|Paul Pierce, SF 41 MIN | 7-21 FG | 7-7 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 23 PTS | +10
While Pierce didn’t take over the game by any means, he attacked the basket far more than we’re accustomed to seeing. It was a beautiful thing. 10 of his 21 field goal attempts came from within the key and the shots he took in his sweet spots didn’t come off as forced like they can at times. Instead, it was surprising when they didn’t go in.Pierce was also the beneficiary of having to guard Shane Battier instead of being close to the exclusive defender of LeBron James. This allowed him to not only stay fresh but also only commit 3 personal fouls.
|Brandon Bass, PF 17 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -8
Bass couldn’t stay on the court to earn anything better or worse than a C+. He picked up some early fouls and was relatively ineffective on both ends of the court. He had some strong takes to the basket and earned to questionable offensive fouls as well as some unexpected non-calls when attempting some dunks. I give him bonus points for not completely losing his mind out there after getting clobbered without a whistle.
|Kevin Garnett, PF 34 MIN | 10-16 FG | 4-6 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 24 PTS | +27
This is a shared grade between Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett. If I told you before the game started that KG would only attempt one long jump shot from a kickout pass? KG and Rivers made a huge adjustment after Games 1 and 2 and KG lived in the paint tonight. This is something the Celtics need to keep doing until the Heat stop them.
|Ray Allen, SG 38 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | +2
Ray played solid half court defense on Dwyane Wade, only committed 1 dumb foul (my unofficial count), and hit two corner threes in the first half. If Ray can hit threes in the early going, it completely changes the complexion of Miami’s defense and spaces the floor. I hesitate to say his shot is back but I will saw that both threes makes looked really good.I will say that Ray still falls asleep in transition which is mind-boggling to me. How can he forget about Dwyane Wade streaking up the sideline? It’s like death and taxes. Dwyane Wade trying to get cheap points in transition is a certainty.
|Rajon Rondo, PG 43 MIN | 9-16 FG | 4-6 FT | 6 REB | 10 AST | 21 PTS | +5
This may sound absurd, but Rondo may have played better tonight than he did on Wednesday. He had to completely carry the Celtics in Game 2 which caused him to force plays and shots at times. Let’s also keep in mind that two if his threes came when the game was essentially over. I’m not writing this to rain on anyone’s Rondo parade. I’m simply highlighting how he was so great tonight. He completely gave the Celtics and the game what it needed tonight and didn’t have to carry anyone. He attacked, he found his teammates, and he defended Wade and James masterfully. Did he get caught in limbo for a few Mike MIller threes in the second half? Sure. As always, I’m willing to live with some moments of Rondo being out of position defensively if he does everything else he does so well.
|Marquis Daniels, SG 17 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | +14
I can’t even begin to describe what Daniels’ 17+ minutes meant to the C’s tonight. He made excellent cuts to the basket, he rebounded the ball, and he played excellent defense on Wade and James. Both he and Dooling allowed Rondo and Pierce to get some much needed rest after the marathon they ran in Game 2. If he continues to contribute, the Celtics just became immensely deeper.
|Keyon Dooling, PG 20 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | +10
Sure, he commits silly fouls, doesn’t make an effort to prevent And-1s, and provides close to nothing on offense, but other than Garnett he is the most aggressive defender the Celtics have. It’s so sad that Avery Bradley isn’t able to play in this series. I can just picture what havoc Dooling and Bradley could be wreaking on Wade and Mario Chalmers. Alas, perhaps next season.
|Ryan Hollins, C 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
One personal foul in 6+ minutes is all Hollins logged. He also ran into Pierce on what looked to be a successful drive to the basket, causing Pierce to have to kick the ball out to reset. I’m inviting everyone to submit their theories of why, as an athletic seven-footer, he cannot snag a rebound to save his life.
|Mickael Pietrus, SF 20 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -4
It’s tough to give Pietrus such a low grade because in the fourth quarter he was really victim of a poor substitution pattern by Doc. He was completely out of sorts on the defensive end and he was contributing nothing on offense. Earlier in the game, however, he played excellent defense and rebounded the ball well.
|Greg Stiemsma, C 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | -3
Stiemsma didn’t play a lot, but when he did, he made an excellent roll to the basket and drew a foul. He almost established the idea the Celtics were going to attack the basket in the first quarter with that play. If Stiemsma is getting to the hoop and drawing fouls, what was Pierce, Rondo, and Garnett going to be doing all game? Well, you saw it.