|(Photo: David Butler II / USA TODAY Sports)|
Well, when a team returns from a long road trip without a single win, I guess that lights fire under them. Then that fire grows stronger when the opponent is without its two best players. Outrebounding the opponent in double digits definitely helps too. So even if the opponent shoots over 50% from the court and beyond the arc, the team finds the willpower to become victorious.
Too poetic? Well, I had to sugarcoat this win over the Hawks a little for the pro-tank crowd. On a night when the 76ers have again shown that they will not win a single game for the rest of this season, it would have felt good to play hard and lose, but I guess the Celtics chose to play hard and win. The credit goes to Jerryd Bayless, whose performance against the Jazz was rewarded by being placed in the starting lineup, and he definitely didn't embarrass Brad Stevens: 29 points (12-21 FG, 5-8 3pt), 2 assists. Rajon Rondo also impressed tonight as he scored 22 points and dished out 11 assists, but perhaps more importantly he was 5-6 from the line. Just mentioning these two would be unfair to Brandon Bass (14 pts, 8 rebounds), Jeff Green (17 pts, 8 rebounds), Kris Humphries (10 pts, 5 rebounds in just 17 minutes) and Gerald Wallace (12 pts, 10 rebounds) too. Everyone played to win tonight. I mean, GERALD WALLACE HAD A FREAKING DOUBLE DOUBLE!!1!one!
Here's the thing: This win wouldn't have meant much against a shorthanded Hawks squad without their two stars Horford and Millsap, along with semi-important role players like Antic, Ayon and Jenkins, but then again the Celtics were without Sullinger, Bradley and Olynyk as well. I think the best thing to take away from this win is it demonstrated that this team can play ball when they feel like they have to. Seriously, Wallace had a double double. That should mean something. Oh, and if Bayless can perform like this consistently (which probably won't happen, but still), the Celtics might have found a great cheap role player for the future.
With this win, the Celtics fell behind the Lakers in the tank-a-thon, but one should hope that the Lakers will at one point be able to have at least 10 men to play for them in the near future, so there's that.