Rest for the weary
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said that the biggest benefit of Wednesday's lopsided victory over the Nets might have been the ability to rest his starters.
The Celtics are in the midst of a stretch that features four games in five days and three cities, including a pair of back-to-backs. Already battling injuries, including a foot ailment that kept Rasheed Wallace out for a second straight game, Boston enjoyed the luxury of resting its starters for much of the second half after building a 36-point halftime lead with a season-best 71 first-half points.
"[We've got a] tough back-to-back, we're down on bodies, the team has been struggling ... the bottom line is we accomplished what we needed to," said Rivers. "In that way, we got [the starters] a ton of rest and that's important to us."
Ray Allen, a workhorse at times this season, enjoyed a breezy 25-minute performance, while Rajon Rondo topped the starters with 29 minutes of action. Celtics starters combined to go 26-of-43 from the floor for 73 points with 24 assists, 21 rebounds and 5 blocks (all by Kendrick Perkins).
Limited action for the top of the rotation meant extended minutes for little-used reserves like J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker. Both second-year players showcased their athleticism, while registering six points apiece. Walker, who played six minutes after logging just six minutes all year, posterized Nets center Josh Boone with an emphatic one-handed jam, then assisted on a pair of Giddens buckets.
"Big time," Ray Allen said when asked how much the Celtics needed an easy win. "Just seeing the young guys coming in and playing and be able to run up and down the floor. It continues to make them -- or allow them -- to work harder if they’re not getting a lot of minutes. And then getting a lot of rest for the starters."
Celtics come out swinging
The Celtics connected on 10 of their first 11 shots from the floor and, to use a boxing analogy, the Nets never even got their gloves up to defend against the opening flurry.
"They came out and hit first and, for those two quarters, we didn't hit back," said Nets point guard Devin Harris. "They hit open jump shots, they got in the paint, they drove. They pretty much got whatever they wanted. We didn't take a stand on the defensive end. To give up 70 points in a half, it's tough to win any game."
The Nets have now lost 11 straight times to the Celtics, the franchise's second-longest losing streak against one team; the worst is a 14-game skid against the San Antonio Spurs.
“I’ve seen it happen, when you’re playing a good team like the Boston Celtics, who have two Hall of Fame guys out there [Paul Pierce and Ray Allen] and basically you don’t come to play; that’s what’s going to happen to you," said Nets coach Kiki Vandeweghe. "The tale of two teams. The first half there is really nothing to say, they outworked us, outplayed us in every facet of the game -- a team with no energy.
Nets' silver lining: Solid third quarter
The Nets took solace in outscoring the Celtics 29-19 in the third quarter. Boston got sloppy early in the second half, which forced Rondo to stay on the floor a little longer to right the ship.
"We’ve been on the other side of the spectrum -- you go up big and then you get a lead against a team that is struggling a little bit and then it’s the ballgame," said Allen. "We’ve been there before. We didn’t really have to talk about it because it’s the small things. You have to keep playing the right way. That’s what we told ourselves, just keep playing basketball."
Added Rondo: "I thought we came out a little flat in the third, but you know they were going to make runs. It was a little frustrating, but other than that, we just kept doing what we were doing and we stayed focused."
Despite the burst of energy in the third quarter, the Nets, now a ghastly 3-35, were simply outclassed.
"The second half the guys got after it a little bit and the game turned around," said Vandeweghe. "But the game got out of hand and it was basically over. We didn’t come with the game energy we have been. It was disappointing because we didn’t play hard. To play against a good team, even though they are missing a couple of good guys, it’s very disappointing. The point is we needed to come out strong.”
Said guard Courtney Lee: "We talk about the same thing. We've just got to try to find ways to get each other fired up. I mean if somebody is not bringing it, we've got to find a way to get them going. If we get everybody on the same page and everybody playing the same way, I think we’ll be OK.”
Doc's not fine with fine
Rivers was asked after the game about the $25,000 fine handed down to him by the NBA Wednesday for his conduct in being ejected from Monday's loss to the Hawks.
After noting that he was scared to say anything additional in fear of an additional fine, Rivers said, "I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. What can you do?"
Celtics forward Glen Davis appeared to aggravate the injury to his surgically-repaired right thumb in the fourth quarter while attempting a putback. Davis initially seemed to refuse medical treatment, but finished the game on the bench with an ice pack on his right hand ... Tony Allen made the play of the night by reaching back with one hand to corral an off-the-mark alley-oop toss from Pierce, then somehow managed to complete the dunk while seemingly fully extended. Check out this photo of the dunk. Interviewed on the TV broadcast after the game, Allen joked that he was simply trying to prevent a turnover on the "SportsCenter"-worthy slam ... All 11 available players got court time for the Celtics, while Shelden Williams was the only player without a basket ... Eddie House struggled, going 1 for 9 from the floor with 2 points.