Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. Boston defeated the Washington Wizards, 100-92, on Monday night in Boston, MA.
They're baaaack. Thought the Boston Celtics would struggle all season long? You would be foolish to think so. Ray Allen and the C's took care of business against the Washington Wizards, beating the lowly Wiz crew 100-92 to complete the sweep of the home-and-home series that started on Sunday night in Washington D.C.
Is that really surprising? No, not really. The Wizards were 0-3 coming into the series -- they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers AND Milwaukee Bucks in the process -- and are now 0-5 after two whoopins' at the hands of the Celtics. Job well done.
What led to the Celtics' second win over Washington and third in a row? Well, this.
RAY ALLEN (NOT ALBERT PUJOLS) IS THE MACHINE
Remember that ESPN SportsCenter commercial with Albert Pujols and they were calling him a machine? Well, ESPN was wrong. The REAL machine in the sports world is Ray Allen. He could make a shot blindfolder. Let's take that further - he could make a shot blindfolder and sitting in Section 324 of the garden. He's just that good, and anyone who watches knows that. For that reason, it wasn't a surprise that Allen led the game in scoring with 27 points while making 6-of-7 three pointers. In short, he's money. But guess what? Allen wasn't healthy tonight, coming down with a cold on Sunday night. No matter, because he STILL lit up the Wizards. Need any more proof that Allen is the greatest shooter?
GREG STIEMSMA IS FOR REAL, EARNING PLAYING TIME
What has it been, all of three weeks? In that time, Greg Stiemsma has gone from training camp invitee to making the roster to starting for the Boston Celtics. Is there anything the Stiemer can't do? Stiemsma started in place of an "injured" Jermaine O'Neal (after the game, I asked JO if he had a hamstring injury. He told me it's not an injury, and he came to the arena today with the intention of playing, but Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte advised Doc Rivers not to play him). In his start, he dominated the competition. Dare I say, he steimrolled the Wizards? Stiemsma had 13 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes, and of course a couple of blocks to go along with that. He's proving that he deserves minutes on this basketball team. The problem is, where will he get them? Chris Wilcox is working his way back, and will have the chance to earn his minutes back (because the Celtics aren't going to pay him $3 million to ride the pine). Stiemsma has only been in the line up because of an injury to Wilcox, and tonight due to O'Neal's hamstring injury..oh, wait, "non-injury" (sorry about that, JO). But as long as Stiemsma continues to play like this, he will stick around with the Celtics.
PAUL PIERCE DOESN'T NEED PRACTICE. THAT'S THE TRUTH.
If Ray Allen is the machine, Paul Pierce is an iron man. Pierce has had all of 15 minutes of practice since returning to the lineup on Friday night in the home opener against the Detroit Pistons. Since then, he's been producing solidly. Pierce had 21 points and right rebounds in 34 minutes -- over 10 more minutes than he had in the home opener -- and looked like his old self all night long. It goes without saying that the Celtics will need Pierce to be his Hall of Fame self is the team is going to go anywhere this season. Monday's performance proved that he's going to be just fine. Count on it.
BOTTOM LINE: The Celtics haven't exactly beaten the greatest teams in the world during their three-game winning streak -- the Pistons once and the Wizards twice -- but they are looking a lot better than they did in their 0-3 start. That's a big step forward, as Boston will need to bring its 'A' game to challenge the Miami Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy (a task they may not be able to do even with a perfect team this season). But it's a step in the right direction. At this point, that's what you like to see. As Keyon Dooling said in the locker room, the C's are taking baby steps, but they are moving in the right direction.
NEXT UP: The Celtics will look to run their winning streak to four games when they face the big-bad New Jersey Nets (OK, just the BAD Nets) on Wednesday night at TD Garden. New Jersey is 1-5 and is in no condition to challenge any team for anything this season. Just like the series with Washington, it should be an easy win for the Celtics.