Celtics-Bobcats review: Revenge is sweet

Celtics-Bobcats review: Revenge is sweet
March 17, 2013, 12:00 am
Share This Post

BOSTON —  About a minute into Saturday's game against Charlotte, Paul Pierce connected with Brandon Bass on a 17-foot jumper. Forty seconds later, he found Jeff Green for a lay-up.

The plays didn't seem all that big a deal at the time, but they in many ways set the tone for yet another solid, all-around game for Pierce whose play helped set the tone in Boston's 105-88 win.

Pierce only played 23 minutes, but still managed to score 14 points to go with eight assists, six rebounds and three blocked shots.

"We ran a play that kind of matured into that," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "The same play just kept building and building."

And the same could be said for the Celtics lead which peaked at 26 points.

Rivers reminds the media all the time how much Pierce loves to play, but the Captain was more than cool with his on-court time being so low Saturday night.

"That's good," Pierce said. "We can come out and have a good win like this, that means everybody on the team is doing their job, what we were supposed to do against the Bobcats."

In limited minutes, Pierce had an impact on the game in just about every facet of play.

He opened the game by getting his teammates involved. In the second quarter, he was still searching for teammates to get going until Boston's lead was down to just a single point with nearly three minutes left in the half.

The Celtics closed out the second quarter with an 8-2 run that included Pierce leading the C's during the spurt with six points.

"That's just Paul," said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. "He comes out and plays hard every night. It was big for us tonight, seeing as though Kevin didn't play, to be our playmaker and to get everybody involved."

It was in many ways a very typical Pierce kind of game, the kind that Doc Rivers admits he appreciates now that he has had a chance to coach him.

"He's always been under-rated," Rivers said. "He's been under-rated his whole career. I under-rated him. You know, really. When I coached in Orlando every time he scored I mean, I was so upset because I thought this slow, non-athletic guy, you look at him, you think, 'How the Hell was he scoring on you?' And then when you coach him you realize he's not slow, he plays at a slow pace. He's athletic as heck, he's stronger than most small forwards in the league, and he just surprises you with his fundamentals. He's so fundamentally sound he actually looks un-athletic. And it's a heck of a compliment to a player."

Pierce's play was indeed one of the many factors that catapulted the Celtics to their 11th straight win.  Here are some other factors presented before the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: No matter what the Celtics say, they will come into tonight's game with a serious chip on their shoulders. They want to win, of course. But it would not be all that shocking if the C's opened the game with a furious surge and not let up until the final horn sounds.

WHAT WE SAW:  The Celtics played a relatively close game until a 22-8 run in the third gave them an 18-point lead. That was soon followed by a 9-0 start to the fourth which put the C's ahead by 26 points that made the outcome of the game at that point anti-climatic.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Courtney Lee vs Gerald Henderson: After lighting the C's up for a career-high 35 points, you can bet all eyes will be on Henderson every time he touches the ball. Lee will start out on him, but you can expect Avery Bradley will spend some time defending him as well. "He (Henderson) had a great game," Bradley said after the March 12 loss. "We won't let it happen again, I know that."

WHAT WE SAW: Henderson got off to a strong start with eight points in the first quarter. But Boston's defense on Henderson, led by Lee, limited him to just eight points for the rest of the three quarters of play. Lee made no secret about taking Henderson's big scoring game personally. "I got in foul trouble early (during Henderson's 35-point game on March 12), and a couple of them I didn't think were fouls," Lee told CSNNE.com. "Once your assignment gets going, you're on the bench most of the time you take that personal. He may have scored on someone else, but it felt like he scored on me. So it was personal."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Brandon Bass seems to have figured out what he has to do most nights to help the Celtics be successful. His rebounding of late has been instrumental, but he's starting to do a better job of knocking down shots when the opportunity presents itself, too. "Brandon is understanding what we need from him," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "There are going to be nights when he doesn't get the ball as much, he's not going to get as many shot attempts. He's figured it out. He has to be better defensively. He has to find other ways to help affect the ball game. That's what you're seeing with his rebounding and defense."

WHAT WE SAW: If the Celtics ever game out a team award for comeback player of the month, Brandon Bass would be the guy. He continues to play a solid, all-around game for the Celtics regardless of who is in or out of the lineup. He was one of six double figure scorers on Saturday, tallying 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting to go with six rebounds - tops among Celtics starters. "Just spending a little more time in the gym," said Bass in describing his improved play. "That's about it."

STAT TO TRACK: Scoring points in the paint has been a challenge all season for the Celtics whose 37.6 points in the paint per game average ranks 27th (out of 30 teams) in the NBA. The C's struggles in this area was a major factor in their 26-point loss at Charlotte earlier this month. In the C's 100-74 loss on March 12, Boston had just 24 points in the paint compared to 40 for Charlotte.

WHAT WE SAW: Boston outplayed Charlotte in just about every category of significance, including points in the paint. Boston had 38 points in the paint on 19-for-35 shooting while the Bobcats had 30 on 15-for-26 shooting. In addition, the Celtics had more second-chance points (15-7), fast break points (11-10) and were plus-seven (42-35) on the boards overall and plus-4 (10-6) on the offensive glass.