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Celtics

Celtics Ups and Downs: Hello JO

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Celtics Center Jermaine O'Neal. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

Celtics Center Jermaine O’Neal. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics got their first win of the season and a huge confidence boost in the process Friday night.

After an extremely disappointing and uninspiring loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday, the Celtics opened their season at home and proved they still have what it takes to win a game, albeit against the Detroit Pistons.

Recap: Celtics Down Pistons 96-85

Here are the Ups and Downs of Friday night’s win at the Garden:

Ups

The Truth Returns: After missing the first three games with a bad heel, Paul Pierce returned and made a difference. Pierce looked confident and was not favoring his heel at all, scoring 12 points in 23 minutes to go with 4 rebounds and 5 assists. He went 4-for-8 from the field including a pair from beyond the arc. He took his vintage Pierce shots, fading away and shooting over the lanky Tayshaun Prince with little issue. Having the captain back was no doubt a huge boost to the Celtics offense.

Jermaine O’Neal Breaks Out: The Celtics center needed a good game, and he got it. JO scored 19 points and pulled down 7 rebounds in his best game in a Celtics uniform. He looked confident on offense, which is what the Celtics need out of him this season. They made a point to get O’Neal involved early and it paid off. Now if he can do it against better teams, Boston may have something. At least on offense…

Aggressiveness Returns: After struggling to get to the charity stripe, the Celtics went to the line 19 times Friday night. Not only that, they hit all 19 free throws they took.

Downs

Where Is KG?: There was little doubt father time would catch up with Garnett, but he is a shell of the shell of himself out there. Another 8 point, 3 rebound performance that won’t make Celtics fans feel any better about their aging star. Doc Rivers did live up to his 5-5-5 plan, limiting Garnett to just 26 minutes, and maybe Garnett is just getting used to the new rotation. His defense has taken a few steps back as well though, putting more pressure on O’Neal and whoever is with him in the front court.

Listen: Marc Bertrand’s 2011 Hate List

JO’s Defense: While he did it all on offense, second-year player Greg Monroe had his was with O’Neal. Monroe burned the Celtics for 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting and pulled down 9 rebounds. As good as he looked on the offensive end, O’Neal looked just as lost on the defensive side. His knack for getting whistled for any form of defense probably doesn’t help matters.

Mop-Up Crew: Yes, the Celtics were up big in the fourth quarter and ready to watch Gino on the big screen, but when the “scrubs” were called in they didn’t do much to warrant any meaningful minutes in the near future. The Pistons outscored Boston 21-10 in the final frame. Nitpicking, yes, but with no training camp and little practice time, making the most of their time on the floor will be important to the Boston rookies, JaJaun Johnson and E’Twaun Moore. This should imrpove as the season goes on.

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