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Solid, Solid Win: Celtics 100, Bucks 91

Boston Celtics 100 FinalRecap | Box Score 91 Milwaukee Bucks
Paul Pierce, SF 34 MIN | 10-15 FG | 2-3 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 25 PTS | +10This was a bit of a vintage performance from Paul Pierce. He started out very hot with his outside shot but he didn’t get a lot opportunities to show just how hot. This was a GREAT thing. The Celtics didn’t fall victim to Pierce isolations like they have in the past when Pierce has it going. They ran the offense and they just ran. Period.It seemed like Pierce fed off the intensity, making strong moves to the basket and was aggressive with his jumper when it fit with the offense. I very much expected to see Pierce run isos in the last four minutes because a) he was hot, and b) because that’s what the Celtics do. Instead, they continued to run their offense. Specifically, they ran a ton of pick-and-pop plays with Kevin Garnett which were very effective.
Brandon Bass, PF 37 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS | +11While I appreciate Bass being active on the glass, and 10 boards is definitely a welcome sign, I just can’t give Bass a grade that his stat line might suggest. The truth is, Bass played pretty out of control on both ends of the floor. He was late on defensive rotations giving up wide open layups and had two big turnovers while trying to dibble through traffic. He also doesn’t seem to know when to make the right play (case in point: he grabbed an offensive rebound and tried to go up 1-on-3 instead of kicking the ball out and taking advantage of the new shot clock).Don’t get me wrong: Bass is a definite upgrade over Glen Davis and I would definitely love seeing him in a Celtics uniform going forward. I just also want to see him grow into the player he could potentially be.
Kevin Garnett, PF 31 MIN | 8-18 FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 6 AST | 16 PTS | +6Speaking of Kevin Garnett, this is exactly the type of game you want out of KG going forward. He posted up, he hit open jumpers, and he was aggressive on the glass. Sure, he could have made a few more shots, especially some of the easy ones he front-rimmed, but 16 and 10 is nothing to sneeze at.KG definitely had the height advantage tonight so I’m interested to see if tonight’s aggressiveness was due to some rejuvenation of some sort or just a favorable matchup. Luckily, KG will have another height advantage tomorrow night against the Sixers.
Ray Allen, SG 25 MIN | 1-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +4C-? What?! Ray Allen may have had a gawdawful shooting night (seriously, did you see the two straight three’s and missed banker in the same string of possessions?) but he was active on the defensive end. It’s important to remember that there are two sides of the ball when it comes to evaluating contributions. It certainly wasn’t completely his doing, but Allen was a big part of Monte Ellis shooting 6-for-18.
Rajon Rondo, PG 35 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 14 AST | 10 PTS | +8Like KG, this is the game you want to see from Rondo. He was aggressive to the basket but was still always looking to set up he’s teammates first and he managed the game really well. Sure, the *dominant* triple-double games are nice, but they usually indicate that the rest of the Celtics aren’t stepping up.
Keyon Dooling, PG 14 MIN | 4-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | +3Finally! Some signs of life from Dooling! I believe Doc expected more from Dooling this year. Like a true sixth man guard type role. After months of getting nothing, it was great to see Dooling play pressure defense and knock down open shots.
Mickael Pietrus, SF 20 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +7Gotta love Pietrus. He was aggressive with his shot, and although the step-back long twos have the potential to become more annoying than cute, he still provides such a spark off the bench. He is exactly what the Celtics have been looking for since losing James Posey to free agency. He’s not big enough to play the power forward in a pinch role like Posey was, but he’s an excellent wing defender, an aggressive defensive rebounder, and a more-than-capable three point shooter.He had a lot of field goal attempts for 20 minutes, but he was still excellent.
Greg Stiemsma, C 24 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS | +1It’s pretty obvious that the Stiemah read what Ryan wrote about him after the Denver game. Due to a St. Paddy’s day scheduling SNAFU, I wasn’t able to watch the Denver game so I couldn’t tell you if Ryan was frustrated or speaking truth. Either way, Stiemah played great tonight. Because he’s a shot blocker first, he’ll never be a *dominant* rebounder. He just gets out of position too easily trying to block shots. Luckily, he is actually blocking shots. 5?! When have the Celtics recently had a bona fide shot-blocker? I think watching the StiemCleanah successfully block shots caused Tommy to engage in that early season hyperbole (blasphemy?) when he compared Stiemsmah to Bill Russell.The best part of tonight’s performance? 24 positive minutes. If he can do that consistently, the Celtics will be in great shape going forward. He can’t, but if he can at least approach it, the Celtics will take it.
Avery Bradley, SG 17 MIN | 1-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +1Bradley’s defense on Brandon Jennings was awesome. Similar to the Stiemah, Bradley’s value tonight was in how many minutes he played. Usually, Rondo plays well over 40 minutes. Tonight, he only played 35 and Bradley’s effectiveness on Jennings and Ellis was a big reason why.

