The Celtics ended a rugged four-game road trip 3-1 with a difficult overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, but they were many positives that came out of this win. The Celtics are outsmarting teams so far this season, especially those young, athletic teams such as Memphis that are supposed to run the Celtics out of the gym.
Oklahoma City was the same type of team and the Celtics used physicality, experience and execution to put away the Thunder. Memphis was a little more stubborn, but the Grizzlies melted in overtime because they still lack a floor leader. It was no coincidence Boston scored the first seven points overtime and the Grizzlies players were left looking at each other for a go-to guy.
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins went with his starting five to begin overtime and the Grizzlies took 3:08 to score their first points. By then the game was over. The Celtics used a Glen Davis layup and Ray Allen 3-pointer to key the surge. While Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 28 points, this was a team effort. Nate Robinson is beginning to snap out of his early-season slump, tallying 15 points off the bench.
Ray Allen was being shut down in the early going. He had just two points through three quarters but delivered eight in the fourth quarter and five in overtime. It was obvious the Grizzlies were not going to let Allen get off in the early going. He only attempted six shots in the first 36 minutes but collected five assists.
Meanwhile, Shaquille O’Neal scored 18 points in 22 minutes as he and Rajon Rondo are developing a strong chemistry. O’Neal is still effective around the basket and no one is going to jump in front of him on an alley-oop. So that’s the easiest was to get him involved in the offense.
It was a tough night for Kevin Garnett, who lost his battle with Zach Randolph, who scored 21 points with 11 rebounds on 10-for-14 shooting. Randolph is crafty around the basket and for the first time this season, Garnett lost a one-on-one matchup. KG finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals but his defense was subpar.
Still, a solid victory and now the Celtics get three days off before Gilbert Arenas, John Wall and the Washington Wizards come to Boston.