Doc Rivers is an absolute genius. Just ask the Indiana Pacers.
Rivers used the Pacers’ smarts against them on Boston’s final possession of the game. The contest was tied at 81-81 when Rivers called for a timeout with 23.2 seconds remaining on the clock.
Indiana, just like everyone else in the building, thought that Boston would undoubtedly go to one of its clutch scorers - Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Jason Terry - following that timeout. The Celtics made it look like they were going to at least two of those players during the final 10 seconds of their possession, but...
... Not so much.
Jeff Green took possession of the ball at the top of the key with about eight seconds remaining in the contest and he passed off to Kevin Garnett, who was just above the left elbow near the 3-point line. Green then looped behind Garnett and jogged his way around Pierce, who was stationed on the left wing.
That type of motion is typical of an NBA offense. You pass the ball and cut through. Harmless. On this play, however, it was all part of the grand scheme.
Boston’s play was drawn up to look as if the intention was to get the ball to Pierce on the wing. Green would run around Pierce and KG would pass the ball in to Pierce for the final shot. Simple, right? Not this time.
Instead of running through that play, Pierce actually stepped into Green’s defender, the 250-pound David West, and barreled the big man with a back-pick. Green then cut to the basket uncovered and Garnett found him wide open under the hoop. Green was forced to corral a tough pass, gather himself, and then put up a challenged layup. Somehow, the shot dropped clean through the hoop to send the Celtics into victory lane.
Rivers is known for his after timeout plays, known to many as “ATOs,” and this is exactly why - he out-smarts the opponent. He did so on Wednesday by tricking the Pacers into thinking that the Celtics were going to Pierce for the game-winning basket. In reality, Boston was using Pierce as a decoy to free up Green for the game-winner.
Game. Set. Match.
Four wins in a row for the Boston Celtics.
Key Box Score Line
Kevin Garnett is making a lot of his limited minutes nowadays.
He scored 18 points Tuesday night in Philadelphia despite playing only 28 minutes. He mirrored that scoring total Wednesday night in Indiana while playing only 30 minutes.
Garnett’s offense was phenomenal Wednesday night. He made seven of his 10 field goals and three of his four free throws. Heck, he even made his first 3-pointer of the season during the game’s opening minutes.
The Big Ticket’s game-high 18 points would have been sufficient for this honor, but Garnett did a whole lot more than just score. He also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, dished out two assists and blocked two shots. Those two assists just so happened to be on Boston’s final two baskets of the game, which led the team to victory.
Back-to-backs clearly don’t mean much to Garnett in early March. He put up big numbers on consecutive nights, and it’s no surprise that the Celtics took home a win during both of those games.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kevin Garnett's 18 points led the game and his 10 rebounds led the Celtics.
- All five of Indiana's starters scored at least 11 points but none scored more than 16 points.
- Each team grabbed at least 47 rebounds.
- Wednesday's game was the second consecutive game in which Boston grabbed at least 47 boards as a team.
- Indiana was whistled for only 13 fouls in the game.
- The Celtics shot 7-of-17 (41.2 percent) from long range.
- Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley scored 13 points apiece.
- Two Pacers, David West (11 points, 16 rebounds) and Roy Hibbert (12 points 12 rebounds) logged double-doubles.
- Hibbert was a non-factor over the final three frames, as he scored all 12 of his points and grabbed seven of his rebounds in the first quarter.
- Jeff Green logged 34 minutes off of Boston's bench en route to 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
- Hibbert blocked a game-high six shots.
- Garnett (plus-11) and Green (plus-10) led the game in plus/minus rating.
- Both teams shot 41 percent or less from the field.
- Garnett (7-of-10) and Chris Wilcox (3-for-3) were the only Celtics to make more than half of their shots.
- Four Celtics (Pierce, Bradley, Green and Jason Terry) tied for the game high in assists with four apiece.
Quote of the Night
Great when you win on execution. I told our players, I had drawn up another play, and (assistant coach) Armond Hill walked over - and he rarely does it - and he said, 'The play you drew up in the first half works, so let's do it again.' Doc Rivers on the play that led Boston to victory