The Celtics started this game out horribly… again. I mean, it was just ugly. They had NOTHING going on offensively. After falling behind 20-15 after the first quarter, I thought this was going to be another one of those games that I would have probably switched off were I not required to watch.
Then the second unit… if you can believe it… stepped up and provided the requisite amount of energy needed to start wearing down the Pacers and make them look like the borderline EasternConference playoff team playing on back-to-back nights.
The starters followed suit for a few minutes and we actually saw CELTICS BASKETBALL that saw the C's rip off a 15-2 run…. until the last minute of the first half where Indy cut the C's lead to 7 at halftime. The C's still won that quarter 32-20.
In the 3rd, the C's wore Indy down. Paul Pierce had a wicked move to the hoop. Ray Allen and KG connected for a nice basket under the hoop. And Carlos Arroyo beat the buzzer with a 3 to give the C's a 14 point lead that they'd just kinda hang on to the rest of the way.
Defensively, the C's held Indy to 37.5% shooting. They had flashes of actually playing Celtics-type defense…. highlighted by a monster Delonte West block on Paul George in the 4th. The C's blocked 9 shots tonight… 3 of the courtesy of Jeff Green.
Speaking of Mr. Green… he checked in with a 19 point night on 6-9 shooting. Most of it came in the first half where he was pretty much THE reason the C's were able to build a second quarter lead. Paul Pierce was quietly awesome tonight. He opened the game with another dunk… this time catching Roy Hibbert. He was scoring in every way possible and he was setting guys up (most notably, Ray for 3 a couple of times) on his way to a 20 point, 5 assist night.
Rajon Rondo didn't "break out" of his slump tonight, but he had flashes of doing what he normally does. He only took two shots, but he 8 assists, 2 steals and a block.
Delonte West looked pretty good in his return. After the game Doc made fun of it… saying "he must have played in a rec league… his timing was too good." Delonte was making some great passes out there and did a great job of holding the second unit together.
The most important stat of the night: No starter played more than 30 minutes… and that was Rondo. Any time you can beat a mediocre team and rest your starters is a good night at this point in the season. It was also great that they did it on "Mike & Tommy night." Hell… Troy Murphy even chipped in on their night with a dunk and a jumper. What more can you ask for?
Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images