After a lackluster first half the Celtics went on a frantic third quarter rally (outscoring Atlanta 33-9) on route to a key victory on the second night of a back-to-back. The Celtics played lock down defense in the second half–holding Atlanta to 25% shooting (41% for the game)–and turned stops on one end into buckets on the other. This game ended up going so well, I don’t have a single negative bullet-point. Let’s get to them:
- Rajon Rondo finished with a triple-double tonight: 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. Rondo looked completely uninvolved in the first half, and turned the ball over four times in that span, but whatever KG said to him before the break lit a fire under him. Suddenly Rondo was diving on the ground fighting for steals at one end, and controlling the pace at the other. He only turned the ball over once more as he directed the Celtics amazing second half comeback.
- Paul Pierce‘s stat line is somewhat misleading tonight. Pierce finished with 26 points on eight of 20 shooting, along with nine rebounds. However, five of those shots, and four of those rebounds, came in one possession where Pierce was rejected five times in the paint (and took a shot to the face as well). Outside of that bizarre sequence Pierce was pretty efficient, and it was good to see him getting his teammates involved (five assists) without repeatedly giving the ball away (only one turnover). The Truth was active inside and out on offense.
- Brandon Bass had a really nice game, going 5-6 from the floor for 10 points while adding four rebounds, two assists, three steals, and a block. His jumper looked super smooth tonight and more importantly he looked confident in his shot. If Bass has got his groove back it’ll be a big boost for the Celtics going forward.
- Jared Sullinger had another great night with eight points and nine boards (four offensive). Sullinger continues to hustle and grind regardless of the score, and he was one of the few Celtics who played well in the first half when the team was struggling.
- Jason Terry played defense. Maybe Avery Bradley’s effort is contagious or maybe he’s just a witch, casting a magic spell that got Terry involved on the defensive end. Whatever it was, I’ll take it.
- Jason Collins only played four minutes. He scored his single basket on a play Doc drew up for him coming out of a timeout. I only mention this to point out that Doc is such an amazing play-caller he can even get Jason Collins easy points. That said, four minutes is still plenty for Collins.
Now before we throw a parade, the Celtics still didn’t play a complete 48 minutes tonight. That said, I think this team showed us something tonight. The Celtics were on the second night of a back-to-back, against a good team, on the road, trailing by 15 at the half, and they still managed to find a way to win. I wouldn’t describe this as a gritty win, but it was tough, and fun to watch as well. If the Celtics can find a way to win against New York on Monday night, not only will they match their longest win streak of the season (three, I know, super exciting), but they’ll have a chance to add to it with three of the four following games being against sub .500 teams. I’m tempering my excitement, but these past two wins have given Celtics fans reason to feel a little optimistic going forward.
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