|Jeff Green and Paul Pierce: ‘We’re two lethal threats’||04.04.13 at 1:19 am ET|
He’s been downright dominant offensively in 11 spot starts for a resting Paul Pierce and an injured Kevin Garnett, so come playoff time, all three should be in the starting lineup. Even Celtics coach Doc Rivers seemed to concede that it’s “very possible” Green and Pierce start on the wings once Garnett returns.
“We’re playing off each other,” said Green, who scored 34 points to go with Pierce’s 17 in a 98-93 win over a Pistons team that had no matchup answers. “We’re two lethal threats on the perimeter and in the low post, so teams have to make a decision on how they want to play us. Either one of us is going to have a nice matchup.”
Added Pierce: “You’ve seen a lot of flashes of that this year. A lot of teams come into these games really focused on what I’m trying to do in the scouting report. When you’ve got a guy like Jeff who can put up big numbers like that and take over a game, it’s fun. It’s fun to watch and be a part of.”
In the final 9:06 of a game that shouldn’t have been so close, Pierce and Green scored 17 straight points until a pair of Jason Terry free throws sealed the deal in the final seconds. Green scored 11 of the C’s final 13 points. But don’t confuse his aggressiveness in Garnett’s absence a passing of the torch just yet.
“I’m not trying to take over games,” said Green, who added five boards and four blocks. “That’s why we’ve got The Truth. I’m playing off of him. We’re looking for each other. We’re being aggressive. If it’s in my hands, I’m trying to make a play. If it’s in his hands, he’s going to make a play, so we’ve just got to play off each other.”
|Paul Pierce celebrates birth of first son Prince Pierce in a clinching win||04.03.13 at 11:20 pm ET|
“At 8:21 p.m. [Tuesday], Prince Paul Pierce was born,” Pierce announced proudly to the Celtics broadcasters after a 98-93 win over the Pistons. “In the next 18 years Celtics fans, look out.”
Prince Pierce was welcomed into the world and Pierce was a game-time decision for Wednesday’s game.
Pierce scored 17 points and dished out five assists in Boston’s 98-93 win over the Pistons, a win that clinched the playoffs for a sixth straight season.
Pierce also celebrated the 34-point performance of Jeff Green, who is helping to pick up the load without Kevin Garnett. The Celtics improved to 3-4 in seven games since Garnett went down with inflammation in his left ankle, inflammation reportedly caused by bone spurs.
‘I mean it’s very tough,” Pierce said. “You’ve got a guy [Green] who’s taking it upon himself in these types of situations to step up, along with myself, along with Jason Terry. So it’s nice to see, just to have that dimension.
“You have seen a lot of flashes of that this year. A lot of times teams come into this game really focused on what I’m trying to do and the scouting report. And you’ve got a guy like Jeff who can put up big numbers like that, who can take over like that. It’s fun, it’s fun to watch and to be a part of.’
How does it feel for Pierce to have playoffs locked up?
‘We knew we were a playoff team before the season started, you know despite the injuries and everything,” he said. “Right now, we just want to focus on continuing to play well going into the playoffs.’
On nearly blowing an 18-point lead: ‘Well, yeah. We had a -point lead there late in the third. With like a minute to go they trimmed it to seven. You know, I think we just made things a little more difficult than they were suppose to be. Guys have got to be ready when they come in the game, to step up. I thought we let them back into the game a little too easy. They out-rebounded us, they pushed us around. The one constant I say we can have regardless if our shots fall is our defensive rebounding and we didn’t just do a good job in that department tonight.’
On playing without KG until playoffs: ‘Well there’s some value in winning and there’s also a lot of value in getting some of these other guys some playing time and some confidence going into the playoffs. The playoffs is a totally different game, it’s nothing like the regular season. But at least these guys will go out there and get there feet wet. See some shots go in, rebound the ball and get some experience while they’re out there.’
|Fast Break: Jeff Green drives Celtics over Pistons||at 10:14 pm ET|
Jeff Green scored a game-high 34 points — including a dagger 3-pointer with 45 seconds left — Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each added 17, and the Kevin Garnett-less Celtics beat the Pistons, 98-93. A 76ers loss locked the C’s into the playoffs, and a Bucks loss gave them a 2.5-game cushion over the eight seed.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Slump busting: In an attempt to emerge from his recent shooting struggles, Avery Bradley came out firing for the second straight game, and it’s working. He made 6-of-11 jumpers against the Timberwolves on Monday in his highest-scoring night since March 5. And he followed that up with a 5-of-6 night on jump shots against the Pistons. In his 13 previous games, Bradley made just 22-of-70 attempts (30 percent) from beyond 10 feet.
