Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. Boston defeated the New Jersey Nets, 107-94, on Friday night at TD Garden.
All these trade rumors flying around, and the Boston Celtics still have time to win basketball games. Marvelous, isn't it? Brushing aside all of the Rajon Rondo trade talk and all of that other nonsense, the Celts picked apart the New Jersey Nets in their 107-94 win on Friday.
It was by far the Celtics' most complete game of the second half. Granted, they've only played three games after the All-Star break, so there aren't many games to choose from. Alas, it's a strong start and a solid sign that these rumors aren't bothering Boston one bit. That is certainly encouraging for fans with the march 15 trade deadline nearing every day.
Boston was practically dominant from start to finish, aside from a brief disruption at the start of the second quarter. Offense, defense, rebounding. The Celtics did it all, and got their third straight win because of it.
THE TRUTH RETURNS TO FORM IN FRIDAY'S BIG VICTORY
Paul Pierce wasn't particularly impactful in the first two wins of the Celtics' current trio of wins, scoring 12 and 10 respectively in Boston's wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks. Pierce looked much, much better on Friday, putting together a vintage game -- 27 points and eight assists -- to lead the charge.
"I think we are moving the ball a lot better and hopefully hitting our stride right here at home," said Pierce. "We are playing better basketball. We have a huge West coast trip coming up for us in the next couple weeks, so it's important for us to get as many wins as we can under our belt before we hit the road."
Pierce's performance helped the Celtics reach the 100-point plateau for the second game in a row and third time in the last four games. Needless to say, scoring points is something that makes Celtics head coach Doc Rivers very happy.
"Yeah, yeah, we're getting stops. Last three games" Rivers said. "I think two games in a row now for (Rajon) Rondo, as far as just offensive execution was off the charts. You know, he was calling the - he's back to calling a game every night. He made some sensational calls, through our sets. We're doing random less. You know, I think Kevin (Garnett) at the 5 has been very good. We're athletic all of a sudden. You put Kevin and Brandon (Bass) on the floor at the same time with Rondo, all of a sudden we're flying down the floor and we're getting low posts, we're scoring. But overall it's just all that, the defense is good, we're rebounding, and we're running. And that's good."
MICKAEL PIETRUS BOOSTS GREEN WITH TIMELY SCORING
A lot of the time, it feels like Mickael Pietrus is just flinging up three-pointers praying that they go down. Sometimes they don't, but others they will. Friday's game was one of those other times. Pietrus scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting to lead the Celtics bench, providing a much-needed energy off the pine, and it's more than just his scoring that helps out.
"He's our energy guy that we use off the bench," Pierce said. "You know when he's out there to start the game he gets us off to a great start, he's such a great rebounder for his size, and he can spread the floor with his point shooting. It was a real big lift to have him out there. We knew we were missing Ray tonight but we knew Pietrus could fill in."
Pietrus started in place of Ray Allen, who did not play due to an undisclosed illness. The first half of the season offered Pietrus and company the chance to settle in and get comfortable, but they no longer have that luxury.
"We don't have many games left so we are going to do everything we can to get above .500," said Pietrus. "I think every team in the NBA is going to try to make a run, including us, so we just have to get ready for the post-season and play Celtics basketball."
RAJON RONDO DOES IT AGAIN. AND AGAIN. AND AGAIN
Seriously, when is Rajon Rondo not on in some capacity? When he's not scoring, he's passing. If he isn't passing, he's probably dropping 20 points. He's been consistently active on both sides of the ball this season, and this game wasn't an exception. Rondo had 14 points and 13 assists while swiping the ball five times as the Rondo train barreled through another opponent.
Rondo, of course, is being mentioned in trade rumors left and right. One day, the Celtics are looking to swap Rondo for Pau Gasol. The next, they're just plain aggressively shopping him. Rondo talked about those rumors after Friday's game. While constant rumors might deter some players, even a younger Rondo, the older Rondo isn't bothered by it.
"I don't know where people are getting their information from, but that was big of Doc to come out with a statement," said Rondo. "People are still going to say that me and Doc have problems. Even after Doc made that the statement he's made, people are still going to say what they want to say."
People will say whatever they want, and Rondo's going to keep doing what he's doing. As long as he's going to continue putting up numbers like this, that's fine by me.
BOTTOM LINE: Yeah, you're supposed to beat the Nets, but it's encouraging that the Celtics didn't just squeak out a narrow victory. They were dominant, nearly from start to finish. The clock is ticking with the trade deadline approaching, but performances like this will go a long way towards keeping this current group of Celtics together.
NEXT UP: Linsanity invades TD Garden as the Celtics host the Knicks on Sunday afternoon.