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Thursday, January 6, 2011

You cannot underestimate the value of Rajon Rondo

This pains me to say it since I've been a KG fan forever (I bought a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey in college) but nobody is more valuable to the Boston Celtics at this second than Rajon Rondo.

Of course Kevin Garnett is still vital to what they do, especially defensively, but after Rondo notched a triple-double (12 points, 22 assists, 10 rebounds) last night as the Celts knocked off the San Antonio Spurs, 105-103 at the TD Garden, what other conclusion is there to make?

Boston (27-7) beat the NBA's top team, the Spurs (29-6), in a game that was the ultra-rare instant classic regular season NBA game.

This one had it all: crazy shots, plays, surprises and execution. As Bob Ryan said in the Boston Globe yesterday, the world is rooting for a Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers (sizzle vs. sizzle) NBA Finals this summer but after last night, we're both in agreement that Boston vs. San Antonio would be a true basketball fan's dream.

The win would not have been possible without an other-worldly shooting performance by the incomparable Ray Allen (13 of 16 for 31 points and six assists). The ironic part is that he bricked two late free throws that would have iced it but Manu Ginobili's (24 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals) had his jumper blocked by Paul Pierce (18 points) and Marquis Daniels (6 points, 3 rebounds) to end it.

All I can say is I hope that you watched this contest or at the very least saw the highlights. It was dedicated to your old-school friend or relative that complains about the NBA not being about fundamentals, etc. Riveting stuff in front of a great crowd.

Glen Davis had his best game in a while with 23 points. He seems to have found his jumper after a couple brutal shooting displays. As with most important wins, the role players stepped up too like Nate Robinson (7 points, 5 rebounds) who hit a couple key baskets.

The Spurs are the New England Patriots of the NBA (ie. extremely boring to outsiders) but you have to appreciate how good they've been over a long stretch of time (4 titles in 12 years).

Tim Duncan (18 points) has slowed down considerably but he can still get it done. Tony Parker (18 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) has put aside his divorce drama with Eva Longoria and is having a great season while Richard Jefferson (14 points) has reemerged after a terrible year last season.

Another easy comparison to the Patriots is that San Antonio gets the most out of its assorted bums like Matt Bonner (10 points) and Gary Neal (10 points) who shuttle through the team every year.

Boston led 27-25 after one quarter but trailed 51-49 at the half. The Celts opened it up with a good third quarter (28-21) but George Hill's buzzer-beater for 2 cut it to 77-72 after three. San Antonio won the fourth (31-29) which is impressive since the Cs looked like they had it in the bag, up nine with a little over a minute left.

For the game, the Celts shot 61.3% (which is absurd) to 45.3% for the Spurs. San Antonio had four more 3-pointers (9-5) and made eight more free throws (16-8). Besides the shooting percentage, the Cs not surprisingly won because of the assists (34-20).

The Toronto Raptors come to the TD Garden tomorrow night and what a letdown that will be. There won't be a game with this much hype and intrigue until the Celtics finally play the Lakers on January 30 in Los Angeles.

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