Earlier in the year a game between these two teams would have been deemed a potential Finals preview. Although the same boast can be made in theory, the sentiment behind it seems more cosmetic. The Spurs entered the evening on a season worst 4 game losing streak. While their green counterparts are a shell of the team they were a month ago. Injuries, trades, and chemistry are the culprits behind the slides of these two titan franchises. The difference is San Antonio still holds the number 1 seed in their conference despite their struggles while Boston is clinging to the number 2 seed with Miami only percentage points behind. It was a game of runs and returns but in the end it was the Boston Celtics who showed a familiar form to win 107-97.
The Spurs looked refreshed early with the returns of Tony Parker,Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan to their lineup . The first half saw Parker routinely race by Rajon Rondo getting in the lane and causing havoc for the struggling Celtics defense. Boston gave up multiple offensive rebounds allowing for 2nd chance points and it looked as if the Spurs were about to right their sinking ship. Nonetheless, the Celtics only trailed 33-31 at the end of the first period. San Antonio kept the pressure on Boston but there was something different about the Celtics this evening. For the first time in a long time they seemed interested and as well as the Spurs played they could only manage a 49-49 tie at the end of the first half.
The 3rd quarter opened with the Rajon Rondo show (cue music). Rondo was everywhere. Grabbing rebounds, assisting, driving, and hitting mid-range jumpers. The jumpers were in a word… surprising and the Spurs had no answer. Rondo finished with 22pts, 14ast, 5rebs, and 11-20 from the field. He was masterful! His attacking of the Spurs defense was reminiscent of a happier Celtic time and thanks to his inspired play the Celtics closed the third quarter out with a 14-3 run to lead 77-70. It was a lead they would not relinquish.
The 4th quarter had a few tense moments and perplexing coaching decisions. The Celtic offense was crisp with movement. Layups were made and jumpers reigned in. On the flip side as the Spurs attempted to make their comeback they went to Duncan. The Big Fundamental abused Glen Davis on post moves begging to question why KG was not guarding Duncan. If Davis is out there for offense then put him on Bonner or McDyess on the defensive end. Take your chances with Bonner or McDyess attempting to dribble by Davis instead of letting him get lambasted in the post by a hall of famer. C’mon Rivers! Finally Rivers woke up and switched KG onto Duncan in the final 3 minutes and the Celtics cruised to victory in the waning moments.
Garnett had 20pts and 9rebs and was rock solid in the final period. Pierce played a well rounded game finishing with 21pts, 11rebs, and 7ast. Jermaine O’neal made his return for the C’s after missing 56 games this season. His play, although rusty, was a welcome addition to the paper thin front line of Boston. Unfortunately one big comes back and another one goes down. Nenad Kristic injured his knee in the 2nd period and did not return. Rivers said “It doesn’t look good” in regards to Kristic’s injury. Boston might as well get used to the fact that it will not have its full compliment of players at any point this season. That bad news aside it was a huge win. At this point the Celtics would have taken a win against a high school JV team but beating the Spurs with their full compliment of players on the road has to help the psyche. Are the Celtics back? It is probably to early to tell, but they were at least for one night. The Atlanta Hawks are next on Friday night.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com