Last night, the Boston Celtics took the court at TD Banknorth Garden in hopes of making history. They had a franchise record tying 18 wins in a row and they'd tied the previous NBA record for a 28 game start @ 26-2. The Boston Celtics were facing a young Philadelphia 76ers squad that was looking to run every chance they got to make up for the fact that they had no low post presence since they were missing Elton Brand. All the Celtics had to do was play 48 minutes of basketball they way they were capable of playing and they set both a franchise record and an NBA record. They jumped up the ball and it was on.
The Celtics got out to a slow start as Andre Iguodala opened up the game on fire. He got into the open court frequently and made shots, the Celtics eventually got into the groove and Kendrick Perkins (8 pts 11 reb 2 stl) scored two early buckets behind a couple of assists. The Sixers continued to run but eventually the Celtics clamped down on D and managed to take the lead. Once Rajon Rondo (18 pts 4 reb 4 ast 2 stl) finally woke up, the Celtics pulled ahead 29-25 to end the first quarter.
Now that they'd finally got their game back on track by using penetration and ball movement the C's managed to stay ahead of the Sixers. The combination of Iguodala, Miller and Speights continued to put points up on the board even as the Boston machine was chugging along but unable to pull away. A combination of bad calls and turnovers kept the game close and the Sixers took full advantage. The Sixers were able to get out on the break and convert repeatedly. The final straw was when they tied up the game at 37-37 on a thunderous Iguodala breakaway dunk. Doc Rivers had seen enough and called a time out.
The Celtics responded with a quick 7-0 run powered by Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen (16 pts 6 reb 4 ast) to push the lead to 44-37. The Sixers called a time out thinking that would staunch the bleeding but it was to no avail as the Celtics were clicking on all cylinders at both ends of the court. The defense intensity shot way up and the Celtics finished the half on a 21-7 run for a commanding lead of 58-44. The Sixers kept the rebounding close and they still led in half break points, Boston's aggressiveness in going to the hole gave them an edge at the free throw line however.
The third quarter started much like the second quarter did, with the Celtics turning the ball over and failing to capitalize on their defense. Eventually, they were able to get some hoops thanks to good ball movement and some crisp passing but the Sixers weren't going away. Speights, Young, Evans and Williams somehow managed to either get to the line or score and they narrowed the Boston lead to 60-50 before Paul Pierce (10 pts 7 ast) hit a big three with 7:55 left in the 3rd to push the lead up to 13. The run was coming and there was nothing the Sixers could do to stop it, three and a half minutes later the Celtics had a 74-52 lead.
The Celtics starters ran out of gas and the Sixers went on a 10-0 run of their own before Kevin Garnett (18 pts 4 reb 2 blk) hit a jumper to stop the bleeding. The 3rd quarter ended 78-66 in favor of the Celtics. Doc Rivers inserted the bench in the game to start the 4th with Ray Allen and they started out hot. The lack of a post presence meant that Leon Powe (15 pts 6 reb 3 blk 2 stl) was free to wreak havoc inside the paint and Eddie House (13 pts 3-6 3 pts) caught fire from deep in the final frame. Ray Allen was pulled from the game early on and he watched as Tony Allen (4 pts 2 reb) and Gabe Pruitt (4 pts 2 ast) ran the show and pushed the lead back up to 21. At 3:52, the Sixers repalced Andre Miller with Royal Ivey..the white flag of surrender had officially been waved.
The Celtics won their 19th game in a row by the score of 110-91 and now have an NBA record with a 27-2 start after 29 games. The Celtics have kept the Sixers from connecting on a three pointer all season long and they racked up 27 assists on 37 made baskets for the night. The bench scored 40 points without Glen "Big Baby" Davis being available to play. The big matchup happens on Christmas Day in Los Angeles @ 5PM EST versus the hated Los Angeles Lakers. It's a rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals and a chance for the Celtics to establish ultimate NBA supremacy before their matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 9th. I can't wait!