There's no shame in losing to a champion, that is, unless you're the ultimate champion. No question, the Boston Celtics took a hit to their pride when they lost to the Miami Heat, last year's NBA champion. Nevertheless, they must move on, and that starts with the home opener Friday against Milwaukee.
Boston (0-1) enters a stretch of very winnable games over the next month, facing the likes of the Bucks (twice), Wizards (twice), Raptors, Pistons and Magic. Last year, the Celtics could not take advantage of their games against inferior opponents, and they needed a furious second-half surge to survive.
Milwaukee (0-0) qualifies as an inferior opponent, but they have two superior guards in Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Both are capable of scoring 30-plus, and given the way that Boston's defense played in a 120-107 loss to the Heat on Tuesday, it wouldn't be surprising to see Ellis and Jennings thrive.
The Celtics offense, meanwhile, looked good in stretches in the season opener, and 107 points per game will win you most games. Had the C's played a little defense against the Heat, they probably would have been 1-0. Instead, they could not capitalize on LeBron James' cramps (causing him to miss a chunk of time in the second half), and the Heat claimed victory on banner night.
Paul Pierce scored a team-high 23 to pace Boston, which shot a healthy 52 percent (39-for-75). Rajon Rondo approached a triple-double with 20 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds, Kevin Garnett had nine points and 12 rebounds and Leandro Barbosa debuted with a 16-point performance in the fourth quarter. The Celtics turned the ball over 15 times, with 10 come in the first half.
Tip off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET. CSNNE and WEEI will broadcast the game.
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