The San Antonio Spurs, in the midst of their annual “Rodeo Road Trip,” walked into TD Bank Garden down three top players. All Star Point Guard Tony Parker was sent back home to rest up for the upcoming All Star Game while shooting guard Manu Ginobili was out with a sore hamstring while Kawhi Leonard was also withheld with a fractured hand.
Rajon Rondo helped to keep the match close as the Spurs held the Celtics to 19 points in the first quarter. The team rebounded in the second holding the Spurs to 23 points while scoring 25 in the frame.
Coach Brad Stevens was mostly pleased with his teams performance and gave a lot of credit to the Spurs players and their tenacious defense.
“I think part of it was they were active on [Rondo], they were aggressive on him, he shot the ball well again, which was really good,” Stevens said. “And the other thing is they converge quickly, so it’s usually the pass after the pass that ends up giving you a look, and that’s the thing that obviously we didn’t make enough of them. We didn’t shoot the ball very well, especially in the first quarter. I don’t know where we were, but it felt like we were under 30 percent.
The Celtics next welcome the 30-21 Phoenix Suns to the Garden. The Suns have produced a 6-4 record over their past 10 games. For Coach Stevens, finishing the game against the Suns will be as important as how you begin. The Spurs were a testament to that.
“I thought our starters played well out of the gate in the third quarter, and then did some really good things,” Stevens said. “But [the Spurs], you know no matter who they have, they put a lot of pressure on you. And the way they move the ball — I said this before the game, it’s basketball the way basketball should be played — and it’s really a pleasure to watch, unless you’re coaching against it.”