The Celtics we saw last night could win the NBA title, Vol. III

Paul Pierce buried the Knicks.  Again.
Click here for Part 1 from Saturday and Sunday's Part 2.  I never intended to write more than one of these,  but each consecutive victory has been more impressive than the last.  The New York Knicks were just half a game behind Miami for the top spot in the East, and boasted a 13-3 home record.  The Celtics were missing their point guard and best player, Rajon Rondo.  Yet somehow the C's still emerged with a 102-96 win at MSG.  Both starting guards (5 assists each for Avery Bradley and Jason Terry) and the point forward (6 dimes for Paul Pierce) filled in admirably in Rondo's absence, and Boston "out-assisted" the Knicks 26-19.

The pressure Avery Bradley brings on defense was apparent right from the start, as he made Jason Kidd look old and slow by stripping the ball from him a minute into the game.  The Celtics held "MVP candidate" Carmelo Anthony to a season worst 6-26 from the floor.  For the second straight game Boston turned in a dominating third quarter performance on the road (33-9 in Atlanta Saturday), holding New York to just 16 points in the frame and turning a 56-53 halftime deficit into a 76-72 advantage.  And they did it with Pierce playing just 4 minutes in the period due to foul trouble.

For the evening the Captain finished with 23 points in only 28 minutes, none bigger than a ridiculous step back 21-foot jumper as the shot clock wound down with 45 seconds to go.  It put the C's up 6, iced the game, and broke Knicks fan's hearts in the same dramatic manner that he seems to do so often.

Last night it was Jeff Green's turn to shine off the bench, posting 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.  And Jarred Sullinger looked more like a savvy veteran instead of the rookie that he is, drawing a pair of charges and frequently "out-toughing" Tyson Chandler for rebounds.

Boston has now beaten the #4, #3, and #2 teams in the East in succession.  If only they were playing the Heat on Wednesday; I'd like their chances.

Follow Mark on twitter @LucidSportsFan