Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. Boston defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, 102-96, on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
For better or worse, the Boston Celtics always find a way to make games interesting. At least this season, particularly the last two games. In both, the Celtics had sizable leads that were ultimately whittled down to a couple of points at the end. Yet in both cases, the Celts did enough to win.
Led by four clutch Kevin Garnett free throws (as well as an entire game's worth of solid play from the Big Ticket), the Celtics downed the Bucks, 102-96, after nearly collapsing in the fourth quarter. And it wasn't really a gentle collapse -- Boston nearly choked the game away in under two minutes. But again, KG came to the rescue, and it was a win.
KEVIN GARNETT'S UNDER THE RADAR PLAY FEULS CELTICS (AGAIN)
Kevin Garnett has played like an All-Star at points this season. People just haven't noticed. Garnett had another one of those types of games on Wednesday, finishing with 25 points and 10 rebounds in 37 minutes. Garnett's four free throws in the final minute helped the Celtics put the nail in the coffin. His numbers per 48 minutes are really impressive -- KG is averaging 23.2 points and 12.4 rebounds. It's surprising that KG is going under the radar, especially to Doc Rivers.
"It's amazing," said Rivers. "It really has been all year; you look at his numbers and - it's amazing. Kevin, oh, Kevin is this...it's all you hear. And no one looks at his numbers. And I'll tell you where no one really looks is his numbers per minutes played. You know? It's not like Kevin is playing a ton of minutes, and he's still putting up numbers. He's just been a phenomenal guy to coach; I can tell you that every day."
Garnett's name may be tossed into the rumor mill as the trade deadline approaches, and for good reason. It's a good thing for the Celtics, either way. Keep KG, and the Celtics will may have a better shot at being successful down the stretch this season. Or if Danny Ainge is going to trade him, well, his improved play will help his value. It's a win-win.
RAJON RONDO, CELTICS' FLOOR GENERAL EXTRAORDINAIRE
Look at that, it's Rajon Rondo with another triple-double. Rondo had 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, numbers that shouldn't surprise anyone. Rondo did it all, too (didn't you see the triple-double I just mentioned?). In the opening half, he scored -- Rondo had eight points in the first quarter and finished the half with 13. In the second half, he facilitated and snagged rebounds. Don't you just love Rondo? Don't you? Doc does.
"Yeah, that was great," Rivers said about Rondo. "I mean, what I was impressed with was more the second half than the first. The first half we scored points, but the second half was the first time in a while where he and the whole team - he just kept calling different sets and we ran our stuff to score instead of just trying to play out of random and figure it out. I thought that's what we did in the first half, and even though we had 50 points it was almost happenstance. We got the two threes at the end. The second half, he called 12 different sets, and we got to the first option, second option, and it just looked organized and good. And that's who we were, and that's who we have to be. And I thought it was Rondo's doing."
Still want to trade Rondo? You do? Well, then I don't think we can be friends anymore. Rondo brings so much to the table on both ends of the court. If the Celtics are going to trade him, the need a player of equal or greater value in return. It would be hard, if not impossible, to find that now.
BRANDON JENNINGS WITH AN UN-JENNINGS LIKE GAME (UNTIL THE END)
Rondo's not a one-dimensional player (I could go on and on about him, as you've probably noticed), as proven by his dominance against Bucks star guard Brandon Jennings. Jennings entered the game leading the Bucks in scoring with 18.2 points per game. Through 46 and a half minutes, Jennings scored zero points. It wasn't until the end that Jennings hit two threes back-to-back, and nearly a third, to bring Milwaukee back into the thick of things, that he was effective.
Jennings, who was 2-for-11 from the field, claims he was trying to get his teammates more involved and thought, because they were shooting well, he could lay off a little. That's true to some degree -- he had eight assists -- but he was still held in check defensively. The reason? Good defense, of course, a lot of which came back to Rondo.
"On both ends of the court Rondo played tremendous," said Celtics captain Paul Pierce. "He did a great job of shutting down Brandon Jennings, and he's out there getting rebounds, doing things, making passes, he made us a tough team to beat."
BOTTOM LINE: Sure, we would have liked to see the Celtics keep up the pace in these last two games, but both resulted in wins, so you can't argue too much. Recent struggles aside, it's good to see the Celtics taking these games seriously, as Doc Rivers suggested that they are buying into the theory that these are "grind games." Keep up the winning, and we'll take it any way it comes.
NEXT UP: The New Jersey Nets come to town on Friday night. Can the Celtics make it three wins in a row to start the second half of the season? Hopefully, but nothing is guaranteed with this team anymore. Nothing at all.