I got to see my first lengthy NBA action of the year last night, and thoroughly enjoyed the Celtics’ dominance of the Bulls as they won going away, 118-90. Before getting to the game, I am pleased just to watch any NBA action for, with the threat of the league locking out the referees, I would not have watched any games had that happened. That they came to an agreement, even if one somewhat detrimental to the refs, at least eliminated the lockout threat.
The Celtics have been the most impressive team thus far, beating the Cavaliers in Cleveland, holding the Bobcats to a scant 59 points, and completely handling the Bulls and allowing just 79.3 points per game in the process. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce were very strong last night, with Allen scoring 20 points in just 23 minutes, and Pierce going 8-12 in tallying 22 points. Eddie House added 22 off the bench with sharp shooting, and the bench has been considerably solidified this year with the additions of Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels, and Shelden Williams. With House, they now have length, inside strength, and s=considerable scoring off the bench, even without the immature Glen Davis who is recovering from a thumb injury from a late-night fight. The Yanks have the ability to limit their starters’ minutes, especially early in the season–which they did successfully for much of last year before Garnett’s knee injury.
Speaking of which, KG has been good thus far, and had 16 points last night. His presence is most felt, however, on the defensive end, gumming up the works inside and on the perimeter, communicating, and blocking passing lanes. Wallace will provide much support on those fronts as well, a long multifaceted defender with good communication skills and sharp defensive instincts who can defend multiple positions. Williams has the ability to score and defend physically off the bench, and Daniels is a good defender whose offensive skills (good shooter, slasher) will allow Allen a blow.
Great bench pickups by Ainge this off-season, to me, make the Celtics the favorite once again in the East. 3-0 and rolling.