Celtics-Hawks: Boston Just Keeps on Rolling, Winning 88-85

Billy DeCostaCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2008

Man, these guys are good. Real. Good.

The Boston Celtics won their 16th straight game tonight with a 88-85 victory over an up-and-coming Atlanta Hawks squad.

The Celtics have won these games in a variety of ways. In six of their last 16 victories, they have put up 110 points or more. They have won games by large margins, showing just how dominant they are.

Tonight was just the opposite. Atlanta was up by three points going into the fourth quarter. Then K.G. laid the hammer down, scoring 10 of his team-high 18 points (Paul Pierce also had 18) in the final period.

The Celtics defense showed why they are the defending champions by limiting the Hawks to 30 percent shooting in that final quarter.

But this is what great teams do: No matter how the game is being played, they find a way to win.

I wrote an article not too long ago about the emergence and importance of point guard Rajon Rondo, and over this recent tear Rajon is validating everything I said. When he plays well, this team plays well.

Rondo has transformed the Big Three into the Fantastic Four with his All-Star caliber play so far this season. Tonight he put together another very solid performance with 15 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and four steals.

But Rondo isn't the only reason the Celtics are this good; he's just a part of the equation.

We all know how good Garnett, Pierce, and Allen are. Yet, what continues to amaze me is their coherence. Everybody plays their roles. Everybody has a job to do.

All three of them are stars, but none of them are superstars. They don't want to be anymore. They just want to win basketball games. That's the key part of this recent streak—no one man tries to do everything.

Even Kendrick Perkins, the often overlooked "other" starter in Boston, is getting it done. He's had four double-doubles in the past eight games. His rebounding ability and post presence is instrumental to the Celtics' style of play.

He doesn't have to be excellent, nobody is asking him to be. He just needs to play his role, and he's doing that effectively.

We haven't even talked about the bench, which has done a serviceable job with Leon Powe, one of my favorite players, leading the way.

I don't know just how long this streak can go on, but one thing has been made clear to the rest of the league: The Boston Celtics are by and large the best team in the NBA.