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It’s The “W” That Counts: Celtics 89 Bucks 83

ESPN Box ScoreBucksketball Brew Hoop

The starters eased their way into this one in the first quarter, allowing Milwaukee to scamper out to a quick lead. Then the Celtics’ almost unrecognizable bench applied a bit of sabotage of its own, ringing up a whopping four points in the first half of the second quarter. By the half, Boston was appropriately down 49-43 and even though they had identified it as a trap game beforehand, it appeared they might go ahead and lose it anyway.

Which you kind of have to grudgingly admire.

But as is becoming clearer and clearer with this Celtics team – the presence of the big four ensures the green are never out of any game. Especially when the opposition is missing its best player (Andrew Bogut, who sat this one out with a strained muscle in his ribcage).

The Celtics put it together in the second half to close out this mostly artless win. Paul Pierce was assertive all night against the undermanned Bucks, going for 23 points and Kevin Garnett added his 23rd double-double of the season, with 14 and 11 in 37 minutes and a big block in the closing minute to secure the win.

A big part of the second half turnaround was slowing up Brandon Jennings (23 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds), who outplayed Rajon Rondo by a wide margin tonight. Rondo’s awful night ended with as many turnovers (8) as assists. A clear point guard fail. However, despite Rondo’s poor game, he was the guy Doc Rivers inserted to try and get the offense moving in the second quarter when the Avery Bradley, Ray Allen, Sasha Pavlovic, Jeff Green and Troy Murphy horror-show had let the Bucks pull away. It didn’t really work until the rest of the starters joined him.

It’s a work-in-progress, folks, and it will be for another few weeks at least. Which is why it’s so important the Celtics got the win, above all else.

That’s the only real relevance this game will play in the entire 2010-11 season.

So, mission accomplished.

New Guy Update:

  • Thumbs Up! Nenad Krstic is fitting in smoothly on the offensive end, going 7-8 for 17 big points that kept the Celtics in the game in the first half
  • Thumbs Down! Murphy still hasn’t made a shot as a Celtic. It’s inept but still forgivable considering how little he’s played in 2011. Defer some of your contempt until he’s had some more time to find his way into the offense and find a rhythm.
  • Thumbs Up! Jeff Green showed us his vaunted versatility, attacking Milwaukee in the post and playing key crunch time minutes down the stretch. It’s less the numbers that are impressive right now with Green but the different lineup possibilities he gives Doc. It’d be nice to see him get longer minutes over the next few weeks as Allen and Pierce went for 39 and 37 respectfully tonight. Those have to start coming down. Don’t they?
  • Thumbs Sideways! Pavlovic played 12 unremarkable minutes in his Celtics debut.

    The Cs had only 9 players to take the floor, 
    So many missing because something is sore.
    No Jermaine, no Baby, no Wafer, no Shaq, 
    When will we ever get our whole team back?

    Q1 the Cs' defense was little or none, 
    Til Doc called time out to stop the Bucks' run.
    Mbah a Moute, Mbah a Moute, he was their man-
    Say his name out loud, it's fun if you can.

    Krstic had 12 points then none in Q2,
    That kind of offense will not do-
    Just 2 points in the half were made by Ray,
    And Rondo five times threw the ball away.

    Pierce led the charge but there was too much to fix,
    Which explains why at the half the Bucks were up six.
    Q3 Pierce got the Cs out of their funk,
    And set the tone with a monster dunk.

    Ray finally had a three point play and then
    The Cs outscored the Bucks in Q3 by 10. 
    Pavlovic, Bradley, Murphy, Green,
    With Ray, a line-up we've not seen.

    Pavlovic in Q4 made a beautiful three, 
    That's what our veterans like to see.
    An aside: 641 games for Murphy, that's Troy,
    And he's never been to a playoff game-oh, boy!

    Jennings picked it up, with shots and swagger,
    Just hoping it would be the final dagger.
    Pierce called earlier for a walk, then a carry,
    This game was really getting hairy.

