Kendrick Perkins. The spindly kid from Kentucky. Ray Allen, Farragut Academy’s finest, and The Truth.
That’s the way Celtics fans have come to expect the announcement of the starting lineup, but with three Celtics starters shelved with injuries, fans at TD Garden Saturday night got some jarring substitutions.
Perkins. Some kid from New Mexico. Tony Allen. Ray Allen. And a veteran gunslinger out of UNC usually not seen until late in the first quarter.
But that ragtag starting lineup was more than adequate against the Raptors, turning in an efficient, all-for-one performance in a win over Toronto.
“You don’t wish injuries on people,” said Perkins, who finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. “But when some guys are hurt it’s your time to step in and show that you can play.”
The Celtics were shorthanded Wednesday night as well, playing without Pierce and Garnett against the Suns. But despite the presence of Rajon Rondo that night, the Celtics were never in that game in Phoenix.
Between Wednesday and Saturday, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said, the Celtics changed their approach.
“We talked about that for all day yesterday, all day today: We’re at home, going out on a road trip, and we have to come into the game with the attitude you expect to win,” said Rivers. ” I didn’t think we had that attitude in Phoenix. I thought we were going — we showed up and said, ‘What’s going to happen?’ I thought tonight we showed up with an attitude that we’re going to find a way to win. We didn’t know how but we’re going to find it.”
The Celtics found it with solid, cohesive team play. They had 26 assists on 36 made field goals. Ten players played double-digit minutes. Six players scored in double-figures.
“Everybody knew we were going to be short-handed, and we went hard in practice and it carried over to today,” said Tony Allen.
Allen, an unlikely starting point guard, didn’t dazzle with his physical skills like injured starter Rajon Rondo. But he was more than adequate, totaling 14 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. He didn’t jump-start the offense, but he didn’t muck it up, either.
“He was great,” said Rivers.”He was aggressive when he needed to be. You know, yesterday all we did, we worked on keeping it simple, four sets only, multiple passes, and less dribble for the team. That’s all we talked about.”
Allen finished the game with three turnovers, but the Celtics were plus-8 with him on the floor. That kid from New Mexico, by the way, J.R. Giddens, added 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block.