HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Go ahead and mark it down now — the two cities that every team dreaming of a championship needs to avoid at all costs during the playoffs are Memphis and Boston.
Just like the Grizzlies in the Western Conference, the Celtics have given everyone ample warning that they will be in the business of crushing hopes come playoff time. Their work since the All-Star break has been well documented. They have all of the components needed to derail the title aspirations of any other team in the playoff field, just as the Grizzlies did to the Spurs last year.
From a coach in Doc Rivers (who is arguably the best in the business at taking whatever parts he has and crafting them into a cohesive unit) to a clear leader in Rajon Rondo (who has finally asserted himself as the true catalyst for this club) to the fading-but-still-furious-glory of future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen (who have all had to accept diminished or drastically different roles than they are used to at this stage of their careers), the Celtics have everything in place to squash dreams and realize their own.
Their demolition of the Miami Heat twice in the past 10 days is no fluke. The Celtics, the league’s nastiest defensive team, showed last night that when they’re knocking down shots, they are nearly impossible to deal with. The Heat scrapped their way back into the game and still couldn’t overcome the Celtics, who shot a blistering 61 percent.
With Rondo directing the traffic, the ball moves all over the floor, making it hard for any team — even one as talented as the Heat — to concentrate its defensive focus in any one place. Garnett and Pierce both turned back the clock last night.