|Connelly’s Top Ten: Dog Pound to Get Pounded||Red Sox Sign Reliever Edward Mujica||Daniel Bard Non-Tendered by Theo Epstein, Cubs||State of the Celtics: Atlantic Division in Sights|
When the season began, the mood surrounding the Celtics was pure optimism. We all knew the team had gotten better with acquisitions of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Eddie House, James Posey, and on and on and on. What we couldn’t have imagined was the Celtics going 8-0 against the Lakers, Mavrericks, Rockets, and Spurs.
The final piece to the Texas puzzle was a date with the Mavericks in Dallas. Again, it was a hard-fought game, but a late Ray Allen three-pointer led to a 94-90 win and a week-long, three-game sweep of all the Texas teams in what many of the national media called the biggest test of the season.
As far as the actual game goes, the C’s were led by another double-double from Kevin Garnett (20 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals) and a double-double from Paul Pierce (22 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks). Ray Allen scored 21 points and hit the huge 3-pointer with 31.7 seconds remaining to give the Celtics the lead for good.
On the other side, Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points and 19 rebounds, while Josh Howard led all scorers with 24 points. Jerry Stackhouse added 17 points, but they weren’t enough. Said Stackhouse:
“We’re just right there in a lot of these games. It’s disappointing to keep coming up short.”
Stackhouse, you have that right. Since the Mavs acquired Jason Kidd at the trade deadline, they have proceeded to go 0-7 against teams with winning records. That’s the direct opposite impact you want from your star acquisition, obviously.
Speaking of Kidd, the point guard play in general was deplorable. Kidd finished with 2 points on 1-9 shooting, with 11 rebounds and 9 assists. So bad shooting for Kidd…but it got worse for the Celtics point guards. Rajon Rondo finished with 0 points (0-7 FG), 3 assists, and 3 steals. Sam Cassell didn’t fare much better, getting 4 points (1-9 FG) and 6 assists, which was helpful.
The C’s have an amazing chance of going 4-0 on the West Coast swing of this road trip if they can take care of the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday night. Even if they fail to beat the Hornets, this was already the most significant stretch of playoff-atmosphere basketball for the Celtics this season. And they stormed through the stretch, going 3-0 in 5 days in the Lone Star State.