You can have your Patriots v. Colts—I spent my Sunday late afternoon glued to the back-and-forth of the Celtics at Toronto. I never changed the channel, but I still missed the end of the game, as the television feed reverted to a still image with four seconds left in overtime and never came back. We—I’m assuming at least one other person also skipped the Pats—then had to listen to the end of the game with only the Boston announcers to guide us.
From there, T.J. Ford (who was brilliant down the stretch) hit a three to tie the game before Ray Allen came back and hit another three to give the Cs a 98-95 victory. It would have been nice to watch.
Things I did get to see:
—Kevin Garnett (23 points, 13 boards, 6 dimes, 2 steals) was completely unstoppable in overtime. This team has three legitimate number one scoring threats, which makes defending any single possession really, really difficult.
—That being said, the Raps aren’t built too well to handle a great interior player in the first place (I could probably take Bosh in arm-wrestling.) They need to get someone with some width to bang bodies in the post. Wasn’t Charles Oakley trying to get back in the league? He’s familiar with Toronto, he could help.
—I’ve never loved Ray Allen’s game (too pretty, too polished, too perfect, too I-spend-off-days-at-museums) but he’s incredible alongside Pierce and KG. Freed of the responsibility to be “the guy”—which is tough for someone who struggles to make his own shot—he can embrace the role of unadulterated scoring machine. He was hot today, and gave the impression that he might never miss a open shot for the rest of his life.
—Coming into the season, I thought that Rajon Rondo was the biggest factor in how far the Celtics could go this year, but now I’m thinking it might be Paul Pierce. He seems like the Celtics star most given to insecurity—will he be able to handle being the Celtics’ second best player (to KG) and second best-shooter (to Ray)? He’s run this team for so long—can he handle a diminished role? Will he be able to handle the games (like today’s) where he’s cold and scores low double digits in a win? One thing he’s shown already is that his ball-handling and play-making hides some of Rondo’s deficiencies on the offensive end. If he could evolve into a Scottie Pippen type point forward averaging 18-8 with 8 dimes then the Celtics will be really, really good.
—It was nice seeing the likable Carlos Delfino playing big (if quiet) minutes for the Raptors. Add him to the ever-growing list of talented players who the Pistons’ either couldn’t re-sign or couldn’t find a role in the rotation for.
—Brian Scalabrine is the eighth man for the Celtics. Not judging. Just noting.
—The Raptors shot 36% from the field and still took the Cs to overtime. This is a team that can put a lot of ink on the stat page.
—Tommy Heinsohn is a Celtics legend, a basketball legend. But, if you’re not a Boston fan, he’s horrible to have on TV. He’s okay at first for sociological insight—”oh, this is the way hardcore Celtics backers are thinking right now.” But that gets boring quickly.
He’s the angry guy at the bar who thinks the home team has never made a mistake in franchise history and that every negative call is part of a larger conspiracy put forward by outside, malignant forces. He is the homer par excellence, the completely subjective observer. He makes Bill Simmons seem like a calm, rational Boston sports voice. And this is a guy who gets paid to commentate on the games. The only thing that could make it worse would be if they cut the video feed altogether at the end of the game and left us only with his trademark fact-free analysis. Damn you Boston!