After losing two games versus the Pistons by a combined 35 points, the Celtics were winners tonight by a score of 98-93. In the process they secured a spot in the NBA playoffs as Charlotte defeated Philadelphia.
After a slow start in the first quarter, Boston's bench exploded, outscoring the Pistons 29-14 in the second quarter. This gave the team a 55-44 lead at half. The Celtics extended the lead to 18 during the third quarter, but it was cut to seven by the end of the period. The Pistons continued their run in the 4th quarter, eventually cutting the lead to three.
About midway through the period, the Celtics began to facilitate their offense through Paul Pierce, who had a strong game in his return to action, and Jeff Green, who had arguably his best game of the season. The Celtics also stepped up their defense to another level. Around the five minute mark of the quarter, Boston was able to extend the lead back to seven as the Pistons continued to be stifled on the offensive end.
Jeff Green hit a huge jumper to push the lead back back to nine with a big pull up jumper with 4:30 left in the game. One minute later he made a sensational play with a put back dunk that ignited the crowd.
But the Pistons weren't done.
In a single possession the Pistons cut the lead in half. A Monroe lay-up, free throw, and technical foul called on the Celtics
Green responded again with another pull up jumper to push the lead to 6. The Pistons then cut the lead in half again with a three-pointer by Jonas Jerebko.
Leading by three with 2:20 to go, Pierce was stripped which arguably could have been the turning point...but Brandon Knight missed a wide-open layup which would've cut the lead to one. Seriously, no one was around him.
But the Celtics were unable to make the Pistons pay...Rodney Stuckey drove hard and cut the lead to two.
With 1:25 to go, Brandon Bass air-balled a wide-open jumper from the left baseline. Villanueva missed a three on the other end for the Pistons.
Jeff Green time. Again. With 45.3 seconds to go, Paul Pierce drove hard and dished the ball out to Jeff Green who drained a clutch three-pointer to extend the lead to five.
The Pistons cut the lead to three in a matter of 1.3 seconds. On an side-out inbounds play, Greg Monroe went right down the middle of the lane for a wide open dunk.
Up 96-93, Doc Rivers called the old, reliable (and sometimes repetitive) Paul Pierce iso from the top of the key. Rodney Stuckey played some strong defense and forced Pierce to pass out to Jason Terry. Terry had nobody anywhere near him but missed the shot.
With 29.5 seconds to go, the Pistons had the ball with a chance to tie. Down three, the ball was inbounded to Monroe who went straight at Brandon Bass but dished the pass out to the perimeter. The Pistons swung the ball around to Charlie Villanueva who missed a three-pointer that would've tied the game.
The Celtics got the ball back with 12.8 seconds remaining, inbounded the ball to Jason Terry in the backcourt. He hit both free throws to extend the lead to five and the game was over.
Celtics win, 98-93. Celtics fans can breath now, they're in the playoffs.
Here's the full recap:
-Despite shooting 58 percent, the Celtics trailed 30-25 at the end of the period.
-Mainly because Detroit got off to sensational start on the offensive glass with eight offensive rebounds—Andre Drummond had five of them. The Pistons' size was far too much for Boston to handle.
-Both Avery Bradley and Jeff Green had a nice quarter. Bradley looked confident with his shot and Green made a fantastic block from behind on Brandon Knight.
-Shavlik Randolph made a great play with Greg Monroe defending him about 18 feet from the basket. Shavlik pump faked and then took a two-dribble drive to the basket into a spin move for a layup.
-The Celtics' bench of Terry, Crawford, Williams, Green and Bass began to take over the game on the defensive end to start the quarter.
-This sparked the team and led to easy baskets on the offensive end including another huge Terrence Williams dunk. "T-Will" caught the ball at the top of the key, shimmied and then made his way to the bucket for the slam. He also had three rebounds and two assists this period.
