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Thank You Marquis…Celtics Find a Way: C’s 95, Pacers 83 (full recap)

 

ESPN Box Score8 Points 9 SecondsIndy Cornrows

Ok, so it’s not exactly how the Celtics imagined this game would go, but a 12-point victory is a 12-point victory, right?

Perhaps…but at the very least, I don’t need to address any “Post-Christmas” issues right now.

The Celtics won ugly in Indiana tonight, struggling through two and half quarters of sub-par play before turning it on when it really mattered, outscoring the Pacers 29-16 in the 4th quarter. They ended up shooting just over 50% for the night, when early on it looked like they were on pace for their 3rd straight game under 40%.

After the 1st quarter, this game just had trouble written all over it. Paul Pierce went to the bench early in the 1st after committing two fouls, and as a result, the Celtics’ offense stalled. Kevin Garnett started 0-4 from the field (but ended up with 11 points and 13 rebounds). And Shaquille O’Neal had 5 early points, but foul trouble (again) limited him to 16 minutes.

The Pacers led by double-digits in the 2nd quarter before Pierce came back and got the C’s back in the game with a quick 10-point spurt. But in the second half, it wasn’t just Pierce taking control of the Celtics’ ball-handling duties. That distinction went to Marquis Daniels, who arguably had his best game of the season and did just about everything for the Celtics tonight.

*This wasn’t a must-win game, by any means, but this was an important come-from-behind victory for the Celtics. Honestly, I don’t think there is any chance of this team playing .500 basketball for the remainder of the season. But you know they all remember how last season went. And with a loss tonight, maybe an OUNCE of doubt creeps back into the players’ minds. Probably not, but maybe. So I think a victory tonight sets the tone for the rest of the season.

*Overall, the Celtics have done a fine job managing the offense without Rajon Rondo, who sat out his fifth consecutive game tonight. Pierce has played “point forward” as well as anyone could ask. But tonight, I think the C’s really missed having Rondo in the lineup. The C’s recorded a respectable 18 assists, but there were stretches of the game where the offense just couldn’t find a rhythm, and rarely do the C’s have that problem with #9 on the floor.

What makes Marquis’ performance tonight so special, is that the Celtics absolutely needed that from him tonight. When Pierce dominated that stretch of the 2nd quarter, I said to myself, “He needs to put up 35 tonight for the Celtics to win.” But that’s not really fair to ask of Pierce at this point in his career. He can dominate 6-minute stretches of games, but not an entire game. And especially not when he’s doubling with point guard duties.

So Marquis stepped up. He did a little bit of everything. 12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks. Nothing blows you out of the water, but he took advantage of what the Pacers were giving him. TJ Ford? I’ll post you up, thank you very much. Mike Dunleavy? Let’s penetrate and create some movement. The Pacers are actually a decent defensive team, but Marquis found weaknesses and exploited them. The Celtics don’t win tonight without him, that’s for sure.

* Even though I think it’s clear that Nate Robinson will never be a long-term solution at point guard for this team, am I the only one that thinks he had a real gritty performance tonight? Aside from the head-collision (hope he’s doing alright), Nate made a lot of positive plays for the Celtics. He drew an offensive foul. He got a huge offensive rebound and kicked it to Pierce for a 3-pointer. He had 4 assists and no turnovers. Just a solid game, proving he doesn’t need to go 4-5 from 3-point land to have an impact on the game.

* Glen Davis keeps getting better with every game. Today, it was his floor spacing. The Celtics were having trouble creating space off the dribble, so Baby just found it on his own. He knows he’s quicker than Roy Hibbert or Jeff Foster, and he just got to open spots before they could. Another 14-point game and a step closer to Sixth Man of the Year.

*12 minutes, 0 points, 0 shot attempts and 2 rebounds for Jermaine O’Neal. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s still recovering from his knee injury, but at some point doesn’t he need to start contributing?

