Hawks vs. Celtics Game Notes

KG makes me smile

Being back in Maine provides one major advantage over being in San Diego: local coverage of every Celtics game. So this is the first of many Celtics game notes. Tonight they’re at home against the Atlanta Hawks, a team that is doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing. They are who I thought they were! No, really though, as just about every sports writer in the country already noted, with all those years of lottery picks, the Hawks should be good. Tonight we’ll see how just how good as they go up against the NBA’s top defense.

• James Posey won’t be playing tonight due to back problems. Bad news for the Celtics due to a thin, relatively unproven bench at the wing positions—where the Hawks are just stacked. And obviously Posey is a great defender. Tony Allen and Eddie House could take some abuse tonight (is it no longer okay to compare abusees to Jason Kidd’s wife? I think it’s probably been too long—the currency has passed. Plus, I like Kidd now, unlike when the Nets and Celtics had a heated rivalry)
• Paul Pierce opens with a jumper, fading to his left. He misses only once a game fading to his left. Count yourself it’s true.
• Now that Josh Smith learned to dribble, he’s damn near horrifying to face.
• Now that Josh Smith has a jumper, he’s damn near horrifying to face.
• Eww, Smith overshot the rim completely on that jumper. I rescind my prior statement.
• KG hits a top-of-the-key jumper. After 13 seasons you would think people would realize that Garnett shoots from that range consistently.
• Smith blocks Rondo’s shot back to half court… with his elbow. Why do the Hawks always seem to get the athletic freaks? They have a Dominique clause and it’s a little unfair.
• Smith travels (uncalled) and passes to Marvin Williams (who also questionably travels, without a call). Yeah, the refs are really cracking down on traveling this year.
• Paul Pierce gets to the rim for a lefty finger-roll off of his go-to move: losing and then recovering the dribble as his defender lunges for what looks to be a loose ball. I still, after all these years, cannot determine if Pierce does this purposely or not.
• After 6 minutes, KG has 6 points and 6 rebounds. Evil.
• The Celtics have at least 5 turnovers with 4 minutes left in the half. I can almost blame it on youth: Rondo and Perkins are inexperienced, and Pierce has been a rookie turnover-wise since the day he was born.
• KG easily D’s up Joe Johnson on a switch, staying down on a pump fake and forcing Johnson to pass the ball away. He has been my favorite player since the day he entered the league, yet I am amazed at his athleticism every time I watch him play. There very well may never be another player in our lifetime as multi-talented as Garnett.
• Now on the court for the C’s: Tony Allen, Paul Pierce, Brian Scalabrine, Kevin Garnett, and Eddie House. Umm… just pass the ball to KG.
• They do. It works.
• Marvin Williams looks a little chubby (or at least less defined than he did in college). His high calorie diet is working.
• Josh Smith absolutely bricks a 3 (dare I say he Hibachi’d it?). Kick me in the groin if I ever make another comment about his improved jumper.
• End of 1. KG’s stats: 13 points and 8 boards. He’s got a couple assists in there as well. Does anyone else project stats for the game like I do? Like, in this case, Garnett would end up with 52 points, 32 rebounds, and 8 assists. No? Didn’t think so (I don’t really expect him to… come on now. But if he did, I would have expected it).
• Josh Smith is averaging 18 and 10 on the young season—that’s just plain nasty.
• Tony Allen looks to be back to full health—he just went 1-on-2 on a fast break and got his shot swatted off the backboard. Good to have you back Tony.
• I’m not sure if anyone can verify this or not, but I’m pretty sure Perkins has grown a couple inches since he came into the league. He’s a legit 6’11”-7’0” now, and much trimmed down. He’s definitely one of two X-factors on this Celtics team.
• Marvin Williams blows by House for a lay-up. No one saw that coming.
• Joe Johnson hits a 3 from the left wing, but he’s been quiet so far. I would have put money on him becoming a perennial All-Star after his stint on team USA a couple summers ago. For the past three years he has been on the cusp.
• Scal nearly gets posterized by Shelden Williams and puts on his mean face as he gets up from the ground (Williams lost the ball on the way up/was fouled). I bet puppies still lick Scalabrine when his mean face is on. Red hair + freckles + “angry” scowl ≠ puppy fear.
• It’s 26-24 in favor of the C’s with 9 minutes left in the half, with the Hawks having scored 2/3 of their points off of lay-ups and dunks. But they’re 2 of 7 from the free-throw line. They don’t project youth at all.
• Tommy Heinsohn just made a joke after Perk nearly crushed Lue on a dunk attempt where Lue had to rotate over. Heinsohn noted that if the two of them were playing in England, Lue would have ended up “in the loo.” Negative Tommy points for that one.
• Ray Allen scores more buckets inside than I ever remember him doing on the Sonics. When you only see highlights, you forget how complete of a player Allen can be.
• Pierce fast break lay-up off of a Perkins block on the other end. “Big Hoop! Momentum getter!” Guess who.
• Salim Stoudamire checks in, bringing back memories of quirky three point game winners from the tournament a few years back. How times have changed.
• For those keeping track at home, Josh Smith jumps to pass 88% of the time. He also jumps while brushing his teeth 74% of the time and jumps while checking his email 83% of the time.
• “NICE PRESENCE BY PERK!” I am so happy to be home.
• Celtics 47, Hawks 39, 2:23 left in the half.
• My friend Mischa just texted me “Garnett was set to have 52 and 32 tonight but the refs called him 2 back 2 back offensive fouls so he had 2 sit.” Amazing.
• Pierce has the most inconsistent looking release on his free throw of any good shooter I have ever seen. There are few things scarier than Pierce in crunch time at the free throw line (except, of course, Smith’s newfound dribbling and shooting ability).
