The Celtics  have a well-worn reputation for playing sub-par basketball on weekend afternoon. With a younger team one might worry about nocturnal activities, but the veteran Celtics are simply creatures of habit. They just don’t like having their routines messed with.
They turned that bit of conventional wisdom on its head with a thorough dismantling of the Nets  in New Jersey, 100-75 as five players scored in double figures and the Celtics held New Jersey to just 38 percent shooting.
The Celtics have now won seven straight games and have the top record in the Eastern Conference at 16-4. These wins will look a lot more important in March when that race really starts to take shape.
THREE THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT
Bench production: At the beginning of the second quarter, Doc Rivers  trotted out this unfamiliar lineup: Avery Bradley , Von Wafer , Marquis Daniels , Glen Davis  and Shaquille O’Neal . This was Rivers’ original vision of a second unit with Shaq anchoring the paint.
As it turned out it was Davis who took control from the middle, working rookie Derrick Favors  on the block. Davis finished the first half with 12 points and five rebounds, Daniels added eight points and the Celtics outscored New Jersey, 30-12 in the second quarter to take command of the game.
Davis finished with 16 points and nine rebounds in 30 minutes and was +27 in raw plus/minus.
Strong start for Nate: With Rajon Rondo  out to rest his sore hamstring (see below), Nate Robinson  got the start and got the Celtics off to a fast start with eight points in the first five minutes. Rather than try to be Rondo, Robinson did what he did best — which also included launching 3’s early in the shot clock and on the fast break.
That’s all part of the package for Robinson and it’s worth noting that Rivers encourages him to play that way. But Robinson didn’t just look for his shot. He also dished out six assists to go with six rebounds in what might have been his best game of the season.
Board work: The Celtics dominated the glass, outrebounding the Nets 49-36. Kevin Garnett  led the way with 14 rebounds in just 26 minutes of work. He now has 11 double-digit rebounding games, equal the amount he had all of last season.
TWO THINGS THAT WENT WRONG
Rajon Rondo misses another game: Apparently, the hamstring is still an issue for Rondo. He was a late scratch on Sunday and has now missed four of the Celtics 20 games. The only remedy for a hamstring injury is rest and the Celtics have a few days off before playing Denver Wednesday at TD Garden.
The good news is that they have found ways to win games without Rondo in the lineup (they have now three of those four). The bad news is that it looks like Rondo will be dealing with something for most of the season. There is no question about Rondo’s pain tolerance, but it will be pushed in ways it never has been before.
Injuries (again): Jermaine O’Neal  told reporters in New Jersey that he will begin workouts next week and then hopes to practice with the team the following week. If, and it still seems like a big if, they can have O’Neal back by the new year it would be a huge boost for the Celtics.
Their depth is painfully thin right now and one more frontcourt injury could have a disastrous effect on what has been a fantastic start to the season. Shaq missed the second half with a sore right calf. The Celtics didn’t need him Sunday, but they are walking a very thin line up front.