|10.29.09 at 1:10 am ET|
When the Celtics rolled to 66 wins and their 17th NBA title two seasons ago, they owned the third quarter.
The Celtics crushed the collective will and spirit of their opposition coming out of halftime. It became a sense of pride among Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
That spirit has resurfaced in the first two games of this season. And on Wednesday night, during their home opener against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Celtics put on a clinic on how to systematically dismatle their opponent by outscoring the Bobcats, 25-10, holding the visitors to a miserable 3-for-17 shooting from the floor.
Even Larry Brown had to stop and pay homage after the game.
“Our team wasn’t prepared, weren’t ready to play,” Brown said. “That’s nobody’s fault but the coach. We got a lot of guys scared to death and that’s tough. We talked before the game, you know, just don’t turn the ball over early and just hang in. I think we had, like, eight turnovers in the first eight or nine minutes, and that led to a lot of their points.”
The Bobcats were actually in the game, trailing just 32-29 when Boris Diaw hit a layup with 4:38 left in the second. The Celtics pushed the lead to 11 with a 10-2 run to close out the first half.
“Then we got back in the game, cut it to five with the ball and then all hell broke loose. But Doc’s done a great job with them. Danny’s done a great job of getting the right guys. He’s just a heck of a lot better coach and better prepared than we are.”
But as Larry Brown reminded everyone after the game, hell hath no fury like a team motivated. And the starting five of Garnett, Pierce, Perkins, Rondo and Ray Allen came out in the third quarter with a point to prove – or more accurately no points to allow.
The Celtics scored the first 15 points of the quarter and the game was over. There’s killer instinct for you, just like 2007-08.
“I thought it was terrific; what did you think?” asked Doc Rivers rhetorically. “I thought it was great. I thought, obviously, very active early. Tons of deflections. We keep that number and it was extremely – as high as you can possibly probably get it at halftime. And I thought we carried it over, contested starts. Last two nights, I thought it has been absolutely wonderful.”
What was interesting to note on Wednesday was the fact that the intensity began with the starters and continued with the reserves, an encouraging pattern over the season’s first two games.
“It’s very important,” Shelden Williams said. “That’s something that we try to do throughout the course of the season where If we got somebody on the ropes we gonna take them out. These guys are great guys. Theres no such thing as a blue out league. You can see that in basketball all the time you know be down 20 next thing you know it’s a tie game. We had a chance to get the team on the ropes and step your foot down and go from there.”
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