-Mike Gorman had a great line on the broadcast after Jordan Crawford hit a shot going to the basket, "Crawford...it looks like he's coming apart!" His stat line might not have been that impressive, shooting only 1/5, but he was a presence on the floor with three assists in the quarter.
-By the time the majority of the C's starting lineup was back on the floor, the bench extended the lead to nine. The starters would hold the lead and actually push the lead to ten, leading at the half 54-44.
-From my count, the Pistons had 28 points in the paint to only 14 for the C's. But the Celtics are shooting 54 percent, led by Brandon Bass, who is 5/6 in the half, and Jeff Green, who is 5/9.
-This game would be a lot closer if the Pistons were hitting their free throws. They are only 7/15 from the line at the half.
-Detroit had an abysmal start to the quarter as Boston extended the lead to 18, leading 74-56...but Detroit stormed back, ending the quarter on a 13-0 run, cutting the lead to 7. After the third, Boston led 74-67.
-Jeff Green continued his strong game, shooting 3/4 for seven points.
-The Celtics had a nice 9-0 run over a three-minute period but after that things went sour for the team.
-Detroit was able to cut the lead to only seven in a five-minute period. Disgusting. The Celts weren't able to put anything in the basket and the Pistons were able to get easy baskets near the rim.
-The Pistons were able to cut the lead to three about midway through the quarter. Charlie Villanueva had a chance to cut it to one but missed a chance at an easy layup in transition.
-Boston responded with a Paul Pierce jumper to get the lead back to five and the lead stayed around five until late.
-Detroit had opportunities to cut the lead further but with countless turnovers they were unable to.
-Jeff Green came up clutch in the fourth quarter, with various pull up jump shots and a put back dunk. He is the reason why the Boston Celtics won this game.
-Leading 91-83 with only 3:30 remaining, the Pistons managed to keep making plays to stay in the game. Boston's woes from the first quarter came back to haunt them. Greg Monroe scored for an and-one, while Rodney Stuckey hit a technical free throw for the Pistons. Suddenly the Celtics lead was back to 4.
- "Bad teams find a way to lose." Yup, couldn't be anymore more true and the perfect-picture example of that was the botched Brandon Knight breakaway layup which would've cut the lead to one. Yeah, it's true, bad teams find a way to lose. Just ask the Detroit Pistons and Brandon Knight after his missed layup.
-Chris Wilcox had a pretty weak game and fell asleep on the Monroe dunk with 44 seconds to go.
-Jeff Green was a star tonight. It can't be said enough. He was a flat out star.
-Rajon Rondo made another appearance tonight. He wasn't sitting on the bench but he was on the floor before the game, shooting around with his teammates. Here is a video from our very own CLNS Radio:
And tweet from former CelticsBlog writer, Greg Payne:
Rondo back in the locker room, joking with teammates. It's clear they love having him around.— Greg Payne (@GregPayne_ESPN) April 3, 2013
-In the past two games against Detroit, the Celtics have been outrebounded by a total of 89 to 72. Not a lot changed tonight, with Detroit winning the rebounding battle 52 to 34. The Pistons had 25 offensive rebounds...to only four for Boston. That's disturbing.
-However, Boston did hold Detroit to 36.6 percent shooting. They played pretty good defense throughout the game though the Pistons did miss a fair amount of open shots too. When the Celtics had to step up the defense, they did. But defense doesn't stop until you get the rebound, and there the Celtics failed.
-Shavlik Randolph was seen on the bench during the second quarter with gauze stuffed up his nose to stop what one can assume was a nosebleed.
-After a strong first half by the Celtics' bench, they did almost nothing in the second half. No, seriously. They scored only two points in the second half. It's hard to ask for consistency from your bench when guys are playing that normally wouldn't, but it would be nice to get more of an effort than that.
-Brandon Bass had one of his better games offensively in recent memory, scoring 17 points on 6/8 shooting. But he couldn't outrebound Andre Drummond or Greg Monroe. We need Kevin Garnett back to help on the boards.
-One more time...Jeff Green was a star tonight.