To the average fan, last night’s 92-77 Boston Celtics win over the Indiana Pacers was just another impressive effort that displayed dominating play on both ends of the court. To the diehard fan, it was much more.
With this victory at the TD Banknorth Garden, the Celtics reached two milestones that deserve some recognition. The win was the teams 60th of the season, the franchise has not accomplished this feat since 1986. Big deal, right? Wrong. The Celtics have gone on to win an NBA Championship 5 times after winning 60+ games in a year, the last being in 1986. Granted, back then the big three in town were a few guys by the name of Bird, McHale and Parish.
There’s a new trio in town these days and they’re hungry. Together Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have made some noise in a city where basketball had been in a state of hibernation for years. The Celtics were so bad last year fans started cheering for losses so that we would have a better shot at the overall # 1 pick in the NBA Lottery Draft.
To go from a 24 win season to a 60 win season in one year is an accomplishment that should not go unnoticed. In fact, this turnaround is the biggest in NBA history, and there’s still 7 games remaining in the regular season. The Spurs had previously held the record for best turnaround in a season when they went from 20 wins in 1997 to 56 wins in 1998. Some guy named Duncan got drafted or something like that, but regardless, now the C’s hold the new mark.
The beautiful thing about this team and these accomplishments is that they could care less. They understand that they haven’t won anything yet and that they are preparing themselves for a run at a championship. When Coach Doc Rivers was informed about the historic turnaround in one season, his response, “Did we do that? Thanks for letting me know.”
Well they did do it, and it came in another onslaught, this time against the Indiana Pacers. Garnett led the way for Boston scoring 20 pts and grabbing 11 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. Allen netted 15 points, reserve Leon Powe played well off the bench dropping 14 points with 9 boards and Pierce chipped in with 13 points.
This one wasn’t even close. Boston was off and running from the opening tip, going on a 9-2 run to start the game sealed with a KG slam that forced a quick Pacer timeout only 1:41 into the 1st quarter. Indiana coach Jim O’Brien just didn’t have any answers for the powerful offensive and defensive attack that the Celtics brought to the table in this one.
“I think they are the best defensive team in the league,” O’Brien said. “I think they play the hardest of any team in the league. I don’t think there is that much dispute about that. That’s why they are contenders.”
The Celtics caused the Pacers to turn the ball over 20 times and held them to a dismal shooting percentage of 35.6% from the floor on the night. A few bright notes for Indiana was the solid play from Jermaine O’Neal who came off the bench for the second straight game, scoring 12 points in 20 minutes. O’Neal had been sidelined for 33 games with a deep knee bruise. Troy Murphy also recorded a double-double going for 11 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.
The win also puts the Celtics magic number for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs at 2. With the Detroit Pistons idle last night, the win increased Boston’s lead to 6 ½ games with only 7 remaining. With that said, there’s still work to be done and nobody wants it more the KG.
“We’re preparing for something way bigger than the present,” Garnett said. “I just don’t believe that you get to the playoffs and you wake up in the morning and blink and all of a sudden you turn it on.”
KG and the Celtics continue to turn it on every night; they just have to keep it going during the playoff run in their quest for Green 17.
Celtics playoff tickets are now available through Ace Ticket!