Rest, Practice Do Re-Energized Celtics Good in Win Over Jazz


Nov 11, 2009

Rest, Practice Do Re-Energized Celtics Good in Win Over Jazz At the end of a season-opening stretch of eight games in 12 days, the Celtics' fatigue was obvious.

Shots fell short. The extra pass wasn't always made. Defense, even on a team that leads the league in it, became lazy.

What a difference a day makes … or in this case, three days.

Energized by a much-needed stretch of three days off, the Celtics regained their early-season dominance in a 105-86 win over Utah on Wednesday.

With the win, Boston improved to an Eastern-best 8-1 and put aside any thoughts that their "slippage" was anything more than a need to reset.

"It was just a good group effort tonight," said Kevin Garnett, who led seven Celtics in double figures with 18 points. "You could tell the three days paid off in a big way."

Coach Doc Rivers said he knew it right away, noting his team's execution from the opening tip. Sure enough, Boston never trailed and overwhelmed the Jazz on several fronts.

The Celtics outshot Utah 53.2 percent to 46.8 percent. They made seven 3-pointers to the Jazz's zero and outscored Utah on the break, in the paint and on second chances, a sure sign of an energy advantage.

Counter that with some ugly moments during their last three games when it was clear that the C's were desperate for some gym time.

"I don't think it's the rest, it was more the practice," Rivers said of what his team needed. "I just thought our execution tonight was absolutely fantastic. … You can see the difference between tonight and the two games previous, actually three games previous. It's really nice to see."

The precision that practice can bring was notable on one specific play to close the third quarter.

After Deron Williams hit a free throw to pull Utah within 82-62 with 3.8 seconds left, Rivers knew — through practice and repetition — that he had one option.

Rivers ushered in shooters Ray Allen and Eddie House for the final play and camped them in the corners, knowing point guard Rajon Rondo had just enough speed to get into position to score himself or find one of the marksmen for a buzzer-beater.

Rondo chose the former, gliding past multiple defenders and scoring on a layup just before the horn sounded.

"We work on that and we put in all shooting. Ray and Eddie's job is to get to the deep corners and Rondo's job is to push it up with a pick by Rasheed [Wallace]," Rivers said.

"Our number, I think, 3.1 [seconds] is what he can get it up in. And what was it, 3.8? So we've timed him to that area. It has to be a straight line, though, or he can't get it off."

It was a practice-makes-perfect play that gave the Celtics even more of a cushion entering the fourth, much of which the starters spent staring at dancing fans on the big screen.

Even the moves overhead were a bit sharper than they had been in the previous week, according to Garnett, who was impressed with the little boy who has gained a measure of fame for dancing in the aisle of section 16.

"The little kid got it crackin'," Garnett said. "He's on that level right now. The three days off definitely helped him out, too."

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