Paul Pierce, SF33 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.
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, PF34 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.
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.
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, SG33 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.