My eyes are bleeding. In a primetime matchup with Jason Terry’s old team, the Celtics treated us to a delightful double-overtime period where both teams forgot how to play basketball, but the Celtics eventually remembered enough to get by. The Celtics had a five point lead at the half after giving up an 11-6 Mavericks run to end the second quarter. Then the Celtics did exactly what the Celtics do and dared Dallas to make it a tie game. Which they did. And then they dared Dallas to take the lead for the first time tonight after they trailed the whole game. Which they did. But two overtimes later the Celtics got the win and at this point I’m just happy it wasn’t 12 overtimes. I’m tired, let’s get to the bullet points:
- This was supposed to be Jason Terry‘s big matchup with his old team and the JET was… okay. He finished with 10 points on 10 shots and didn’t really have an impact either way on the offensive end. He did, however, have another key defensive lapse down the stretch, which is becoming rather concerning a quarter through the season. I get that JET isn’t a great defender, most of the time he’s giving up size, strength, and speed, but he can’t afford to get lost on defense late in games. He is a bit of a gambler (three steals tonight) and sometimes it pays off, but he needs to improve his defensive awareness down the stretch.
- I can be pretty hard on Paul Pierce but he put together a pretty solid game tonight with 34 points on 11-25 shooting. A good chunk of his 11 FT’s came from intentional fouls, but we’ll let it slide considering Pierce was hacked on a few of those misses in the overtime periods and didn’t get the call. He and Rondo had a delightful un-clutch off during the overtime periods but they both redeemed themselves (Pierce at the line), so we’ll forgive them. What was really bizarre was Pierce and Derek Fisher matching up against each other late in the game. Pierce even got burned by Fisher at one point when he sagged too far off him. There’s a lot that could have gone into this choice, so it’s worth keeping an eye on whether this was a situational change, or if Doc is trying to avoid Pierce having to play on-ball defense down the stretch. Pierce rounded out his game with six rebounds, three assists, and four steals (every Celtic starter had at least two steals tonight).
- Jeff Green was showered with praise by Jay early in the game and promptly responded by joining the more-shots-than-points club for the night, finishing with 15 points on 16 attempts. Still, Green was aggressively looking for his shot and contributed five rebounds, so it’s good to have him more involved even if the shots didn’t fall tonight. Green also hooked up with Rondo in transition for a pretty sweet alley-oop jam.
- Rondo somehow almost ended up with a triple-double despite not putting on the prime-time show we’re accustomed to, finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds, and 15 assists. As I said earlier, Rondo and Pierce traded bricks during the overtime period, but he forced a few turnovers and had a key layup late, so all is forgiven. He also played a game-high 53 minutes, so I’ll let it slide if he wasn’t at his best as the game crawled to a close because, frankly, no one was.
So the Celtics eked out a win over a Dirk-less Dallas team that is starting Derek Fisher because Rick Carlisle is determined to give me an ulcer. The Celtics executed early on both ends (lazily), running a coherent offense and trapping on defense. That all disappeared down the stretch as the ball movement from the first half disappeared and the Celtics tried (and mostly failed) to exploit mismatches in isolation. Now, Carlisle is a great coach so the Mavs are a tough out no matter who they put on the floor, but this should not have been as difficult a win as the Celtics made it. Or maybe I’m just cranky from what felt like the longest game of my life. The Celtics face Harden and the Rockets next as they kick off a three game road-trip this Friday.
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