Sure, the Celtics were far from perfect on Wednesday, particularly when they came unraveled at the end of the third quarter and allowed Toronto to open a double-digit lead. But it’s how they responded in the fourth frame, showing some oft-unseen resolve that speaks volumes about the inspired ball this team is playing at the moment. Turnovers killed Boston — it committed 14 overall for a whopping 28 points — but gave the ball away only twice in the final frame. Without a pure ballhandler to lean on down the stretch, that’s solid damage control.
“Tonight was tough,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters in Toronto. “These are the games when you really miss [Rondo] because you needed to get organized a couple times. But our guys did it. We wasted a couple timeouts to get them organized every time I thought they were not. And there’s no ballhandler. We come out of timeouts and you don’t know who’s going to bring the ball up on our team right now. Hell, I don’t know half the time, and it’s good. It’s good confusion.”
You could attribute some of the confusion to the unique lineup that played nearly all of the 4th quarter; Barbosa (12 points), Terry (2), Pierce (2), Green (1) and Garnett (11).
While Garnett carried the team, Barbosa’s impact was huge. Not only does he benefit from ball movement generated open looks, but the guy can improvise when the shot clock is winding down. He also worked his ass off on defense.
I don’t want to dwell too much on that horrific 3rd quarter, but we can credit Jason Terry for helping set the guys straight:
“Jason doesn’t talk a lot, but he let guys know, that’s not the way we should play, the way we played for three quarters,” said C’s coach Doc Rivers.
“We fell back into some of our old tendencies,” Terry said. “We weren’t moving the ball well, and defensively we weren’t helping out. It’s so obvious from watching film of our last four or five games, when we play the right way and play Celtic basketball, it’s night and day. It was a wake-up call for us. We didn’t play our best game tonight but found a way to win by playing the right way.”
The rest of the links:
ESPN Boston – Kobe dishes on Celtics | Doc’s take: C’s hung in there | Globe – Pietrus laments on not returning | Celtics handle Raptors | Herald – Celtics end up with a win | KG confident situation will work out | Pierce: No rebuild job | CSNNE – C’s rally in 4th | Garnett carries Celtics | Woj: It’s unlikely Garnett gets traded | WEEI – The Celtics are not better w/o Rondo