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Fast Break: Celtics Stiemroll the Wizards

01.02.12 at 9:58 pm ET
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You only get one chance to make a first impression and while Greg Stiemsma‘s first start may have been a revelation to Celtics’ fans, he had already impressed coach Doc Rivers. “That’s somebody we didn’t know we would have,” Rivers said. “After the second or third day of camp you’re thinking wow, this guys pretty’s good.”

Stiemsma was better than his good on Monday night against the Wizards starting in place of Jermaine O’Neal (left hamstring). He wasted little time asserting himself as he blocked Washington’s Rashard Lewis. The play angered Wizards’ coach Flip Saunders who got two quick technical and was ejected 106 seconds into the game.

Stiemsma’s shot blocking is already an established part of his game — he came in averaging 7.3 blocks per 36 minutes — but he also showed a nice touch from the outside and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the more athletic Wizards. Stiemsma finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes.

The Celtics went with a smaller lineup in the fourth quarter as Stiemsma gave way to Brandon Bass and the Celtics were able to hold on for a 100-92 victory, their third straight. They have a chance to get over .500 on Wednesday when they host the Nets.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Ray Allen was the only viable offensive threat for the Celtics in the first half, scoring 16 points on 5-for-11 shooting that included three 3-pointers in four attempts. Allen finished with 27 points and made a couple of momentum-turning 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

– As good as Allen was in the first half, that’s how good Paul Pierce was in the third quarter when he scored eight of his 21 points. The problem was that Pierce had already logged 30 minutes so Rivers used Marquis Daniels extensively in the fourth quarter and Daniels responded with a strong performance.

– Bass had a productive night off the bench after a shaky first quarter. He was once again the only scoring threat off the bench and grabbed six rebounds in addition to his 14 points. Bass was also a willing passer, despite only getting one assist.

Avery Bradley had a dominant stretch of defense in the first half when he hounded Wizards guard Jordan Crawford and essentially stopped the Washington offense from functioning.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– You knew it was going to happen on the second night of a back-to-back, but the Wizards loaded up on categories like second-chance points (17-9) and in transition where they outscored the Celtics 17-9. On nights like that the Celtics have to rely on their shooting to carry them and they were stuck in the low 40′s.

– Outside of Bass and a decent night from Daniels, the Celtics bench could not generate any offense. Keyon Dooling doesn’t appear comfortable running the offense yet and Chris Wilcox needs to find a rhythm after missing almost three games with a shoulder injury. The Celtics lack of bench scoring could be a major problem this season.

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