Celtics Opening Night Takeaways
On the heels of a 120-107 opening night defeat at the hands of the rival Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics should remain highly optimistic about their season outlook. An NBA Championship is clearly the goal in the Bean, and there is little to suggest that they won't be in position to make a serious run at one come April.
1. Paul Pierce - Strong start, no finish. Boston's leading scorer exploded for 13 first quarter points, including a couple three balls and a dunk, but finished with only 23. Pierce didn't make a single bucket in the fourth quarter, contributing two assists in the frame before having his layup attempt blocked by Bosh with a minute left. He threw in five boards and five assists in the contest, so his overall performance is a mixed bag. Because he carried over his preseason dominance and truly looked like a captain early on, I'm calling the fourth quarter absence a fluke. Whatever he did in the offseason certainly worked, because I haven't seen Pierce look this good this early in years. Don't call him over the hill, he's a sure fire All Star.
2. Rajon Rondo - Rondo joined NBA legends John Stockton and Magic Johnson as the only players in league history with 10+ assists in 25 straight games. Down by six with 1:29 remaining and 10 seconds on the shot clock, he missed a jumper that killed the C's comeback. So, while he still lacks a dependable jumper, he showed throughout the contest with insane handles and passing why he's one of the best point guards in the game.
3. Brandon Bass - Criminally effective and one of my favorite players to root for, Bass finished with 15 and 10. He always makes the smart play and is a solid, SOLID forward. Unfortunately he had to cover Bosh for a few stretches, which is a mismatch because of Bosh's length. When matched up with anyone besides Bosh, however, Bass dominated. A hard worker that plays a sound game, Bass is a basketball player I suggest you pay attention to.
4. Kevin Garnett - We didn't see KG attempting his signature 18-footer elbows tonight, as he mostly stayed down near the rim. He was average showing some athleticism on a block, but only one of his 12 rebounds were offensive. While he did out-rebound Bosh (10), his five turnovers and four fouls were pretty troublesome. A sloppy game by KG standards, we'll have to monitor his performance as head coach Doc Rivers plays him situationally at PF and C.
5. Courtney Lee - Starting at the 2, Lee chipped in 11 points on 5-6 shooting in 24 minutes, including a three pointer for his first points as he faded right towards the baseline -- an effective offensive performance. His layup with 2:09 remaining were the last Celtics points of the night, putting Boston down by just four points.
6. Jared Sullinger - His first NBA points were a flying putback dunk. He outplayed Chris Bosh when matched up against him. Welcome to the league.
7. Jeff Green - A quiet night for Green, who only scored three points in 23 minutes, all from the line. I have extremely high expectations for him, including Comeback Player of the Year, so tonight was a letdown.
8. Jason Terry - The Jet was flying low and making some dumb plays. Three turnovers, three fouls, eight points, 0-3 from the arc. Ray Allen is laughing.
9. Leandro Barbosa - Picked up just two weeks ago, Barbosa stole the show late. Coming in off the bench late in the third quarter, the former Sixth Man of the Year blazed in 16 points in 16 minutes, hitting his first six shots. A three point threat, his three threes pulled the Celtics back within striking distance. Barbosa is a pleasant surprise Celtics fans can look forward to seeing more of.
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