Paul Pierce. The Captain. The Truth.
Can we just close our eyes and ruminate on what The Truth is still doing to teams after 14 clutch-filled seasons at 36 years of age?
WHEW!!! Like a friend of mine used to say, that game was like finding a shark in your bathtub -- it's much closer than you ever wanted it to be.
The Celtics started this game much as they have the past three -- playing great defense and sharing the ball to equate a firm double-digit lead for much of the game. Unfortunately, the Clippers shoved a big spoonful of "ShuttyUppie" (thanks, King of Queens!) into the faces of all of the so-called fans who have been robotically regurgitating the idea that the Celtics are better off without Rajon Rondo. The Clippers cut the Celtics' lead to 2 in the 4th quarter by exposing the C's shortcomings in the half-court offense, a place where someone with Rondo's unparalleled passing, driving and court vision can make the difference.
Fortunately for the Celtics, they still have THIS guy:
Late-game lapses notwithstanding, the Celtics continued to move the ball and gang rebound to get themselves another win PR&S (Post Rondo and Sully), notching the 4th in a row and moving up a stair above the .500 mark.
Sure, the Clippers were without All-Star point guard Chris Paul, but let's not even think about playing the injury game, people.
Enough can not be said about the Celtics bench in this one. As a collective, the bench outscored the Clipper reserves -- 52-29. As individuals, there was a LOT to be excited about: Jeff Green continued to back up his new "I got heart" signature celebration move by gliding and jump-shooting his way to 14 points on 4-6 shooting (3-3 on 3's), 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Jason Terry lit his turbos and took off into Jet-mode with 13 points and a team-high 6 assists while Leandro Barbosa blurred into action for 14 points. Hell, even Jason Collins got into the books with more points than fouls, scoring 7 in the game.
Kevin Garnett contributed 12 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 head game against Blake Griffin (20 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists), frustrating him at key junctures. New starter (same as the old starter) Brandon Bass mustered 9 points, 8 rebounds and a career-tying 4 assists.
And, while Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley didn't put much in the scoring column (11 points between them), their defense on guard Eric Bledsoe (23 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds), the hot-first-half-having Caron Butler (18 points) and the always deadly Jamal Crawford (23 points, 6 assists) was also timely.
While it's clear that the Celtics are indeed a formidable bunch for any team to take on, they'll need some work on half-court sets when the speed game bogs down. But, if Doc and the C's can figure out how to keep it crisp and run on teams for the rest of the season, there are going to be a LOT of coaches sighing with relief when they draw a first-round matchup against the Miami's, Brooklyn's, Indiana's and Chicago's of the world.
One more note about The Captain: today, with that game-winning 3, Paul Pierce moved ahead of sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic and into 6th place in all-time 3-pointers made with 1,761 and counting. Now THAT's the Truth!
Tale Of The Tape