Show of hands: Whose hearts are still racing after that game? Everybody? I’m not the only one? Cool. Just making sure.
Let’s skip the foreplay (Boston won 98-93 in a hard-fought game, blah blah) and get right into the bullet points:
- Jeff Green! Green was fantastic. He got to the line more than anyone besides Paul Pierce and contributed 16 points off the bench on 5-9 shooting from the field. Green also showed some previously unseen aggression attacking smaller defenders. Want to re-watch the ideal Jeff Green scenario a bunch of times? Watch this play. He recognizes that he has the smaller Randy Foye on him, so he gets himself comfortable position in the post, makes a nice move to his left and drops in the baby hook. He grabbed just four rebounds in 27 minutes, but it should be noted that A) He grabbed a fifth rebound in the final minute, then got tripped by Al Jefferson and was called for traveling and B) It’s hard to blame Green for a problem that spread itself across the roster pretty evenly. Speaking of which…
- Of course. The day I post an article about how offensive rebounds don’t really matter to Boston, the Celtics got absolutely rocked on both ends (go ahead, take your shots). While I still maintain that defense is more important to this team than second chance points, four offensive rebounds is WAY WAY too few, and it nearly doomed the Celtics in this game. That being said, part of the reason the Celtics struggled so badly was because they simply didn’t have the personnel to battle with an enormous, bruising, talented Jazz team. Utah ranks 6th and 8th in the league in defensive and offensive rebounding respectively, so they give lots of teams fits. They get boards. Boston doesn’t. Rebounding was always going to be a struggle against the Jazz. Fortunately, the C’s weathered the storm.
- Pierce seemed to shoot himself out of his slump a bit, knocking down three huge 3-pointers in the second half. He didn’t finish with a particularly pretty field goal percentage (7-17 overall), but his 3-point percentage was good (3-7) and he got to the line seven times, making six of them. He also abused Randy Foye in the post at one point, reminding us why we love his post-game.
- 10 3-point attempts is a curiously low number for the Celtics. I’m not really complaining because so much of the offense happened around the basket, leading to 50.0% shooting overall, and, of course, I’m not complaining because the Celtics won. But Pierce made three of Boston’s four 3-pointers and he was the only Celtic who looked comfortable launching from long range consistently.
- Barbosa got 23 minutes and he’s making a pretty convincing case for his spot as a backup to Rondo. In both of the past two games, Barbosa has entered and jumpstarted the offense, driving to the basket to create easy layups and dishing to teammates. He was hyper-efficient tonight, scoring 16 points on 6-8 shooting from the field and dishing 3 assists without turning it over once. When the Celtics acquired him, I wrote that he wouldn’t be a good option at point guard because of his struggles in the pick and roll, but he’s been excellent in isolation, driving to the basket and dishing if he gets in trouble.
- Jason Terry wins the “Inconsequential Player of the Night” award: 3 points, 0-1 from the field, 2 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 turnovers. Not his best outing.
- +/- isn’t my favorite stat in measuring individual players, but when used for units of players as a whole, it should give you a good idea of how well the bench played tonight. The starters, collectively, finished with a +/- of -14. The bench? +29. Of the starters, only Garnett finished in positive digits with +9. Barbosa, Green and Lee finished +13, +12 and +11 respectively.
- We still aren’t seeing consistently excellent Celtics defense (watch the first quarter again for the gory evidence), but it IS there, waiting to be called upon when need be, apparently. In the final minute, Utah had five opportunities to tie or take the lead (two of which were provided by Boston’s shoddy rebounding, but still). The Celtics swarmed and stopped them every single time. I’m not sure how comforting it is knowing that the defense seems to have a switch that they flip in crunch time, but it is good to know that the defense is hiding down there somewhere. It would just be nice if they could reach down utilize it consistently. Oh well.
That should about do it for tonight. Enjoy the three game winning streak, being comfortably over .500 for the first time this season and, once more, this:
BECAUSE IT MAY NEVER GET OLD.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.