The Boston Celtics stopped the surging Indiana Pacers with a 93-89 victory that still doesn’t put them in the top 8 among the Eastern conference’s teams, but ties them with the Miami Heat and brings them half a game from actually making the NBA playoffs.
The Celtics held off the Pacers a number of times as Indiana tried to get back in the game and turn it around, but the Celtics had an answer for each run, making it four wins in a row and six of the last seven. Despite a 29-36 record, having such a run in the East means you’re almost automatically thrown into the playoff discussion. The Celtics might be in rebuild mode, but they’re ambitious enough not to turn this into another NBA-awful tank job.
The greatest team you can become is the team that just plays the right way on the next play. You know they’re going to make a run. You just kind of wait for your opportunities on offense and you all play as well as you can defensively together. That’s the way we approached it. We stuck with the game plan. Tough games really help your team out especially late in the season when you’re trying to make a playoff push. We know it’s going to be tough, but we’ll stick with it.
Yes, a team that traded away their biggest star (if Rondo is an actual “star”) has actually done better without him. Nothing new, especially when this star sometimes doesn’t actually do what’s best for the team. The Celtics aren’t exactly the 2014 Toronto Raptors, but it’s always fun to see a team that no one gave them any chance of competing, working well under a young coach and coming together as a unit instead of being led by one transcendent star.
The Pacers, another team without an actual star leading the way, had 30 points from George Hill, but he was the only one who stood out in a rough game offensively for the home team, shooting just 40% from the field and turning the ball over 14 times. Paul George who might be healthy enough to return has said he’s contemplating coming back, afraid that he might ruin the chemistry that got built during his time away from the court, rehabbing from his injury.
Tyler Zeller scored 18 points to lead the Celtics, helped by Brandon Bass with 16 and Avery Bradley with 16 as well. Jae Crowder scored 16 points and grabbed 7 rebounds off the bench, present for the Celtics in most of their dominant minutes, finishing with a +11 during his 33 minutes. Phil Pressey seemed to fit in a lot more than Marcus Smart in this game, scoring 7 points and adding 4 assists in just 17 minutes. Of the Celtics’ 35 field goals, 28 were assisted.