After losing a lead they held for three and a half quarters the Boston Celtics ultimately hung on to win in triple-overtime, which is good because I’m not into moral victories. This was easily the most important game since Rondo’s injury, and the Celtics delivered an absolute thriller with a ton of big shots and a hefty helping of free basketball. Let’s get to the recap:
- Paul Pierce finished with 27 points (7-20 shooting, 8-9 from the line), 14 rebounds, and 14 assists–and has quickly assumed Rondo’s mantle as king of the ugly triple-double. Pierce started out really well, bumbled his way through the second half, and then hit a huge three over Andre Miller to send the game to a third overtime. It was an uneven and messy performance but whatever works, I guess. Pierce played an absolutely insane 54 minutes tonight, which make me more forgiving of a few late-game hiccups.
- Jason Terry (26 points, 10-22 shooting), like Pierce, started off hot and then fell apart missing shot after shot before hitting a crucial three in the third overtime. Despite the big shot, I would have preferred Courtney Lee be given an opportunity down the stretch because at least he could have contributed on defense. Then again, Courtney Lee dribbled the ball off his foot (A Celtics shooting guard dribbling off his foot? Never seen that before) so I’m not really sure if I want him on the floor with the game on the line.
- Kevin Garnett struggled offensively for most of the night, but the game went on so long KG eventually shot himself out of his slump and took over in the third overtime to lead the Celtics to victory. Garnett ended up with 20 points on 9-24 shooting and 18 rebounds.
- Jeff Green started off slow but hit multiple clutch shots at the end of regulation and overtime. He also made a great defensive stop before completely losing his handle in transition while staring at the ball wondering what happened. Green scored 17 points on 6-10 shooting and will probably end up being the unsung hero of this game, his key plays forgotten because of Paul Pierce’s huge (ridiculously ill-advised) shot and Garnett’s takeover in the third overtime.
- Chris Wilcox played 11 minutes to Jason Collins half a second which didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things (and may have been a matchup decision) but it made me happy.
- Ty Lawson might actually be too fast for Avery Bradley.
- I’m sitting here trying to figure out why Barbosa only played 17 minutes.
Now I’m not trying to be a huge bummer, but this bears mentioning: The Celtics shot less than 40% for the game (after shooting 48% in the first half) because their offense continues to grind to a halt late in games. Tonight the Celtics shot 25% in the fourth quarter and 34% in the three overtime periods. The C’s haven’t made a drastic change in pace since Rondo’s injury, but they have been advancing the ball quickly and getting into their sets earlier (resulting in great ball-movement). This doesn’t happen in the fourth quarter and the offense stagnates, which allows opposing teams to get back into the game (and not just tonight, it happened against the Raptors and the Clippers too). Eventually the Celtics will have to correct this or it’s going to bite them in the you-know-what. We’ll worry about that another time though, tonight the Celtics made play after play to beat a quality Nuggets squad and cemented themselves as a team nobody wants to play in the playoffs. Tomorrow, they’ll face Charlotte and try and stretch their NBA-leading win streak to eight.
Follow Jordan on Twitter: @HiggsOnHoops