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The Celtics reached the 30-win plateau Friday night, outlasting the New Jersey Nets 86-77 behind 20 points and 11 rebounds from Kevin Garnett. With the loss, the Nets are now 18-18 on the season and 0-3 against Boston.
For awhile, it looked like the Celtics would fall victim to another team they should beat, but instead used a strong fourth-quarter surge (outscoring the Nets 23-9) to get the 9-point victory. It seemed the Nets did all they could to extend the Celtics’ losing streak to 2 games: Jason Kidd nearly missed another triple-double (11 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists) despite shooting just 4-15 from the field, center Josh Boone added 14 points and 16 rebounds, and the Nets as a team hauled in an astounding 19 offensive rebounds. Still not enough, however.
The Nets had so many second chances (because of those offensive boards) this game to beat the C’s, but instead continued their poor shooting, especially in the second half. In all, the Celtics did a great job of forcing some bad shots (except against Bostjan Nachbar, who had quite a few open looks) in holding the Nets to just 36.5% shooting from the floor.
I’d say a lot of credit here has to go to Doc Rivers, who did a great job of managing the game with just 9 players, knowing his team was playing the first of a back-to-back. He managed to keep KG on the bench during the beginning of the Celtics surge in the fourth quarter, and instead relied upon Eddie House, James Posey, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, and Paul Pierce to key the Celtics rally. Having a rested Garnett and Rajon Rondo will be pivotal for the C’s to continue their success tonight against the Wizards.
The early part of the season comes full circle tomorrow night, as the Celtics face the Wizards in a rematch of Opening Night, when the Celtics dominated the Nets 103-83. This time, the Wizards will be without star loud-mouth Gilbert Arenas while he nurses his injuries. Again, as I will say many times more this year, the Celtics should win this game as they are the better team. Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison have been playing out of their mind lately, and they certainly bear watching. But without the best member of their “Big Three,” I certainly don’t see them beating the Celtics.