*My one wish for Avery Bradley is that he has one game where he scores 15 points and finally gets his confidence up. He looks like he’s going to be a lock-down NBA defender, but I still have no idea what he’s capable of on offense because he’s still playing scared. Not that I blame him for it, he’s still just a rookie. You can tell how badly he wants to nail those 18-foot jumpshots, and I really hope they start falling for him.

*Donny kept alluding to how quiet the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd was during the game. But can you really blame them? Just a mediocre team in every sense of the word. Probably won’t make the playoffs. Probably won’t have a shot at a Top 5 draft pick. Just stuck in between, which is where you never want to be. On the bright side though, if the NBA ever has a competition for which NBA roster can produce the most NCAA Tournament victories, the Pacers have to be the front runners, right?

  • guest

    what's up with JO? seems to me like either he's being a little lazy or he just hasnt found his legs yet since coming back… i know his d sucks, but lets make some rebounds or easy layups???

  • nateisfunny

    Maybe it is still early, but I am not sold that Avery Bradley will be a good NBA player. While he's an excellent on-ball defender, he's awful on the offensive end. He doesn't penetrate that creates shots for his teammates; and he's a worse shooter than Rondo!!!!
    Come on JO, we need you!!!!

  • AussieCeltic

    re Daniels "Celtics don't win tonight withOUT him" :-)
    Nice recap.

    • DRJ1

      We'll know whether Mike reads the comments or not by whether he fixes this or not :)

      • MikeS

        haha i changed it. thanks

  • nateisfunny

    If KG has the same offensive mentally as Big Baby (who shoots the ball almost every time he catches the ball), he'll easily score 25+ points every game.

  • Celtics_fan

    JO should really be traded away!!!!!!! He's not productive at all. We keep him now just because we're short of people.

  • CG12

    Jermaine O'Neal is injured and will be injured for the rest of the season. He may come around and be able to contribute something, and he may not. People just need to get used to the idea. The Cs picked him up, making a gamble that he would be able to get healthy enough to give them something. And he still might, but the clock is ticking on his window to get properly integrated. If he misses another significant block of time, his chances of being more than a spot minutes guy are pretty much gone.

    Nate did play a good game, energy-wise. That is what he can do for this team, especially games like last night where the Cs were so clearly losing the energy battle. He should be allowed to move off the ball and create off the dribble, but not expected to run the team's half-court offense.

    Does anybody else dislike as much as me the hideous offense where someone, often Nate or Ray, takes ten seconds to get fifteen feet away from the top of the key, then picks up his dribble, in order to wait to throw an "entry pass" (and I use the term loosely) to another guy standing at the 3-point line? What the hell is that? Before the game yesterday Doc remarked on the team's tempo and Mike and Donny discussed it during the game. The team is so much better when they work quickly to get into the half-court offense. Not necessarily trying to run a lot, although that would be fine, but just playing more assertively and with a better pace. When they were struggling on offense early in the game, they were having trouble beating the shot clock, which should never happen. One thing that I just don't understand, and it happened last night, is when a team has the ball with, say, 30 seconds left in a quarter. Rather than just running their offense, they run the shot clock way down and get a crappy iso shot because time is running out. Guess what guys – it doesn't matter if the other team has 8 seconds left or 22, they are still taking the last shot.

  • kricky

    I'm also unsure of Bradley. Yes his D is great. But we haven't seen him beat anyone off the dribble this year even once. Even Wafer can do that with some consistency.

  • kricky

    JO trade for some depth at the wing when Perk gets back? We'd still be 3 deep at center with Semi playing at about the same level as JO has so far.

    May be something to look into, but how much value does he even have at this point?

    • Eric

      Considering he's on the books for around $6 million next year, and at the same level this year, I'd say there's zero market for him. Unless the Celtics take back some crappy long-term salary, which seems very unlikely. We're stuck with him. I'm still confident he can contribute something though. Remember that even though he was bad in the playoffs last year, he had his best regular season in many years. I don't see why he can't replicate that on a smaller scale. Unless he's too injured, in which case we're not getting anything from him this year.

  • Tom

    You can't teach height in this league

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