Four Things We Saw

  1. It won’t be, but I want this game to be a lesson to Doc Rivers. If Doc trusted his bench a little more and didn’t yank guys out when they made mistakes, his starters would be fresh enough to take on all comers down the stretch. It’s pretty obvious that the Celtics are elite when they are healthy and rested and crap when they’re out of gas. With the condensed schedule and the C’s in a tight playoff race, the starters need to be fresh for the postseason no matter where they stand when it starts.
  2. The Celtics scored nearly 60 points in the first half. That is almost unheard of for this season’s Celtics team. While the first half defense wasn’t up to Celtics-level, they did ramp up the pressure in the second half and forced a ton of turnovers. The C’s definitely took advantage of a new-look Bucks team that is clearly still trying to figure one another, but they wouldn’t have gotten all those steals had they not had active hands in the passing lanes.
  3. The Celtics were better than the Bucks in nearly every statistical category. They out-rebounded, out-assisted, out-shot, out-stole, out-blocked, and out-fouled. Speaking of fouls….
  4. The refs were…ah screw it.
  • ripsonics


    didn't watch the game, just excited about a double-you

    GO C's

  • bocologist

    Brendan, nice write up, as always. One minor picky comment —
    I hate to be that guy but one one of my pet peeves is when people write "dominate" when they mean "dominant" (which seems to happen a lot on sports blogs and message boards). Anyway, I apologize for commenting on spelling, but I hope it might be appreciated.

  • bocologist

    By the way, let me make a substantive basketball comment, too:

    I entirely agree about Doc needing to play the bench more (and yet he won't). He talks a good game about preserving the starters, but he doesn't practice what he preaches.

  • NICK33

    The word is dominant, not dominate.

    As in: "the dominant triple-double games" and "he'll never be a dominant rebounder".

  • NICK33

    The word is dominant, not dominate.

  • Brendan, in case you haven't been made aware, there are many upset readers who would like you to know how to spell your words. Just a little more attention here and there, and you will be back to your typical dominants.

    • onecowboytoo


  • skeeds

    I remember that Tommy comment about Russell, and at the time, it made sense.
    I haven't seen enough of Russell to be an expert but there's a distinct thing that Stiemsma also does. When a small guy comes at him, he backs up and lets them blow by him while at the same time timing their layup and blocks them from the side, as opposed to going up head on to use his size advantage.
    Difference is Russell did a bunch of other Russell-like things, Stiemsma can't.

  • felix

    KG hit big jumpers from deep in the fourth! wonder what the rotation will be with Hollins, if KG switches back to PF

    • The Cardinal

      With the addition of Hollins, I would like to see Steimsma start at center and KG at forward for two reasons: 1) The second unit really needs a consistent shooter, and Bass would really spread the floor for the guards and small forward to get to the basket; and 2) although it doesn't happen often or for long periods of time, Steimsma and the overall team defense are more effective while KG is on the floor.

