The Champs Prove Me Wrong Again

Maybe they checked the blog at halftime. Who knows. At some point near the end of the 3rd quarter, the sleeping giants woke up and dropped the hammer down on another Eastern Conference pretender.

The formula for victory went something like this: Big Baby played good defense and showed a lot of hustle. This got KG fired up, who also started to lock down on D and show a lot of hustle. Add in a dash of Toronto finally missing some shots, and top the whole thing off with a heavy dose of the Truth, and you have a delicious 94-87 Celtics victory over the Toronto Raptors.

The Celtics dominated the 4th quarter, outscoring Toronto 35-22. The crowd was playoff hot, whipped into a frenzy by a seemingly maniac Kevin Garnett, who was playing to the fans like it was Game 7 of the Finals. He played like a madman as well, at one point barking all the way down the floor at a terrified Jose Calderon (can you blame him? KG is twice his size).

But the big hero in this one is Paul Pierce. He admitted after the game that he was well rested despite the road game in Detroit the night before because, well, he barely played in that one (his words… the scorecard says he logged 28 minutes). So the Truth was able to go full blast in the fourth, scoring 22 of his 36 in the final frame, literally taking over the last four minutes of the game.

In the end, Pierce played 45 minutes, much to his coach’s chagrin. Doc said postgame that while he usually tries to keep the Big Three’s minutes down, sometimes it’s unavoidable. He also wasn’t happy that the team once again got off to a slow start, but a win is a win.

I can’t stress enough how the atmosphere in the Garden contributed to the comeback effort. The place was bouncing from the middle of the third quarter on. At one point, I could not hear the person next to me speaking. It clearly affected Kevin Garnett, who seemed way too pumped up for a regular season game in early November. The key is regulating that effort and emotion over the regular season. I would use the Tampa Bay Rays as a good example of a team that left everything it had on the field, and had nothing left for the next challenge. A true champion finds that extra something… and I think the C’s have it.

–SI

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