Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. Boston defeated the Washington Wizards, 94-86, on New Year's Day in Washington D.C.
No one expects the Boston Celtics to compete for a championship this season, but there are plenty of expectations that are reasonable. One of which is beating the bad teams. After doing so twice, it looks like things are returning to order.
Boston lost its first three games of the season, losing to two top tier teams in the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat before being blown out by the rebuilding New Orleans Hornets. It's safe to say that was not what was expected of them.
On Friday night, the Celtics beat up on the Detroit Pistons in the home opener. They followed their first win up with another quality performance against the Washington Wizards in a 94-86 win in D.C. on New Year's Day. That's more like it, isn't it?
Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo were the driving forces in the victory. Here's what the game came down to.
THE BIG TICKET IS BACK (FOR NOW)
If you didn't know if was 2012 (first of all, you'd be a shut in), you could have sworn that it was 2003 all over again based on Kevin Garnett's performance in the win over Washington. Garnett finished with a game-high 24 points and collected nine rebounds in 28 minutes for Boston. Watching KG on Sunday was probably the most similar performance we'll see to his 2003-04 season when he won the MVP award. No, KG doesn't have as much pop and ferocity as he did then, but to say that he is washed up (as man are suggesting) is hogwash. That's right, hogwosh. Garnett won't lead the team in scoring most nights, but when they need him to, he can pull out performances like this. He's a future HOFer, remember?
RAJON RONDO's OFFENSE RETURNS
After a brief two-game hiatus, Rajon Rondo's offense has returned. Rondo finished with his first triple-double of the season (knowing Rondo, it probably won't be his last), totaling 18 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. That's quite the game, isn't it? With Paul Pierce -- the team's leading scorer since practically forever (or the early 2000s) -- working his way back into the lineup, Doc Rivers is in need of points anywhere he can get it. Right now, Rondo's offense is helping -- a lot. If he keeps this up, the Celtics will put themselves in a much better position to contend for that 18th championship.
CELTICS LACKING KILLER INSTINCT
Several times during Sunday's game, the Celtics had a chance to put the Wizards away for good. As it turns out, they couldn't do so until the final five minutes of the game. Boston led by 19 at one point in the second half, but the C's went soft and allowed Washington to get right back into the game. Being only December (and five games into the season), it's unfair to expect the Celtics to have perfect defensive games. In fact, with the roster in its current shape, it may be unfair to expect consistency on defense (or offense for that matter) at all this season. Still, it is concerning. This is a team that the Celtics should be able to put away easily. Instead, they eased up and let Washington come back. That's a no-no.
BOTTOM LINE: It's unfair to a criticize to any team for winning, so only so much can be said about Boston's inability to put the Wizards away sooner. Overall, it was a solid performance that gave the Celtics their second win in a row. When push comes to shove, these are games that the C's should be winning. If they keep this up, they'll be in decent shape.
NEXT UP: Boston won't have to wait long for its next rematch with Washington. Less than 24 hours, in fact. The Celtics and Wizards will play again in the second game of a back-to-back at 7 p.m. EDT on Monday night at TD Garden. Boston hasn't done very well in the final game of back-to-backs, so the Celtics may not have as much success on Monday.