• Half: 55-41 Celtics.
• The Celtics start the second half with Rondo bringing the ball down the court and passing the ball off of Pierce’s face. The PG spot will remain a dicey position all season.
• Tommy Heinsohn is the NBA equivalent of John Madden: “Offensive rebounds lead to more offensive possessions.”
• Before the season started, I was unsure how Paul Pierce would fit in with Allen and Garnett. In years past he has been Payton-esque in his need to dominate the ball to be effective. But, come to find out, that’s only because everyone on his team in years past was awful! With good players, especially a strong presence in the post, the floor is opened up for Paul, giving him room to not only shoot off the dribble (going left of course), but also, more importantly, get to the hole without expending nearly as much energy as in the past. It’s like his career has been rewound five years.
• Rondo with a jumper! And the crowd goes wild!
• Perkins gets a reverse lay-up off of a nice interior feed from Pierce, and it makes you wonder how exciting this season must be for Perk. I liken him to a shy college freshman who slowly starts to realize that meeting girls at parties will simply happen after enough alcohol if you just stand near the action. “You mean to tell me that if I just stand here, right here under the basket, I will score 10 points a game off of dunks as well as average 10 rebounds? And all I have to do is stand here? That’s it?”
• All the hype around Childress made me very interested to see him play tonight, but sadly, he has shown me very little (which is all he had ever shown me, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised).
• Ray Allen has been the odd man out tonight. While Pierce and Garnett are getting theirs, Allen has quietly floated around the court, making a few shots inside and out, but not imposing his presence. Unfortunately for him, as many of us Boston fans know, when Pierce is in the scoring mode, unless you can get rebounds for yourself (a la Garnett), the ball will stop rotating all the way around the perimeter and your touches will decrease (“Less touches mean less shooting opportunities” yes we know Tommy shut up). This may be something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. A keener coach than Rivers would run some more plays for a deadeye shooter like Allen. But Rivers has been obtuse at best for some time, so the likelihood of that happening is low.
• Marvin Williams catches an oop off of yet another Celtics turnover (their fifth or sixth of the quarter), this one from Allen’s bad post entry pass. Their propensity to cough up the ball is letting Atlanta back into the game, and with the crowd in something equivalent to a tryptophan-fueled food coma, I am a little worried.
• Eddie House hits an open three off of a Garnett kick-out. House is successfully playing defense with his three pointers.
• Childress rebounds Houses’ miss with two seconds left in the quarter, then dribbles a couple times and doesn’t get the heave off before the buzzer sounds. I am always astounded at how often this happens at the end of quarters. It’s not as if a three-quarter court shot is high percentage—why worry so much about setting your feet or taking that extra dribble? Just get the ball to the rim. Anything beats 0%.
• 74-61 at the start of the 4th.
• Lucky (the Celtics’ mascot) trampolined over Terry Francona during the break between quarters. Lucky tried to pick up my ex-girlfriend at a bar last year. Just thought you would be interested to know that.
• Eddie House and Tyronne Lue are getting a little chippy, which is funny, because the dis “why don’t you get back to the bench you midget” is automatically ruled out.
• Ray Allen comes off the bench, has an out of bounds play run for him, and hits a jumper from the baseline. I wonder which assistant drew that up while Doc was examining his cuticles.
• Smith sinks a deep jumper. I’m on a roller coaster of emotions.
• Eddie House and Ray Allen are the two fastest shooters in the league (or the world). Having them on opposite ends of the court at the same time means that the Hawks are screwed on close outs. But they have no one to check Garnett. So they’re screwed on the inside too.
• On a timeout I switched to the Wizards-Nuggets game just in time to see Antonio Daniels, a good five feet from the top of the three point line, with all 9 players between him and the basket, throw the ball towards half court and out of bounds. It’s a wonder the Wizards are 0 for the season, what with Arenas shooting 1-17 from three and Daniels passing to the scorers table and all. They were down 15 by the way.
• Scalabrine catches a Kobe-flailing-arm-of-death from Al Horford and collapses to the floor. On the replay, KG, who was guarding Horford, clearly says “Oh Sh*t” as he watches the red head crumple. It reminded me of a similar Ricky Davis highlight when he stood, wide-eyed, and repeated those two words over and over. Five Tommy Points to whoever can name the highlight I’m speaking of.
• With five minutes to go, Boston is up 16, and the Boston crowd is quiet—which is strangely (and ironically) similar to how the were at this stage in games last season.
• KG with a dunk off a feed from Rondo, then Pierce with his second charge take on Joe Johnson of the night. The game is officially over.
• The biggest cheer of the game occurs when Big Baby checks in for Garnett (who finishes with 27, 19, and 6, plus a couple steals and 3 or 4 blocks). The cheer is just as much for Davis as it is for Garnett.
• Then Pruitt subs in for Pierce. Another cheer. None of this one is for Pruitt. Pruitt hits a three. An excited yawn emanates from the crowd.
• There is a Mario West sighting! Great flashbacks to the loaded back court of Georgia Tech and their Final Four run. Now I need to find the heroic Bynum.
• Salim Stoudamire dribbles out the clock, then shoots a 3. He plays for the Hawks if you weren’t paying attention. Who were losing. By 23, but still. Must be that old Hawks mentality.

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