Only the Celtics could play on the road, in the playoffs, without their starting point guard (Rajon Rondo-suspension), the all-time 3 point leader (Ray Allen) and still come out with a win.
Only the Celtics.
Boston showed their veteran moxy to overcome an 11 point deficit in the 2nd half and steal the win 87-80 in game 2.
Paul Pierce shook off the ill effects of Game 1 and put on his best performance of the season in Game 2, simply because he had to.
36 points 14 rebounds and 4 assists. An instant classic in the storied hall of fame career for Pierce.
“Without Rondo, it all fell on me.” said Pierce after the game. He would later add that it was indeed a team win pointing out the multiple contributions from Keyon Dooling (6 points on two mammoth threes) Sasha Pavlovic, and Marquis Daniels. Those guys took turns defending Joe Johnson (22 points) which allowed Pierce to focus on his offense which was desperately needed.
Kudos to the bench for making those contributions especially Dooling. But it was Pierce’s show from the opening tip. He was the catalyst scoring Boston’s first 9 points to open the game. He was the reason the Celtics had a chance and he is the reason Celtics return to Boston with the home court advantage in their favor.
Kevin Garnett double-doubled with 15 points and 12 rebounds while adding 4 assists. Avery Bradley moved over to the point guard position in the absence of Rondo and chipped in 14 points.
Mickael Pietrus started in place of Rondo but his troubles continued in 19 scoreless minutes for Boston. He is going to need to come off the 3 point line (0-3 tonight) and start driving to the basket. The Celtics brought him in to be who he is so to speak but the shots aren’t falling and its time for an adjustment on his part.
Atlanta now has lost home court advantage and may have suffered an even bigger loss in Josh Smith.
The budding do everything forward had 16 points 12 rebounds and 5 assists before leaving in the 4th quarter with a sprained knee. A precautionary MRI will be taken but the Hawks are already short-handed without Zaza Pachuila and Al Horford. Losing Smith for any amount of time would be devastating for the Hawks. Marvin Williams would likely be Smith’s replacement.
Jeff Teague continues to provide the Hawks with bravado and he and Williams would have to raise their level of play if Smith were to miss Game 3. Teague had 18 points tonight while Williams managed only 3.
The biggest concern for Team Green is the heavy minutes the starters have logged in these two grind it out games. Both Pierce and Garnett have played 40 plus minutes in the two games thus far. The bench continues to hustle and play good defense but they haven’t provided consistent offense hence the heavy minutes for Pierce and Garnett.
As unlikely as this win would seem for Boston it was the kind of win they are becoming used to. Surprisingly the Celtics are 8-5 without Rondo this season. It would be intrguiing to see what a full Celtics roster would be capable of in these playoffs.
Nevertheless, if Smith misses time the Celtics will have no excuse for not getting past the Hawks. Atlanta missed an opportunity to put a stranglehold on this series…Boston would be wise to heed the lesson they just taught.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com