|Fast Break: C’s pace themselves in convincing win in Indy||04.07.12 at 9:27 pm ET|
The Celtics snapped their two game losing streak on Saturday night, beating the Pacers, 86-72. Rajon Rondo had double-digit (12) assists for the 16th straight game (the longest streak since John Stockton in 1992). Paul Pierce led the way with 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Kevin Garnett struggled with his shot for the majority of the game, but in the fourth quarter he heated up, scoring 10 of his 15 points in the final frame. For the Pacers, Danny Granger scored 20 points.
Boston will host the 76ers, who currently trail the Celtics for first place in the Atlantic division, on Sunday night. Philly has already beaten the C’s in dominant fashion twice this season.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
What Goes Around Comes Around: In the Jan. 6th match-up at the Garden, the Celtics set a franchise record-low for points in the first-half, only scoring 25 points. The Pacers didn’t embarrass themselves to that level, but in a battle with playoff implications, they certainly came out flat, only putting up 33 first-half points. Part of this effort was poor execution, but the Celtics also played swarming defense and contested shots — especially in the paint, where Greg Stiemsma had five (yes, FIVE) first-half blocks.
No Reservations: The production off the Celtics bench has been volatile all year. The starters, from an offensive standpoint, have had to carry the load. Doc Rivers shortened his rotation and established roles after the All-Star break, which has improved the unit’s efficiency. With Ray Allen relegated to the bench after missing six games, the reserves should have more firepower going forward.
This was the case Saturday night, as the Celtics bench outscored the Pacers reserves, 37-12. The expected output from Allen (19 points) came. The way in which Allen scored was encouraging, as his whole arsenal was on display. He hit a few 3-pointers, a mid-range jumper and converted a lay-up on the fast break, even though he ended up shooting just 7-of-19 from the floor.
But unsung heroes also came up big for Boston. Stiemsma added 10 points and nine rebounds and Sasha Pavlovic (8 points) continued to play the role of “good soldier,” contributing in the limited minutes of action he is given.
Sharing is caring: The Celtics had 27 assists on their 32 field goals. The strong ball movement in the half court gave open looks for Boston.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Making Things Uncomfortable: As good as the Celtics defense was, their offense struggled at times. Boston shot 42.1 percent from the field and at times settled for jump shots, which led to a 19-14 free throw discrepancy in favor of the Pacers. A more aggressive offensive approach could have helped Boston’s cause.
That said, the Celtics’ lead did float around nine points for the duration of the game, so it’s tough to find fault in the performance.
Bad B’s: This will probably be a game Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass will want to forget. The two starters have been pleasant surprises for the Celtics and have played well beyond preseason expectations. Saturday night, however, the two combined for six points (2-of-13 shooting).