The Memphis Grizzlies took down the Boston Celtics 110-106 Saturday night.
The Boston Celtics traveled to FedExForum Saturday night—a place where the Memphis Grizzlies had won nine straight. The C's road woes continued, as a dramatic comeback wasn't enough to avoid a 110-106 loss.
The Celtics began the game playing an aggressive brand of basketball. They were getting to the foul line and creating good looks, and as a result, they were shooting the ball with extreme efficiency.
More specifically, they were taking advantage of a Grizzlies team without Marc Gasol, as the big man was out with a re-aggravated abdominal tear (according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports).
Unfortunately for Boston, Memphis responded quickly to its hot start, and both offenses were making noise early.
Both of these squads pride themselves on their defensive abilities, but both were allowing open looks and not challenging shots at the rim. Memphis’ offense kept up with the increased pace of the second quarter, but Boston’s quickly began to fall behind, as it trailed 61-51 at the half.
The third quarter began and the same issues applied. Paul Pierce was the only one shooting well, nobody could stop Jerryd Bayless and the tempo appeared to be too much for the Celtics to handle. This game was in the Grizzlies’ control, but then a push by the Boston bench made it worth watching until the end.
A 21-4 Boston run late in the fourth quarter made this a contest for the first time since the opening quarter. The bench deserves a ton of credit for not giving up, as the Grizzlies let them back in it with just a few minutes to play.
A comeback like this is fun to watch, but when it’s all said and done, a loss is a loss. The last time Boston won a road game was March 6 against the Indiana Pacers, and that’s something that needs to change with playoff positioning still a major focus for this group out East.
Avery Bradley may not have had the most memorable game against the Memphis Grizzlies, but we won't soon forget the dunk that will be seen on highlights throughout the weekend.
Unfortunately for Bradley and the Boston Celtics, that dunk was worth just two points, while they needed a whole lot more to keep up in the early stages of this game.
The point guard didn't have the most efficient showing, as he made just three of his eight attempts, but he did a decent job of making plays in the paint. His poster dunk wasn't the only time he scored at the rim, as he showed a high IQ when going at the depleted Memphis frontcourt.
If only Bradley had stuck with what was working, this team might have played more consistently on offense. He was guilty of both bad passes and bad shots throughout, and he contributed to the poor offense that put Boston behind in the second quarter.
With Courtney Lee out due to a sprained left ankle (via the Boston Celtics' Twitter page), Jason Terry became the man at the 2-guard spot.
Although, calling him the man might be a bit too generous in this one.
Defensively, you don't expect Terry to be a difference maker night in and night out, but against the Memphis Grizzlies, he looked especially uninterested. Memphis noticed, and it made an effort to attack the shooting guard on a regular basis.
If Terry had made up for his defensive deficiencies on offense, you'd be more inclined to forget about that side of the floor. That wasn't the case, though, as he scored just 10 points on 25-percent shooting, and missed a crucial free throw with the game on the line.
While the entire Boston Celtics' team came out aggressive, Paul Pierce was the one who set the tone early in the first quarter.
Without Marc Gasol in the lineup, Pierce was more than willing to lower his head and attack the basket. Whether he shot or passed to the perimeter, he was making things happen, and he and his teammates benefited from such cognizant play.
Pierce played every minute of the first quarter, and he recorded three assists and 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
The only problem with Pierce's aggressive play was that it landed him three fouls in the first half. When the small forward left the floor, the team was stagnant on offense, and that's when the Memphis Grizzlies pushed their lead to double digits.
When it was all said and done, Pierce's play wasn't enough to make up for the rest of the starters' offensive struggles. He collected 26 points, six rebounds and four assists while shooting an impressive 58.8 percent from the floor.
Green was one of the players who was willing to attack early. He was putting his head down and driving past defenders, but he also used his versatility to help spread the floor.
The one thing that you could have asked to see more of from Green was initiative during times of adversity. When things were going well in the first quarter, he was on the attack; however, when the team got down, he stopped looking for his shot.
Green was active on defense Saturday night—one of the few Celtics who could make that claim—but that same mentality wouldn't translate to the offensive side of the floor from the second quarter on.
He managed to collect five rebounds and four assists to go with his 12 points, but a more consistent showing would have benefited both him and the team.
With Kevin Garnett out, Brandon Bass slid up to the center position. The transition to the 5-spot shouldn't have been a difficult one with Marc Gasol out, but his focus was never quite there, and he was never able to take advantage of the smaller lineup.
Despite the favorable matchup, Bass didn't have much of an impact. He tied Paul Pierce for a team-high six rebounds, but the more important fact is that this team was out-rebounded by seven with Gasol in street clothes and Zach Randolph coming off the bench.
On offense, Bass shot 3-of-6 and scored six points. He finished with the highest number of any starter when it came to the plus-minus category (+8), but it's important to note that he settled for jumpers in his 30 total minutes.
Bass isn't a true back-to-the-basket player, but against a team without its center, you would have liked to see him make a name for himself above, or at least at the rim.
Jordan Crawford doesn't always play the role of sixth man within the Boston Celtics' rotation, but with Courtney Lee out and Jason Terry starting, that's exactly what he'd have to do against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Crawford tried to create offense with Paul Pierce on the bench in the first half, but he was more guilty of forcing tough shots than anything else. He made just two of his six first-half attempts, and he was part of the reason the team saw its field-goal percentage drop during the second quarter.
The thing you know about Crawford is that he's going to remain aggressive even in a blowout—or at least you know he's going to continue looking for his shot. When this team was down late, he finally got going, and he was a huge part of the comeback that forced Memphis to keep playing until the end.
The guard got to the free-throw line 10 times, making nine of them on the night. He scored 21 points on 5-of-13 shooting, and he grabbed five rebounds in 27 minutes.
If the Boston Celtics' bench had played the first three quarters the way it closed out the game, this contest would have belonged to the C's the entire way through.
With Jason Terry and Jeff Green in the starting lineup, the second unit looked as shallow as it had looked all season early in this one. Nobody could score with Paul Pierce on the bench, and it wasn't until Memphis finally let up that this became a game.
Despite inefficient play most of the way, Crawford proved he can be counted upon to put the ball in the bucket. Even Chris Wilcox, who had trouble keeping up with the pace, scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting.
This team never gave up, and it was crisp execution on both sides of the floor that changed the course of the game in the final period.
The last-ditch effort wasn't enough to get the win, but it was enough to save face when it came to an otherwise awful performance.