With 5:33 to go at the Garden last night, I watched people start streaming towards the exits. Houston had just taken a ten point lead, 80-70. But then the Celtics turned up the defense, and held the Rockets to just 4 points in the last five and a half minutes, while sending the game to overtime. Amazingly they even forced 24 second violations on consecutive posessions with 3:27 to go. How often do you see that? The biggest play of the game that nobody is talking about today was a TERRIBLE loose ball foul committed by Samuel Dalembert with 56 seconds left. At the time the Rockets were still in control with an 82-79 lead. But as KG pulled down a rebound, Dalembert went over the back, and all of a sudden it was just a one point game with no time off the clock (I hate the rule that a loose ball foul under one hoop leads to free throws on the other end. But in this case, I’ll take it), paving the way for Ray’s huge 3.
After back to back OT wins, Boston heads to Philly with a chance to take over first place in the Atlantic Division, an idea that seemed crazy just one week ago (when they trailed the Sixers by 4 games). The Celtics are 5-5 on the second night of back to back’s this year, but they are 5-0 at home, and 0-5 on the road. In the midst of their wildly inconsistent season, only 6 of 37 games played have not been part of either a winning or losing streak of 3 games or more. I need to set up a LucidSportsFan research department, but lacking that I asked Celtics radio play by play man Sean Grande, who confirmed that Boston is the only team in the league with a pair of both 5 game winning and losing streaks. None have extended beyond five games though, so the trends suggest that the they are due for a loss to the Sixers tonight.
I’ve got a feeling the old guys are going to surprise us. When it looked as if the C’s were about to fall to the Knicks on Sunday, my buddy turned to me and said “These are the games they used to win.” But they pulled that one out, and then last night they gutted out another with suffocating defense late in the 4th quarter, reminiscent of 2008 (and the fact that they managed to beat Houston despite being out rebounded 57-38 is particularly impressive). I’m hoping they’ve turned a corner.
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