Shamrock Roundup: Celtics undefeated in March
The Rondo-less march toward the postseason continues for the Celtics. In the point guard’s absence, the Celtics have put together one of the league’s best records, thereby making Doc Rivers look like a fortune teller when, right after Rondo’s injury, he told the media he wouldn’t be writing the team’s obituary so soon. At that Jan. 27 news conference, Rivers’ words rung hollow. The team had lost more games than they won; and a trip back into the postseason seemed far away. Those words now ring with conviction.
Bradley leads Celtics over 76ers, 109-101
The Celtics saw some versatile play from Avery Bradley in Tuesday’s game as he led the team with 22 points. He is known around the league for his defensive intensity, and his play Tuesday proved why analysts wonder how he slipped into the 19th pick of the first round in the 2010 NBA draft.
Paul Pierce scored 18 points and grabbed 11 boards. Pierce excels against the 76ers, averaging 21.8 points in 54 games against them. But the 76ers have been dealing with injuries to core players like Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams. At one point in the fourth quarter, 76ers All-Star point guard Jrue Holliday grabbed his right ankle in pain, but remained in the game.
Celtics eke win out over Pacers, 83-81
Against the Pacers, the Celtics barely escaped with an 83-81 victory. The Pacers were held to just 13 points in the fourth quarter, and the Celtics scored 25, their highest quarter score in the game. The Pacers didn’t score a single point in the last 4:35 of the game. Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Garnett found Jeff Green all alone under the basket for a layup with 0.5 seconds left. Green had 11 points off the bench.
“We have found ways to win,” Green said after the game. “The trust is there now. Guys are giving what Doc wants. We are finding a way.”
Celtics top Atlanta, 107 – 102
The Celtics extended their winning streak to five games with an OT win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. Paul Pierce and Co. almost coughed up the game despite a double-digit lead late into the fourth quarter. The Hawks missed one last opportunity to win with seconds to go. In OT, the Celtics benefited from clutch three-point shooting from Pierce and Jason Terry to ice the game.
Josh Smith did score 32 points, had eight rebounds, nine assists and one block. Pierce had 27 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Pierce was 56 points shy of tying Charles Barkley on the 20th NBA all-time scoring list before the game against the Hawks. Since scoring 27 in that game, he needs 29 more to tie, or 30 to pass.
Pierce is becoming a living Celtics legend by all standards.
The Celtics face the Thunder on Sunday. The marquee match-up to look out for is certainly Avery Bradley on Russell Westbrook. It will be a game between dogged defense and high-octane offense. Westbrook is one of the premier scoring point guards in the league, and part of an efficient backcourt duo with Kevin Durant. Bradley is going to have his hands full, but one thing’s for sure: Westbrook will be pestered all over the court, all game long.