The Celtics delivered a thriller in the absence of Kevin Garnett, sidelined by the flu and an adductor strain. The C’s ultimately came up short in a game that was both exhilerating and (especially down the stretch) incredibly frustrating. It was a tense, exciting game that came down to the wire and though Boston wasn’t able to execute in the closing moments, Celtic pride was on full display tonight. Let’s get to the beloved bullet-points:
- Jeff Green had an incredibly efficient career high 43 points on 21 shots–tieing Paul Pierce for the highest scoring game of the KG era–as well as seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and four blocks. “Whatever he ate for breakfast this morning or whatever he did today, he better keep doing it,” Pierce said after the game. Green’s monster night was spoiled by LeBron James go-ahead jumper with 10 seconds to go, but that shouldn’t take away from the amazing game Jeff Green had. Green was 5-7 from downtown and completed numerous three point plays off seemingly impossible shots. The crowd chanted his name. He even went left. Tonight’s game spoke volumes about how far Jeff Green has come since the beginning of the season. Green looked even better than in preseason, and he did it against some stiff competition. When asked about his game Jeff Green was slightly less excited than me. “It doesn’t matter. We lost. It sucks.”
- Paul Pierce finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, but his night was marred by a costly seven turnovers.
- Avery Bradley struggled offensively tonight, but had an awesome fingertip block on Norris Cole and hit a huge 3 to put the Celtics up 103-101 late (those two plays were so incredible I didn’t realize how much he struggled until after the game). Unfortunately he also had four turnovers.
- Jason Terry was 4-6 tonight for 9 points, but he disappeared from the offense for long stretches of time, unfortunate on a night when he appeared to be shooting well. He also had four assists and, you guessed it, four turnovers.
- Did I mention turnovers? The Celtics turned the ball over twenty times tonight and struggled under pressure without a true ball-handler. “We just don’t have the ball-handling to play half court anymore,” Doc said. While the C’s limited the Heat to just 6 fast break points, thats a lot of possessions to give up to your opponent and it ultimately cost the Celtics.
- Courtney Lee was the unsung hero of this game, scoring 13 points on 6-10 shooting while playing some great defense and showing excellent decision making skills on the offensive end. He was taken out of the game in the final minute for Brandon Bass, immediately followed by Bass botching a driving layup.
In case you didn’t know, the Miami Heat are really good on this basketball team. Opinions will vary on what this game means, but come playoff time it probably doesn’t mean anything. On one hand, the Celtics were without Garnett tonight (and Rondo and Sullinger) and his presence would have certainly helped on a night where Miami scored 50 points in the paint. On the other, Jeff Green is not going to score 40 points every night and the Heat were playing their fifth game in seven nights. Regular season matchups are a poor barometer for what’s going to happen come playoff time, and the Heat are in a class of their own in the East. That said, the Celtics are still dangerous and the Heat don’t want to play them, and while my playoff aspirations aren’t high Celtics-Heat would be a hell of a series.