The Boston Celtics have capped off a fortnight of fearless basketball with a gutsy triple-overtime win over the Denver Nuggets at TD Garden today; with a winning streak now still alive at 7 games since that pivotal double OT win over Miami that got them out of a similar rut, of equal significance was the resetting of Denver’s own 9-game victory lane.
The Denver Nuggets indeed proved to be every bit the handful they are out West, with a nifty young roster only skewed on average by 36-year old veteran, Andre Miller. Wherever the Celtics threatened to take an unassailable lead in regular game-time, they reeled them right back in. To the neutral NBA fan, it was a terrific game of basketball and within such an electrified crowd; so much so you’d swear they’d spent the pre-game in one massive snowball fight, courtesy of the weekend dumping from Blizzard Nemo.
(I still don’t understand how the name ‘Nemo’ was allowed).
It is also hard to imagine how a sport with point score variations to go with many stoppages and turnovers can still foresee a certain game having overtime written all over it. And so was the case here, where two teams relatively well-placed in the standings were just desperate to protect their winning momentum. Naturally, the referees had to have a hand in it per se, when Avery Bradley was ruled out to have touched the ball out last, despite replays likely showing to the contrary. Denver only needed the 0.8 seconds of regulation time from the sideline to tie up the game through eventual top-scorer, Ty Lawson (29pts).
The aforementioned youth of Denver changed the cat-and-mouse game in over-time and the concern was whether Boston had the legs to go with them. However, in each challenge thrown, they did just that – with the older brigade of Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett and Captain Paul Pierce still getting involved. Indeed it was fitting that Terry should have the last possession of the game with a steal off Miller and a lethargic dunk to finally seal it. It is hard to know whether this was a break-out performance from Jason Terry, but his efforts were sensational as much as crucial. His 3 point prowess returned at important stages. The Celtics need him to frequently bring this to the fore in the big games going forward to go with the excellent defense of Avery Bradley, who can be counted on to toss in valuable points.
For the big games, they will keep coming no sooner than after backing-up the streak tomorrow down in Charlotte against the Bobcats. They host the Chicago Bulls in the last, right before the All-Star break. Losing Rajon Rondo is the leveller to the match-up with the Bulls, who have had a whole season to get used to missing their star point-guard. They look to be well settled too with their superior season-record to the Celtics. There is then this small matter of a five game West Coast road trip which includes L.A and Denver once the season restarts.
After today though, there is no reason for that to be daunting. Two weeks ago, all the talk in the media was about Finals being too hard, who should the Celtics trade for, heck, even whether it was time for KG or Pierce to retire! With one roster position still to be filled prior to trade deadline, arguably it should be now about who should join this Boston party.