Even without Kevin Garnett on the roster, the Celtics have better offensive weapons than the Miami Heat. That reality shined through last night as the Celts pulled away from Miami in the final 2 minutes to break a 95-95 tie and pull out their sixth straight victory, and tenth in their last 11
The Celts had four of their starters in double figures with a fifth in Rajon Rondo filling out the box score in other ways (7 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists). Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Glen Davis took the lead combining for 71 of the Celtics 105 points, including scoring all 26 for the team in the 4th quarter.
Despite the balanced effort, there was one player whose performance stood out to me tonight, and that was Paul Pierce. It was evident from early on in this one that Paul was determined to have himself a game and he was going to do it shooting the ball. After a slow start, this notion became a reality as Pierce scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half on 10/16 shooting including 4/5 from downtown.
What stood out to me the most about Paul’s effort, was not his the point total or shooting percentage itself, but how the Captain scored the points. I sensed early on Pierce was settling comfortably into his midrange game but one look at his shooting chart after the game astounded me.
Number 34 made all 10 of his field goals for the game outside the lane. And he shot 62% overall from the field while doing it. Most coaches would blow up at a player with Pierce’s driving capabilities if they were taking that many jump shots. Last night, Pierce found his rhythm in the 3rd quarter and took control of this game without having to step foot in the lane.
Not many players in this league are capable of doing that. I could probably count them on one hand to be honest. That’s the greatness that Paul Pierce is as he cements his legacy as one of the best pure scorers in Celtics history.
Moving towards the other end of the floor, I thought the Celtics did a terrific job defending Dwayne Wade tonight, especially in the closing moments of this game. Wade got his 31 points but except for a stretch in the 3rd quarter when he caught fire from the outside, I felt like Celtics contained him as best as they could have, forcing his mediocre supporting cast to make shots, which they did in the first half, but faltered as they came wore on.
Despite his 31 points, Wade’s fatal flaw besides (his flopping down the stretch) was his free throw shooting going 7/13 on the evening, which cost the Heat crucial points in the 1st half. And I’m a huge Wade fan but I lost a little respect for him tonight as he looked for a phantom foul call every time the ball was in his hands during the final 2 minutes of this game.
Luckily, none were called as the Celtics buckled down and played great defense, while also avoiding any contact Wade tried to initiate. The MVP candidate was shocked by the lack of whistles over this stretch, perhaps rightfully so given how often he is able to get to the line in the majority of these games. Last night though the refs weren’t biting.
Another long night for Kendrick Perkins (39 minutes) due to the fact Mikki Moore took a step back tonight picking up 3 fouls in the 1st half in only 4 minutes of play. Perk was determined to be involved on the offensive end tonight, showing us a full range of post moves and even a couple jumpers with subpar results (5/15 shooting)
The silver lining of KG’s injury in my estimation is forcing guys like Perk and Glen Davis to step up their offensive games which will make them more valuable players once The Big Ticket returns. And even though he was off tonight, Perk is much more confident with the ball in his hands now compared to the beginning of the year. I can’t attest enough how having him as legitimate post threat on the floor makes this offense much more balanced and in turn more dangerous come May.
More observations on the bench after the jump
Other quick thoughts on the bench unit for the evening as they gave the starters another nice boost in the 2nd quarter turning a 3 point deficit into a lead. They also did this without Paul Pierce or Ray Allen on the floor as Doc went with a somewhat small lineup Marbury, House, TA, Big Baby and Mikki Moore. An encouraging sign for this unit to say the least even though they failed to sustain a similar performance in the 4th quarter.
Marbury watch: Stephon had perhaps his best quarter in a Celtics uniform, scoring 8 points on 4/5 shooting during the 2nd period, with a pleasant mix of jumpers and dribble drives. Doc spoke after the game on how he let the game come to him during this stretch and I would tend to agree with them as Starbury took advantage of the opportunities as they came to him. Similar hot streaks would do wonders for this team in the postseason to take the burden of Ray and Paul when they play with the 2nd unit.
It never ceases to amaze may how often Rajon Rondo gets into the air with nowhere to go under the basket, but 90% of the time is still able to find an open man and make a crisp pass to him. I use to flip out when Rondo would get himself into these predicaments, but now I’m just use to seeing him get out of it with an assist to boot most of the time.
Eddie House was a non-factor tonight, mostly because he was only limited to 10 minutes, with only 3 points. After the tear he has been on, it looked like Doc just was trying to give TA some extended minutes as well as play with a couple different lineup combinations with him in there.
Big Baby and Perk have below averaging finishing abilities, but they still get treated like rookies by refs under the basket. Davis in particular, could have had three an 1’s under the basket in this one, but the striped shirts refuse to give these guys any love.
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