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Monday, January 3, 2011

Business as usual with Rajon Rondo back on the court for the Boston Celtics

As spoiled as we are with the Boston Celtics the past few years, a two-game losing streak is truly a cause for alarm.

Yes, NBA teams can successfully go through the motions of the monotonous 82-game regular season (see: Celtics 2009-2010) but if Boston is relatively healthy, they should win most games that they play, no questions asked.

That equation was proved once again last night in Canada as the Cs (25-7) beat the Toronto Raptors (11-22) 93-79 at the Air Canada Centre.

Rajon Rondo returned from his ankle injury and played 34 minutes but only contributed four points, eight assists and five turnovers. However, just his presence alone allowed things to open up for the Celts. For example, Paul Pierce dropped a game-high 30 points with seven rebounds and four assists while Ray Allen added 23 points.

Even Glen Davis, who looked completely lost on Friday without Kevin Garnett, managed to snap out of his funk (starting 1 of 7 last night) with a near triple-double: 15 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists.

Toronto is not good but they are young and athletic which can always make for a tough matchup for our lovable group of old men that play basketball.

DeMar DeRozan apparently is becoming a star now as he had 27 points while Joey Dorsey (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Amir Johnson (10 points, 10 rebounds) had double-doubles.

After a tight first quarter (24-23 Boston) and halftime (43-42 Celtics), it looked like it could be a close finish but Doc Rivers and his staff (mostly excitable midget Lawrence Frank) convinced them to play some defense and as a result, they managed to hold the Raptors to only 37 points in the second half.

When you look at the numbers, it's easy to see why the Celtics pulled away. They shot 54.3% to Toronto's 37.8%. The Celtics had five more 3-pointers (6-1) which offset a big deficit in rebounds (49-37 Toronto).

And what a shock, Rondo made for much more ball movement (30-20 assists for Celtics) and less hero ball. Toronto had four more steals (9-5) but thanks to Shaq (4 blocks), Boston had four more blocks (6-2). The Raptors used their speed to almost double up the Celts in fast break points: 29-15 and gain 10 more points in the paint (42-32).

Boston comes home to host Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight at the TD Garden. Minnesota is exactly the type of team you want to face in the second half of a back-to-back, a squad that you can beat even if you play you're B or B- game.

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