After dropping to second in the Eastern Conference seedings yesterday, with the Chicago Bulls victory over the Washington Wizards, the Boston Celtics bounced back tonight with a much needed win over the Indiana Pacers.
The win had much to please Celtics fans.
Firstly, the Boston bench, bolstered by a healthy Glen Davis and Delonte West, played the best they have ever played since the trade that shook up the Celtics' roster.
The bench's strong play ensured that the early lead, built on the back of a Jeff Green led 15-2 second quarter run, was not wasted. This allowed the Celtics' starters to enjoy some much needed rest—none of the Celtics' starters played more than 30 minutes.
This is rest that will be well needed come playoff time.
Secondly, this game was Jeff Green's best performance to date. He was pivotal in the Celtics coming from behind to take the lead in the second quarter.
Although Green was much more silent offensively in the second half, his aggressive defence (which saw him finish with three blocks for the game) helped the Celtics consolidate their gains from the first half. By the time Green left the court in the forth quarter, he could rest easy knowing that he was one of the biggest contributors to the Celtics' win.
Thirdly, Rajon Rondo bounced back with a strong game. Although his stats for the game are unimpressive (zero points, zero rebounds, eight assists), Rondo was really taking the game to the Pacers. His assists were hitting their marks, and he was running the Celtics offense like the well-oiled machine Celtics fans are used to seeing.
After a couple of subpar games from Rondo where he seemed distracted and uninspired, it was good to see him back acting like a true leader on the court.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the win allowed the Celtics to return to joint first place in the Eastern Conference. Although it will be a difficult road ahead, given the Celtics tough closing schedule of games, with a little luck, they may just be able to hang on to the top seed going into the playoffs.