Jonas Jerebko hadn't played more than 26 minutes the entire season and only topped 13 points once. So Game 4 against the Hawks was an outlier in the best possible way. Jerebko came away with 16 points and 10 rebounds, good for his first career playoff double-double.
Jerebko didn't have the thundering start like his put-back dunk in Game 3. In fact, he didn't even make a field goal until the third quarter was halfway done. But he was Boston's leading scorer in the second half. Jerebko did most of his damage in a quick span during the late third and early fourth quarters.
Jerebko's scoring run began when Boston was down by 11 and possibly in danger of the game slipping away before the final quarter started. The Celtics used a nifty play that they often run to get open shots for Jae Crowder.
Jerebko and Amir Johnson set a double screen for Marcus Smart. Johnson rolls toward the basket, while Jonas drops back to the three-point line. It works perfectly here because Jerebko's man chases Amir, and Smart occupies the other two defenders. Jerebko is left wide open and knocks down the shot.
Jerebko was the beneficiary of another open look thanks to some dribble penetration chaos caused by Thomas and Turner.
Isaiah flies into the paint, drawing the attention of Jerebko's defender. Atlanta never fully rotates (or Mike Scott never got back to Jonas), and Turner finds Jerebko after a drive of his own. Jonas does a nice job to slide over to the corner too, making it an easier pass for Turner.
Jonas didn't just knock down open threes during his scoring run. He even added in a nice little turnaround jumper to spice things up. He followed that up with a transition layup to give Boston its first lead of the second half. Marcus Smart received plenty of well deserved attention for his fourth-quarter performance, but Jerebko's 10 points in just over two minutes were vital in getting the Celtics back within striking distance.
Theoretically, the threat of Jerebko should give everyone a bit more room in the middle of the court to attack the basket. However, Atlanta hasn't exactly been sticking to him like he's Dirk Nowitzki. Either way his presence is helpful for the Celtics' offense. It's great if he keeps punishing the Hawks for leaving him open. And if Atlanta plays him tighter, then Boston's guards can have a slightly easier time getting to the rim.
A constant this season has been Boston's ability to rally in tough circumstances. Last night, the Celtics desperately needed some front-court production. Sullinger was having a rough game offensively, and Olynyk was still hurting. Jerebko stepped up in a crucial portion of the game and gave the team some needed points. As the series heads back to Atlanta, let's hope Jerebko's shooting touch continues.