|01.21.09 at 10:43 pm ET|
Here’s something that I’m almost positive has not happened this season to the Boston Celtics this year. At one point in the third quarter, the Miami Heat scored on 10 of 11 possessions. You can’t score in practice on 10 of 11 possessions.
At the end of that run that saw Dwyane Wade score 10 points and had Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley playing like they were back in the Big 12 against Iowa State, the Heat still trailed by 11 points. That made it the strangest of NBA occurrences: a relatively close blowout.
It didn’t last all that long because the thing with having a lead that size is that one nice push the other way and it’s game ovah, which is exactly what happened when Ray Allen started dropping bombs in the fourth. (Click here for a full recap).
So, the Celtics wrapped up their sixth straight win. Kendrick Perkins got some much needed court time before facing down Dwight Howard Thursday night and the starters kept their minutes down. All in all, a pretty decent night for the C’s who are now 35-9 and back in first place in the Eastern Conference (albeit by a half game over the Magic and not by winning percentage where Orlando has a slight edge).
A six-pack of observations:
1. Free Eddie House!
House got his NBA career started in Miami where he developed something of a cult following and I vaguely recall a story where Pat Riley’s daughter was spotted sporting a Free Eddie House! t-shirt. Riles should have listened.
House has not had the greatest of shooting seasons, but last night’s line (9-for-15 from the floor, 7-for-11 from 3-point range) proves why he is so valuable. You just can’t afford to leave the man open. Of course, that’s exactly what Miami did time and again playing some of the laziest perimeter D seen this year. The Celtics made 15-of-25 3-pointers (15-of-25!) and most of them were of the wide-open nolo contendre variety.
2. The Good, the Bad, the Rondo
Rajon Rondo scored only seven points and took just seven shots, but he knocked down a 3-pointer in rhythm from the top of the key with the shot clock winding down. That’s good. He also passed up several shots inside, forcing passes to big men that weren’t really there. That’s bad.
Rondo beat his man whenever he wanted to and wound up with 10 assists. That’s good. He also had five turnovers, including four in the first quarter. That’s bad.
Raw +/- stats are only superficially useful. They don’t take into account context, score or pace, but for a one-game snapshot they can me somewhat interesting and tonight the Celtics were +23 when Rondo was in the game. (That’s good).
3. Kendrick Perkins Had Some Rust
Perkins played 23 minutes, scored just two points and for the first 18 or so of those minutes looked like a guy who hadn’t played in a week and a half, which was to be expected. But in the last five he grabbed every rebound and generally made himself a menace to any Heat players who wanted to get down the lane.
It was a solid run for Perk who now has to face Orlando’s monster-child Dwight Howard 24 hours later.
Interestingly, Brian Scalabrine who played so well in place of Perkins, stayed in the rotation in the first half, getting 22 minutes on the floor total. Big Baby Davis played well when he got his chance in the second half. I’ll be curious to see if Scal keeps a spot in the bench rotation after playing so well and if anyone’s time suffers as a result.
4. Miami Cold
For reasons that I will keep to myself, I have spent a decent amount of time in the town of Manhattan, Kansas aka The Little Apple and the home of Kansas State University. It was always a curious thing that Michael Beasley wound up there, for while it is a underrated spot of midwest terra firma, it ain’t exactly UCLA.
You could see all the good stuff in Beasley’s game. The left-handed jumper, the quickness off the floor, the scoring instinct, etc. You could also see the kid needs work, especially on the defensive end. He’s a nice talent, however, and along with D-Wade just about the only two things I liked about this Miami team.
Granted, Shawn Marion hurt himself on a missed dunk (thus delaying the trade rumors for a little while), and it’s possible that the Celtics just caught them on a bad night, but the Heat shot way too many 3′s and got crushed on the boards. Erik Spolestra is either the best coach in the league, or D-Wade is playing even better than we thought, but it’s hard to believe that Miami is playing better than .500 ball.
5. Stephon Marbury to Greece?
This is one of those there-is-no-way-it’ll-happen stories, but it’s out there. Apparently a Greek team has expressed an interest in Stephon Marbury and contacted the Knicks about trying to work out a deal. (Now here comes the joke about how the Knicks would trade him for a box of Souvlaki.)
Marbury apparently hasn’t been in contact with the team, however, and a move to Greece doesn’t seem likely. The pressure has been turned down on the bench a little and at this point, Marbury seems more like an illusion than a reality.
6. How Important is the Orlando Game?
For the Celtics, mildly. It’s a chance for them to show the rest of the NBA (the game is on TNT) that they are still the baddest dudes on the block. They wiped out Orlando earlier in the year–who was playing without Jameer Nelson and generally solidified the opinion that the Magic are a nice, but not great, team.
Since then the Magic have gone 20-3 and riding a seven-game winning streak. For them, it’s a big game. They played well against the Celtics last year and a win would help give them some credibility.