    Game was tied, 2:52 to go,
    Both teams' play anything but slow.
    Delfino defended Pierce, he got no shot,
    But the Bucks' offense was no longer hot.

    Under 20 seconds left a huge block by KG,
    Rondo to Pierce–shot and free throw for three.
    An up and down game, the basketball gods we should thank.
    BTW, think Scott Skiles looks like Lawrence Frank?

    Tough night with 13, still it must be said,
    Ray, with 2 threes, is 24 ahead.


    • Vincent

      Two thumbs up, man. Nice one!

    • Guest

      Haha amazing

  • JenG

    Well, as of right now I'm giving both Murphy and Pavlovic a pass because as far as I've noticed (without actually looking at the numbers), a lot of their minutes are when they're primarily playing with the bench, or more glaringly, Bradley. It's kinda hard to get into an offensive groove when you're playing with the number one offensive killer on the team. Maybe I'm being too harsh on Bradley, but it seems to me that he completely stagnates the offense when he gets into the game. Not exactly what you wanna see from a backup PG.

  • nbsmatambo

    i have to say…Bradley is very bad on offense, he is dribbling while looking at the ground half the time BUT his defense is pretty good..
    Im liking Krstic and Green and their offense + their defense isnt as terrible as people made it out to be
    Rondo needs to play less mins, hopefully Arroyo will help out in that department
    Huge block by KG =D, made me giggle inside lol

    I just want to see this new team play a good team to see how well we stack up now

  • jim

    Kristic and Green are going to make this trade look good for the Celtics. Please Ryan give Murphy a chance before you start giving someone a thumbs down. The guy will pay off for us given some time. How can anyone get on the guy after he has played so little this year. Both our point guards looked really bad tonight. Bradley is not ready for prime time!

  • I_Love_Green

    I just want to let you two above me that Avery is a 19 year old rookie, who is just starting to get actual playing time. Go easy on the kid.

    • nbsmatambo

      i know he is a rookie, but his offense is raw. Doesnt take away from the fact that he is great defensively

    • Tom W

      Hey remember that young point guard we had recently who drove us no end of crazy for a while? And then he figured it out, and is now the toast of Boston? I think his last name was Rondo.

      Not saying Bradley will turn into Rondo, but I agree, let's give him a bit of a chance.

    • JenG

      I will concur. I'm not saying I'm completely closing the door on Bradley. However, with as depleted and raw as our bench is right now, I think him having extended minutes is playing with fire for this team. Yes, I love his defense, but as of right now I don't like him being the primary ballhandler/playmaker on the floor. I think if he were in with Paul it'd help alleviate that problem. I don't mind him handling the ball some of the time, just not all of the time.

      • Tom W

        Well, I agree, but once Delonte comes back, the fire-playing will be done and over. I seriously doubt Bradley will see ANY time on the court in the playoffs barring catastrophic injury. Which, unfortunately this year, is something that maybe shouldn't be discounted.

  • CarlosR

    We need West and Wafer asap, more than we need Shaq…. Ray, Paul and RR are playing too many minutes when it should be the opposite. The regular season is coming to an end and those guys are playing 36-40 minutes per game.

  • I_Bleed_Green

    I’ll bet my life that Bradley will not be in the NBA in 2 years. Look around and you will not find a worse pg.

  • Krstic + Big Four = offensive flow. Nenad should continue to get good looks and put up ridiculous shooting numbers. Big Baby and Kendrick are great on D, but Nenad and Shaq are better overall for the skills they add to the offense.

  • Joel W

    Bradley's defense is really fun to watch. He may need to learn the corner tres and just accept his fate as a 3-D player. Definitely disagree with people who shit on him. He does his one thing so well, there will be space for him in the league.

    68 shots is pathetic for the C's tough. 17 turnovers and 3 offensive rebounds is just awful

  • DRJ1

    Doc said after the game that he thought Pavlovic was "phenomenal." On defense. Said he told him he could shoot and miss as many shots as he wants if he just continues to play that kind of D.

