Mike Bibby has made an error of epic proportions, he disrespected the Boston Celtics' fans. When Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins were first informed of Mike Bibby's statements they were pretty dismissive of them. In actuality, they were seething with anger. Mike Bibby said that the Celtics had fairweather fans and that most of them were bandwagon jumpers.
He (Mike Bibby) based this on what he saw in the crowd last season when he visited TD Banknorth Garden as a member of the Sacramento Kings. I have to do a little clarification about what it was like to be a Celtics fan last year first.
The Celtics lost 58 games last year. At one point in time they lost 18 games in a row and Paul Pierce was injured for a huge chunk of the season. The Celtics had to field a team of young players that couldn't fully grasp the concept of team defense and perform the way Doc Rivers hoped they would.
Add to that the fact that the Red Sox and Patriots were dominating as they usually do, of course the Garden wasn't packed every game! Sure it would be 85% to 90% full on certain nights based on who the opponent was, but in Atlanta it's hard as hell to get that place between 85%-90% capacity regularly even when the Hawks are winning!
The game started with Kevin Garnett receiving the Defensive Player Of The Year Award (an honor he shares with his entire team) and the Hawks looking to be more aggressive and physical in hopes of taking it to the C's. Early in the game, Paul Pierce was fouled hard by Josh Smith and tweaked his back sending him to the locker room early.
"The Truth" was then replaced by the multi-talented swingman James Posey. The game was touch and go due to the fact that the Celtics kept getting called for cheap fouls and it put Atlanta in the penalty early. At the end of the 1st period the game was close, Boston led 24-20.
The Celtics tightened up their defensive intensity and moved the ball very efficiently, leading to several easy baskets. Last night, the Atlanta Hawks were fired up and had nothing to lose. They committed to playing a physical, aggressive, hardnosed type of game against the Boston Celtics lineup because they were convinced that it was the best chance they had to win. Let me run down what ended up happening instead:
The Hawks aggressive play (and some bad refereeing) gave the Celtics 33 total personal fouls to Atlanta's 22. This gave Atlanta a distinct advantage at the free throw line as Atlanta shot 31-40 from the charity stripe. Boston went 19-26 at he free throw line, giving Atlanta an advantage of +12 points.
The Hawks, one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA were outrebounded 45-35 by the Boston Celtics. The Celtics also took the all important edge in offensive rebounds 13 to 5.
The Celtics racked up 23 assists while the Hawks only managed 10 all night.
The Celtics came up with 15 steals as a team to Atlanta's 4 while forcing the Hawks into 21 turnovers.
The Celtics defense once again held the Atlanta Hawks to 38% shooting as a team and prevented them from making a three point shot all night (0-5) while shooting 7-18 from deep themselves.
The Celtics bench (James Posey (9 pts 5 rebs 2 ast 1 stl) Sam Cassell (10 pts) and Glen "Big Baby" Davis) completely outplayed the Hawks bench.
Even though Kevin Garnett had a horrid shooting night (6-19 and 2-10 in the 2nd half) he lead the Celtics with 19 pts 10 rebs 3 ast 2 blk and 2 stl. Ray Allen (15 pts), Paul Pierce (14 pts), Rajon Rondo (12 pts 6 reb 8 ast and 4 stl) and Kendrick Perkins (8 pts 9 reb in 23 minutes) held it down as the Celtics stomped the Atlanta Hawks 96 to 77 in front of a packed arena that included Bruce Willis. Everyone in "The Jungle" got to see Gino again so it was a good day.
For some reason that has yet to be determined, Al Horford and Josh Smith were jawing back and forth with Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins. Those are two of the guys on the team you should NEVER get mad...Perk is known as "The Hulk" around these parts (did anyone notice that Josh Smith and Al Horford were pretty much neutralized for most of the game?). The other guy you shouldn't piss off is named Paul Pierce. Ray Ray just doesn't care, he'll bury you either way.
Game 3 will be in the ATL on Saturday, April 26th @ 8:00 pm EST. They will face an angry Celtics team with a pissed off Paul Pierce in tow. I think that Mike Bibby should be happy he won't have to come back to Boston this year...so far in the playoffs he's 4-17 for 17 points, 2 assists and 3 turnovers in 2 previous games.
Oh yeah, the Atlanta playoff games aren't sold out. I guess they don't have fans of ANY kind.