The Celtics pulled off a big win in overtime against the Atlanta Hawks last night to make it their fifth straight win and their ninth straight win at home. They defeated the Hawks, 107-102. Paul Pierce carried Boston to the victory with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists including a big three pointer late in the game with the shot clock winding down to give the Celtics the lead. “We just continue to fight,” Pierce said after the game.
Many people thought the Boston Celtics would slowly diminish off into the background after a shaky start to the season and the loss of their All-Star point guard to a season ending injury. The Celtics however have done just the opposite and have proved that they will not go down without a fight.
“People who wrote us off didn’t know really who we are. Right now, we’re focused on what we’re doing in here,” Garnett said. The Celtics play with a lot of pride and passion and only have one focus, and that is to win games. The Celtics have shown the fire and passion they poessess with some big wins against some of the top teams in the Eastern Conference including the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat. They proved they will not go down without a fight or be an easy first round match up when the playoffs roll around.
Since the loss of Rajon Rondo for the season the Celtics have gone 14-4. The Celtics have shown that their depth can carry them past contending teams. Jeff Green and Avery Bradley are two players who have stepped up to help the Celtics soar into contention. Contributions from Jason Terry and Courtney Lee off the bench also have given the Celtics more depth to battle past opponents.
On March 5th against the Philadelphia 76ers Bradley had his best game of the season putting up 22 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Last week against the Golden State Warriors Jeff Green scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to help lead the Celtics to victory.
The Celtics are no longer a team that just leans solely on their aging veterans to lead them to victory. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have both been huge factors and have been putting up great numbers, but the Celtics would not win many games if it was not for the supporting cast.
The depth of the roster gives Doc Rivers the ability to fully utilize players more efficiently without having to wear players like Pierce or Garnett down by running them the entire game night after night. The Celtics are able to play with more passion and energy when they have several players contributing on a nightly basis. Last night Boston’s bench outscored Atlanta’s 46-8.
“Defense wins games” is a common phrase heard in basketball and it has also added to the recent success of the Celtics. Prior to the first of the new year the Celtics were ranked 17th defensively in the league. Since then they have risen to 9th in the league in points allowed.
The Celtics will be on the road to play the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow afternoon to try and stretch their win streak against one of the best teams in the NBA.