|Paul Pierce, SF 40 MIN | 8-16 FG | 8-10 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 27 PTS | +9
There’s no doubt that the Heat made Paul Pierce work especially hard tonight. His response was vintage “Paul Pierce” efficiency. He got to the line, knocked down big three-pointer after big three-pointer, and somehow finished with a team-high 27 points on just 16 shots. Great game.
|Brandon Bass, PF 39 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 0 AST | 12 PTS | +10
When Brandon Bass goes beyond what’s asked of him on offense, nine times out of 10 the result isn’t a good one. Tonight he did was he was supposed to do—knock down jump shots—while giving what appeared to be 100% effort on the defensive end.
|Kevin Garnett, PF 33 MIN | 11-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 24 PTS | -2
Just…wow. I can’t even remember the last time Kevin Garnett put a team on his back like he did tonight. 11-14 from the field, a perfect 5-5 down the stretch, elite defense for 33 minutes. What else can be said about this performance? When Garnett plays like he did tonight, the Boston Celtics are one of the best teams in basketball.
|Rajon Rondo, PG 40 MIN | 6-11 FG | 5-8 FT | 4 REB | 15 AST | 18 PTS | +9
Normally when Rondo takes over games it’s because he’s everywhere, doing everything. Tonight was different. He picked his spots, knocking down jumpers when jumpers needed to be made, stopping Miami runs with his aggressiveness, and dropping off beautiful passes to Pierce, Garnett, and Allen for easy transition buckets. This may have been Rondo’s most brilliant orchestration of the year.
|Avery Bradley, SG 25 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -1
A relatively muted outing for Bradley, but still more than anybody expected. It feels like in each game his offense takes a gradual step in the right direction, and tonight Bradley’s aggressiveness was on full display. He scored Boston’s first five points, and when he saw the slightest sliver of what might resemble a lane to the basket, he drove. Also, astounding defensively.
|Ray Allen, SG 35 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 9 PTS | +6
Ray’s line doesn’t do his performance justice. For the most part, Miami did a great job of staying with Allen as he curled off screens. They also refused to leave him to double the likes of Kevin Garnett, and we now know how that turned out.
|Sasha Pavlovic, SF 8 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -1
Similar to Bass, but in a much smaller capacity, Sasha did everything that was asked of him tonight. He played solid defense and knocked down wide open threes.
|Greg Stiemsma, C 20 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +10
Intimidating shot blockers aren’t supposed to step outside and knock down 18-foot jump shots with supreme confidence. Greg Stiemsma is not your average intimidating shot blocker.
Three Things We Saw
- On the surface this feels like the Celtics biggest win of the season, but dig a little deeper and the most cynical fan will say it was just a mirage. Boston shot 60.6% from the floor to Miami’s 44.8%. They made nine three-pointers on only 14 attempts, and out rebounded (!!) the Heat 40-34, which is utterly insane. Whenever LeBron and Wade began to chip away at the lead, someone on the Celtics would answer. It’ll be tough for the Celtics to shoot so well again in a seven-game playoff series, but for those who say it’s impossible, I direct your attention to last year’s Dallas Mavericks.
- The defense continued to be a brick wall. You got the sense watching this game that the only way Miami could make a serious comeback would be if the Celtics turned the ball over and literally threw the game away. Boston made a ton of clutch shots, sure, but equally important were the multiple stops this defense came up with throughout each quarter (they allowed only nine free-throw attempts in the first half). The only blatant mistake I noticed was Paul Pierce leaving LeBron for a wide open three-pointer at the end of the second quarter.
- Going from what they’ve done the past few games and into tonight, the Celtics appear to have their playoff rotation set. (The only difference being Mickael Pietrus most likely replacing Sasha Pavlovic.) It’s a solid eight-man rotation, with comfortable resting patterns, and units that are playing in sync on both ends of the floor. A very good sign if you’re a Celtics fan.