It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t pretty, but our Boston Celtics got the job done, clinching the Atlantic Division title at the end of a brutal stretch of basketball. Rajon Rondo’s back kept him out of the game, Ray Allen’s ankle wouldn’t cooperate, and Mickael Pietrus registered another DNP, but the Celtics showed their resilience yet again, closing a tight third quarter with a 10-0 enroute to the 30th division crown in franchise history.
How about Paul Pierce? How good is Paul Pierce?!? A night after lighting up Madison Square Garden with 43 points, The Truth morphed into the Second Coming of Magic Johnson, scoring 29 points and dishing out a career-high 14 assists and looking better than ever. And just think – Danny Ainge was ready to ship Pierce to New Jersey at the trade deadline! We won’t even go there, at least not tonight, because tonight is all about celebrating the improbable Atlantic Division crown. Suffice it to say that Pierce was simply magnificent.
And how about our two-guard, Avery Bradley? Props to the second year guard from Texas – Bradley has answered all of the questions about his ability to play the two, so much so that Allen and Pietrus really haven’t been missed like I thought they would. Bradley continues to prove that he can score from the perimeter. He’s not the most polished guard in the league, and he knows he still has tons of work to do, but Bradley has elevated his game in a big way this season. Good thing, too – the Celtics needed him when Rondo went down earlier this season, and they’ve needed him with Allen struggling with that bum ankle. Bradley, it seems, is going to be a huge piece of Ainge’s rebuilding process.
I fully expect Doc Rivers to shut down the Big Ticket – it’s time to give Kevin Garnett a rest. The man is the ultimate warrior, the ultimate teammate, and he needs someone to tell him it’s time to back off and get primed for the postseason. And now there’s no reason to rush Rondo, Pietrus or Allen back into the fray. Let’s get these guys healthy, because the playoffs are going to be intense and emotional.
There’s a good chance we’re about to witness the last postseason run for the Big Three.