No Pierce No Problem: Celtics Prove They Are The Beasts Of The East

Robert BContributor IDecember 25, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 01:  Ray Allen #20 of the Boston Celtics celebrates after a basket against the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on December 1, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics walked into Amway Arena like they had something to prove.  With a lack of a real signature win since opening day against Cleveland, it had to make you wonder can this team really win the big game?  Numerous times at home the Celtics had chances to prove themselves but failed.  The Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, and Orlando Magic all went into TD Garden and beat the Celtics. Being 22-5 many things are going right for the Celtics, but in those games they proved that so far they have struggled to win big games.  With first place in the eastern conference on the line, the Celtics certainly had something to prove.  But, they found out a couple days before the game they would have to prove it without their star foward Paul Pierce who is out with a knee injury.  Losing a team leader and their leading scorer, the odds were stacked against the Celtics.  Many had thought losing Pierce would have cost this team the game against Orlando, but Boston did something they haven't been able to do in the past against the Magic, they dominated.  From the second quarter on, the Celtics controlled the game with tough defense and rebounding.  Instead of trying to run with the Magic, the Celtics made the game more of a half-court style.  They came away with a 86-77 win, but it was how the Celtics did it is what is impressive.  Boston was able to survive a rough game from Kevin Garnett and guys like Tony Allen(16 points) and Rasheed Wallace(11 points 8 rebounds) picked up the slack.  Orlando was frustrated all game from the Celtics solid defense, usually solid guys like Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson struggled all game from the Celtics defense.  Offensively Rajon Rondo can be credited for taking leadership and taking control of the game.  He was 2 assists shy of a triple double and had a solid 17 points and 13 rebounds.  Trailing at the end of the first quarter 19-18 Boston's defense stepped up and were able to hold the Magic to just eight second quarter points.  After taking the lead heading into halftime the Celtics never looked back and were able to hold off a late Magic run with a Ray Allen jumper to prove they are the team to beat in the East.  The Celtics are 1-0 without Paul Pierce, but the question is can this team continue to win games without their star foward?  If Friday was any indication Celtics fans have nothing to worry about.