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Winning with savvy

Posted by Julian Benbow, Globe Staff  March 20, 2010 12:34 AM

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Funny story. So a couple night's ago when the Celtics stomped the Knicks, apparently they were still mad because New York jacked 15 3s by halftime. Never mind the fact that they only made three of them. In the Celtics' minds, if a team takes that many threes it must be because they're open, which must mean the Celtics defense isn't doing its job. So going into tonight's game against the Rockets, guarding the 3-point line was a point of emphasis

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Enter Aaron Brooks, he of the 39 games with at least one 3-pointer. The Celtics, particularly Rajon Rondo, made it a point to make it impossible for him to shoot the 3-pointer comfortably. He missed his only attempt from 3 and the Rockets went 5 for 17 from long distance altogether.

"Rondo did a great job," Rivers said. "We talked about the streak that Brooks had. Rondo was really determined and as a team we were just determined to get out on that 3-point shot and make them take in between shots ... It’s amazing Rondo only had two points tonight. I actually thought he was the most dominant player on the floor tonight.


ALLEN GOES 1-ON-1 WITH MARTIN
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It was at least slightly ironic that Ray Allen ended up going shot for shot with Kevin Martin, the player the Celtics were allegedly shopping him for.They went back and fourth in the third quarter. Allen went 3 for 3 in the quarter (all 3-pointers). Martin went 4 for 4 with a 3 and a pair of free throws.

"It was just kind of you play, you follow your guy," Allen said. "You follow whoever’s got the hot hand. It was just one of those things."

Allen, who finished with 19 did a decent job of not letting it become a one-on-one game. Although, had it become one, Allen would have beaten Martin by 2.


"BIG BABY MOSES"

It could have been worse. They could have called him Ricky Davis.

Glen Davis pulled down seven boards, five on the offensive glass, and his teammates were waiting in the locker room with yet another new nickname for "Big Baby"/"Uno-Uno"/"The Eleventh Hour"/"Just Call Me Glen." 

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"They’re in there calling him Moses Malone because he got five offensive rebounds, four of them were his own misses," Rivers said. 

Davis is obviously infamous for grabbing a board, pump faking hard (and repeatedly) and either going up for the putback or getting hacked or swatted by the trees surrounding him. It happened last night and, for the most part, it worked in the Celtics favor. 

"He played so hard," Rivers said. "He just couldn’t get anything to go down for him. But it created fouls, it created second shots for us. So that was good. I think his energy over the last couple weeks has been terrific."


THE FORMULA?
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It's no secret that young, athletic teams are like the Celtics' kryptonite. See Orlando, Atlanta, Memphis, Cleveland and so on and so on. 

But the Celtics beat the Rockets, a team with both traits, by controlling the tempo, holding them at bay whenever they made a push. They rebounded (43 overall, 20 off the bench), they played defense (holding Houston to 39.5 percent shooting), and the Globe's Gary Washburn said those are the kinds of things they'll have to do to knock off the playoff contenders they'll be seeing in the coming weeks. 

"They pounded the boards, they played tough defense. They beat an athletic team the way you're supposed to beat an athletic team. You don't let an athletic team run you out of the gym. This is exactly how they have to play in the playoffs where they're always going to play in the playoffs. 

"This is not an athletic team. As we all know this is an older team. But older teams can still win. They can beat you with savvy and they can beat you by controlling the tempo."

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