Green Day: Once again, Green shined in his seventh straight start for the injured Garnett. He entered Wednesday’s game averaging 21.4 points (55 FG%), 5.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals in 10 starts this season. He added six rebounds and four blocks to his 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting against the Pistons. Five-man Celtics units featuring Green were a combined plus-152, and all but one of them were in the black, according to 82games.com’s most recent updated on March 21.
Defending their honor: Somehow, the Celtics lost their two previous games to Detroit this season by a combined 35 points, allowing 103 points each time. This time around, sans Garnett, the C’s held the Pistons to 36.6 percent shooting (16.7 3P%), as pitbulls Bradley and Courtney Lee held Detroit’s starting backcourt to 7-of-26 from the field. Of course, Bass’s 17 points on eight shots and seven boards didn’t hurt, either.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Paint job: The Pistons scored their first 12 points in the paint. Here’s how it went down: Andre Drummond from 6 feet, Greg Monroe layup, Kyle Singler layup, Drummond layup, Monroe layup and Rodney Stuckney layup. Not good. Detroit out-rebounded the C’s 8-0 on the offensive glass (Drummond 5), scored 18-of-30 first-quarter points in the key and took a five-point edge on Monroe’s eight points, four rebounds and three assists. Also not good. When all was said and done, Detroit outscored the Celtics 58-28 in the paint.
Sloppy second half: With 3:49 left in the third quarter, the Celtics took a 74-56 lead on Chris Wilcox‘s one and only bucket. That’s the good news. The bad: The Pistons closed the third quarter on an 11-0 run thanks to nine points from Monroe and Jonas Jerebko. When Jerebko (19 points) converted a 3-point play to start the fourth quarter, the C’s 18-point lead was trimmed to four, and the teams had themselves a ballgame.
Extra chances: The Celtics shot 50.7 percent from the field. The Pistons shot 36.6 percent. So, how in the heck was it a three-point game midway through the fourth quarter? Turnovers, for one. The C’s committed 16 of them, leading to 20 Detroit points. And offensive rebounds. The Pistons grabbed almost as many offensive boards (25) as defensive (27), giving the visitors 22 more shots for the game.
Jeff Green scored a game-high 34 points and Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each had 17 as the Celtics held off the Pistons, 98-93, Wednesday night at TD Garden. As it turned out, the Celtics clinched a spot in the playoffs by virtue of Philadelphia’s 88-83 loss in Charlotte as the fourth quarter was getting underway in Boston.
The Celtics snapped a two-game skid and improved to 39-36, maintaining their tenuous lead on Milwaukee for seventh in the Eastern Conference and out of a first-round encounter with the Miami Heat. With the Bucks losing at home to Minnesota, the Celtics now lead Milwaukee by 2.5 games for seventh in the East.
The Celtics won the game despite getting out-rebounded, 52-34, outscored in the paint, 58-28, and beaten in second-chance points, 26-7. Boston shot 50 percent on the night while holding the Pistons to 37 percent shooting, including 4-of-24 from 3-point range.
The Pistons had beaten Boston twice in their previous two meetings, scoring 103 points each time and winning by an average of 17 points a contest. Detroit shot 50 percent in each game in handing the Celtics two unexpected losses in Auburn Hills.
The Celtics appeared to be in for another long night against the bigger Pistons in the first quarter. Detroit jumped out to a six-point lead twice before settling for a 30-25 lead over Boston after 12 minutes.
Thanks to eight of his team-leading 23 points in the second, the Celtics outscored the Pistons, 29-14, and took a 54-44 lead to the locker room at halftime.
The Celtics built their lead to 18, 70-52, on two Bass free throws with 5:37 left in the third. They led by 18, 74-56, on a Chris Wilcox layup with 3:50 left in the quarter. But the Celtics fell asleep the rest of the period, allowing the Pistons to score the final 11 points of the period and cut the lead to 74-67 heading into the fourth.
Two Brandon Knight free throws with 9:21 left cut Boston’s lead to three, 79-76.
Charlie Villanueava blew a layup with eight minutes left that would have cut the lead to one. The Pistons threw away another fast break chance with 7:22 left and Pierce came down and hit a jumper to put Boston back up five, 83-78, with seven minutes left. Villanueva, the University of Connecticut product, gave the Celtics a chance to avoid another embarrassing loss. Villanueva was 2-for-17 from the field and missed all eight 3-point attempts.
