While we continue to experience the elation from yesterday’s tantalizing victory over the Lakers, it is never too early for a look ahead. For the next two weeks the Celtics will have to go through the grinder, taking on 4 of the league’s top 6 teams. Luckily all are in the friendly confines of the Garden, as the Mavs, Magic, Lakers, and Heat all must come to Boston. This stretch will be the 10-11 version of 07-08′s Texas Triangle. All of the pressure is on, and each game will foster it’s own unique playoff type atmosphere.
Of course beating the Lakers still feels the sweetest if you are a true Celtics fan, but how can you argue with beating the “King” for the 3rd time this year or taking the season series vs the Magic? All of these games are important not only for the well being of the C’s record and positioning in the race for homecourt advantage, but also to help create a mental edge. The Heat have clearly come together since we’ve last seen them in November, so a win here would dispel any sentiments of us only beating them because of their “inexperience.” Sweeping the season series against the Lakers would also give us a major edge if we face them in the finals, again. Of course Kobe would feel “forced” to trot out his trite superhero act, fearing his team needs that extra boost to take out the C’s. Anyone can ask Lebron how well a 1 man show works against us. I’d absolutely revel in that depicted scenario.
While the Celtics have made it a habit to play down to their competition this year, that incompetence can be squashed by taking care of business during this stretch of basketball. Yesterday against the Lakers was a perfect start, as Boston made all the necessary adjustments to earn revenge from last year’s finals. They played clamp down D, allowing only 42 points in the 2nd half. Paul Pierce, their big game player, delivered in a timely fashion. The C’s outshot, outrebounded, and out-passed the competition, by the widest of margins. While the Lakers ran their one man show, Boston shared the workload down the stretch, as both Ray and KG hit major jumpers.
The only down point of the contest was an apparent lack of Shaq. Coming in, I was really hoping he would assert his will against his former team and “explode” for a double-double gargantuan type effort. Unfortunately he only played 13 minutes and was plagued by foul trouble for the entirety of the game. Once word got out this summer that Shaq was coming to town, I assumed he would be the force that stopped Pau Gasol and the dominant rebounding effort of the Lakers. Although yesterday Pau Gasol didn’t have a game up to his usual standards, it clearly was not because of the Big Diesel. Hopefully in the coming bouts Shaq will have more of a pronounced presence. Right now, however, the victory looks all the more impressive without his involvement.
The Celtics must keep the focus alive, and not become languid in games against the Kings and Bobcats. Otherwise they will be taken advantage of like in the other 6 games they’ve lost to sub-.500 squads. There is no doubt that this is the biggest stretch of games for this team in over three years. Once again it’s time to show the NBA who’s the boss.
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.