Celtics-Raptors review: Boston bounces back

Celtics-Raptors review: Boston bounces back
March 14, 2013, 1:45 am
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Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett (5) defends against a drive by Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (3), as guard Avery Bradley (0) comes in from the left during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors in Boston, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. The Celtics won 112-88.

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

BOSTON — Coming off the stench of their 26-point loss at Charlotte Tuesday night, it would have been difficult for the C's to stink up Wednesday's game any worse.

Not only did the Celtics bounce back with a victory, but they did so in emphatic fashion by the count of 112-88.

Boston used all 12 active players against Toronto, with all either scoring or grabbing a rebound.

But the turning point for the Celtics came in the third quarter, and it was - you got it - their defense.

And leading that defensive turn-around was Avery Bradley.

"Avery, I thought in the third quarter changed the complexion of the game with his ball pressure," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Throughout the game, Bradley's defense limited the effectiveness of Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry.

But it seemed to have an even bigger impact on his backup, former Celtic Sebastian Telfair, who was ejected after picking up a pair of technical fouls that in some fashion stemmed from his frustration with Bradley's defense.

Rivers isn't surprised that Bradley's defense continues to get under the skin of players.

"He's just good at it," Rivers said. "It's like Scottie Pippen. When you played the Bulls, you were praying that, 'I hope he (Pippen) guards the other guy tonight.' Because he was one of those guys that can guard 1 (point guard), 2 (shooting guard) or 3 (small forward). And you were hoping, 'Okay, I hope ...' I mean, how rare is it that you want Michael (Jordan) to guard you? Over Scottie. And I'm thinking that's Avery, and even Courtney (Lee). Courtney's a good defender as well, but they're probably thinking, 'I'll take him over him.'"

Bradley's defense was among the factors leading to the Celtics' blowout win. Here are some other keys to the victory outlined prior to tip-off.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: With Paul Pierce having had Tuesday night off and the C's in a mini-slump, you can expect Pierce will look to put his imprint on the game early. It wouldn't be all that surprising if he has a double-digit scoring effort in the first quarter for Boston.

WHAT WE SAW: Pierce had quite the efficient night for the Celtics, tallying 15 points on just six shots from the field. Along with his 15 points on 3-for-6 shooting, Pierce was also 9-for-11 from the line along with grabbing four rebounds and dishing out four assists.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs Kyle Lowry: It's hard to imagine any Celtics player taking Gerald Henderson's 35-point night harder than Bradley. Expect him to be invading Lowry's air space as much as possible. But Lowry continues to be one of the more under-rated point guards in the NBA. In his lone game against Boston this season, Lowry had 17 points, seven rebounds and eight assists before the C's came away with a 99-95 win on Feb. 6 in Toronto.

WHAT WE SAW: Bradley matched Lowry point-for-point (each had five) as well as shot-for-shot (each shot 2-for-7 from the field). But the edge has to go to Bradley who not only made life hard on Lowry, but essentially took Lowry's backup, former Celtic Sebastian Telfair, literally out of the game. Bradley's aggressive play frustrated Telfair to the point where he picked up two technical fouls (an automatic ejection) arguing his point with officials.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett is having his worst season shooting the ball since joining the Celtics (48.9 percent), and he comes into tonight's game with a two-game shooting percentage of just 24.1 percent. Boston will get Garnett the ball early and often. And if he gets on a roll, watch out Raptors!

WHAT WE SAW: Garnett didn't really look for his shot a lot, but was effective nonetheless. He finished with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting to go with seven rebounds.

STAT TO TRACK: Boston was minus-19 on the boards against Charlotte, but the C's should fare better - a lot better - tonight against Toronto who like the Celtics, have had their rebounding issues all season. The C's rank 29th (out of 30 teams) in rebounding with a 48.1 rebounds per game average. The Raptors are just ahead of them at No. 28, hauling in 48.2 per game. And when the C's win the battle on the boards, they are 12-4 this season.

WHAT WE SAW: This was one of the many areas that the Celtics had success against the Raptors on Wednesday. The C's were plus-six on the boards (40-34) with six different players grabbing at least four rebounds with Garnett's seven leading the way.