Coach Doc Rivers tells the Celtics to consider themselves their own opponents in each game. In other words, don't worry about adjusting to the other team, just live up to your own standards.
And that is essentially what the Celtics did in a 124-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks Sunday. The Celtics, it turned out, had scored enough points to clinch the result and extend their winning streak to eight games by the end of the third quarter. The Celtic starters set such a blistering pace -- a 74-47 halftime lead their highest point total for a half this season -- the contest quickly evolved into a glorified intrasquad scrimmage.
The Celtics set the pace defensively, causing Dirk Nowitzki to miss his first seven shots on the way to a 2-for-12 first half. Paul Pierce provided proof positive about the Celtics' defensive emphasis by producing more personal fouls (five) than field goals (three). And, following the Celtic blueprint, the defensive stops turned into offense -- Ray Allen, who converted 8 of 9 shots in the opening half, Kevin Garnett, and Eddie House each finishing with 23 points.
The Celtics (37-9), who play host to Sacramento Wednesday, equaled the pace they set on the way to a 66-16 regular-season record last season.