encouraging for Celtic fans was the fact Rondo took and made key jumpers down the stretch of the game and he shot them with complete confidence. If that 15-18 footer starts to go down consistently opposing defenses will need to seek counseling for all the sleepless nights they are going to have trying to figure out ways to stop him.

As great as the Celtics played, Doc River’s quote after the game speaks volumes about the Spurs. “The fact that we shot 61percent and won by two is scary. That shows they’re a really good team.” said Rivers. The Spurs mounted a furious 4th quarter comeback sparked by Manu Ginobili’s 20 points in the quarter and 24 in the game The Celtics almost blew a 9 point lead with just over a minute remaining marred by spotty officiating and a few typical Nate Robinson blunders. With all the momentum in the Spurs favor after Ray Allen inexplicably missed two free throws, the Spurs called timeout with 7.4 seconds remaining with the score 105-103.

San Antonio smelled blood and if you know anything about them, you could predict they would go for the gusto with a three for the win. Sure enough the Spurs ran a dribble hand off with Antonio McDyess and Manu Ginobili beyond the arc. As Ginobili uncharacteristically dribbled right, Pierce switched off McDyess and helped Marquis Daniels on Ginobili’s drive, luckily so. Daniel’s bit on the Ginobili pump fake and went flying by. Manu leaned into a long two for the tie only to find Pierce’s outstretched right hand for the game saving block. Rondo grabbed the rebound to seal his triple double and the Celtic win. Whew…

This game was pure basketball theater. Fans should circle their calendars for March 31 when the two teams meet again for the sequel in San Antonio. I am sure the Spurs already have.

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