    As for Avery… he's gonna stick around until after the next training camp. If he doesn't get how to play offense on this team by then, he will be gone. But I expect he will. And he's pretty awesome on D… amazing, sometimes.

  • Dan

    Anyone else notice how Brandon Jennings swallowed up all the negative in the Bucks +/-. Considering it seemed like he was keeping them in it at times and thoroughly outplaying Rondo, this surprised me. I can't decide if this shows the flaw of the stat, the flaw in my intuition of the game, or nothing at all.

    • kricky

      Yeah, I noticed this too. Jennings had a great game and flat outplayed RR tonight. I think the only things it does show is that we outscored them when it was our starters vs there's and that they outscored us bench vs bench.Another ringing endorsement for our bench unit.

      Hopefully we'll be at full strength there soon. This bench could be awesome.

      But in the end it won't really matter come playoff time when Doc shortens the rotation.

  • Far East Man

    Rondo was bad tonight… baaaaaddd. he looked out of sync, even when he was with the starters.

  • Phil

    I'd probably give Pavlovic a thumbs up personally. With the rash of injuries and new bodies, isn't unremarkable minutes exactly what you want from the 14th man on your roster signed off the street earlier in the week? I know people here would love unremarkable minutes from Bradley.

    As far as Bradley goes, let's ease up on the 'next game is his last chance' and 'he'll be out of the league in a year' narratives. He's a (young,) rookie being forced into a role no one wanted him to be in (meaningful minutes for a championship contender.) He's something the Celtics have been missing the last few years, a rookie who looks like they actually have a chance to stick in the league/be a part of the roster in a few years. (Bill Walker was the only one of the Celtics recent draft picks that I thought may stick around.) Just watching him on defense, its clear he has a place in the league. Guys stick around for extended careers with no offensive game if they can play tough D off the bench. The fact that he's showing that aspect this early means he'll always at least have one NBA level skill, and anyone who writes off potential development of a 19 (has he turned 20 yet?) year old is being short sighted.

    Loved Kristic and Green tonight. Green's been better on offense than I expected, he could definitely be the main scoring threat for the second unit that I was never comfortable with Big Baby being. His defense seems to be lacking behind where I expected it though. It does seem like he's been victimized on a few touch fouls the last few games, so I'll hold judgement.

    Kristic has been the big surprise of the last few weeks. I hope its not just the honeymoon period, because if he plays like this consistently, I'd wager that Kristic for Perk straight up is actually a positive for the regular season. The big question has always been what he brings in the playoffs once finesse gives way to strength though, and that's the only reason to still be wary. Still, the trade looks very promising, and I wouldn't be surprised if we're looking back at it as the key to this season in a few months.

    • I_Bleed_Green

      “Guys stick around for extended careers with no offensive game if they can play tough D off the bench”

      I disagree on this. Two players instantly came to my mind who fit this description – Ben Wallace and Bruce Bowen. The difference between them and Bradley is that they don’t need to handle the ball and the offense doesn’t run through them. As the pg you need to initiate the offense and that’s something Bradley struggles mightily. You can’t have a pg who only plays on one end and expect to stayin this league. You either need to be a good shooter or a good passer. Sadly bradley has none. The only way he can make it is by developing his jump shot and be a Bruce bowen type of player.

  • Guest

    Ya Pavlovic get's a thumbs up from me too. He can in and was a pest on D I don't think he made one bad rotation or let his man by him once. He also knocked down a three and in a game decided by 6 that's a huge difference. If a guy comes off the bench and is never responsible for a defensive breakdown, doesn't turn it over, and hit's half of his (three point) shots… that's a major plus in my book.

  • kricky

    How about the season the Cap'n is having thus far? He looks fantastic out there.

    Forsberg reports that he leads the league in +/-

    M-V-P! M-V-P!

    • Dan

      With the storm of injuries battering the team, I can't even imagine where we'd be without Pierce. Even last year it seemed like he was still forcing it at bit at the end of games, maybe going iso a little too often. Something has clicked and he is getting it done.

      Hopefully this doesn't cause problems down the line when the C's look to resign him.