There was a Paul Pierce scare, but everything couldn’t have gone any better for our Boston Celtics. Pierce was hot from the opening tip, as the C’s raced out in front the Atlanta Hawks and never looked back, taking a commanding 3-1 series lead with an opportunity to wrap it up on Tuesday night in Atlanta. Pierce finished the game on 10-13 shooting, including 4-6 from behind the arc. He went down with what looked to be a left knee injury late in the first half, made a brief appearance in the second, and then spent the rest of his time riding a stationary bicycle. From the looks of things, Pierce will be fine. He was smiling, at ease, soaking it all in.
Pierce wasn’t alone in making this a statement game. Rajon Rondo was 8-11 from the floor, including 2-3 from behind the arc. Rondo turned in a 20-point, 16-assist gem that included only 1 turnover. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen played outstanding basketball as well, and the result was a 101-79 win that had the Big Four watching from the bench for most of the fourth quarter. Enjoy this run by the Big Three while you can – they are going to do everything in their power to win another championship, and they don’t want to hear about the Celtics being long shots to do so. All they want is an opportunity. Well, that’s exactly what they have in front of them now. A change to advance, with a date against either Chicago or Philly in the next round.
Getting a win like this is huge, and not only because it keeps home court advantage in the Celtics’ favor. It also gives the starters a chance to get some rest before a tough road game on Tuesday night. It also gave players like Greg Stiemsma a chance to sit, while Ryan Hollins got some valuable minutes to work on his game. With Al Horford and Josh Smith both back in the lineup for the Hawks, having players like Hollins making contributions could be crucial on Tuesday.
For me, I can’t help but marvel at how good Pierce is at this point in his career. He’s dominating as much with his mind as with his body, the wise old sage of the hardwood. And give it up for KG; the man refuses to relent, refuses to accept nothing but excellence from his soon-t0-be 36-year-old frame. And what about Ray Allen? Bone spurs? Are you kidding me? The man is special. I’m going to look back on this era years from now and miss seeing these guys out there, chasing their championship dreams.
But I can reminisce later. Right now, it’s about the beating the Hawks and moving on. Let’s goooo, Celtics!