I woke up dreading the obituary I seemed destined to write, but the Celtics always find a way to ward off death, at least for a time. The Celtics are still unable to play four quarters, but after blowing a 20 point lead they managed to grind out a fifth one and they were able to come away with a win. “We just need to get to overtime. We’re really good at it.” Doc joked after the game, but Kevin Garnett put it best: “Instead of talking tonight, we actually came out and did it.” Let’s get to the bullet points:
- Since we’re on the subject of talking, it took 85 games but the Jason Terry we were promised at the beginning of the season (and nightly by Jason Terry himself) finally made an appearance in Celtic green. JET was phenomenal, particularly in overtime where he scored the Celtics’ final nine points. Terry finished with 18 points on 7-10 shooting, four assists, and a miraculous zero turnovers in easily his best passing display of the season. Avery Bradley fumbled away a brilliant pass by JET early in the game, probably because he was shocked by how on-target it was. “The JET has been in the hangar a long time. It was good to let it out.” Terry said after the game, submitting his entry for understatement of the season. “Lot of Knick fans here. A closeout game and they come and take over our building, not our building. That fueled me up.”
- Paul Pierce had a few throwback moments tonight (including a tomahawk dunk!) on his way to a well rounded 29 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Pierce shot 4-8 from downtown after entering this game shooting 13% from three, and though some of those shots were ill-advised they were a huge part of Boston’s early lead. He also continued to have a bad case of the fumbles (six turnovers) but that’s become the norm at this point, even if it isn’t desirable. Yesterday, Pierce called friends to make dinner plans in New York.
- Kevin Garnett found his legs, at least for a day, finishing with 13 points (including an alley-oop slam) and 17 (!!!) rebounds and six assists. Garnett only took seven shots, but with other Celtics picking up the scoring load he was able to concentrate on anchoring the Celtics’ defense.
- “Brandon was the star of the game as far as I’m concerned. He just defended. Did it over and over and over again,” Rivers told reporters after the game. The box score doesn’t do Brandon Bass justice (aside from the six fouls) and he played a huge role in frustrating an ISO heavy Melo on the defensive end of the floor. Melo missed 25 of his 35 shots (including all seven of his threes) and, not to be outdone by Paul Pierce, turned the ball over seven times. “I wouldn’t say I’m a great defensive player.” Bass said. “I just take a lot of pride in it.”
- In backcourt-watch, Terrence Williams played 11 minutes, Jordan Crawford played seven (and took five shots!), and Courtney Lee was glued to the bench. Williams didn’t do much (one point, three assists, three turnovers) but he can bring the ball up the floor, unlike most of the Celtics.
- Jeff Green seems to get a lot of flack for a player averaging nearly 21 points-per-game this series, and the past few months it feels like every other night he puts the team on his back. Green finished game four with 26 points, including some gravity-defying layups in transition, and six rebounds. “We rallied,” Green said afterwards. “They made their run. This is a big one for us. We’ve got nothing to lose, all the pressure’s on them.”
Green is right, though the forced comparisons to the 2004 Boston Red Sox that seem to be springing up everywhere are premature. It’s unlikely that Carmelo will play so poorly for three more games and J.R. Smith is sure to wreak havoc against the Celtics’ ever-shifting backcourt rotation. The Celtics are attempting something 103 other teams, better teams, have tried and failed. But following an admirable display of Celtic pride and some late game heroics by Jason Terry, the Celtics live to die another day.
Follow Jordan on Twitter: @HiggsOnHoops