Thursday, April 2, 2015
One-Eyed Olynyk & Turner (Another Triple-Double) Leads Celts to Key 100-87 Win vs. Pacers
Wednesday at TD Garden was one of those rare times when the Celtics felt totally relevant again at least on a local level for a few fleeting hours. Against one of the other shitbag teams that they are battling with for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, Boston (34-41 overall, 19-19 home) picked up a huge 100-87 win over Indiana (32-43 overall, 13-25 away). The C's went up two games on the Pacers and pulled within half a game of Miami (7th) and Brooklyn (8th).
Evan Turner's third triple-double of the month (13 points, 11 rebounds & 12 assists) propelled the Celtics but before, during and after the game, everyone was talking about Kelly Olynyk's (19 points) left eyelid which had been swollen shut after he caught an elbow by Shavlik Randolph in shootaround. The best part is that while discussing his injury with Celtics reporters, he managed to note that his buddy Dougie Hamilton has broken ribs, something that no Bruins writers knew (we had assumed it was a concussion). You've gotta love Canadians, they are such honest people.
Tyler Zeller also scored 19 points, Avery Bradley added 11 while Jae Crowder notched 13 points off the bench. George Hill led the Pacers with 21 points, six rebounds and six assists. C.J. Miles scored 12 points and the ghost of David West put up 10 points and eight rebounds. Rodney Stuckey scored 16 points off the bench for Indiana.
Showing how much one superstar can determine an NBA team's fate, Indiana seems to have never adjusted from Paul George's gruesome leg injury over the summer. Other than him, granted he's a budding superstar, this is basically the same squad that was in the Eastern Conference Finals last season vs. Miami. Clearly, they've given up and they couldn't be bothered slumming it in the gutter for the eighth-seed and a quick exit vs. Atlanta a near certainty.
Boston carried over its momentum from Monday's win at Charlotte into this one. They were up 22-16 after the first quarter and 50-39 at halftime. The Pacers outscored the Celtics 23-18 in the third quarter but the home team closed it out just fine with a 32-25 fourth quarter.
A welcome byproduct of the Celts being competitive almost all the time is that for the first time in years, they are actually very enjoyable to watch. Whatever head coach Brad Stevens is doing to get the most out of a limited roster, he has accomplished and then some. Boston plays hard and unselfishly, a style that rarely works in the NBA (Spurs, Hawks this season, anyone else?). They grabbed seven more rebounds (46-39), dished out 12 more assists (29-17), made four more steals (9-5) and scored 10 more fast break points (19-9).
It is another really important matchup on Friday as the struggling Bucks (37-38) visit the Garden. Milwaukee is three games ahead of Boston so a win by the C's would cut that down to two manageable games. At this point, I've completely changed my tune and I want to see Stevens & Co. in the playoffs. After all, what's the difference between mid-first round draft picks? They might as well gets some postseason experience for everybody involved with this young team.