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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Other Than Miami, There Is Nobody For The Celtics To Fear In The Eastern Conference

In an NBA regular season, you won't see a much more meaningful or thrilling victory than the one turned in by the Celtics tonight in Indiana. Boston (33-27, 12-18 away) scored the game's last 12 points, capped off by Jeff Green's (11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) perfectly designed layup with 0.5 seconds left to beat the Pacers (38-23, 25-7 home) 83-81 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It was Boston's fourth straight win.

Boston could have packed it in against a truly solid team (No. 2 in the Eastern Conference), playing the second game of a back-to-back on the road but instead they came home with arguably their best win of the season. Let's just agree that the win in New York, OT vs. Miami and 3OT vs. Denver were all spectacular but if you think about it, this probably meant the most since we're getting to the last segment of the regular season. Plus, this was a possible playoff preview and for the second time in as many games the Celts came out on top.

Kevin Garnett had 18 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Paul Pierce added 13 points and eight rebounds while Avery Bradley scored 13 points. Jason Terry notched 10 points off the bench.

One reason I don't fear Indiana is that without Danny Granger (injured for most of this season), they lack that true go-to scorer which is an absolute must in the postseason. Sure, Paul George (16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals), George Hill (14 points), Roy Hibbert (12 points, 12 rebounds, 6 blocks) and David West (11 points, 16 rebounds) are all nice players but they'll never win a playoff game by themselves. Don't even get me started on Lance Stephenson (12 points, 5 steals) either.

Boston's bench outscored Indiana's 29-16. The Celtics hung around the whole time, which is all you can ask against a top opponent. Sure enough, the Pacers had trouble closing it out and that's when Boston took advantage. Indiana led 27-19 after one quarter and 49-42 at halftime. With an ugly 19-16 third quarter in their favor, Indiana looked poised to get the win. Boston used all their experience and winning pedigree to put on a clinic in the fourth quarter (25-13).

The C's shot 4.6% better from the field (41-36.4%) and they had six more assists (18-12). Boston returns to TD Garden on Friday (8 p.m., CSN) for a very important game with the Hawks (34-26, 2nd in Southwest Division). Atlanta is only a game up on Boston, meaning a win by the Celts would bump them up from seventh in the Eastern Conference to fifth.

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