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That difference is what it came down to Monday night at Staples Center — the Celtics stayed close by turning it into their kind of game. Meaning chippy and slow. Then when the game was close in the final four minutes they executed and the Clippers didn’t. The result was a 94-85 win the Celtics needed.
“This is lob city and they enjoy the game. You can see when they play they have a lot of fun and we just had to make this game no fun,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
Boston knew exactly how to suck the fun out of the Clippers — at the top of the white board in the Celtics locker room before the game were the two top defensive priorities: no lobs, no threes in transition.
Boston executed that for the most part, they slowed the pace and turned it into their kind of ugly, physical game. There were five technical fouls, guys sprawling on the floor all night and a lot of hard fouls. It felt more like a playoff game.
“This is our kind of game,” Paul Pierce said afterwards.
The Clippers tried to play with an edge. Blake Griffin did his best Charles Oakley impression. Reggie Evans was Reggie Evans. But it didn’t work, because it’s not their game.
The Celtics were physical, on both ends of the floor.
On offense, they repeatedly attacked Mo Williams and Bobby Simmons in the post. They pounded the ball at them. It was so deliberate I thought it took the Celtics out of their flow at times.
Their defense man-handled Chris Paul and Caron Butler (combined 6-25 FG). They swarmed CP3 whenever he entered the paint. In the final minutes, when the Celtics made their run, the Clippers jacked up 7 three pointers (5 with the game in reach, 2 when the game was over). Boston had imposed their will and the Clippers were looking for the easy way out.
On Page 2, Danny Ainge insists Rondo will not be traded.
“Rondo’s not being traded,” Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com prior to the Celtics facing the Los Angeles Clippers. “I don’t know how many times I have to say it. Rondo’s not being traded.”
No player in the NBA has been talked about more among potential trade rumors. The latest involved a deal that would have sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers for Pau Gasol.
Ainge said that reported conversation, never happened.
Do we take Danny Ainge at his word, or do we assume he’s playing the game?
The Herald’s Steve Bulpett spoke with a couple of anonymous league executives who claim Ainge is entertaining all sorts of offers, but wants a king’s ransom in return.
The trade deadline is 3pm Thursday. It can’t come soon enough.
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(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)