I didn't have time last night or today to get anything written up for last night's game but I had too many notes and things in my head from last night's win.
First, it was probably the best regular season game that I've seen in person. It was definitely up there with some of the playoff games that I've been to. The sellout crowd was buzzing from the get-go. Like I mentioned, the amount of Celtics fans and Celtics paraphernalia amazed me. I really think the amount of Boston fans outnumbered the Laker fans when they're in town.
Talking to my father-in-law about it, he said that he was a Boston fan before the Jazz came to town. That may be why there were so many "dual-fanizen" people there. The guy in front of me had a Celtics jersey on with a Jazz hat and there were several others that I spotted that had some kind of mixed gear on. When you think about, the only teams people probably saw play on TV before the Jazz were the Lakers and Celtics.
There really isn't a rivalry between Boston and Utah but it sure seemed like one with the fans in the arena. Several times there were chants of "Let's go Celtics" starting up only to be quickly drowned out by Jazz fans. When Boston made a bucket or free throw, they got some pretty loud ovations. So it was even more satisfying to see those bandwagon, Garnett jersey wearing fans sitting silent in the stands at the end of the game.
What a game it was. It had everything that you would want in a game: sucky refs, a double-digit deficit, a comeback, great D, huge blocks, dagger shots, techs, and most importantly, a win.
There were lots of big performances from the Jazz men. We'll get to those in a minute, but I thought the biggest play was the series of plays to close out the second quarter. Millsap and Boozer were both on the bench in foul trouble. That gave us a lineup of Deron, CJ, Matthews, Memo, and the KOOF (aren't the Jazz glad they called him back up?). After a Ray Allen three put Boston up 12, the Jazz closed out the half with a 7-0 run thanks to some good D by the Jazz which led to good O on the other end.
After Deron took it at Rondo again and got the foul call, I leaned over to my father-in-law and said, "If Deron can make these, then get a stop, and then another basket, we'll only be down 5." That's a jinxable offense by any means. But lo and behold, that's how it played out. Those 7 points changed the course of the game as the Jazz came out in the third and didn't let off the gas. The scored the first 9 point of the the third quarter to take 4-point lead. They held the lead from there and finished the game with Jeffers and Gaines getting about 16 second of "PT" to close out the game.
So on to some of the individual accolades and other observations...
I'm starting with DWill because I think he owned the game. He set the tempo and was once again dominating despite not shooting the ball well. He took it right at Rondo who couldn't handle Deron at all. Even though he didn't shoot well, Deron did get to the free-throw line 11 times and converted them all. He finished with 22 & 11.
One of the biggest reasons for the win though was his play on the defensive end. We all remember Kobe sagging off of Ronnie B in the playoffs the past couple of seasons, daring him to shoot. Well, that's exactly how Deron played Rondo last night. He was sagging into the lane all night to give help when Rondo didn't have the ball. We all know that the Jazz players are coached to go over screens and fight through them. Deron was going under them all night, that's why Rondo didn't get the drives that he normally does and that the Jazz normally give up to PGs.
The epitome of this was when Boston swung the ball around and Rondo had the ball on the three-point line with nobody within 10 feet of defending him. After what seemed like an eternity, Rondo finally took the three and clanged it off the side of the rim. Where was Deron? Hanging out in the paint. They had no fear of Rondo shooting. Seems like that could be a pretty big Achilles heel for them in the playoffs.
Finally, there was one play where Deron had the ball on the break and Garnett was back peddling near the basket and ended up turning around a bit with his back towards Deron. DWill was able to run into Garnett and draw the foul. I thought for sure that Deron was going to dunk over him though. He had the head of steam and Garnett facing the wrong way. What might have been.
Just drive CJ. I don't know what's clicked with him recently, but I like it. He's been taking threes within the flow of the offense and even more recently has been taking it to the rim. He played great D on Pierce last night as well. He might still have some bad shooting games later and might make some bone-headed plays, but they're becoming the exception.
He had exactly 0 points in the first half despite 20+ minutes of play. He was 0-3 and had just 3 boards even with Millsap and Booze on the bench. He came alive in the second half thought nailing 4 three-pointers and helping the Jazz pull away. My favorite play came when Rondo gave Memo the ball fake, pivoted, and still got blocked. Rondo has done that play a bunch of times.
Boozer's block on Ray Allen and subsequent dunk has to be in his top five highlights of his career. I say top five because he actually played some help D! Rim shot! Really, you can't take anything away from him on that. That's one of the best plays I've ever seen in person, just one of those wow plays that launch you out of your seat.
Even a bigger pleasure to watch in person.
I think I've lost all respect for KG. This image started it
You can be intense or whatever without being an ass. Last night after Matthews ended up defending him because of a switch, it got a bit physical as Wesley tried to match up with him. I don't recall for sure, but I believe that the Celtics missed a shot because on the way back down the court, Garnett put an elbow/forearm in Matthews' back and gave him a push. For what? For playing him tough on D? Ass. I stood up and screamed from my seat. I think I might have been the only one to see it as I didn't see any other reaction from the other fans.
- Huge night for free throws. 27-31 and nobody missed more than 1.
- Worst. Refs. Ever. I don't know if there was a little message they were trying to send with Sloan not getting suspended for his altercation in Phoenix. Either way, it was abysmal on both ends. The offensive interference call on Memo. Touchy fouls. For some reason, Ed Malloy always seems to be part of these poorly officiated games. What's this about from his bio? "Has worked on the SEX training staff since 1997." But who would have though that it was going to be Doc Rivers getting the boot? Doc mocked him mercilessly.
- I didn't have the official minutes played until I got back home, but it sure seemed like Boston's starters were getting a lot of rest. They barely played 30 minutes some of them. I guess they were getting rested being the end of a road trip.
- Yes, the Celtics move on every screen. There was even a play where Perkins or Wallace not only moved, but then stuck their leg out at an angle as the defender went by. They got called for it a few times but only about 5% of the number of times it actually happened.
- I missed not being able to see AK play but I was even more disappointed not being able to see Fesenko's behavior on the bench during timeouts.
- So are the refs going to hose the Jazz until they lose or was this last game revenge enough for Sloan's non-suspension?
- I laughed when Sloan brough in Gaines and Jeffers for the last :16 just to dribble out the ball. I can do that! I would also cost a lot less too.
- I can't count the number of times I tried to press the rewind button on the remote after a play. They don't replay even a fraction of the plays on the jumbotron.
- Garnett's numbers for the first half? 4 & 3. The KOOF? 4 & 3.
- The Jazz won 19-10 in the fast break points department thus fulfilling my prediction. They also nailed their jumpers in the second half and that's what gave them the win.