At this point, saying you don’t know which Celtics team will show up to the Garden would be stating the obvious. They had just been blown off their home court by a young and playoff-starved Grizzlies team on Wednesday and in turn they responded last night by dealing a 122-103 beating to the Indiana Pacers, a team that was already planning for this summer when they’d have their first lottery pick since 1988.
When the shots fall, as Celtics coach Doc Rivers explained, defense comes easy. With the Celtics shooting 63.2 percent in the first half, the defense that was the Celtics abandoned early on against Memphis more or less strangled the Pacers, forcing misses on 22 of Indiana’s 37 shots.
Without having to worry about clawing out of a double-digit deficit in the first quarter, the Celtics bench looked comfortable. Nate Robinson and Glen Davis worked the two man game, with Robinson coming off Davis’ screens and springing for four first half 3-pointers. Davis and Robinson combined for 20 of the Celtics first 45 points, sparking a 24-11 stretch that spanned the end of the first quarter and the start of the second.
With a 13-point cushion, the starters’ only job was to pile on, and the ball moved fluidly allowing every starter to score in double figures except for Kevin Garnett, who sat rested the fourth quarter.
Troy Murphy’s double-double (17-points, 10 assists) couldn’t help the Pacers, losers of eight of their last 10. Neither could 20 points from Roy Hibbert or the 16-point effort from Danny Granger, who had was nasty on both ends in the second quarter smacking a dunk attempt back at Kendrick Perkins then racing the other way for a reverse on the fast break.
After stressing how important it would be two get scoring from Paul Pierce, who had gone 13 of 32 in his past three games, Pierce scored a team high 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting, doing everything from converting a tough 3-point play to finishing off an alley-oop from Rajon Rondo, who put together his 31st double-double of the season (16 points, 11 assists). Ray Allen scored 13 points on just seven shots.
Players and coaches alike insisted that as long as there are games on the schedule the sky never falls. The Celtics wipe the taste of the Memphis loss from their mouths with a marquis matchup with Cleveland on Sunday.
Final, Celtics 122-103: For the first time in a while the Celtics get an easy home run and all the starters get some much-needed rest. Six Celtics in double figures led by Paul Pierce’s 20 while Nate Robinson and Glen Davis each scored 15. Roy Hibbert led Indiana with 23 points but just three rebounds in 40 minutes.
5:42 Celtics, 110-89: We have a Gino appearance for the second time in about 10 days and the Celtics are just trying to finish out a good win and get ready for Cleveland on Sunday. Paul Pierce has 20 points in 23 minutes while Rajon Rondo has 16 and 11 assists.
8:28 Celtics, 106-82: The Celtics are cruising and Nate Robinson has 15 points in 12 minutes, hitting all five 3-pointers. Kevin Garnett may be done for the night, having scored nine points with six rebounds in 23 minutes.
End of Third Quarter
Celtics, 98-78: The Celtics scored 31 points in the quarter but also allowed 31. This game seems to be in hand but the Celtics can’t pick up the lazy habits that have plagued their earlier games.
3:51 Celtics 92-69: Roy Hibbert has 14 points for Indiana, in the quarter. But the Celtics have been able to offset that production by scoring easily against the Indiana defense. Paul Pierce has 20 points and Rajon Rondo has 14 and nine assists.
7:00 Celtics 77-61: Boston was coasting with a 25-point lead but the problem is Indiana hasn’t stopped playing hard. The Pacers are on a 9-0 run, five of those points are by Roy Hibbert. The Celtics haven’t scored in two minutes and look as if they are already getting ready for Cleveland.
2:15 Celtics 62-44: A symbol of Danny Granger’s nastiness: Paul Pierce went over-the-shoulder no-look setting Kendrick Perkins up for the SportsCenter Top Play, then Granger comes out of nowhere and smacks the would-be dunk attempt back in Perks’ face. Then, Granger sprints to the other end and finishes it all off with a gorgeous reverse lay-up. Ugh.
2:52: Celtics 62-42: The Celtics are about to stretch the lead out to 20 thanks to something you haven’t seen much lately. Paul Pierce went hard to the rim, got the bucket, and the foul. He’s got 10 first half points on 4 on 5 shooting.
7:46 Celtics 45-32: Nate Robinson just drilled his fourth three of the night, Troy Murphy answered with one of his own. Then Glen Davis turned a nice bounce pass from Mike Finley into an easy deuce. Davis and Robinson have 20 of the Celtics 45 points. The bench as a whole has 26 points.
8:22 Celtics 39-29: In a better example of how the Davis-Robinson dynamic should work, Robinson came off a Davis screen and jacked up a 3 from the left wing that split the nets.
8;54 Celtics 36-29: Nate Robinson just sailed an outlet pass over Glen Davis and out of bounds along the baseline. He hung his head and raised his finger to say his bad. Probably thought he had Al Harrington on the break.
11:30 Celtics 29-23: Rasheed Wallace thought he had a tip dunk, but the refs called it a basket interference.
End of Quarter: The Pacers caught a tough break early on when T.J. Ford left the game with a sore left groin at the 7:33 mark. The Celtics shot 57.1 percent in the first, the Pacers missed 11 of their 19 shots.
36.1 Celtics 29-23: After Marquis Daniels backed his man down for a short short, Nate Robinson came up with a quick steal in the Pacers back court and drilled a 3 helping the Celtics close the quarter on an 11-5 burst.
2:30, Celtics 22-18: Rajon Rondo just sank two free throws and then came back down and cut to the lane with ease for a lay-up
Well the Celtics aren’t going to make any major changes in tonight’s lineup following Wednesday’s debacle against the Memphis Grizzlies. Doc Rivers said he considered it but didn’t see any need for change, just change in the players.
*Rivers said he watched the Memphis tape with the players and they got off 17 good shots in the first period, but they hit three and after the five-minute mark, just stopped getting back on defense.
*Brian Scalabrine will remain on the inactive list until Rivers decides differently
PG T.J. Ford SG Brandon Rush SF Danny Granger PF Troy Murphy C Roy Hibbert
PG Rajon Rondo SG Ray Allen SF Paul Pierce PF Kevin Garnett C Kendrick Perkins
WELCOME TO THE GARDEN
… where the Celtics may be thinking change, and the Pacers are already thinking about the draft.
Another embarrassing home loss, this time to a Memphis team that blew the Celtics out by 20, further cemented the “sky is falling” feeling in Celtics nation. The extent of the is pretty wild.
Should Doc sit someone in the Big Three?
Can Paul Pierce and Ray Allen co-exist on the court?
“Will the Celtics be a one-and-done team in the playoffs”
Right now they’re trying to put away the Pacers (21-43) without looking ahead to Sunday’s matchup in Cleveland, though that’s a pretty difficult task. The Pacers, on the other hand, are universally awful, which makes them a threat tonight considering the Celtics have had their bell rung by the Nets and the Wizards (who self-destructed, ultimately costing themselves a win).
They just got their star player Danny Granger back from a one-game suspension for fighting with Phoenix’s Channing Frye. They’re already thinking about how the draft could land them another star.
The Pacers won’t say it, but losing is good for them right now. The Pacers haven’t had a top-five draft pick since they selected Rik Smits No. 2 overall in 1988. Landing a top-five pick will help the Pacers in their ongoing rebuilding process. Pacers (20-43) currently have the fourth-worst record in the NBA, which means they have a 11.9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick during May’s draft lottery. Kentucky point guard John Wall, who would immediately help the Pacers, is expected to be the top pick if he leaves school early.