Game one at the Fleet Center was a magnificent night. The number 17 banner was raised, the stadium was jam packed, and the Boston Celtics were setting their sights on the new 2008-2009 campaign.
The Wednesday morning floor general here will recap the players and the strengths and weaknesses he saw after the first nights win over the Cleveland Cavaliers:
Rajon Rondo: With 14 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals Rondo had a nice overall game. He was by far the quickest player on the court and the Celtics were a much better team when he was on the floor.
Paul Pierce: After the emotional ceremony, Pierce put together an all-star performance with 27 points. He still is electric with the basketball and very good around the hoop when he slashes. There were times on the defensive end when he got beat off the dribble though.
Kendrick Perkins: Perkins was alive at the beginning of the game with a handful of offensive rebounds. Unfortunately, like in the past, he got into foul trouble. His aggressiveness is needed, but Perk needs to stay on the floor and not go to the bench with quick fouls. Overall it was a fair performance for him with 8 rebounds.
Ray Allen: When you're a "shooter" they'll be good days and bad days. The latter fit the profile for Allen. Although he played solid defense, Allen only shot 2-9 from the field and at times seemed to be forcing his shot. Allen is a consummate professional, and will find his touch again.
Kevin Garnett: There were times when Garnett was his dominating self again. His minutes and shooting percentage were down some, but the stat line does not put into consideration his his presence on the defensive end.
Tony Allen: The first man off the bench, Allen was a spark all night for the Celtics. When Ray Allen and Paul Pierce were on the bench, Tony was not shy shooting the rock. At first it seemed as though he was forcing a lot of things, but as the game went on his persistency paid off as he drove to the hoop well and finished with 11 points on 4-9 shooting.
Glenn Davis: Davis was a non factor in the game. He is a presence inside and did some nice things rebounding, but overall his numbers didn't much have an effect on the game.
Eddie House: It looks as though House is the backup point guard for now. This is not the position for him and the Celtics will need to find someone who fits the bill. House seemed over-matched bringing the ball up as well as when he was on the defensive end. His role as the back up point guard seemed to be out of necessity, but his strengths will be spot up shooting when and if the Celtics bring in a quality back up.
Leon Powe: Powe was the unsung hero of the game. It is difficult to measure heart but his play all night was off the charts. His amazing resiliency around the glass and strength in finishing was the glue that kept the Celtics together all night when he was on the floor. Of all the team, Powe played beyond his years and put together a fine 13 point performance in just over 23 minutes.
Overall Assessment: The Celtics seemed to be in awe during the first quarter, probably due to the hangover effect from the hoopla before the game. The glaring weakness I do see is at the backup point guard position. Hopefully the Celtics management can once again find a veteran to fill that spot. As in last year's case too, they will also need some help at the center position to back up the foul-proned Perkins. Patrick O'Bryant is the backup but saw 0 minutes.
It was a great night in Boston. The 90-85 victory over one of the top teams in the East does solidify that the Celtics will once again be a contender this season. Banner number 18? That remains to be answered.
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