Kevin Garnett, PF32 MIN | 5-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | +4 Like J.O., KG was out-energied and outrebounded by a certain floppy-haired Cavalier tonight. Bizarrely, he was also outscored. His intensity picked up in the fourth and he got on the block and hit what might have been a game-saving shot. He can still do it. Just not as often.
Paul Pierce, SF34 MIN | 7-14 FG | 6-9 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 20 PTS | -1 A good game from Pierce who was let down by some breakdowns by players bigger and smaller than him. This is seven games in a row where he’s shifted his game to accommodate the Celtics’ lack of a competent backup PG (E’Twaun is working to change that).
Jermaine O’Neal, C23 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | +4 He put up the kind of rebounding numbers you might see from a point guard while his opposite put up the kind you might have seen from Bill Russell. A rather efficient 12 points though and shared guilt on the boards.
Ray Allen, SG38 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 12 PTS | +6 Weak shooting, good passing. Go figure.
Avery Bradley, SG37 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +2 Irving lost Bradley more than a few times and his teammates simply missed shots or Bradley’s line would be worse. One classic botched catch in the first half we’ll revisit in the Highlight Gallery later on. Some encouraging attacks on the basket. But not encouraging enough.
Chris Wilcox, PF11 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +5 Dead legs perhaps? The Celtics could have used more from him tonight.
Sasha Pavlovic, SF6 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | 0 Hit both of his shots and then nodded knowingly at an unused Quis on the bench. “That’s how you get six minutes of playing time, dude.” (Sasha may or may not be the kind of guy to call others dude, but let’s just assume he is for the purposes of this paragraph).
Mickael Pietrus, SF18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -2 Save when he’s gunning, he tends to recede into the background on offense. Of course, he jacked up six three-balls in 18 minutes, so you tend to notice that.
Brandon Bass, PF29 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -4 Everything you think is true of Bass remained true tonight. But he can make something out of nothing even when you’re screaming for him to pass the ball out of a double team. Or triple.
E’Twaun Moore, G11 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +1 Empty but for the points.
Four Things We Saw
The C’s lost Sunday, they won today. But both games had much in common in terms of a lack of overall defensive intensity and a late game collapse. Only difference is tonight those didn’t prove fatal, in part because of 50.7% Boston shooting and Cleveland’s inconsistent defense. Late January basketball at its best.
Anderson Varejao put up a 20-20 line, partly as a result of penetration shifting Boston’s defense (just like LeBron James used to do) and partly because Boston’s bigs were either unwilling to body him up or incapable. Jermaine O’Neal was a particular offender but he was hardly the only guilty party (JO played only 23 minutes to AV’s 41).
Marquis Daniels and Greg Stiemsma spent the game on the bench as Doc has again shortened his rotation. Who knows for how long?
Six assists for Pierce and eight for Allen. That indicates good ball movement from the C’s, which leads to good shots, which leads to wins. Even when they’re ugly.