Two teams struggling before the day began, but the Boston Celtics left feeling their on the right path while the Brooklyn Nets continue to seek for answers on where it went wrong. Rajon Rondo, who got ejected in the previous game between the two, got his revenge with more than a win, but also leading his team to the victory.
He missed the first time they met this season, a 102-97 win for the Nets. He got ejected in another loss (95-83), ruining his double-digit assist streak. He finally had an evening to smile about against the Nets on Christmas, finishing with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, playing in a more selfish way, just like Doc Rivers wants him to do for quite some time.
The game was pretty much over in the second quarter after the Celtics broke out in a 23-5 run. All the fight and aggression the Nets showed in the early going of the season just wan’t there. Doc Rivers called his players soft after the loss a month ago, hoping to get some kind of reaction from them that would pick up the pace of the season. It hasn’t really happened on a consistent basis, but they did win the rebounds battle 41-36 in this one.
They beat us pretty bad on the glass, so tonight we did an exceptional job on the glass, taking care of the defensive rebounds, and we got stops.
Rondo had his own personal battle with Deron Williams going on, but it wasn’t really a fair fight. Nothing personal, but just two point guards who are usually mentioned to be among the best in the NBA are expected to get into some sort of duel in a game like this. Rondo played his part, but Williams, suffering from a pain in his ankle and an offense that doesn’t suit him (according to him), finished with only 10 points, taking just 7 shots throughout the game.
It was a big game for us. It was a division rival. We were ready for a big game. It just didn’t happen. This one hurts. We didn’t play our game. They beat us from the opening tip. We didn’t make shots. We turned the ball over too easy. Our defense just wasn’t there tonight. We were not ourselves tonight.
It’s not like the Celtics played lights out basketball, especially their stars. Paul Pierce finished with 8 points. Kevin Garnett isn’t a dominant two-way guy like before, so all the effort he put on defense and working on the glass (8 points, 10 rebounds) took its toll offensively. It was Jared Sullinger that was the surprising contributor off the bench and in the paint, finishing with 16 points. Jeff Green, a huge disappointment so far in his Celtics career, finished with 15 points.
Are these the real Celtics? It’s hard to see them putting on such a defensive clinic each night, when so much of their toughness and ability to get one stop after another depends on Garnett. He can still be an enormous presence here and there, but not night after night. The rest is up to Rondo to keep this going – forget about the assist records and streaks, and lead this offense by being the top scorer, and not constantly looking who to pass to.