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Exhale: Celtics 86, Pacers 72

 
Boston Celtics 86 Final
Recap | Box Score
72 Indiana Pacers
Paul Pierce, SF 33 MIN | 8-16 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 24 PTS | +1

Just another win where Paul Pierce leads the Celtics in scoring. No big deal. After shaking off an early poke in the eye that forced him to the bench, Pierce was his typical quiet-but-deadly-efficient self.

Brandon Bass, PF 34 MIN | 0-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -1

The only note I wrote to myself about Bass’ performance related to a first quarter play where David West took him strong off the dribble for a short jumper. You’d think someone with Bass’ athleticism would be able to stay with an older, slower player. But Bass couldn’t. Offensively and on the glass he left much to be desired.

Kevin Garnett, PF 34 MIN | 6-15 FG | 3-3 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 15 PTS | +21

Garnett’s jumper hasn’t been falling lately, but you know what? That’s perfectly fine if he’s going to play this All-NBA defense against opposing centers every night. Tonight he helped make All-Star Roy Hibbert a non-factor.

Rajon Rondo, PG 35 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 12 AST | 4 PTS | 0

The game started with Rondo having eight assists in the first quarter. It looked like he was well on his way to one of those 18-20 assist nights that make him so special, but things cooled down in the second half. This was his 16th straight game with 10-plus dimes, passing John Stockton for the league’s longest streak in the last 20 years. A truly stupendous player we’re watching here.

Avery Bradley, SG 30 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | +18

Bradley came back to Earth in the box score tonight, but he was incredibly aggressive getting to the basket (even if they ended in misses, turnovers, and blocks almost every time). The Pacers did a great job stopping the baseline cuts that Bradley thrives on for points right now, but it’s nothing to panic about. He’ll just have to adjust. And he will.

Ray Allen, SG 33 MIN | 7-18 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS | +9

I loved everything about Ray Allen’s performance tonight. He shot the ball like Kobe, taking the same amount of shots as Pierce and Garnett (11) at halftime. Despite starting a little cold, he kept shooting, realizing that the units he was on really needed his scoring, and by the final buzzer he had the most field goal attempts on the team. Making five three-pointers never hurts.

Sasha Pavlovic, SF 14 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +15

Very efficient game from Sasha on both ends tonight. He’s a true professional, always ready, coming off the bench and knocking down shots whenever it’s needed. Pavlovic looked real comfortable out there tonight.

Greg Stiemsma, C 27 MIN | 4-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +7

Fact: Stiemsma is one of the five best shot blockers in the NBA. Tonight he had five swats in the first half and led the team in scoring at halftime. Great performance by the big guy.

Three Things We Saw

  1. If you’re a Celtics fan, the first thing you’re watching right now is how Ray Allen looks coming off the bench. The numbers are important, sure, but factors such as how comfortable he looks and whether the players around him are deferring to get him shots are what’s really important. After tonight, Celtics fans can let out a collective sigh of relief (until tomorrow’s big game against Philadelphia). As I mentioned earlier, Ray looked great. And it was great to see him have such success playing alongside Bradley, too.
  2. I don’t know how many minutes they’ve played together this season, but the Bradley, Allen, Pavlovic, Garnett, Stiemsma unit was INCREDIBLE tonight, especially on the defensive end. I believe they started the second quarter together and held the Pacers scoreless for the first 6:50 of the second quarter. Doc went back to them in the fourth quarter and they held their ground, keeping the lead in double digits most of the way.
  3. A few more thoughts on Ray. Tommy made a great albeit obvious point tonight when he said Allen would have more opportunities to shoot coming off the bench as opposed to when he’s in the starting lineup. It’s up to Ray to keep his aggressiveness up, looking for shots without forcing anything up. As a shooting guard so deeply obsessed with routine, Allen is in a tough position right now. I can’t stress enough how good it is for the Celtics for him to have a game like he did tonight.
  • ripsonics

    The thing that makes this so great is that Ray approached Doc and said lets make the change. How great is that? All these players in the league who only care about themselves, and then you have a guy like ray. What a baller.

    Good, tough win tonight. The refs, we're wildly inconsistent to the point where doc made some comments to Tommy, bent over in disgust, and couldn't help but smile.

    Best thing is that we won.

    Go C's

    • Lantrell Walker

      That's one of the many things awesome about the C's, they truly are a brotherhood. All for one, one for all, it's always about WE not ME.

      #WeBelieveIn18

  • ElRoz

    Just wondering: is Dooling ok, physically? We have seen 2 min from him last game and non tonight. He does play good defense and we might need him off the bench for about 8-10 min a game to back-up Rondo, with Ray and Sasha as SG/SF.

    • Anthony

      Dooling hasn't done much all year and is expendable. Ray can sub in for Rondo with AB switching to the point. I think the minutes distribution for tonight's game is as good as can be and will probably be the rotation come playoff time. When Pietrus comes back, he takes Sasha's mins and a couple from PP and Ray. Can't argue anytime Stiemsma can provide 27 solid mins.

      Celts played well last time against the Sixers until the Pietrus injury. This time Ray will be in the game. Hopefully we can win and extend the Atlantic Division lead to 3 games.

      • ElRoz

        Dooling did fine in the game agaisnt the Heat – good defesne. Ray cannot play the D that Dooling provides. AB is NOT a pointguard.

