Let’s avoid hyperbole, if we can. Nobody should claim that that game meant more than it did.
Sure, the Celtics got blown out by the Bobcats earlier this week. Yes, Jason Terry made it sound like the C’s cared more about beating Charlotte than they do about beating Miami on Monday. And of course, the win brought the Celtics back into a three-way tie for fifth in the standings with Atlanta and Chicago.
But at the end of the day, this game was about taking care of business and winning a very winnable game.
Lots of positives once again, so let’s get to the bullet points.
- We begin with an important note: Kevin Garnett did not play tonight because of a strained left adductor. Rivers said that he didn’t think it was a problem, and that Garnett will be playing against Miami on Monday. Translation: The Celtics wanted revenge on Charlotte, but they like getting rest more.
- In 23 minutes, Paul Pierce posted an extremely efficient shooting line: 14 points, 4-7 shooting, 2-3 from 3-point range, 4-5 from the line. He also posted eight assist, six rebounds and this entertaining tidbit from Chris Forsberg.
- Shavlik Randolph (!) grabbed eight rebounds (!!) including four offensive in the second quarter (!!!) that kept Boston ahead by seven as the first half came to a close. He was also the recipient of perhaps the greatest pass of Chris Wilcox’s life. I don’t think Randolph will be a part of the playoff rotation by any means, but the Celtics really benefited from his rebounding abilities tonight.
- Also worth noting: Kemba Walker saved a ball from going out of bounds by chucking it hard right into Randolph’s groin. Shavlik walked it off like a champ.
- Bismack Biyombo’s big selling point entering the 2011 draft was his 7’7 wingspan, but Jeff Green managed out-reach him twice going up for layups at the basket. Green finished with 10 points on 5-9 shooting.
- Boston has perhaps the most entertaining bench of any team in the league during blowouts. This was almost a bad thing: The celebration seemed to distract the players on the court a little bit in the fourth quarter, and the Bobcats made a weird little run (by “weird” I mean “Jannero Pargo went absolutely beserk for no apparent reason”) that brought the lead back down to 13. But Jason Terry got a bail-out foul called, hit a couple of free throws, and Boston never was really in danger after that.
- Interesting note: Kemba Walker does a pretty good job offensively against Avery Bradley, which may have contributed to Boston’s loss on Tuesday, although I can’t be sure unless I go back and watch the tape. And frankly, I have no intention of watching that abomination again. But Walker’s unbelievable handle and quickness are natural counters for Bradley’s ball pressure. Few players can reverse direction as quickly as Walker, and when he changes direction and immediately heads to the basket, even Bradley struggles to defend him.
- Jordan Crawford hit a couple of really nice shots and made some very nice passes, so I’m not ripping his performance by any means, but he air-balled a turnaround mid-range jumper (and screamed “AND ONE!” as he did it) that may have drawn his first reprimand from Doc for his shot selection as a Celtic. Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long. But to be fair, let’s also note that he dished out three assists and probably should have had more, since Shavlik Randolph muffed at least one gorgeous pass from Steez.
- 10-15 shooting from 3-point range will get it done, most nights. Charlotte is bad at guarding the 3-point line, but some of those shots were just bombs (looking at you, Pierce and Crawford).
That will do for tonight. It was a fun second half, and hopefully a solid warm-up for Miami on Monday.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.