After Paul Pierce dismissed the New York Knicks as “rivals” (really a media fabrication more than any smack talk), he then went out and backed up his words, dropping a season high 32 points including a game winner with .04 seconds left on the clock. Despite a huge performance from Amare Stoudemaire (39 points) including an unlikely 3-pointer in the game’s final moments that came just a little too late, the Celtics pulled out a 118-116 win extending their winning streak to 11 games.
I’ve long been an Amare fan, and his recent tear comes as no surprise to me — he has an offense now running 100% through him. And yes, he is that dynamic of a player (if his dunks aren’t proof enough). I’d expect his success to continue, and if he gets paired up with Carmelo Anthony, watch out.
That said, this game is not proof by any means to me that the Knicks have “arrived.” First of all, the Celtics are notorious for playing down to opponents. They often lose to or have trouble with teams that aren’t of their own caliber. Second of all, the Knicks have not shown any defensive prowess whatsoever and don’t have much depth. How can you possibly expect a team like that to compete with the Celtics or Lakers of the world in a playoff environment?
I still, after all of these past seasons, can’t decide who my favorite Celtic is. It’s either Pierce or Ray Allen. For today at least, Pierce is the man.
The NBA has taken a back seat as of late, and with good reason, as the NFL season hits full stride. But it’s tough to forget — this year is easily one of the most anticipated NBA seasons in recent memory, if not ever. And while I haven’t caught much of the Lakers yet this season, they are undefeated. The Celtics have looked very impressive, led by the play of Rajon Rondo, and have shown incredible depth. Which brings us to the newcomers on the block — the Miami Heat. I’ve now watched them play the Celtics twice, and the growing pains are very evident. Last night’s 112-107 victory was not nearly as close as the score suggests.
Ray Allen dropped 35 points and was 7-7 from behind the arc at one point, equaling Lebron’s point total for the game. Rondo had 16 assists and an incredible dunk (shown above), and both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett had good games. In other words, the Celtics were clicking on all cylinders. Lebron’s 35 points aside, Dwayne Wade had 8 points and Chris Bosh played poorly.
Since Lebron’s trade to Miami, I have been one of the few who whole-heartedly and without hesitation bought into the Heat. I think they will learn to click, and I think they will be a major force in the league. I’m sticking by that. But at this point, I think they need to take a page out of the Celtic’s playbook. I see Lebron playing much as he did in Cleveland — the offense seems to be running almost completely through him at this point. He had 35 points, great, but Wade had 8 and Bosh mine as well have not been on the floor. This team needs to learn to let a new star step up each night — they need to learn to feed the hot hand. And many nights that might not be any of the big 3, but rather a role player who is left wide open.
We’ll see if the Heat can get it together — I’m sure they will. But for right now, it certainly looks like we are steering towards another Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals. And God knows I’m good with that.
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