Celtics praise Rose's polished game

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Celtics praise Rose's polished game

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

CHICAGO Every time Derrick Rose went to the free throw line, the 'M-V-P' chants would begin.

Bulls fans aren't the only ones singing the praises of Rose, who delivered a dominating performance in leading Chicago to a 97-81 win over Boston.

Rose led all scorers with 30 points to go with eight assists and five rebounds.

"They're not chanting 'M-V-P' for nothing," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "He's well deserving, how he's carried himself, how he's played. His play is doing all the talking."

And that play is screaming, ''You can't guard me'' to the Celtics and any other team that the Bulls have faced lately.

Delonte West was one of the Celtics defenders who spent some time Thursday trying to guard Rose.

West told CSNNE.com that he has noticed how Rose has become a more complete, all-around player.

"Before, he would just put his head down and just go to the basket," West told CSNNE.com. "But now . . . I remember one play on Thursday when he just pulled up for a long 3-pointer and made it. He didn't used to take that shot. If he starts taking that and making it, he becomes a really unstoppable player out there."

What has separated Rose from some of the other talented guards in the NBA, has been the combination of speed, strength, court vision and athleticism.

When you look at the NBA's top point guards, such as Rondo, Chris Paul in New Orleans, Deron Williams in New Jersey and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, they all have those qualities -- but few are as strong in all those areas like Rose.

And as good as he has been this season, he strikes you as a player who isn't completely satisfied with where he or his team is right now.

When asked if he thought the Bulls (58-20), in need of one win to clinch the top spot in the East, are playoff ready, Rose responded, "No. We still have a lot more games to go. We're just going to take advantage of it. Take advantage of every shootaround, every game we have left and try to keep this going."

To keep it going in the playoffs, there's a very good chance that these two teams might meet at some point in the postseason.

Rose has shown the Celtics that he does respect what they have done in recent years.

But there's no fear -- none at all.

"We know we can beat them," Rose said. "If anything, they just know that we're going to play hard. We're a team that's going to keep fighting."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

BOSTON –  Devin Booker went on a scoring binge for the ages against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, the likes of which won’t be seen anytime soon at the TD Garden.

The performance was so great, even the most die-hard Green Teamers had to give the 20-year-old props for dropping 70 points – 70 points! – on the Celtics who still wound up winning, 130-120.

And as Booker continued to pour on the points and the Celtics’ double-digit lead remained just that, a double-digit lead, the narrative of what we witnessed was a lot deeper than just some young kid getting hot.

The Suns are trying lose as many games as they can, while throwing youngsters out there like Booker to play major minutes and predictably make their share of mistakes with the goal being to learn from those miscues and get better.

But the true lesson in what went down Friday night had little to do with Booker’s big night or some Celtics being a little salty about it afterwards.

Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding Booker’s big night was the repeated revelation by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens after the game about his team’s play and their record not being on one accord.

“That’s why, like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”

And Booker’s historic night is the latest example to illustrate Stevens’ point.

Not having Avery Bradley (sickness) was a factor, obviously.

But that’s no excuse for the way they allowed Booker to do anything and everything he wanted to on the floor, allowing a really good shooter to gain confidence to the point where there was literally nothing the Celtics could do to cool him off.

The Celtics looked casual for three-plus quarters defensively against the Suns and still managed to win which says more about Phoenix and its desire to lose as much as possible, than Boston’s ability to find success and overcome a player with a hot hand.

It was another case of Boston getting away from what works while settling into what felt good and easy.

Most of the guys Phoenix played on Friday weren’t players you would consider big-time scoring threats, so the Celtics defensively didn’t play with a defensive edge other than the first six minutes of the game.

In that span, Phoenix didn’t make a single shot from the field while Boston bolted out to a 16-3 lead.

From there, the Celtics didn’t play with the same sense of urgency.

Fortunately for them, they were playing a team that didn’t want to win.

That’s not going to be the case in these remaining games, a mixture of playoff-bound clubs, wannabe playoff-bound crews and a few others with rosters full of players fighting to stay in the league who will use these remaining games essentially as an audition for next season.

If Boston plays like this in any of their remaining games, they’ll most likely lose.

And that’s why Brad Stevens continues to harp on this team not being as good as their record.

Because when you’re in the same class record-wise with teams like Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland and Houston, there’s a certain expectation of consistency you should play with most nights.

The Warriors and Rockets have explosive scorers; the Spurs play elite-level defense most nights and the Cavs have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Those factors form the basis of their consistency in terms of winning and overall play.

But the Celtics are very much a wild and unpredictable bunch, able to knock off Cleveland and Golden State, but get blasted by Denver and lose to Philadelphia.

If inconsistent play is a hallmark of this team, their potential for having a great season will be remembered as just that, potential.

Because games like the one they played on Friday against Phoenix on more nights than not, will result in a loss which could put the Celtics very much in the crosshairs for an early playoff exit.

Five takeaways: Booker's 70 puts focus on C's lack of D

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Five takeaways: Booker's 70 puts focus on C's lack of D

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