Kevin Garnett (A+): As the game tightened, KG shook off his early shooting problems and the exhaustion of playing the entire fourth quarter and first overtime to hit several massive shots in the third OT. If anything, he seemed to find another gear as the game developed, a testament not only to his will but his recognition that most nights there’s nobody else at the 5-spot who can offer relief for even a few minutes. Without KG in there, opposing teams attack the paint with confidence and break down Boston’s pick and roll defense due to failures at the big spots. Without KG, Boston’s offense has no interior presence. Without KG, the picks aren’t as hard and rebounds go astray. Garnett knows all this. He just owns the burden this team places on him and responds with the appropriate elevation and elongation of his effort. One day, they will write books about this man. And if we’re smart, we’ll read them to kids to make clear the way this game is supposed to be played.
Brandon Bass (C): Bass came out energetic in the first quarter and made a few crisp rotations on defense (usually a good indicator that he’s locked in) but he became less effective as the game went along (he took at least one obvious verbal thrashing from Doc Rivers) until he found himself on the bench watching his teammates. The C’s desperately needed better rebounding out of him tonight and he didn’t deliver. After a brief uptick in his work on the glass, he’s slipped again: he has only 12 rebounds in his last 82 minutes of action. You don’t need advanced stats to know that’s terrible.
Paul Pierce (A+): Of course, you have to love the ludicrous off-balance three-ball to tie the game at the end of the second overtime. That’s another one for the inevitable DVD set the C’s will issue sometime after he retires (but before they hire him back into the front office?). Pierce did it all tonight, with a point-forward game that was effective from first buzzer to last (not everyone on the team can claim that). Fun fact: Pierce got stuck on Ty Lawson on a couple of switches and actually shut him down. Fun/Horrifying Fact: Pierce (14) and KG (18) combined for 63% of Boston’s total rebounds.
Avery Bradley (B): A strange game for Bradley, who was arguably more effective on offense than he was on defense due to a couple of rough matchups. Fault him not a whit on effort, but Ty Lawson blew by him a few times, Andre Miller backed him down a couple of times, and he completely lost Miller on the controversial free throw that allowed Denver to regain possession at the end of regulation. He went for his shots and drives with a ton of confidence though and if the current results are spotty, his efforts in their service are going to enable a big jump at some point down the road. Also, 46 minutes of run tells you all you need to know about how much Doc trusts him.
Courtney Lee (C): Let’s have Courtney review himself tonight: @CourtneyLee2211
Damn that was a game!!! Didn’t play as well as I wanted to but we still got the win, and KG and Paul showed their value today, oh and Jet!
Jeff Green (B+): I’m so conflicted. On one hand, Green’s 4 rebounds in 42 minutes is disastrous, just an epic failure for a guy of his height and hops. It’s the single biggest flaw in his game and it has so many negative downstream effects on the rest of the team now that Sullinger is out and Green is playing a lot of PF in small lineups. It directly undercuts the work KG and PP do every night on the glass. Doc made the point recently that he needed more rebounds from Green but couched it in terms to make clear he doesn’t really expect that to happen. So, that was bad. On the other hand, Green made three massive clutch shots when the lights were brightest, including two game-saving jumpers from the baseline in the fourth quarter and the first overtime. Those count far more than the missed shots in the first half. And his defense should be a growing point of pride.
Chris Wilcox (D+): He played 6 minutes in the first quarter and I counted at least five problems (including a missed rotation, a failure to box out, getting beat playing post defense, etc). Doc noticed too because Wilcox spent most of the rest of the game on the bench, even when the Celtics were desperate for anyone to give KG a break. The book on Wilcox as a Celtic is this: will get you a few impressive points in transition and on putbacks and will give back at least that much on defense. Doc doesn’t trust him. Neither should we.
Jason Terry (A-): After all the big plays in this one, Terry made the two climactic ones, the dagger three on one end followed by a steal on the other to ice the game. Before that, he shot relatively well, if far too freely (26 points on 22 shots). In his good moments, you can see the swagger dripping off him. This bodes well for the future.
Leandro Barbosa (B-): Couldn’t find the seams to make a difference on offense tonight.