Anyone remember this game?
I sure do.
It was the first game I really thought the green had a chance to live up to their pre-season hype ('85 Bears defense, 70-win season, etc). To refresh, the Boston Celtics dismantled the Philadelphia 76ers 105-74 in Philadelphia, making the Celtics 5-0 for the season. While Paul Pierce scored a team-high 21 points, it was the Celtics bench that left fans with mouths agape.
Led by Rasheed Wallace, who scored 20 points on 6-8 shooting from 3, the bench poured in 62 points, helping turn an 8-point halftime lead into a runaway blow out. Shelden Williams, 5-8 from the field with 7 rebounds in 23 minutes, was +28 for the game. SHEL-DEN. SHEL-DEN.
Alas, it was just a tease, and a criminal one at that. Not long thereafter, various Celtics started getting injured, the team chemistry went into the crapper, and the team's heart was lost on a flight somewhere during a long road trip in January. Indeed, the same team that trashed Philly on the road in game #5 lost to Philly at home in game #25 and almost lost to them at home on another occasion, escaping with a 3-point victory.
But just as Celtics fans were filing out of the stadium, ready to call it quits on their championship aspirations in 2010, what Mike Gorman likes to call the Bench Brigade showed signs of life earlier this week, scoring 38 points against Detroit, almost single-handedly resuscitating the season in nine minutes of play over the course of quarter numbers three and four. For an encore, the bench tallied 46 points the following night against Charlotte, again looking more like a unit with an identity than the first team has for most of the season.
So it's only fitting that tonight Boston returns to Philadelphia, the place where it all began earlier this season. Can the Celtics continue their climb back to championship-level basketball or will their improved play this week prove to be just another tease in a season that ultimately leaves us disappointed?