Celtics Overtime is a postgame feature providing extra news, notes and analysis from each game. Boston defeated the Indiana Pacers, 94-87, on Friday night at the TD Garden.
After Thursday night's victory against the Orlando Magic, when the Celtics recovered from a 27-point deficit for what Doc Rivers deemed a character-building win, Rivers jumped up and down on the sidelines. Brandon Bass shook Paul Pierce with excitement. Kevin Garnett, blood still boiling after the comeback, gave a classic interview with Craig Sager, spewing unfinished thoughts about bar fights, Charles Barkley and Ray Allen's new child.
There would be no such exhibition of joyousness on Friday, despite another victory against a tough Eastern Conference team that came with three starters sitting on the bench in suits. Friday's 94-87 victory against the Indiana Pacers was business as usual, the Celtics settling into their role as tough-minded villains who contest every shot, spit vulgarity in opponents' direction, share the basketball like a movie-going couple might share a large box of popcorn and fail to let any excuses -- like the aforementioned missing starters, two of whom are All-Stars, or that they were playing on the second night of a back-to-back -- limit their success.
AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET THEM FREE, AGAIN
It's difficult to remember, but Pierce shot 3-11 in the first half and missed a number of point-blank layups that bounced off the front rim, never climbing high enough to fall through the nets. Yet when the Pacers mounted a run to tie the game early in the third quarter, Pierce shed the memories of missed layups and donned the threads of an assassin.
He attacked with left-handed layups, drilled jumpers from outside, scored 17 points in the frame, and did all that scoring while orchestrating the offense in the absence of Rajon Rondo. The Truth finished the game with 28 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He spent the third quarter scaling a mountain with one arm while seizing the Celtics with his other and carrying them to the summit, too.
WILCOX BECOMES LATEST NON-STAR TO STAR
In the absence of the three missing starters, Boston's bench has begun to play a nightly game of musical chairs to determine which reserve will become an unsung hero. In the first Orlando Magic win, Avery Bradley implanted himself inside of Jameer Nelson's jock strap and wouldn't let Nelson breathe. In the second Magic win, E'Twaun Moore became a flame thrower. And in the Pacers victory, Chris Wilcox did yeoman's work on the glass, shot 6-8 from the field and even shot the first "Chris Wilcox heat check" of the year, a turnaround jump shot from the post that airballed, but was pretty much the only mistake Wilcox made the entire night.
Wilcox managed to accomplish all that despite still feeling out of shape while he recovers from the lockout-shortened training camp and a shoulder injury that limited his action for a couple weeks. (Boston Globe)
"I was a little winded,'' he said, "but it was a good one.''
Said Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "The last two games, Chris has been - you know, if he could play with an oxygen tank, he'd be phenomenal. He was absolutely dying out there. But he's still giving us the time and he's doing everything for us, which is terrific.''
When he was apprised about Rivers's playful oxygen-tank remark, Wilcox replied, "Yeah, next time I'm going to go out there with one on my back.''
THREE-POINT DEFENSE PAVES THE WAY
Rarely does a team shoot 1-19 from behind the three-point arc, but the Pacers managed to complete the woeful stat line Friday night, missing their last 18 threes after Danny Granger drilled one less than two minutes into the game. It's unlikely the Pacers would shoot that poorly again, even with blindfolds on in gusting winds, but the Celtics should be given credit for making serious effort to contest every jump shot and turn open shots into uncomfortable ones.
Boston's effort to close out to open shooters was best illustrated on Indiana's last long-distance attempt, when Brandon Bass -- with the Celtics ahead by 10 points and less than a minute remaining in the game -- scrambled to assure that Paul George had a hand in his face. Bass originally made a mistake by gambling on the perimeter, but when Celtics teammates helped Bass take care of David West, the power forward noticed George by himself on the wing and sprinted to make George's look a little less likely to fall. The result wasn't an impossible shot for George or a rejection for Bass, but Boston's extra effort increased George's degree of difficulty and helped contribute to his miss.
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