Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 95, Pacers 83
Celtics 95, Pacers 83
More like Key Injury.
Who would have thought an injury to one of Boston's own players would wind up sparking the C's to a victory tonight in Indiana? No one saw that coming, but it most definitely happened.
Boston searched for its offensive identity for nearly three quarters tonight before Nate Robinson and Mike Dunleavy collided on the left wing of Indiana's end of the court with 4:21 remaining in the third period. As Robinson pressured Dunleavy on the perimeter, the Pacers forward leaned forward and the two accidentally headbutted each other, resulting in a personal foul whistled on Robinson. The physical result of the collision was blood dripping from each player's brow area, and they were both forced back to the locker room for treatment with the Pacers leading 60-53.
Maybe those wounds helped the Celtics turn on their killer instinct, because all they could do was smell blood the rest of the game. While those two players were patched up by their respective team's medical staff, Boston cruised to a 95-83 victory on the court.
When Robinson was forced out, Doc Rivers opted to send Marquis Daniels into the lineup to man the Celtics' point guard position. He couldn't have made a better decision, because Daniels wound up being the most integral part of Boston's 24th win of the season.
Prior to Daniels checking into the game with 4:21 remaining in the third, he had accumulated only four points, four rebounds and zero assists. By game's end, he was up to 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
When the Celtics play Daniels at the point guard position, it puts the opponent at a disadvantage because it will have a smaller player defending him. Daniels immediately took advantage of that after he checked back into the game and made two quick baskets. Those shots forced the Pacers to alter their defensive schemes, which allowed Daniels to exploit them with the pass.
From that point on, Boston's offense was clicking on all cylinders. Its offense led to even better defense, as it limited Indiana to only 23 points in the 16:21 of playing time after Daniels subbed in. The Celtics offense, meanwhile, tossed 42 points on the board during that timespan, and it was all thanks to the spark Daniels provided when Robinson – who Rivers never sent back into the game – checked in.
Key Box Score Line
If you read the portion above, you already know who had the biggest game of any Celtic tonight. If it weren't for Marquis Daniels, the Celtics would likely be on a two-game losing streak.
Instead, Daniels came off the bench to provide savvy play at both ends of the court that resulted in a Boston win. He scored 12 points off the bench tonight, and eight of those points came over the final 15:12 of the game. All of his four assists were dished out in the final 10:27 and he also chipped in with five boards, two blocks and a steal.
It was impossible to ignore the level of comfort Daniels displayed tonight. The game was his and he knew it. He dissected Indiana's defense from a point-forward role and he did it with efficiency. His stellar play down the stretch led Boston to a win and prevented the team from losing its second consecutive game.
Box Score Nuggets
- Shaquille O'Neal fouled out of his second straight game in less than 17 minutes of action.
- Danny Granger scored 15 points on 5-of-21 shooting from the floor. He shot 5-of-20 from the field against the Celtics just over a week ago.
- Kevin Garnett was the only player in the game to grab more than eight rebounds. He grabbed 13 to go along with his 11 points.
- Paul Pierce recorded game highs of 21 points and seven assists.
- Indiana assisted on only 15 of its made field goals.
- The Celtics attempted five less field goals than the Pacers, but made eight more.
- Indiana shot only 37.2 percent (29-of-78) from the floor and 29.4 percent (5-of-17) from 3-point range.
- No Pacer player recorded more than four assists.
- Boston turned the ball over only 12 times.
- Marquis Daniels finished with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal off the bench.
- Glen Davis scored 14 points off the bench.
- Davis and Pierce each attempted 14 shots, while Garnett and Daniels each attempted 10.
- Garnett shot only 3-of-6 from the free-throw line.
- Indiana committed three more fouls than the Celtics (24-19), but Boston attempted three less free throws than Indiana (25-22).
- The Pacers' point total decreased in each of the four quarters (26, 21, 20, 16).
- Brandon Rush led the Pacers with 17 points.
- Not a single Indiana player finished with a positive plus/minus rating.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on Marquis Daniels' impact on the game: "I thought in some ways, Marquis kind of slowed everybody down. He made sure we were getting into something every time down. We ran the same three sets over and over, but we executed them."