BOSTON – For first time in three weeks at home, the Celtics did not need to walk off in dismay after the final buzzer. Brad Stevens’ squad has been growing accustomed to fending for their lives as they watch a seemingly insurmountable lead crumble beneath them.
But Wednesday night was the contrarian result, as Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder led a head-spinning pit bull attack that caused four straight steals and four straight fast break baskets. When the dust settled after a 14-2 run in the final 2:31 of the game, the Celtics emerged with the confidence earned from such a dramatic stamp on a game.
"That was like a video game," Isaiah Thomas said. "I’ve definitely seen it on one of the video games I’ve played. That was crazy."
It was remarkable and rare, but more importantly vital for a team that has been drowning in its early but unsustainable success every game.
"We’ve been struggling with that, closing out games," Smart said. "That was a big point for us tonight was make sure we close out the game. We knew Indiana, what they wanted to do and they were gonna try to push it down our throats and get in the paint and score the ball. We just have to bite our teeth and guard them."
The Celtics have gone 6-9 over the past month after spending most of the early season chasing Cleveland for the top seed in the East. But after scoring a season-low 77 points to those Cavaliers in the Garden on December 15, the entire organization has been trying to reestablish its identity.
This may look familiar if one were accustomed to the pace and space team that ran rampant on the NBA in November by forcing more turnovers than any other team in the league.
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