By Mike Brilliant and Tom Scott
Great end to the first half. Good to see the team extend the league with Rondo on the bench. Was the celtics demise greatly exagerated?
The Celtics were being counted out by most experts. Going in to tonight’s game, the Bulls were even money to win this series. And what about all that talk of Pierce being too tired, too run down and the victim of over 200 games in the past 20 months?
The key to the first half was Pierce getting off early and the Celtics playing their championship defense. It seemed like Boston was creating turnovers on every other possession, and they got to just about every loose ball.
Rondo turned in another awesome effort and even Marbury created a spark off the bench tonight that we all expected from Day 1.
Tom, what do the Celtics need to do in the second half to continue their success?
Defense and ball movement. The first half defense was great. The bulls shot 33% and they were taking at least 15 seconds a possession in order to get a shot off. Keep the defensive intensity and the hustle to loose balls. On offense, it’s the ball movement. They had about a five minute stretch in the first half when it was Paul Pierce isolation offense from 2005. There’s no need to repeat that again.
Give me your two things that make you confident and two things that still concern you going forward?
I really like how Rondo is running the team. Right from the get-go, it seemed like Rondo was running after every defensive board. Rose has received all of the publicity this series, but Rondo has clearly outplayed him. He has been the MVP of the series so far.
I also loved the way the Celtics came out and played defense. You expect it from Rondo and Perkins, but even Big Baby was moving his feet and blocking shots. The Bulls had over 20 turnovers. Many of those were self inflicted, but the Celtics force many more with their aggressiveness.
It’s tough to criticize a team that wins on the road by 30, but I’m a bit concerned about their big man situation. As noted before, Mikki Moore is a human foul machine and is really the only reserve big man. I know Scalabrine is back…but he hasn’t played in two months.
Big Baby had a great game, he is getting better and better. The man is incredibly light on his feet. He looked good with that finger roll the other day and tonight he had some nifty moves. As an aside, with NFL draft coming up, could big baby have become Antonio Gates? He’s got great feet and is quicker than he looks.
The other plus item was clearly the defense. They came out with much better focus on defense. I think part of it was the “us against the world on the road” metality but the other half was effort. They shut down the lane, challenged most shots and made the Bulls work hard.
On the downside, Pierce and Ray Allen had a combined total of one rebound and zero assists. They did play good D tonight but it would be nice for them to contribute in these other categories. The Celtics’ best games this year involved these two stuffing the stat sheet
Prediction for Game 4?
To beat the same team they just blew out on the road will be a tall task for the Celtics. Chicago will have three days to think about how bad they were, which should prove to be the ultimate motivation. Saying that, if the Celtics play stellar defense and the starters stay out of foul trouble, there’s no reason they shouldn’t have a good chance to win.