Last season, Boston displayed an aura that possessed the kind of arrogant strut that could be compared to the school yard bully. This “swagger”, a season ago, was over discusses and played out. Injuries, opponents defiance and an early playoff exit– How things can change in a season.
Though the C’s still display the confidence of a champion, through two games of the 2009-10 season, they seem to have elevated their “swagger” from the school yard bully to the big brother brimming with confidence and poise after having walked the mile with the target on their backs.
The lofty expectations still exist as Paul Pierce told the Boston faithful during last night’s pregame speach,
“You see up there?”, pointing to the banners in the Boston Garden rafters, “There’s only 17 of them. I think we need another one”
Pierce didn’t make this declaration with boasting brovado, it was more of a public proclomation of the mission the Celtics players have committed to. Words such as “process”, “work in progress”, “chemistry”, “defense” and “ubunto” , that faded last season have made a furious come-back early in 2009.
Last night, in the team’s home opener against the Bobcats, the Celtics moved one tiny step further in continuing their “work in progress”.
The game opened with a poignent announcement of the 2009 roster. There were no pyrotechnics, no fireworks and no flame throwers. No need for this boistrous pomp, this team is all business.
The guys got to business early, jumping out to a 22-13 lead in a quarter that saw a
Celtics defense that was fitting for a text book authored by, opposing coach, Larry Brown. Help defense, communication and shot blocking were in full throttle last night. The Celtics forced 9 turnovers and the Bobcats only connected on 3 field goals in the opening quarter that led Larry Brown to, unusually, take an early seat on the bench in either disgust or admiration of his team’s opponent.
“They did all the things that, if you like this game, you value,” Brown told the media following the game.
Still working out the kinks, the Celtics struggled on offense in the first half but any offensive deficiencies were countered by the defensive grit and gridlock that dominated the other end of the court.
The Celtics forced another lengthy (12 minute) scoring scoring drought that spanned the 2nd and 3rd quarters. A 31-4 run by the C’s lingered in the Bobcats minds after the game. Tyson Chandler told reporters following the massacre,
“To me we faced the best team in our conference. So a team that has a lot of things to work on, and a team that’s already the best team in our conference, you get a lopsided game.”
Despite the offensive struggles of the Celtics, they displayed another balanced scoring attack with 5 players in double figures. In their usual “team first” mentality, they dished out 28 assists on 33 field goals and nailed 11 three pointers.
Balanced scoring, unselfish play, dominating defense…not much more can be said.
The bully has grown up– big brother now stands in his place and what’s not to like about that?
Nick Gelso covers the Boston Celtics and NBA for Boston Sports Then and Now. You can check out more of his great work on his blog: North Station Sports.