Fast Break: Celtics survive Hawks in overtime
|04.11.12 at 10:48 pm ET|
This was a perfect set-up for the Hawks. The Celtics were playing their fourth game in five nights, while Atlanta had been off since Saturday. If ever there was a night for the Celtics to act their age, this was it.
At times they did. They committed 23 turnovers, many of them unforced, and trailed by eight points at the half. But the Celtics fought back. Coach Doc Rivers keeps talking about how much he loves his team’s resolve and it was on display throughout the game.
Kevin Garnett scored 22 points and had 12 rebounds before fouling out and Rajon Rondo recorded his sixth triple double of the season with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 20 assists as the Celtics survived in overtime, 88-86.
The victory has all kinds of playoff implications as the Celtics moved into a tie with the Hawks at 34-24. But beyond that, it was further validation that they still have more fight left in them.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Mickael Pietrus returned: You can’t overestimate the importance of Pietrus on the Celtics down the stretch and in the playoffs. His versatility, especially defensively, will be a key factor as matchups dominate postseason play. On a deeper level, Pietrus’ return was a welcome sight for a team that has endured its share of catastrophic injuries.
“I was laid out for two weeks,” Pietrus said before the game. “I couldn’t do much. I was trying to rest my brain. I could not watch TV. I could not do anything basically. It’s not like an injury that you hurt your knee, you hurt your ankle, it’s your brain. You’ve got to get your brain right. To be honest with you, I was thinking about my kids. I was thinking about my life. That could have been a different story for me. Today, I’m young, I still got my smile. I enjoy life. When I fell I was thinking more about my kids.”
Oh, and he scored eight points to go with six rebounds in 28 minutes and nailed a 3-pointer that gave them the lead early in the fourth quarter.
Rondo the magnificent: A lot of attention has been paid to the point guard’s streak of double-digit assist games, which reached 19 against the Hawks. But not enough attention is being paid to the floor games that Rondo is having. He’s got everyone on a string and is making the right decisions more often than not. Yes, he had another triple double — his sixth of the season — but there was so much more to Rondo’s game than just his bizarre numbers: 10 points on 3-for-16 shooting, 10 rebounds and 20 assists.
Brandon Bass had another productive night: Don’t sleep on Bass who once again did his thing with 21 points, 10 rebounds and a huge basket down the stretch. He’s been finishing better at the rim and is attacking the offensive glass again. Bass also guarded Atlanta center Zaza Pachulia, which allowed Garnett to take Josh Smith.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Second quarter breakdown: After a rousing 12 minutes in which the Celtics shot 64 percent (13-for-19), they followed it up by missing 14 of 19 shots in the second (26.3 percent). They also had six turnovers and the bench was outscored 13-3. Rivers ran through nine different players in the first half, but he received little support from the bench.
The calls did not go their way: The Celtics had four straight controversial calls go against them in overtime. They won anyway. That’s the mark of a veteran team.
Ray Allen missed another game because of his ankle: While the Celtics were thrilled to get Pietrus back, there has to be come concern over Allen’s absence. Rivers said he expects Allen will be able to travel to Toronto on Friday when the Celtics begin a stretch of three road games in three days.