If you ever have a conversation with Jason Terry, you won’t walk away thinking that he’s short on confidence.
Terry may be the most confident man walking the planet. LeBron James? Step aside. Kobe Bryant? Nope, not as clutch. Carmelo Anthony? Not happening.
There is not a man walking on God’s green Earth whom Terry would take over himself to make a key basket in crunch time. He showed all of us why Friday night.
Terry scored the final five points of Boston’s 11th overtime game of the season to lead the C’s to a dramatic win over the Hawks in TD Garden. How smooth were those points? Let’s just say they were all no-doubters.
The first three points of Terry’s personal spurt arrived when the game was tied at 102-102 with 35.0 seconds remaining in the overtime session. It wasn’t a surprise that they arrived from behind the 3-point line.
Paul Pierce drove along the baseline and attracted the attention of nearly every Hawks defender. He jumped into the air and whipped a pass out to Terry, who stepped into a wide-open look from the top of the key. Terry’s trey grazed the back of the rim as it sank through the net, sending the JET flying toward Boston’s bench after Atlanta called for a timeout. The clutch basket put the Celtics on top by three and placed all of the pressure on the Hawks.
That pressure was too much for Atlanta, and in particular Josh Smith. Smith came out of the timeout and committed his third turnover in overtime, and his fourth in the previous five minutes of action, to put the Celtics in cruise control. Terry wound up with the loose ball and Kyle Korver was forced to send him to the line for free throws with 9.9 seconds remaining.
Now, one might believe that these free throws were icing on the cake, but they were more than that. Boston needed at least one of these freebies to seal the game up. Two misses would have given Atlanta plenty of time to tie the game with a 3-pointer. The Hawks could have remained alive had Terry missed even one of the free throws.
But he didn’t. Terry stepped up to the line and calmly swished both attempts to put Boston’s thrilling win on ice and extend the team’s winning streak to five games.
The Celtics’ victory helped them leapfrog Atlanta in the standings. Boston is now the sixth seed (due to a head-to-head tie-breaker) and it kept pace with the Nets and Bulls, both of which won Friday night.
These are the kinds of things that happen when Mr. Confident himself is rocking your letters across his chest.
Key Box Score Line
Maybe this piece should be written before every game from now on? The following would work every single night when the Celtics take the court:
“Paul Pierce did it again (insert day) night. He led the Celtics to victory with an all-around performance that consisted of (insert a number between 20 and 30) points, (insert a number between seven and 10) rebounds and (insert a number between seven and 10) assists. The man is just unstoppable.”
Seriously. It would work every time. Take Friday night, for instance.
Paul Pierce did it again Friday night. He led the Celtics to victory with an all-around performance that consisted of 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. The man is just unstoppable.
He really is. Pierce nailed 10 of his 16 shots against the Hawks en route to a team-high 27 points. Nine of those points came from 3-point range, including three big ones in the overtime session. He also chipped in two steals during his team-high 39 minutes of action.
This is the kind of stuff Pierce is doing every single time the Celtics take the floor for a game. He is legitimately packing the box score like LeBron James despite having seven more years of mileage on his legs than the league's top player.
Pierce’s numbers are looping like a broken record, and as a result, so is this section of the Keys to the Game.
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston's bench outscored Atlanta's 46-8.
- Five Celtics grabbed at least four rebounds in the game.
- Three Celtics dished out at least four assists in the game.
- Josh Smith neared a triple-double with game highs of 32 points and nine assists to go along with eight rebounds.
- Boston grabbed just two offensive rebounds in the game.
- Three Hawks players (Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague) scored at least 22 points apiece but Atlanta still lost.
- Paul Pierce recorded team highs of 27 points and seven assists while also grabbing seven rebounds.
- Three Celtics reserves (Jason Terry, Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford) outscored Atlanta's bench by themselves.
- Kevin Garnett led the Celtics with eight rebounds.
- Smith committed a game-high five turnovers, including four in the final 5:25 of the game.
- Three Hawks players played at least 44 minutes, while no Celtics player played more than 39.
- Boston made as many free throws, 17, as Atlanta attempted.
- The Celtics made half of their 20 3-pointers.
- Atlanta totaled 32 assists.
- Both teams committed 17 fouls.
- Both teams blocked three shots.
Quote of the Night
Jason had 19 points, but I think the thing he did better than anything was he guarded Korver. He was like glue. Doc Rivers on Jason Terry's defense on Kyle Korver