Green’s jumper with 4:55 left put Boston up, 89-80. His put-back slam dunk of a Jason Terry missed jumper with 3:36 brought the crowd to their feet and put Boston ahead, 91-83. A technical on the Celtics bench and a two Greg Munroe free throws cut the lead down to four, 91-87, with three minutes left but Green answered with an 18-foot jumper with 2:56 left.
Jonas Jerebko gave Detroit new life with a three with 2:29 left, as the Pistons pulled within 93-90. Knight, infamous for getting dunked on by DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers, blew a wide open layup with just under two minutes left that would’ve drawn the Pistons within one.
Green’s third trey of the night from the left baseline put Boston up 96-91 with just 45.3 seconds left. Rodney Stuckey passed on a wide-open, game-tying three with 20 seconds left, instead deferring to Villanueva, who missed his seventh triple attempt of the night.
The Celtics continue their four-game homestand on Friday night at the Garden with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. For more from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach from the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|Rajon Rondo returns to the parquet||at 7:30 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo surprised some by returning to Celtics shootaround just a month and a half after ACL surgery on his right knee in February. Rondo did some light shooting and tested the right knee and a light shootaround before the Celtics game with the Detroit Pistons at TD Garden. Rondo is still expected to miss the rest of the season.
“It was great just having him around [at Wednesday's shootaround],” coach Doc Rivers said. “He put his brace on and he just watched shootaround, but then he walked out — or limped out — on the floor and did whatever he did. But it’s just good just having him around. It’s good for him, too, probably.”
Rivers was asked – jokingly – if Rondo can dunk yet.
“Not yet. It’s coming. That’s next,” Rivers said.
Rondo tore his ACL on Jan. 25 in Atlanta and then had surgery in February and spent the the first part of his rehab with Dr. James Andrews in the Jacksonville area. Rondo returned to his Boston area home last week and has been spending time with the team ever since, attending a Celtics-Hawks game last Friday for the first time since the surgery. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he and the team are hopeful to have Rondo ready for the start of training camp in September.
Rondo also had some fun with two members of the Harlem Globetrotters in town for an exhibition. Thanks to the folks at CLNS Radio, here’s a sample of that.
Pierce missed Monday’s game in Minnesota for what the team termed personal reasons. Pierce has missed just two of Boston’s 75 games this season. Pierce was back in the lineup with Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox.
Rivers reiterated Wednesday that Monday’s absence and Wednesday’s uncertainty before the game had nothing to do with his right ankle.
Pierce had a wrap on his right ankle late in the fourth quarter against the Knicks on Sunday night but the team said it was just for maintenance and was not a serious injury.
As for Kevin Garnett, Rivers said the big man is working out on his own and testing his left foot. Inflammation in his left foot near the ankle caused him to miss his seventh straight game Wednesday night. The Celtics were 2-4 in the previous six.
“Honestly, I haven’t asked one question about [Garnett's return],” Rivers said when asked about the end of the two-week timetable. “I don’t even know when two weeks is. Whenever it is, it’s probably coming up, and he’ll play.
“We have a lot of practice days coming up and Kevin’s been working out. He hasn’t lost all his conditioning, but you do lose some when you don’t play.”
The Celtics play Cleveland on Friday in the second game of a four-game homestand that will also see them play Washington and Brooklyn. Rivers said the off days in between the home games will allow for more practices that should help the team work Garnett back into game action, if willing and able.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
Pierce, who missed just his second game of the season on Monday night due to personal reasons, is officially listed by the team as a “game-time decision” for tonight’s game against the Pistons. Pierce was spotted with an ice wrap on his right foot in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game in New York but the team said at the time it was simply maintenance and not a serious injury.
Garnett, who has missed the last six games with inflammation in his left foot, was not at Wednesday morning’s shootaround. Boston is just 2-4 in those six games.
Without the two stars, the Celtics (38-36) fell to the Timberwolves on Monday night in Minnesota. As a group, Celtics starters have struggled badly in their last two games. In a loss to the Knicks Sunday night, Brandon Bass, Avery Bradey and Chris Wilcox each scored two points. On Monday, Bradley led the way with 19 points but as a unit, the starters scored just 46 points in the 110-100 loss to the Wolves.
Tonight, the Celtics host the Detroit Pistons (25-50) at the Garden (7:30 p.m. tipoff). Despite their woeful record, the Pistons have beaten the Celtics in both previous meetings, scoring 103 points each time while shooting 50 percent from the field in each game. Detroit beat the Celtics 103-88 on Jan. 20 and 103-83 on Nov. 18.
Pierce leads Boston this season, scoring 18.8 points per game and has been the top assist man since Rajon Rondo went down on Jan. 25.