Boston Celtics Preseason: Big Three Rolls Against NY

Thomas HalzackAnalyst IOctober 19, 2007

IconIt was only a preseason game. It was only the Knicks. It was only a 40-point thrashing.

Final score: 101-61. 

The Boston Celtics destroyed the New York Knicks at the TDBankNorth Garden last night, in front of an enthusiastic crowd that came to see the team's new three-star attack.

If there was a question about the Celtics' finding chemistry, it's quickly being answered. The Celtics are 3-0 in the preseason, and as board partner 32fan says…

"I’d be interested to know the last time they started the preseason 3-0? I bet it was 1980-something. The C's have yet to be touched yet. Three easy wins. No big leads have been given up. No big holes have been dug. Nothing."

It's getting harder to downplay the good omens. Even some of the ESPN guys are intimating that this is the team to beat in the East.

Certainly, the Celtics at least look like the team to beat in the Atlantic. I’m sure that last night’s game sent a murmur throughout the division and the rest of the league.

(Of course, you can always say it was only the Knicks.)

In the search for a nickname for the new squad, I’d like to offer "BTS"—for Boston’s Three Stars.

Call them "The BTS Express." Once they get rolling, they could dominate in a way that hasn’t been seen in Boston since the days of...

You know who.

The chemistry is already eye-opening. Believe it or not, it will only get better from here. 

When you see your team’s top player (a seven-footer, no less) diving to the floor for loose balls, you know you have something special—a leader in the mold of a more athletic Dave Cowens.

IconI never thought I'd put Kevin Garnett and Cowens in the same sentence—but Garnett is as intense a player as I've seen in Boston in a long while.

The next real test for this squad will come when they face a top-tier team.

Does the New Jersey game tomorrow night qualify? Not quite. But it will be interesting to see the BTS Express against the Nets' lineup.

While Lawrence Frank's welcome may be wearing out in New Jersey, I've found him to be a relatively solid coach. The Nets are healthy as far as I know. I don’t expect them to roll over for the Celtics.

But Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Garnett are just too much for opposing teams.

At least one or two of them gets open looks on a regular basis. And if they do face a stifling defense, each can do something special to open things up.

Allen’s floating, off-balance jumper heading toward the baseline last night was an early example. That kind of play cuts into the other team’s confidence.

Pierce finished strong on a few outstanding moves to the hoop, mixed in with steady outside scoring in the opening period.

Garnett had a great no-look, behind-the-back pass to Kendrick Perkins for a jam. He also had a touch pass to Allen for another score.

Plays like that will deflate many teams—especially when they realize these guys are capable of playing at the level all the time.

It’s true that the preseason mission was different for both clubs last night. Boston’s three stars are trying to gel as a unit. New York has 17 players to assess.

The fact remains, though, that the Knicks opened with what one would expect to be their starting five. The first quarter was an annihilation. The BTS Express went up by shooting 11 of 12, and proceeded to turn the evening into a basketball clinic.

The game was over by the third quarter. Accordingly, Doc gave daylight to players who'd seen little-to-no time.

Of the group of Jackie Manuel, Dahntay Jones, Gabe Pruitt, and Brandon Wallace, Jones, and Pruitt acquitted themselves best.

Jones demonstrated athleticism and tenacity on defense. Wallace had a nice help block. Pruitt put up some decent numbers after a shaky entrance. 

Icons Sports MediaDoc went to Pruitt against Allen Houston and an overmatched Jared Jordan as often as he could. The result was a nice performance by the young guard, who had 13 points in 17 minutes on 6-9 shooting, to go along with four assists.

Rajon Rondo’s defensive tenacity (two steals and strong pressure) was partially offset by his erratic play on the offensive end, which resulted in four turnovers. Early on, Rondo was forcing things a little too much.

Eddie House looked great in an eight-minute stint in the first quarter, scoring five points on three shots.

Perkins and Eddy Curry decided to get physical with each other, with Perkins picking up the fouls (surprise). Still, New York’s big dogs—Curry and Zach Randolph—were held to 5-18 shooting combined...which can only be called a disaster for the Knicks.

Chalk it up to the work of Perkins and Garnett on the defensive end. 

Pierce led the team with an uber-efficient 7-8 shooting, 22 points, and five assists. He also added six boards, two blocks, and a steal.

Doc said after the game that he wanted to keep calling plays for Pierce, but Paul told him to start going to KG and the other guys. That's what's happening on this team.

If anyone has doubts about PP's being a team player, they'll soon be dispelled.

Personally, I've never felt that Paul wasn’t a team player. Now he has teammates who are able and willing to step up. Huge difference.

Add in a few really nifty passes from Glen Davis, and Celtic fans went home content—knowing that something special may be happening on Causeway Street again.

I can’t wait for the game against New Jersey.