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The Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats met up Tuesday night. Both teams were riding four-game win streaks, and both teams had formidable stats backing them up. The Celtics came into the game boasting the best road record in the NBA, whereas the Bobcats were holding opposing teams to the fewest points in the NBA (the Celtics were third on that list). Earlier in the season, the Celtics had blown out the Bobcats, 92-59. Tonight was another blowout, as the Celtics decimated the Bobcats, 108-90.
What we’re beginning to see is that the Celtics are at their strongest when they’re moving the ball around the court. Extra passes, lots of assists, and good movement into and out of the paint are what enable this offense to succeed. Tonight was definitely a night where the passing game was on. The Celtics racked up 24 assists to the Bobcats’ mere 13. The leader in this category was Rajon Rondo, who had nine.
There were numerous instances of fantastic passing, but one in particular stood out. In the fourth quarter, with the Celtics up by double digits and the game well in hand, the C’s ran the ball up to the Charlotte perimeter. They then passed the ball along the perimeter several times, each player passing on a decent shot, to finally get the ball to Eddie House. He drained a deep two, then came back with a three-pointer on the next possession. This was unselfish play designed to help a struggling player find his shot, and it worked beautifully.
The overall stars of the day were Ray Allen and Kendrick Perkins. Both players scored over 20 points (27 for Allen, 21 for Perkins). Ray Allen had five rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal. Kendrick Perkins picked up a nifty double-double by adding 12 rebounds and blocking 3 shots. The starters made up for what was a not particularly strong day for the Boston bench, though they were able to eat up lots of clock time and allow the starters to rest early and often.
The Celtics continued to play the kind of stifling defense that they did against Miami and Toronto. Every drive to the lane was contested, leading to misses (40.5% shooting), blocked shots (9), and turnovers (11). The Bobcats were forced to go their perimeter, where they are not known for their shooting and it showed.
The only knock against the defense was that it slowed up in the second half, just doing enough to hold their lead without really pushing the issue. But then, can one blame them with the huge lead they had? The second half was all about resting the starters for as long as possible, so the bench just needed to be competent in order to successfully do their jobs.
This was as dominating a victory by the Celtics as we’ve seen all season, even if the score was slightly closer in the end than it should have been. The C’s led for nearly the entire game (Charlotte held a brief two point lead at the start of the first quarter), and they played with intensity, rhythm, and poise. They constantly frustrated the Bobcats with their seamless offense and crushing defense, leading to several technical fouls being issued against Charlotte (more than Boston, for once). The Celtics have gone 2-0 on their road trip so far and will go to San Antonio Thursday boasting a five game win streak and a heck of a lot of momentum.