It’s usually Paul Pierce who is in charge of the big shots in crucial moments for the Boston Celtics, has been for quite a few years now. A bit part of the Boston Celtics doing so well since the injury of Rajon Rondo hasn’t been just the improvement of Kevin Garnett on the offensive side, but Jeff Green starting to give the Celtics what they expect of him.
Green hit a game winning layup with 0.5 seconds left on the clock, as the Indiana Pacers, maybe the best defensive team in the NBA, lost track of Green, making it quite easy for Kevin Garnett to find him for the 83-81 win, making it four straight for the Celtics, who have been about winning and losing streaks for most of this season, putting them at 7th in the Eastern Conference, as the battles between positions 4-7 seems to be headed for a dramatic finish.
Offenses, as expected, were ugly on both ends of the floor. The big defensive improvement for the Boston Celtics has been Avery Bradley finally being healthy, helping them forget about what they lost on the offensive side of the ball with Rajon Rondo’s injury. Garnett is no longer the imposing force he used to be in the paint when it comes to shot blocking and changing shots, but he can still have big nights on the other side of the floor. While Bradley was the main reason the Pacers shot only 36.4% from the field (not that they’re much better on most nights), Garnett led the offense with 18 points on 7-10 from the field.
As Doc Rivers said, the key for the Celtics has been about hanging around plenty of times this season. The Pacers played badly on offense all game, also due to the fact that Danny Granger knee has been worrying the coaching staff, and they preferred not to risk it. The Pacers bullied the Celtics around during the first half, especially through Roy Hibbert who scored 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in the first quarter. After that? Nada.
Paul George looked like the guy from earlier in the season, before all the compliments came raining down on him, scoring 16 points on an awful 7-22 shooting night, as the Pacers simply refused to get into some sort of offensive rhythm, eventually costing them the game through their second half collapse, scoring only 32 points, 13 of them in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics know that this method of hanging around won’t work against the better teams, and in the East that only means the Miami Heat. Not in a 7 game series, when the talent gap eventually speaks the most and loudest. For now, they get by on defense and the occasional big play for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or someone else stepping up from the bench. Good coaching and experience can make up for some things, for a certain amount of time. But not forever, and not against anyone. The Celtics know they were lucky to escape from Indiana with a win.