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Your Morning Dump..Where The C’s Send A Message

KWAPT February 26, 2013 The Morning Dump, The Team 16 Comments

On the last night of a grueling west coast trip, it would’ve been very easy for the Celtics to mail-in last night’s game. But Doc Rivers’ bunch would have nothing of the sort. Behind 26 points from The Captain, Boston fought for a gritty 110-107 OT win.

Chris Forsberg-C’s Send A Message: Never Write Them Off

With the luxury of extended rest looming, Celtics coach Doc Rivers utilized a playoff-like rotation, shortening up his bench even on the second night of a back-to-back while treating this game like a bit of a must-win situation to salvage a frustrating road trip. Pierce simply wouldn’t let this team lose.

“Whatever that is, it was the best win, for me, of the year,” admitted Rivers.

This was a statement game for a Boston team stuck in the mud of the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics had won eight of nine before the All-Star break, but benefitted from a home-heavy schedule and maybe some overachieving in the face of injury woes. This trip out west — particularly with the trade deadline wedged in the middle — was supposed to reveal a lot more about this team.

“Stuck in the mud.” Sounds about right. But last night’s win should go a long way in building confidence for a team that has been up and down all season. It also lets the rest of the NBA know that the C’s aren’t going anywhere.

Just when the rest of the league was ready to dismiss Boston’s potential as a real postseason threat, the Celtics offer a friendly reminder that this team always has to be accounted for.

As I wrote in last night’s recap, young guns like Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jeff Green have been huge in many of Boston’s wins, but last night, it was the Truth and Ticket. Two battle-tested warriors putting the team on their backs:

Down two with 2½ minutes to go in the extra session, Pierce hit a clutch 3-pointer to push Boston back out front. He got the rebound at the other end of the floor, then made a tough 11-foot jumper. After another Jazz miss, Pierce pushed it to seven straight points with another difficult jumper that had Boston out front 106-101 with 72 seconds to play.

And that’s what makes this team so dangerous. Sure, the Celtics’ depth has been eroded from a trio of season-ending injuries over a three-week span and Boston’s role players have been inconsistent at best this season. But 35-year-old Pierce and 36-year-old Garnett just refuse to let this ship sink — and that’s part of the reason Ainge and Co. were reluctant to even entertain the idea of shipping them out last week.

Rivers initially tried to sub out Garnett at the start of the extra session, only for him to talk his way back in. Sure enough, Garnett hit a 19-foot jumper for the first points of the extra session.

“It’s funny, at the start of the overtime I told Brandon [Bass], ‘Go in for Kevin,’ [but] Kevin wouldn’t let me,” Rivers told reporters. “He said, ‘No, no, I’m good.’ I didn’t believe that, but I kept him in and he was terrific.

Say what you will about the age and consistency of Pierce & Garnett, but time & time again, when the chips have been down, these two guys have stepped-up. Doc will have some tough decisions moving forward as far as how much to rest his two stars. In his mind, I think he’d rather have a healthy, rested Truth & Ticket and a lower playoff seed. But the goal at this point is to keep it together, and make the playoffs period. Boston has quite a few road games left on the schedule, and is now 10-18 away from home:

Rivers’ preference for health over victories might not allow the Celtics (30-27) to make much of a move in the East seedings over the final 25 games, but they sit only three games back of the No. 4 seed Hawks and Nets (and five games back of the Atlantic Division-leading Knicks with two head-to-head matchups looming). As Rivers declared in Phoenix the other night, the Celtics simply want to “be a seed.”

A seed that no one else is going to want to dig up in the playoffs. With Pierce and Garnett at the helm, this team remains determined and dangerous. They reminded the rest of the league of that with Monday’s win.

The rest of the links:

Herald: Experiment In Osmosis Can Veteran Celtics Stars Save New Duo C’s End on Winning Note  | ESPN Boston: C’s Send Message C’s Get Two Days of Rest  | Globe: Win is Breath of Fresh Air  |  CSNNE: Bradley Makes Mark on Offense |

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  • http://www.team-basketball.com Maria

    Yes, that game was a must-win. There were times when I wanted to jump into the TV and shake Pierce for chucking up 3’s, but he came through in the end…as always.

    • Curt

      You mean *as sometimes.

