After playing five games in seven days back and forth across time zones, it was going to take a special effort from Paul Pierce and the rest of the Boston Celtics to come out with a win against one of the toughest home teams in the NBA, not letting fatigue or overtime get to them.
Whatever that was, it was the best win of the year for me. … To go into overtime and still have enough to win.
The Celtics do play some nice, smart basketball at times despite not really playing with a point guard or anything close to a full lineup. Still, there’s enough heart, experience and disregarded ability that doesn’t always translate too well into statistics. Heart. Kevin Garnett simply refused to be put on the bench, insisting he’s good to go and play 36 minutes. Garnett finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, as the Celtics won 110-107 in overtime, remaining 3 games above .500 and winning for the second time on their grueling road trip.
We knew this was probably going to be the toughest game for us physically and mentally. Talking about a long road trip, coming in to one of the toughest places to play. We felt we could salvage this trip with a win here. So guys did a good job of just being mentally tough, digging in and doing what we had to do to get the win.
Paul Pierce doesn’t always put up the most impressive of numbers, but he does everything right quite often for the Celtics, be it by scoring, assisting or making the correct movement on the floor the frees up other players. He’s still the main focus on a team that tried to shift elsewhere this season, only to let injuries put the game back into the hands of the player that has been their number one guy, mostly, for over a decade.
Pierce finished with 26 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, shooting way better than his awful 40.3% from the field over the last 10 games, making 10 of his 20 shots, and more important was the timing of those shots. Even if he did miss the shot that could have prevented overtime.
We wanted to win in regulation. It would have felt better just to get a stop when we needed it. That’s what we need to get better at. We didn’t do it in Portland. We didn’t do it tonight. That’s what we need to start focusing on. When we get the lead and we need crucial stops, we have to figure out how to get them.
We did a lot of zone, did a lot of man and tried to force turnovers. That’s what we have to do. A lot of times we had to go to small because they had plenty of size and they rebound well. We just junked up the game a little bit by changing our defense.
The Celtics have the confidence in winning games by playing ugly, and feeling they have the right kind of experience and championship pedigree to come out as the winners from the tight games, that don’t go according to plan. When it comes to pure basketball skills and quality, the Celtics are probably mismatched against a lot of teams. Luckily they have enough to make up for it.
When you have champions that have been through so many tough games as we have, then you know you’re in good hands. For us, we hang our hat on executing down the stretch.