Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Boston
In a contest in which they trailed nearly the entire game, the Boston Celtics defeated the Indiana Pacers 83-81 on a buzzer-beating layup by Jeff Green. It was an incredible comeback, led by big shots down the stretch by Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett.
Pacers center Roy Hibbert was dominant in the first quarter, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds, but he fell off as the game went on, finishing with no points and just five more rebounds in the next three quarters.
Point Guard: Avery Bradley
One night after scoring 22 points on 10-15 shooting, Bradley's jump shot came back down to Earth a bit early on. He airballed a wide-open 10-footer from the baseline and finished 1-4 in the first quarter. Pacers point guard George Hill was basically a non-factor in the first three quarters, and that should entirely be attributed to Bradley's incessant pressure defense.
In the fourth quarter, Hill scored eight points in about a minute with Jason Terry as his primary defender, then Doc Rivers put Bradley back on him and he went back to struggling. Bradley's impact on the defensive end is unreal night in and night out, and he finished this game with 13 points.
Shooting Guard: Courtney Lee
Lee was consistent throughout the game on both ends of the court, especially in minutes when he covered Paul George. Despite being overmatched physically, Lee pestered Indiana's best perimeter player and was the biggest reason he finished the game 7-22 from the floor.
Lee scored six points, and he was confident in his mid-range shot off the dribble. But most importantly, he grabbed three big steals.
Small Forward: Paul Pierce
Pierce began the game with his hands full on the defensive end guarding Paul George, and his first field goal came on a layup at the halftime buzzer. In the second half Pierce came alive—at least in terms of his aggressiveness—knocking down a big three-pointer to cut Indiana's lead down to two with just a few minutes left in the game.
Pierce finished the game with 13 points and 4-15 shooting in what was clearly a grinding battle for him and the Celtics. It won't show up in the box score, but he set a brilliant back screen on David West to free Jeff Green on the game's winning play, too.
Power Forward: Brandon Bass
Bass was hesitant looking for his own shot early on, which is an awful thing to be when open against a stellar defensive team like Indiana. He then proceeded to knock down two straight jumpers early in the first quarter.
But for the second game in a row the Celtics went zone and small a lot, limiting Bass' time on the court. He finished with four points and six rebounds in just 20 minutes of play.
Center: Kevin Garnett
In between moments of wrestling for position down low with Roy Hibbert, Garnett scored Boston's first seven points (including a three-pointer). He continued knocking down jumpers and played his typically capable defense against Indiana's pick-and-roll and post-heavy offense.
This felt like one of those games where if Garnett weren't on a minutes restriction, the Celtics would've had a much easier time against one of the better teams in the league. He finished with a team-high 18 points, 10 rebounds and an efficient 7-10 shooting.
Sixth Man: Jeff Green
Green started slow offensively, failing to back down Paul George from 15 feet away from the basket on back-to-back possessions. But as the first half went on he became more effective, knocking down a three-pointer and attacking the basket on several drives in transition.
What can't be overlooked, obviously, is his game-winning layup, which came on a beautiful back cut and was fed by Kevin Garnett. Awesome execution by Green. He finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
D.J. White made his debut with the Celtics and played as one might expect, doing nothing magnificent but not making many mistakes either (in pick-and-roll coverage Boston had him sagging back in the paint, which he executed on a solid level).
Jason Terry continued his recent trend of being more of a facilitator than scorer, setting up a beautiful alley-oop lob to Kevin Garnett early in the fourth quarter. He also showed his shot off, knocking down a wide open corner three just a few possessions later. Terry was huge down the stretch offensively, but on the defensive end he let George Hill go off in the final five minutes. That sort of thing needs to tempered, especially when the Celtics go zone.