The Boston Celtics showed real signs of life with their 4th straight win and are 9-3 over their last 12 games.
It might be too soon to call it a resurrection, but Easter is only two weeks away.
The Celtics already had a good Friday against the Rockets and played the second half of a back-to-back against a well rested Mavericks team. You could call it Saturday Night Live for the Cs as they made it a 2 game Texas sweep.
Old Celtics Back?
For a team that has been called old and has looked old for parts of this season, old again is the theme as in…they looked like the old Celtics. You know, the Celtics that comeback and win games in the 4th quarter against tough teams with a combination of good defense and offense.
They came back from 7 down in the 4th quarter to beat the Dallas Mavericks, a team that had won 14 of their last 15 games, and are now being considered a legitimate threat in the west.
Rajon Rondo (20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) was huge down the stretch. Paul Pierce looked more like his old self. Ray Allen continues to shoot the ball well since the trade deadline. Could this team actually be coming together?
Paul Pierce led both teams with 29 points and he did it the old fashioned Pierce way. He was attacking the middle, getting to the line (8 for 10 attempts), hitting mid range jumpers, all while dishing off for 5 assists and playing solid defense .
But it was Rajon Rondo’s late game rim assault that brought this one home. Rondo made three straight driving lay ups of high difficulty in 1 minute and 15 seconds to give Boston a 94-91 lead.
Pierce hit a huge open 3 pointer on a surprising dish back out to the top of arc from Perkins underneath to make it 97-93. Rondo added another driving lay up on a pass from Pierce, after Paul stole a Nowitzki pass with 1:18 left in the game to make it 99-93.
Ray Allen Sparks the Celtics Move
After Dallas went up 82-75 with 8:34 left, Ray Allen hit a jump shot and Rajon rattled home another jumper to make it 82-79 before Dirk Nowitzki responded again to make it 84-79.
Ray Allen then drained his 4th three pointer (4 of 8 ) of the game. After Dirk again hit a jumper, Glen Davis made a lay up to get it to 86-84. Then Kevin Garnett hit a jumper to tie it at 86 all.
(Save for a game where Ray went 0-3 shooting, Ray has shot 50% or better in every single game over the last 12 games.)
From there, Rondo and Pierce took over, and after giving the Mavericks too many open looks up to that point, the Celtics’ defense finally clamped down.
After a Dirk Nowitzki three point play brought Dallas with 92-91 with 3 minutes to play, Dirk did not take another shot. Nor did the Mavericks make another shot on 6 attempts with only one attempt drawing a foul.
This was very encouraging because Dirk was getting far too open until then and scored 12 points in the final quarter. Instead of giving up yet another lead, the Celtics took the lead away from a team that was 24-10 at home.
This was the first really meaningful win for the Celtics in a long time. The Celtics hadn’t beaten a quality team since they downed Portland by 20 points on February 19th.
Starters Looking Good
It was the Celtic starters that pulled this game out.
Kevin Garnett added 8 points and 9 rebounds with 5 steals including 2 in a row on a crazy back-and-forth sequence where both teams threw the ball away multiple times.
Kendrick Perkins played solid defense with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.
The bench was lead by Glen Davis with 7 points but was outplayed by the Maverick’s bench.
Still, this had to be a confidence booster for the up and down Celtics. They haven’t been healthy all year until lately. It is starting to look like they are putting things together for a stretch run.
Their timing couldn’t be better.
We will have to see if this improved play continues. They play another tough team at home in the Utah Jazz (27-8 at home) on Monday.