Merry Day After Christmas, everyone. I hope you had a great time with the family. I hope that you got everything that you asked for. I hope that your pants still fit. If nothing else, I hope that you enjoyed an impressive Celtics victory.
Ever since Boston beat Oklahoma City waaaay back on November 23, weve waited for the Cs to come through in another major match-up. Over that time, we saw them lose to Brooklyn, lose to Chicago and lose to San Antonio. We saw them beat the Sixers, but that was only after losing to them the night before. The bottom line is that entering yesterdays game, it had been more than a month since the Celtics had delivered a win that really left you feeling good about their situation; confident that were ready to finally turn this season around and join the ranks of Eastern Conference contenders.
But yesterday did it. Yesterday was that win.
Of course, if the Celtics arent careful, that win will very quickly become insignificant. With Christmas in the rear view, Boston now heads out west for games at the Clippers (winners of 14 straight, owners of the best record in the NBA), Warriors (always a tough place to play, especially now that theyre good) and Kings (OK, they still stink). After that, the Green returns home to take on the Grizzlies (one of the biggest and baddest teams in the league, with the NBAs second best defensive rating) and the Pacers (winners in six of seven; the NBAs No. 1 rated defense). After that the Celtics are back on the road against the Hawks (who finally look like theyre for real) and then wrap up the killer stretch on Monday, January 7 at Madison Square Garden against Steve Novak and the Knicks.
When the dust settles on that brutal schedule, well either remember yesterday as a turning point or we wont remember it at all, but for now, lets soak in the rest of the Christmas cheer and take a look at what went right for the Celtics: contributions from the supporting cast.
Coming into this season, we knew that Bostons returning core could get the job done. Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley (when healthy) and Brandon Bass had proven that they can compete collectively at the leagues highest level. But it was that supporting cast Jeff Green, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger that was supposed to make a good Celtics team great, and for the most part, thats whats been missing over the first two months of this season.
But yesterday in Brooklyn, that clearly wasnt the case.
After a 1-15 showing against Milwaukee, Jason Terry was 4-7 (including 3-4 from deep) for 11 points and even dished out four assists. Jeff Green was good Jeff Green, with 15 points and a defensive energy and focus that allowed him to stay on the court for 28 minutes. Jared Sullinger was a beast, registering a career high 32:50 of playing time, tying career highs with 16 points and six free throw attempts, adding seven rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal, and generally carrying himself like a season-vet as opposed to a kid whos still not old enough to buy a beer. Lee was unspectacular but still steady. And Jason Collins JASON COLLINS continued to give the Celtics valuable time in the paint. He was only on the court for 13 minutes, but it certainly felt like more. His contributions can't be overlooked.
But they can't stop there. For this team to be all that it can be, Collins and company need to keep bringing it every night. Performances like yesterday can't be cause for celebrations and the focus of columns and blog posts, city-wide. They need to become the norm. They need to happen every game.
For the next seven games, at least. Or else Boston's Christmas miracle will quickly become a New Year's nightmare.