I think it's safe to say that tonight was the best offensive performance for the Celtics in terms of both points scored and efficiency. In 48 minutes the Cs poured in 118 points and shot blistering percentages of 54 and 48% from the floor and downtown respectively. Unfortunately you can't say the same for their defense. The effort on that end of the floor was poor to say the least and Boston allowed some guy named Mike Scott (Who?) to score 19 points. Luckily for the Celts, Atlanta's defense was just a lot worse. 

Doc Rivers had his offense running like a well-oiled machine tonight. Four of his men scored in double figures, including three who scored over 20. Jeff Green led the attack by scoring 27 points on 11-20 from the field. Green continued to assert himself and refuses to be stopped on his way to the rim. He also has no problem pulling up for a jumper whether it's from mid-range or three point land. Tonight marked the third straight 20+ point outing for the Georgetown product. 

It wasn't just Green though, Jason Terry finally brought his dry spell to a halt. The JET was non-existent in his last four games averaging only 8 points a night, but Terry showed that he can still stroke it by tallying 24 points while knocking down 5 of his 7 three point attempts. It was great to see a vintage performance from the veteran guard considering he has only averaged 10 points per game over the course of the season. He hasn't been what fans expected him to be and that's blatantly obvious. Fun fact for you: Before tonight Jason Terry hadn't scored 20+ in a game since November 17th. In my opinion, Terry had been too focused on replacing Ray Allen and he wasn't concentrated on playing his own game. Needless to say, we're going to need the JET to take flight like he did this evening if we want to succeed in the playoffs. 

Anyways, back to the point at hand. With Green and Terry already crossed off of the list you have to know who the third guy with 20 points was. If you don't, shame on you, because what kind of high-scoring game would it be if Paul Pierce didn't leave his mark on the box score? The Truth dropped 20 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and flipped 10 dimes en route to his 10th career triple double. He also added a steal and a block for good measure and if his stats weren't already impressive enough, Paul capped the line off with a +28 plus/minus. This was by far the best differential achieved by any guy who saw the floor in this contest.

  • Shavlik Randolph needs more playing time. The big guy was extremely impressive and at times I asked myself if he would be even more effective as a starter. Randolph did exactly what nobody else does on the Celtics, sans KG. Rebounded. He collected 13 misses in a little under 22 minutes, 7 of which were offensive. "Shav" showed toughness and grit down low and I was taken back by his soft touch on put-backs. It seriously makes me wonder what he could do with starter-like minutes.
  • The defense still isn't where it needs to be. I understand that the team is missing it's anchor on that end of the floor but there isn't a single team in this league that cares. Boston was so hot on offense that their mediocre defensive effort was easily overlooked. However, you may have noticed yourself saying, "They can't miss! They must be up 20!" Then you looked at the scoreboard and noticed the Hawks were only trailing by 9-10 points. It's little things like that that drive me CRAZY. Out scoring your opponent might be a plausible game plan during the regular season but if you don't play with intensity on defense during the playoffs you'll get bounced quickly. Rivers needs to get his team in that defensive mindset with just 10 regular season games to go. If not, the Cs will be preparing for the draft much earlier than anticipated.
  • Man, I miss Rondo. It was great to see Boston's floor general on the bench for the first time since he tore his ACL. At the same time, part of me wanted him to take his blazer off and check into the game. He looked like he was in a good place though and ESPN's Greg Payne reported that Rondo's just fine.
Classic Rondo. Clearly he wishes he could be out there with his teammates but it's good to see that he's in no rush to get back after saying earlier in the year that he wanted to return ASAP.

All in all this was a good win for the Celtics. They now trail Atlanta by just 1.5 games for the 6th seed out East. At this point it doesn't really matter because the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers have been flip-flopping back and forth between second and third place. Either way Atlanta and Boston will be seeing one of these teams. Hopefully the Cs gain confidence from this victory but also learn from the mistakes they made along the way. They have the day off tomorrow but they'll be right back at it Sunday afternoon as they meet the Knicks for the second time in five days. Madison Square Garden will be the venue for that one. 


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