Stevens on hustle plays: 'That's how we'll win'

Stevens on hustle plays: 'That's how we'll win'
November 24, 2013, 12:15 pm
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There has been a lot of talk about how the Boston Celtics need to find a go-to guy, a superstar who can put the team on his back and carry them to victory.

But as Saturday's 94-87 win at Atlanta proved, often it's doing the little things that can add up to a big victory.

That's exactly what the Celtics (5-10) received in knocking off the Hawks which snapped Boston's six-game losing streak.

The star of the game for Boston was Jordan Crawford who had 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, to go along with 10 assists for his second double-double this season.

But as vital as Crawford's scoring in the fourth quarter was for Boston's comeback win (they trailed by as many as 12 in the fourth quarter), there were a series of hustle plays made along the way that were just more important.

Avery Bradley swooping in seemingly out of nowhere to grab a rebound over Big Al Horford with about two minutes to play was huge.

Not only did it prevent the Hawks from getting a second-shot opportunity, but the Celtics cashed in on the possession with a basket by Crawford that put the Celtics ahead by three points.

And then there was Jeff Green's second effort to try and pry a rebound out of the hands of Paul Millsap.

Green couldn't get the rebound, but he forced a scramble that ultimately led to the possession belonging to Boston.

Moments later, Crawford came through once again with a shot that rattled in the rim before dropping in which gave the Celtics a 90-85 lead with less than a minute to play.

"That's how we'll win, or have a chance to win in certain games," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

And that's where things get kind of sticky for this Celtics team.

They have proven repeatedly that they have the talent to play with just about any team in the NBA.

But in order to become one of those better-than-average teams, their ability to win the wars for 50/50 balls has to get better.

Boston is 15 games into the season with five wins to its name.

Of those 10 losses, the overwhelming majority of them were relatively close contests that often came down to securing a loose ball here, closing out on a shooter or making the right pass at the right time to the right teammate.

More often than not, Boston has failed to make those plays throughout the course of a game.

And that shortcoming has often been magnified down the stretch.

Not on Saturday, a game in which it was Boston and not their opponent, that managed to make all the high-energy, hustle plays required for success.

"Those plays are great," Stevens said. "But it has to be an expectation that we make those plays."