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Celtics Grind It Out in Kevin Garnett’s Return, Prepare for Playoff Push

The following column is a guest post written by Tracy Clements 

For a third time this year the Celtics beat Washington, completing a season sweep of the upstart Wizards. This season the Celtics have struggled to beat weaker teams (think: the Cavs, the Bobcats and the Hornets) but Sunday’s game was different. This team is banged up, and, what some might say are limping to the finish, but they chalked up another ‘W’ and continue to avoid slipping to eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

With the return of both KG and Paul Pierce who took home the Red Auerbach award for the second time last night, the lineup was as complete as possible for the first time in a long time. Despite missing eight games, Garnett wasn’t rusty at all. He actually played pretty well finishing with 12 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes. After the game he said, “I felt okay, I felt strong enough to play.” And even with a sore ankle, Pierce added 15 points, five assists and four rebounds in 30 minutes.

But the other story here is how the rest of the team is pulling together and playing with confidence. After the game Pierce said, “It’s good to be playing the best basketball at the right time, and right now is the right time going into the playoffs for some guys to get their confidence going and start having some big games”

Speaking of big games, Brandon Bass had a game-high 20 points, just 2 short of his season high. Off the bench, they got 42 points, led by Chris Wilcox with 13 points, (Sunday was the first time he’s been in double digits since Feb. 22), Jason Terry racked up 9, and Shavlik Randolph had 8 points and seven rebounds. Former Wizard Jordan Crawford put up 6 in his first game since being traded to Boston in February.

After the game, Pierce also acknowledged that “…when we play the right way, when we defend we score 107 points, score in the paint and we can limit the other team.” And they did just that, the Celtics separated themselves at the beginning of the third quarter with a 16-3 run, building a double-digit lead they never gave up (thankfully). In their 31 point 3rd quarter, they shot 75 percent (12-for-16) from the field.

With only a handful of games left in the regular season, and the playoffs in sight, the team is finally passing the chemistry test. Sunday night’s new-look starting lineup of KG, Pierce, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, and Brandon Bass seemed to play with more of a familiarity of one another for a lineup that had just played 13 minutes together all season prior to last night.

Teams often start ‘resting’ their stars ahead of the playoffs (ah hem, Miami) and try to build chemistry from the bench, but thanks to all the injuries this year, the C’s don’t have to do that. In fact, injuries have forced the bench to come together. And, with all of their pieces together, Garnett feels better about heading into the playoffs, “I know what I have in here. I know who’s willing to fight, who’s not going to lay down. I’d take a bunch of fighters over some skill people any day.”

And with a tough schedule ahead of them, that’s exactly what they’re going to need to do, fight.

Tracy Clements is guest contributor for CelticsHub and producer at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. You can follow her on twitter @Clementine_12

  • janos

    hi Terry is Janos

    Has been anounce yet when is playof start? i am ready it now

    • someguyinsac

      Hi Janos! They start on April 20th, but there aren't any firm schedules for who plays who yet that I could find.

      • janos

        ok thank you

        • High Rollers

          Janos, with Rondo sidelined for a bit longer, who's your favorite player on the team right now?

          • janos

            hi rollers
            for me is garnet becase is best ever on trash oponent head and also play style very good worker for boston.

            he is not go forver here though like rondos more for decade next

  • Kyrie Irving

    knicks or indiana will end your push soon

    • janos

      if you are do a fantasiesdo a one better clevelenad? come on…

  • Anthony

    Congrats to our former coach Rich Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals on their national championship.

    It's awesome to these kids play so hard and give their all for the title game. If only the NBA refs would let the players play like the NCAA refs let their players play, Celts would have as good a chance as anyone to win the championship.

    • check12check

      haha seriously! can we hire a few of the NCAA refs? they are so much better.

      • Anthony

        I wouldn't say they are so much better but I've always thought basketball was a contact sport and the way the NBA refs call the games are just ridiculous. It's almost pointless to watch since IMO, most of the game results are predetermined, "fixed" if you will.

      • Rav

        Really? Like that late-game jump ball call? Sure, the NBA has its fair share of officiating flubs. The truth of the matter is though, that it's the best league. Usually, the best referees find their way to the best leagues (which is what I think has happened in this case).

        Much tougher to call NBA games, when the players are bigger, stronger, faster, quicker and a lot smarter than those in the NCAA.

        • Anthony

          I wasn't referencing which refs are better, just that I would like to see the NBA refs letting the players play and deciding the outcome of the game. There were obvious bad calls on both ends but it's a bit more evenly called IMO.

          Just curious but which jump ball call are you referring to? The one call that stood out to me was the Trey Burke block of Peyton Siva dunk. Maybe that should've been a play on but it's a bang bang play which is tough to call without instant replay. The players didn't seem to mind the physical play and they definitely wasn't complaining much compared to the NBA. Burke and Behanan were constantly knocked to the floor but they played through it. The NBA are just too used to ticky tack fouls that ruins the game.

    • CelticsBIG3

      As long as he stays coaching at the college level I say amen and congrats, just please stay away from NBA coaching jobs.

      • Anthony

        Yea, the Rick Pitino Celts era was a disaster to put it mildly.

        • janos

          that was very good titles game i was watch whole game on tv

      • janos

        hi big3