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News » Teams look to C's day

Teams look to C's day

Teams look to C's day
They have played the second-most games (26) in the league and have won three more games (24) than the teams with the next best total - the Lakers and Cavaliers.

With 16 straight wins, they have the NBA's best streak this season, now without a loss since Nov. 14.

The season is almost one-third complete, and coach Doc Rivers couldn't ask for more. His Celtics are already conditioned for a stretch run.

Wednesday's 88-85 win at Atlanta was easily the most charged of the 16. The clinching moments were played out in front of a crazed Hawks crowd - when was the last time Atlanta's fans were described that way? - against a team that has been hell-bent to tear the Celtics down since last spring's Game 7 first-round playoff series loss.

Indeed, every Celtic couldn't ask for more.

``Every game has been a big game for each team we've played, and that's helped us,'' Rivers said. ``It's crazy, the way it benefits us, because they all want to beat you really badly.''

Witness the modestly skilled Zaza Pachulia.

Atlanta's backup center plays with the finesse of a bulldozer, and when a game against the Celtics is on the line, he plows into players like Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins as if the lane was a big construction site. A picture of Garnett and Pachulia from their Game 4 altercation last season was featured on the cover of Wednesday night's game program.

Garnett snorted at the hucksterism when he said, ``Anything to sell some tickets, huh?''

Pachulia looked on the same promotion as a badge of honor.

``It was the most important game of my career,'' he said of a night when he didn't score a point.

But if ever there was a time when stats were the smallest consideration, Games 3, 4 and 6 of that series were it. The Hawks won all three at Philips Arena, and judging from their fervor Wednesday night, they want much more.

But then again, that's true of every team right now.

``It's good for us,'' Rivers said of the enthusiasm behind the program cover. ``Something like that just has to make us better.

``I'll tell you, it can be exhausting at times. Our practices can be a little tough at times because of it. Teams are just coming after us every night.''

They're jabbering, too.

Be it the Knicks' Quentin Richardson, the Wizards' DeShawn Stevenson or the Hawks' Al Horford and the ever-game Pachulia, trash-talking the champs has become a league pastime.

That's difficult considering that Rivers has finally convinced his own players that talk is cheap and unnecessary.

``It figures,'' the coach said. ``We're talking less, but the talk hasn't stopped.''

After watching the Hawks run at his team like a band of kamikazes, Rajon Rondo wondered where they would be if they played every game with that kind of passion.

``They'd probably be No. 2 in the league,'' the Celtics point guard said. ``I'm sure that they'd be a top-five team.

``It just shows the composure of our team that we can still do what we need to beat them. It shows how much confidence we have. When it was time to win the game, we weren't bickering on the sidelines or complaining.''

Few championship teams could survive that way.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 20, 2008


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