Overall, 2012 will go down as somewhat of a disappointment for fans of the Boston Celtics. However, that does not mean that the year was not full of several jaw-dropping plays.
With a roster full of players capable of awing arenas, it was not hard to pick out the bunch.
From Jeff Green’s dunking abilities to Paul Pierce’s tendency for the big shot all the way to Rajon Rondo’s amazing passes—every possession had the crowd on the edge of their seat.
However, only 10 plays stood above the rest.
These plays are ranked from worst to best by taking into consideration the difficulty of the play, the importance of the possession and the overall “wow” factor.
Why It's Here: Always tricky to guard, Rajon Rondo utilizes a Jared Sullinger pick to open up a lane to the hoop.
He drives right, picks up his dribble and beats his original defender to the spot. Then, just when it looks like he might be blocked, he scoops the ball up and under the outstretched arms of the defender.
It capped off a solid performance for the 26-year-old who finished with seven points, nine rebounds, 11 assists and three steals on the night.
Why It's Here: This is great for a couple of reasons.
For starters, Kevin Garnett displays the kind of interior defense that the Celtics have seemingly forgotten to play this season. Here, he emphatically denies the Bucks’ Beno Udrih an easy bucket, then proceeds to let him know what he thought about that attempt.
The ball just so happens to bounce into the waiting arms of Rajon Rondo, who fires up a prayer from just beyond half court.
Unfortunately, although he drains the shot, Rondo got it off just a bit too late.
Why It's Here: Kentucky fans might want to skip ahead to the next slide.
With only 1.5 seconds remaining in the quarter, Rajon Rondo hurls a pass in the direction of Kevin Garnett. The ball hits Garnett right in the numbers, giving him just enough time to turn to his right and drain a high-arching fadeaway right before the buzzer.
It was a play that looked to have been lifted straight out of Coach K’s playbook.
However, the shot was about the only thing that went right for the Celtics, as they suffered a 106-77 spanking.
Why It’s Here: This play is just simply amazing.
Following a steal from Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo calls for the ball in transition. As he nears the top of the key, Rondo puts his phenomenal court vision on full display.
Pause the video at 0:11. If you look closely, you’ll notice that Rondo’s head is completely turned to the right, in Pierce’s direction. Also, you’ll notice that the minute he begins to slow his dribble down, he captures the attention of not one, not two, but three Jazz defenders inside the paint.
While Utah is fixated on Rondo, Brandon Bass continues his run and slips behind the defender. Meanwhile, Bradley continues to drift out to the left uncovered.
Now, Rondo is presented with two high-percentage opportunities. After making a wild move only he can make, Rondo fakes a pass in Bradley’s direction. The defender covering Bass (No. 20) is fooled and bites towards the wide-open Bradley. Though he hesitates just slightly, it’s enough time for Rondo to swing the ball underneath to Bass for the easy bucket.
Seriously, people who underestimate the importance Rondo plays for this team need to watch this play and realize he makes similar plays nearly every game.
When: March 23 @ Philadelphia 76ers (L 99-86)
Why It’s Here: This is how you utilize the pick-and-roll successfully.
After moving off a Kevin Garnett pick, Rajon Rondo frees himself up on the left. However, he finds himself with two 76ers big men in his path.
Utilizing his signature behind-the-back pass fake, Rondo fools both defenders into going the wrong way. His trickery leaves him with a wide-open path to the basket.
Check out No. 21 doing his best JaVale McGee impression.
Why It’s Here: By now we are all familiar with Avery Bradley’s superior on-ball defending.
But it is his pursuit after being beaten by his man that makes him stand out from the rest.
Here, Dwyane Wade gets the better of Bradley and seems to be cutting with an open lane to the basket. However, Bradley sticks closely with him and perfectly times his leap, swatting Wade’s attempt right back down to the ground.
Sure, the play ended up with a Shane Battier three-pointer, but credit has to go to Bradley for hustling to deny the Heat an easy bucket.
When: Nov. 14 vs. Utah Jazz (W 98-93)
Why It’s Here: Jeff Green is no stranger to monster dunks, as he’s had several of them throughout his career. He’s even dunked on his own head, believe it or not.
But the most vicious of the dunks has got to be the one he threw down over Al Jefferson earlier this season.
Here, Green receives the pass from Kevin Garnett on the wing. He quickly beats his defender and leaps high over the outstretched arms of Jefferson to throw down a monstrous slam.
The entire Garden, as well as the Celtics’ bench, erupted into a frenzy. Even Rajon Rondo, sprained ankle and all, could not help but hop around in excitement.
Green would receive a technical, and an ensuing fee, for staring down Jefferson following the dunk. But don’t worry, his teammates pledged to cover the costs.
How about that.
Why It’s Here: We have already featured a couple Rajon Rondo plays. However, this one easily takes the cake as the best of the bunch.
Taking the ball from the top of the key, Rondo fools his defender with a crafty spin move. As he goes up for the shot, he instead sends a deadly accurate pass to a wide-open Ray Allen in the corner for the three.
What stands out here is how the Celtics take advantage of the fact that the entire floor fixates on Rondo once he enters the paint.
Pause the video at 0:07. Here you can see that all five Warriors on the court are focused on Rondo. As he completes his spin and moves further into the paint, at least three of them attempt to defend his shot. This includes the defender assigned to mark Allen. As the defender loses his mark, Greg Stiemsma steps up to set a pick, freeing Allen up on the wing.
The rest is history.
When: June 15 @ Miami Heat (W 94-90)
Why It’s Here: Surprisingly, this is Paul Pierce’s first appearance on the countdown. But as they say, we have saved the best for last.
Throughout his career, Pierce has been notorious for stepping up when it matters most. Whether it’s to tie the game or to win it, you can bet Pierce will be the first one willing to take the shot.
Here, in Game 5 of a deadlocked 2-2 series in the Eastern Conference finals, Pierce controls the ball with under a minute to go. Knowing full well that he has no intention on passing, the other four Celtics on the floor spread out, isolating Pierce and LeBron James.
The whole arena, including James, knows that Pierce wants to shoot. However, there’s nothing anyone can do from preventing him from draining a cold-blooded three-pointer to seal the game.
It was a huge shot for Boston, as it moved them only one game away from yet another NBA Finals appearance.
Unfortunately, we all know how that turned out.
Why It’s Here: Without context, there would seem to be nothing all that impressive about Paul Pierce knocking down a wide-open three-pointer.
However, when you consider that it moved him past Larry Bird on the Celtics’ all-time scoring list, it makes all the difference. It also makes it an easy choice for Boston’s top play of the season.
Pierce finished with 15 points on the night, moving past Bird’s 21,791 points into No. 2 all-time. He currently has a total of 23,144 points for the Celtics through 1,052 games.
John Havlicek currently tops the list with 26,395 points.
What's Pierce going to offer up next year?
So there you have it. The top 10 plays for the Boston Celtics in 2012.
Was there a play that stood out as your favorite? Should a certain play have been ranked higher or lower? Did we miss a certain play?
Feel free to share your opinion in the comments below or give me a shout on Twitter.
If not, hope you enjoyed looking back at a crazy year for the Celtics, and here’s to a new year filled with even more exciting plays from the boys in green!
All stats used in this article are accurate as of December 28, 2012
Also check out: Bold Prediction for Celtics in 2013
You can follow Sebastian on Twitter at @SP7988