Well, folks...THIS is what it feels like. Remember? I mean, c'mon...it was only last year since the C's won, after all.
For real, though...this was a nice, old-fashioned whuppin' delivered by a team that resembled 2011-2012 much more than 2012, and hopefully will continue through 2013!
To tell you the truth...this one feels so refreshing that I almost (ALMOST...) don't even fault the refs for completely blowing the call on Kevin Garnett vs. Tyler Hansbrough (19 points) in which they called a Flagrant 2 when KG was CLEARLY sweeping down while anticipating the ball coming up. It's not the Big Ticket's fault that Hansbrough moves like a spastic cat trying to dislodge a hairball.
No matter...the Celtics were in fine form, playing a brand of defense not seen around these parts since, well...sometime between "A Long Time Ago" and "Son, back in my day...".
Now, I don't want to start driving the Over-The-Top Express down the Hyperbole Highway, but Avery Bradley had a tremendous impact on the game on the defensive end, setting the tone for the rest of the Celtics with his frenetic, in-your-face hound-dog "D" every second that he was on the floor. Bradley didn't make much of a dent on the box score, but his presence everywhere else was intensely felt.
From the outset, the C's came out like tigers and never let their guard down as they built the lead to 20, veering well into Gino-Time (much to the ejected and dejected KG's chagrin) to close it out.
Rajon Rondo carried the golden mop to this waxing of the Pacers, scoring 18 points on 9-14 shooting along with 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. Rondo was joined by KG who also scored 18 points on 8-16 shooting, grabbed 7 rebounds, delivered 2 assists and snagged 1 steal while Captain Paul Pierce threw in 13 points on 5-10 shooting with 6 rebounds 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and one four-pointer, swishing a three as he was fouled (later sinking the freebie).
The Celtics also got solid contributions from their bench players. Coach Doc Rivers elected to start the same lineup that carried the team through most of the playoffs last year, reinserting Brandon Bass and moving Garnett back to center, which left Courtney Lee (13 points, 5 rebounds) to lead the reserves. Jared Sullenger was a board-brute, grabbing 10, scoring 7, swatting a shot and throwing many of the Pacers bigs to all corners of the paint.
As nice as this win was, and as much as I have been preaching patience to those who would sooner throw roses onto an emerald casket, it is exactly what the record shows: one win in the last five games. The Celtics are most certainly getting better, but they still have work to do before Commissioner David Stern gives up the trophy.
And, since we're taking that chill pill, can we also stop talking about Playoff seeding until we're at least a day or two on the other side of the All-Star Game? Thanks!
Still...this is a rare one to savor, Celtics fans. Did you savor it? Gooood.
Now quit yer celebratin' and get some shuteye! Atlanta is waiting.
Tale Of The Tape
Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks
Saturday, January 5th, 2013
@ Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA