Just when you thought the hype was threatening to get out of control. Just when you began to wonder about all those minutes Ray Allen was accumulating. Just when you began to think: “it can’t be this can’t be this easy, can it?
Just when all those questions began to swirl, the Celtics went out and played terribly for long stretches against the New Jersey Nets. And still won by 22 points.
Terribly may be overstating things a bit, but in the first half last night the C’s looked like they were caught in that dreaded back-to-back games trap. There was no movement on offense and Allen’s shooting stroke seemed to have been invaded by the evil ghost of Todd Day. But they still had a two-point lead.
The Celtics opened it up in the second half, especially when Allen began to find his range, and just that quickly, it was over. Doc Rivers kept the starters’ minutes in the 30’s (although it sure seems like Danny Ainge is going to have to find a shooter to spell Allen), and the bench played reasonably well.
While those heavy minutes for Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett continue to worry us, this is a good time for the Celtics to make a move. The Nets are without Vince Carter, and the Knicks are a mess. A hilarious mess, but a mess nonetheless. Over the next month, the Celtics play exactly two teams with winning records (Orlando on Sunday and the Lakers next Friday) before a Dec. 19 showdown with the Pistons.
Perhaps Doc is taking a page from the book of another ex-Celtic, Don Nelson, where he tries to build up a cushion in the standings early, and then experiments when it gets closer to playoff time.
Big Baby Update: Our guy got nine fun-filled minutes last night and he made the most of them. The good: Three rebounds and one hellacious blocked shot. The bad: 0-for-3 shooting, four fouls, and a three-second call that had Doc doing his best Running Man down the sideline.
Say this for the rookie. He makes things happen. They’re not always good things, but they are, in fact, things. Big Baby has been ahead of second-year-man Leon Powe in the backup big man rotation, but that may change. Keep playing hard, Big Fella. Just try to stay out of the paint when the ball is 40 feet away.
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