Ford Keys to the Game: Celtics 89, Bucks 83

Ford Keys to the Game

Celtics 89, Bucks 83

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Ray Allen

Paul Pierce flies through the air for a monster dunk in the third quarter of Sunday's win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

The Boston Celtics are one of the best teams in the league at closing games out because they simply have so many options to help get the job done. Sometimes it’s Paul Pierce hitting clutch shots from the elbow, other times it’s Ray Allen hitting a go-ahead 3-pointer and every now and then it’s Rajon Rondo breaking down the defense to create an open layup for a teammate. Tonight it was none of those, because it was Kevin Garnett’s turn to shine.

With less than a minute remaining and the Celtics leading by only two points, Garnett was caught in a mismatch and forced to defend Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings. The speedy second-year guard wound up firing up a shot from the baseline about 10 feet away from the basket, but KG extended his lengthy arms to contend the shot just enough to make a difference. That defense resulted in a critical miss by Jennings with 57.9 seconds remaining and Garnett went on to grab the huge defensive rebound.

With possession of the ball, a two-point lead and less than a minute remaining on the clock, all Boston needed was one more bucket and this game was likely over. They got it, and you might be able to guess who gave it to them.

Rondo dished the ball off to Garnett on the baseline and he nailed a nice midrange jumper with 38.5 seconds remaining to give the Celtics a two-possession lead at 86-82. That bucket was enormous, but his next play might have been even more important.

Allen was whistled for a foul prior to the ball being inbounded for the next play and such a foul results in a free throw when it is committed in the waning moments of the game. John Salmons capitalized on it to bring the Bucks back within three points. On their ensuing possession, Luc Mbah a Moute drove to the basket for what looked like an open layup, but KG came out of nowhere to swat the shot away and Rondo reeled in the rebound out near the free-throw line.

The Celtics were able to close out the game with an easy and-one layup and free throw by Pierce on the next possession, but KG’s minute of greatness is certainly what helped Boston escape with a victory tonight.

Key Box Score Line

It wasn’t the biggest stat-stuffing night of his career, but Nenad Krstic has the best game of his short stint with the Celtics tonight. He dropped in 17 points tonight, which trailed only Paul Pierce on the C's, and made seven of his eight field goal attempts. The 7-foot center also pulled in three boards, dished out one assist and finished with a plus/minus rating of plus-10.

Krstic’s ability to finish around the basket has opened things up for Boston’s offense and opened up some eyes as well. When given the opportunity to shoot in the paint, he’s not going to miss very often. On top of the points in the paint, Krstic also showed off his strong ability to shoot from the outside when he canned a deep jumper from about 20 feet away from the basket.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Paul Pierce and Brandon Jennings tied for the game-high with 23 points apiece.
  • Rajon Rondo dished out eight assists but also committed eight turnovers.
  • Kevin Garnett recorded the game's only double-double with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
  • Milwaukee shot only 41.2 percent from the floor in the game.
  • Boston made 14 of its 15 free throw attempts.
  • Both teams finished with 11 steals.
  • John Salmons led the Bucks with six assists.
  • Luc Mbah a Moute came off the bench to score 19 points for the Bucks.
  • Milwaukee attempted 21 3-pointers, making eight, compared to Boston's 10 attempts from downtown, five of which were made.
  • Nenad Krstic scored 17 points, which is his most as a member of the Celtics.
  • Both teams committed 18 total turnovers.
  • Boston attempted only 68 field goals in the game, compared to 80 by the Bucks.
  • Jeff Green scored 11 points off the bench for the Celtics.

Quote of the Night

Kevin Garnett on Doc Rivers reaching into his old bag of tricks: "Doc Rivers is a mastermind when it comes to the lineups. He’s doing different schemes offensively and defensively and there have been some things we’re doing that we haven’t seen since the James Posey days.”