      When Steimsma and Bass are on the floor together (which is too frequent because of the dearth of bigs and the substitution pattern), Bass is often late to rotate, and Steimsma then tries cover which usually leads to a foul, a layup for the other team, or both. That's not meant to be a knock on Bass so much as a statement about what I've observed much too frequently.

  • CelticsBIG3

    That was awesome, did we really close a team out effectively in a 4th quarter?

  • -jp

    We have had great success with KG at the 5, when Hollins comes we need to keep KG there and put Hollins as the backup 5.

  • Kevin

    Had a great time in Milwaukee last night at the game. Neither team played any defense in the 1st half, at one point my son and I figured Celts were on pace to score 140 pts! Tie between Doc and Ray for loudest ovation from the Milwaukee fans. Great night for KG when he plays 31 minutes. You hope Doc keeps this up because it is a wonderful feeling to see KG coming out for a blow after 5-6 strong minutes at beginning of game and 2nd half. He then looks like a young guy for the end of game run…. Plenty of Andrew Bogut souvenirs on special at the Bradley Center last night!

  • CG12

    There were a lot of positives to take away from last night. The team D was quite good, although sometimes a bit weak inside (Brandon Bass, I'm looking in your direction). There is no getting around the fact that this is a far stronger defensive team with many of the subs on. Avery for Rondo, MP for Ray, and the Stiemer for Bass are all big defensive upgrades. Rondo and Ray's weakness in preventing dribble penetration by their man is the Celtics biggest defensive shortcoming this year. The Stiemer continues to supply critical solid minutes, playing with confidence on offense, protecting the rim, and even rebounding a little bit. With Wilcox done, the Stiemsma back tip is about the only offensive rebounding the Cs have. He has been playing very well of late.

    The offense was flowing as well as it has in a long while. Almost none of those "everyone stand around doing NOTHING and wait 15 seconds for Ray to get open" plays. PP struck a great balance between being aggressive, but not forcing it, which is something he has wrestled with recently. Great to see Dooling get it going a little. It is also nice for MP to hit some 3s, but I am definitely with Brendan in finding his shot selection a little distressing. There will be stretches like his recent one where those shots aren't going in. One of my favorite minor sub-plots in this season is Avery Bradley's visibly growing confidence. He isn't playing much now, but when he gets in, he pushes the ball hard up the floor and assertively looks for his shot. I'd like to see him do more with setting up teammates off of dribble penetration. But that could be asking a lot.

    My biggest negative takeaway from last night is my growing concern with BBass's total lack of team basketball skills. He is a lousy help defender. On offense he can do two things, and two things only. Shoot mid-range Js and go hard to the hole. He is not a good pick-setter. He is incapable of setting up teammates. If he puts it on the deck and can't get to the rim, he picks it up, turns his back to the hoop, and desperately tries to throw it back out. I love his shooting and his overall athleticism is very nice (surprisingly good on-ball shotblocker), but he is not a guy who "thinks the game."

  • jacksobd

    The dominate vs. dominant issue has been resolved. Rest assured that was not intentional.

  • janos

    Hi Brayden, is Janos
    I so happy big win. ! Many even own celtics web manger do a predict on lose! Just goes the show, you can NEVER count out our team. Take attnetion, East!

  • Tom

    The C's are gonna take down the slumping sixers tonight!!! The sixers are shwing their true colors after their schedule has toughened up! I have some sweet picks from rick that u can use a real nice parlay for u to put in your mouth for free http://nbawagers.com/2012/03/mavericks-spurs-roun

  • Rav

    Why are people expecting Dooling to be a 6th-man? The guy is at the tail-end of his career, and has never been anything more than a solid role-player. At this point, all he can contribute is above-average defense at the 1 and 2 spots (he used to be a great defender, but he's older), decent ball-handling and play-making from the point-guard position, and spot-up 3PT-ers. At the start of the season he was giving us more than that; he's tailed-off after injuries. On average, he's doing worse than what we hoped – but what we (shuold have) hoped for was our 9th/10th guy in the rotation, and second guard off the bench.