Alright, so it's the preseason, and we know that it really doesn't matter.
The Boston Celtics had gone 0-3 since returning from overseas to start their "official" preseason, including an embarrassing loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Kevin Garnett didn't play that game, though, and the Celtics' main cogs hadn't really played much as a whole over those first three contests.
That all changed Thursday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Boston clearly came into this game against the Nets on a mission. It wanted to send a message to Mikhail Prokhorov's new team. It wanted to silence anyone who thought the Nets could give it a run for their money in the Atlantic Division.
Well, the C's did that and more, annihilating Brooklyn 115-85.
This wasn't some ordinary preseason game. No.
It was a game in which Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger, Paul Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry played 34, 33, 28, 22, 22 and 22 minutes, respectively.
Still not full-time starter minutes, but enough to get a point across.
The Celtics had seven players in double-figures. Lee and Pierce had 18 apiece; Terry had 15, all on threes (he went 5-of-5 from beyond the arc); Rondo and K.G. each chipped in with 14; Sullinger had 12, and even second-round draft pick Kris Joseph had 11.
Their guys played.
Joe Johnson and Deron Williams played 34 and 31 minutes, respectively. Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace both played 24.
They just didn't do much.
Again, this was a preseason contest, and we know that Boston doesn't even care all that much about the regular season. However, what we also know is that, during the regular season, the Celtics do pick their spots. They'll bring their best against teams like the Miami Heat and clubs of that ilk.
Not that Brooklyn is in that category, but it has certainly been stealing a lot of headlines, so many that some have even started to believe that the Nets can give the C's a run for their money in the division.
Chances are, that angered the Celtics, even if they didn't state it publicly.
Boston brought its A game last night, and it was downright scary. It hit on 11 of its 19 three-point attempts, Terry going 5-of-5 (as already mentioned) and Pierce hitting on all four of his. Garnett and Sullinger bullied anyone who dared step in their way; Rondo was his usual efficient self; Lee put forth what was by far his most impressive performance of the preseason.
It was nothing less than outright domination, and it was the type of performance that we all expect to see on a frequent basis from the men in green this season.
The depth on this C's' squad is just unreal, and keep in mind that they didn't even have the likes of Chris Wilcox, Darko Milicic, and Leandro Barbosa last night. Wilcox and Milicic are nursing injuries, and Barbosa is not yet ready to join the team after just signing the day before. Avery Bradley wasn't there, either. He's still recovering from his shoulder surgeries. Now, imagine when all of these guys are available?
The Celtics' versatility was on full display last night, picking Brooklyn apart with the utmost precision and demonstrating how they can beat you in a myriad of ways. Avery Johnson's group looked completely and utterly helpless after Boston's initial barrage, as the C's jumped out to a 27-15 lead after the first quarter.
They never looked back.
The Nets might have walked into this game ready to show their home crowd that they were going to be ready to deal with the big, bad Celtics this season. They walked out with their tails between their legs.
The memo that Boston sent to Brooklyn was simple: You're not as good as us, and you have absolutely no chance against us this season.
Preseason game? Yes.
Message sent? You betcha.
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