        A backcourt of AB and Dooling is as good defensively as one can have. When there is a need for a defensive stand, Dooling is pretty good…he has also been shooting the 3 well over the past 4-5 games he played.

  • Lantrell Walker

    Great, solid win by the C's tonight. They limited the Pacers to 14 in the 2nd quarter and made key shots to stave off Indiana when it mattered down the stretch. C's played great D tonight, got the W & Orlando just helped us stay atop the Atlantic by beating Philly. Nice little Saturday night win, now onto the slumping Sixers.

    • Anthony

      Celtics have been in a good groove since the All-Star break. Could've easily been 20-3 instead of 16-7 barring a couple of mishaps.

      * They let the Fakers game get away
      * Freak injury to Pietrus in the Philly game
      * Pierce missed last second shot against Spurs
      * Played really well in 1st half against the Bulls (I missed the 2nd half of that game but was almost certain that they would pull it off)

      It took some time but now I truly believe the Celts can win against any team in the league.

      • Lantrell Walker

        The C's have let a good number of games slip away this season like:
        Christmas Day @ New York
        3rd game of the season @ the Hornets
        The first meeting of the season @ home against the Cavs

        But all in all, I'm pleased with the position they're in & that they're finally playing at the high level we expect them too. Everyone always dismisses them as too "old" to win, but this team is a real deadly sleeper that'll be lethal when the time is right & when they're fully healthy.

        #WeBelieveIn18

      • noche

        I'd argue that the spurs game had nothing to do with pierce missing the last shot and everything to do with the team missing jumpers and fts that they normally knock down. That game easily could have been a 10 point victory for the celts had they shot better. They really beat themselve in that one.

        • Lantrell Walker

          Simply put, if the C's make 2 more free throws or limit San Antonio to one less offensive rebound, they're 32-23

        • Anthony

          No game is decided by any 1 play. Just that it was the play that summed up that game.
          I'd argue that there were 4 games pre-All-Star break that the Celts let get away but I attribute it to their wildly inconsistent plays and constant shuffling of the roster.

          -Season opener against Knicks and refs
          -Horrible execution late against Dallas
          -Up 13 with 3-4 mins and still losing to Cavs
          -Missed opps late against the Fakers

          That's 8 total games that easily could've been W's. With 3 season ending injuries (though I think JO injury is a plus rather than a negative), assorted minor injuries in a condensed season, I think this team has a lot to be proud of.

  • -jp

    Good win, bad officiating. Interested to see what happens to AB in the playoffs, we all know they are a different animal. Hopefully he keeps producing and learning from his teammates. Glad he will be part of the celtics future.

  • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/why-you-hate bugs bunny

    where's the person who would always put up the rhyming poem recaps of games?

    this team has been an interesting follow this season. with all the setbacks that have occurred, most any other group of players would have folded by this point, but these guys have shown such incredible heart over the course of this season i think we all should give them more credit. i know that every other team in the east is dreading a series against the Cs this coming postseason. championship is a long shot, but the 2011-12 celtics i will always remember as being inspirational, and am glad to have been witness to this group's responses to the trials that they have endured. not perfect but worthy of my admiration nonetheless.

    GO CELTICS!!!

    • Lantrell Walker

      Trust me when I tell you that a championship isn't a long shot for this group. Remember that the last time there was a lockout, the 8th-seeded Knicks made it all the way to the NBA Finals. In this crazy, compacted season, anything is possible.

      #WeBelieveIn18

  • I_Love_Green

    I just love the way this team is built. We have players with specific roles who play them perfectly, and Ray coming off the bench adds a whole new dynamic.

  • felix

    great win – with an 8 player rotation! too bad dooling didn't play a couple of minutes in the first half. Makes the bench very thin – if it wasn't for Ray! Makes the C rotation very very dangerous all of a sudden. Now let's finally beat Philly tonight!

  • skeeds

    What I like the most about Ray coming off the bench, is we get to see a more versatile side of him. Instead of being reduced to running off screens away from the ball, he becomes more of a ball handler and passer.
    There were 2-3 plays with Ray running a multiple pick n roll with kG and Pavlovic, which were great, kind of reminded be how little space (and time) you can give that guy.

    Any time Ray gets the attention (and number of shots) he deserves, I'm super happy. As the article said, Ray is a man of routine. Give him a consistent rotation for 4-5 games and I have no doubt he'll get the hang of it. That 7-18 won't stay that way.

    • Anthony

      Agreed. Love Ray coming off the bench. The bench struggle all season trying to score but Ray adds so much fire power. Ray is all class, just hope he's willing to re-sign and retire as a Celtic. KG needs to re-sign and retire as a Celtic also. Pierce obviously.

  • W2.

    The Celtics are a competitive team. I like us against anyone minus The Bulls, OKC, and Sactown (just kidding, but really that lose was just silly).

    Nice work Steamer!

  • Switcharoo

    I enjoy seeing Stiemsma developing game since the All-Star break, the guys really stepping up. Didn’t someone mention that this guy was not NBA calliber once? I think his progress speaks for itself. Also nice to see Allen selflessly taking the no. 6 and letting Bradley start, I think it gives the bench some power and creates a new dynamic all around as far as rotation goes. Now we just need to get Pietrus back into the groove.

  • Jim

    I hope we resign Stiesmsma to a contract for next year. He is becoming a nice back up center.Having Ray off the bench should get him more touches which I think he needs. Great game to watch since we won!
    Nice write up Michael.!

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