These weren't the current Celtics. These were the 2007 guys — they built a lead slowly, steadily and unremarkably. They played suffocating defense from the opening tip, they quietly went about their business, and before you knew it, they were polishing off a 31-point win.
There was nothing flashy or attention-grabbing about it. There were no marquee SportsCenter highlights. But the Celtics blew the Bobcats away on Saturday night, polishing off their 10th consecutive win swiftly and painlessly.
The C's in 2007-08 reminded us all that defense wins championships. The modern Celtics got away from that mentality a little bit, winning with efficient offensive play and timely shots. But occasionally, you see a "blast from the past" game like this one.
The Celtics held the Bobcats to 24-of-71 shooting, or 33.8 percent. They had 20 turnovers and only 17 assists. They were limited all night long in offensive rebounds, second-chance points and points in the paint.
The C's decided to fight a war in the trenches, and they won it convincingly. This is how the old Celtics won every night back in '07, by controlling the flow of the game on the defensive end. Back when Kevin Garnett was a Defensive Player of the Year, and the Celtics were unproven and hungry, this was their game.
The Celtics held Gerald Wallace, the Bobcats' star, to nine points on a dreadful 2-of-15 shooting night. They kept D.J. Augustin completely scoreless, 0-for-8 for the night.
Remember when they used to do this all the time?
Boston's shift toward offense has happened gradually over the last year or two. Between the rise of Rajon Rondo as the game's best distributor, the changing role of Glen Davis as a versatile scorer, and the arrival of the one and only Shaquille O'Neal, the transition made sense. But on Saturday night, they turned back time.
The Celtics won even though Shaq wasn't around.
They won even though their offense took a whole quarter to find any kind of flow.
They won even though their captain, Paul Pierce, shot 1-for-9 from the field and missed five 3-pointers.
They won with defense, and it was refreshing to see. The Celtics haven't had a lot of games like this in 2010, but they can still occasionally show you flashes of their old selves.