The 1st half of tonight’s game subjected Celtics fans to more of the same: turnovers (10) opponents points in the paint (20+) and poor defense. Samuel Dalembert had taken 6 shots all season coming into tonight, yet found himself with 3 dunks alone in the first quarter. It was the same bad rotation/poor pick and roll defense we’ve seen thus far from Boston. 20 of the Bucks’ first 22 points came in the paint, and the C’s were fortunate to only be down 22-20 after 1 quarter.
Things then went from bad to worse in the 2nd. The Celtics offense looked completely lost-they had only one made field goal in the first 7 minutes of the quarter. Turnovers started to add up (10 in the 1st half) and it looked like the Bucks were about to open things up. But thankfully with about 3 minutes left in the 2nd, the C’s went on a 9-2 run, and were lucky to go into halftime only down by three: 42-39. Celts shot 35% from the field in the 1st half, and both teams combined for a horrid 2 of 14 from downtown.
The 2nd half started-off with some of the best basketball of the young season from Boston. Jason Terry hit back-to-back threes after a loud dunk by the Truth, and the Celtics would eventually go up 51-44 after a 12-2 run to start the 3rd. The C’s definitely came out of the locker room with a purpose, and played well on both ends of the floor early on. But as has been the case, KG goes out for a breather, and things fell apart. Behind Marquis Daniels (remember him?) and Monta Ellis, the Bucks explode for 13 points in the final 3+ minutes of the quarter to go back up 68-64 after 3.
The final quarter was a story of will. Things got a little chippy, bodies started hitting the floor, and both squads were desperate to get a win. But it would be the Celtics, and captain Paul Pierce that would want it more tonight. The Truth took this game over in the 4th with a ridiculous display of drives, dishes (a sick off-balance pass to KG) and drained threes. Pierce went 8 of 18 to lead all-scorers with 25. Big credit to Jeff Green as well who made a crucial late-game stop on Ilyasova and scored 8 of his 12 points in the 4th quarter.
Kevin Garnett was also huge, burying clutch shot after clutch shot in the final frame for a total of 18. Rondo was again solid with a line of 10 pts, 10 dimes and 4 boards. Jason Terry continued to improve, and had his best game in green: 15 points on 5 of 7 from the floor, 2 of 3 from downtown and 3 of 4 on FTs.
Monta Ellis tried to single-handedly dismantle the Celtics in the 4th, and his battle with Truth in the final few minutes was a treat to watch. Ellis led all-scorers with 32.
Welp, a much needed win for this team and it’s morale. The 2nd half of this game was easily the most organized and fluid basketball I’ve seen Boston play in these first 6 games. Despite sloppy play in the 1st half, they limited the turnovers to only 4 in the 2nd. Celtics now have a day off before they face the Bulls on Monday. Tip-off in Chicago is at 8pm EST.