      • Maria

        Yeah, I have to admit I hesitated when I typed “always”, but I’ll give him a little slack for the past couple months that he’s underperformed. Pierce has had to carry a big load since Sully, Rondo, and LB have left.

  • KGino

    Had to watch the game again this morning cuz I wanted a nice big bowl of CAPTAIN CLUTCH for breakfast

  • KY Celts fan

    Any other DirectTV subscribers lose their signal with about 17 seconds left in OT? Because I did and I was mighty pissed!

    • Eddie Allen Powe

      yes! That really was an FML moment because other channels were fine. Turned out to be just 216HD, I was able to finish the OT in standard definition

    • Roy

      Yes I did too and it was only that channel. Luckyly it wasn’t a playoff game or I would of gone crazy.

    • KWAPT

      Heard a lot of folks on Twitter also complaining about the Direct TV issue-yes..

  • Matt W

    It was a good win, but the Jazz isn’t that good a team. I’m not sure it’s terribly impressive to the rest of the league that the C’s could beat a team with a comparable record.

    • Curt

      Pay attention before you talk. It was the 5th game in 7 nights on the road.

      Context.

    • JBcelticsFan

      Besides the Bulls, and now Celtics, no other East team has beaten the Jazz at home. They are one of the best home teams and celtics are one of the worst road teams. It was on the 2nd night if a back to back. Like Curt said, look at it in context and think before you type.

      • chocolate thunder

        Matt is right here. The C’s certainly did not “send a message” to the rest of the league. C’s complacency with mediocre play on the road and on back to backs is the reason they will have a difficult 1st round match-up come playoff time. If C’s fans are serious that this team can make a run at an east title its about time they start winning games like this one with consistency….or else I can guarantee you a road to the conference finals will be far more difficult then Atlanta and Philly like last year.

        • frickenWaaaltaaah

          Going into last night, the Jazz home winning percentage is better than the Spurs overall win percentage (although not close to the Spurs own home winning percentage).

          The only team with a larger home/away disparity is Denver.

          People not familiar with the west tend to forget that Salt Lake City is also a high altitude city, only about ~1000 ft lower than Denver.

          The Celtics are also up there in home/road disparity, like 3rd or 4th, although in their case I think it has more to do with the brutal road scheduling they’ve had this year.

    • Josh

      Utah was 21-6 at home. C’s were playing there on the 2nd night of a back-to-back and in their 5th game in 7 days and the game went to OT. Not an impressive win?

      • chocolate thunder

        If your expectations for this team is a 1st round exit, then yes, this was an ‘impressive’ win. Celtics are too well coached to be 9-18 on the road. A gutsy win? Sure, pierce was clutch. But its the time of year to start expecting wins like this. Facts: heat are rolling, indiana is rolling, and chicago is returning a half-decent pg to the best coached defence in basketball pretty soon….almost every celtics fan i talk to thinks the C’s as constructed can contend with any team in east outside of miami (which it can), its the time of year to start proving that.

  • Nbr1celticsfan

    I think it was a GREAT win. It was the 5th game in 7 days all on the road. It was the 2nd game of a back to back. It went to overtime, and the jazz have one of the best home records in the whole nba. Also the big reason I think this is a great win is that the jazz have the best front court situation in the league. They have great depth there two starters al Jefferson, and millsap are really good. Also they have guys who could jump right into the starting role if either went down in Derrick favors, and enes kanter. As for the celtics are front court has been killed by Jared sullinger going down for the yr, darko chosing to leave due to family issues, and Jason Collins getting shipped away in the trade for Crawford. Yes I know Collins was not a game changer but he was a healthy body. So we had KG, Wilcox, bass, and fab melo. Green has had to move over to PF b/c of lack of depth issues that’s y I didn’t put him on there. And melo never plays. So we had 4 guys for 2 positions going up against the best front court in the league IMO (with all the depth at the two positions). That to me is why this game was a great win. I am a die hard celtics fan, never miss a game. But when I saw this game I thought honestly that it was set up to be a loss seeing it was a 2nd game of a back to back and on the road, and their great situation at the front court spots and are obvious lack in that area. That is why it was a great win!!! Oh and the jazz are a pretty good team too, it’s not like we were playing the bottom team in the conferences. We played a playoff team on the road!! And a good one at that!! Great win celtics!!