Celtics' strong second half beats Bucks, 89-83

Celtics' strong second half beats Bucks, 89-83
March 7, 2011, 4:35 am
Share This Post

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MILWAUKEE Nobody had any idea how Nenad Krstic would fit in with the Boston Celtics.

He was, after all, the "other" guy in the blockbuster trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder that netted the C's Jeff Green.

Regardless of what many thought his role might be, Krstic is making a major impact for the Celtics.

He certainly did on Sunday as Boston rallied for an 89-83 win over the pesky Milwaukee Bucks.

Milwaukee trailed 84-82 with the ball, but Brandon Jennings missed a wide-open base-line jumper.

Kevin Garnett grabbed the rebound.

Moments later, Garnett nailed a jumper that put the Celtics ahead, 86-82.

And in the game's closing seconds, Garnett came up with a blocked shot that sealed the victory.

Aside from Garnett's late-game heroics, it was the play of Krstic early on that proved instrumental in the Celtics extending their winning streak to five straight.

Krstic, who has started every game since being acquired by the Celtics, had 17 points along with 4 rebounds.

"He finishes so well and so much better than I knew," said coach Doc Rivers. "The guys are very comfortable with him."

Krstic being compared to Kendrick Perkins are inevitable. Perkins was the C's starting center, a job that now belongs to Krstic.

And while Perkins certainly had a way of impacting the game for the Celtics, the same can be said for Krstic.

Rivers recalled how Krstic handles a certain play where the big man pops out, and may be left open for a jumpshot.

Krstic took the shot and made it on Sunday.

"We've been running that play since I've been here," Rivers said. "That may be the first time that big has taken that shot. That was terrific to see. That makes that play even better, when you have a big that they can't sink in to take away Paul's post-up. If he can do that, that's going to make us really good."

Krstic said all of his Celtics teammates have been helpful, but Kevin Garnett's contributions have stood out.

"All credit goes to Kevin," Krstic told CSNNE.com. "He's accepted me from first day. KG has been like a mentor to me; on the court, showing me all the plays. Even on the court, he talks, helps me get in the right position on defense. He has been great to me."

Garnett says Krstic has caught on quickly to the Celtics' style of basketball.

"All it is, is hard work, commitment and some effort," Garnett said. "He's going to help us."

He did on Sunday in a game in which the Celtics starters and reserves were both out of sync early on.

In the fourth, the Celtics got a bunch of defensive stops and some timely shots, one of which was a 3-pointer by newly acquired Sasha Pavlovic that gave the Celtics a 72-65 lead, their largest of the game at that point.

Boston's play down the stretch was a far cry from how it started the game.

The Celtics fell behind 20-10, but reeled off 10 straight to tie the score.

Boston managed to take a slim 27-26 lead after the first quarter following a 3-pointer by Paul Pierce with 29 seconds remaining.

The second quarter was dominated by the Bucks as they pulled ahead by as many as 10 points.

Boston's problems were obvious -- turnovers.

The C's coughed up the ball seven times in the second quarter, which led to five points for the Bucks.

It wasn't necessarily the points that Milwaukee generated from Boston's mistakes.

More to the point was how those miscues disrupted the Celtics from getting into a good flow offensively.

Even with a slew of turnovers and poor play from both the starting unit and the patch-work bench -- Boston only had nine players suited up -- the C's were down by just six points at the half.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn