|Posted by paul on February 29, 2012 at 9:55 PM|
Rondo seems to have decided that the best way he can react to the barrage of trade rumors hitting him every day now is to play some crazy good basketball. He turned in a triple double tonight, and it wasn't a cheapie. For much of the first half, he had to carry the team on his back. Even so the Celtics were four points down at halftime, and after a shambolic start to the second half, it looked like we just might be on our way to another humiliating loss. But Rondo connected with Pierce for a score, and that seemed to open the floodgates. I saw that as symbolic, of course. The Celtics defense also clamped down on Milwaukee, holding them to 13 points in the third quarter, and the Celtics offense came alive. We didn't have a lot of assists in the first half, but we ended up with 26 for the game, which isn't bad.
Incredibly, WE OUTREBOUNDED MILWAUKEE tonight! My goodness, when was the last time we did that to a team? We even had more offensive rebounds! That may be the first time this season! Probably not, but it feels like it must have been the first time. Milwaukee's Bigs absolutely hammered us in the paint, in terms of scoring. Center Gooden had 23 points and PF Ilyasova had 25, but Wilcox, Rondo, Garnett, Bass and Pierce all hit the boards with determination tonight. Also, we had 14 turnovers to their 12, which is good for us. And we attacked the basket. We had 28 FT to their 16 FT.
We came out of the gate hard in the first half, then we seemed to lose energy. At that point, Rondo carried us through to the half. Then, in the second half, we came out and played like a team. We almost gave the game up at the end, surrendering steals and threes (Rondo had possibly the worst ten seconds of his career, surrendering two threes to Jennings and a steal) and for about a minute and a half, the Bucks ruled the boards on us like other teams have been doing. What this demonstrates to me is that we are, as I have been saying, an ENERGY team. What makes that so tough is that, if you slacken, the other team can take off on you. The Bucks did that and ALMOST stole the game tonight. Garnett made big plays down the stretch, again, to seal the W.
Garnett. He's been having a streak of games like the one Pierce had earlier in the season. 25 points tonight, ten rebounds and three assists. He was huge for us. He plays with both the first and second units, and I think that makes him a unifying influence. He syncs well with both Rondo and Bradley too.
Speaking of Pierce, he gutted out a nice game tonight, despite seemingly still being in a funk. The start to the second half was very weird for Pierce. The Celtics apparently decided to give Pierce ten straight shots, or so, to shoot himself out of his slump. He missed almost all of them. If our defense hadn't been ferocious right then, we would have lost the game right there. But having the ball in his hands, and having a chance to work out the kinks on the court did seem to energize Pierce, and he seemed to play better afterwards, handing out assists, and making a few shots. One has to point out, however, what a double standard there is on the Celtics, regarding Pierce. I mean, this team REALLY coddles Pierce. It was obvious that they pretty much just said to him, 'go ahead and shoot yourself out of your funk, Paul'. I'm fine with that, really. It's just the double standard that is bothersome. If Rondo ever got that kind of coddling, people would be absolutely screaming about it. Anyway, I thought Pierce had a nice game. He continued to struggle with his shot, but he did other things.
Speaking of Rondo, what a game. I know it's just one game, but I do feel a little vindicated tonight. Many of us have been chanting that the Celtics have to attack the basket. They did tonight, and that led to good things. Unfortunately, the officials clearly are planning to get revenge on Rondo for a while now, it seems. Almost no fouls were called for him, despite his MULTIPLE sorties into the paint. I have to ask, WILL THE CELTICS COMPLAIN TO THE LEAGUE ABOUT THIS? Or are they just going to allow Rondo to be mistreated by the officials?
Crap, I already know the answer to that question.
I've also said that Rondo needed to attack the basket early, in order to set up the rest of your game. A team really must establish its key scorer, and Rondo IS our key scorer. That's how it worked tonight. In the first half, it was mostly points for Rondo. In the second half, it was mostly rebounds and assists.
Also, Doc gave Rondo more rest and he seemed to respond by playing with more energy. He also held Jennings to 6 points (would have been 0 without the last minute three pointers) though jennings did have 8 assists. What a nice way to assert your self in the face of the rumors, Rondo! Please keep it up, man!
And how nice it was to see the team come together in the third quarter. That spirit will turn this season around, if we can hold onto it.