The Celtics led the Cavaliers by 20 points late in the third quarter of Wednesday’s game when Doc Rivers decided to take two of his best players out of the game. Jeff Green replaced Paul Pierce, who was on fire all night long, at the 3:42 mark. Courtney Lee then replaced Rajon Rondo with 1:32 left in the third.
When those players checked back into the game, along with Jason Terry, with 9:27 left in the contest, they had a game on their hands.
Believe it or not, Cleveland cut Boston’s 20-point lead all the way down to five by the time that trio checked back into the game. Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers’ charge with nine points in the final 2:41 of the third.
Boston’s lead had been slashed down to five but Rivers called on his big guns to build it back up. It didn’t take long for them to do so.
Four consecutive steals by the Celtics resulted in an 8-0 run that completely changed the game. Terry picked off a pass from Alonzo Gee with 5:27 remaining in the game for the first steal of that stretch. He took the ball to the basket for an uncontested layup. Jason Collins grabbed the next steal, leading to a jumper by Pierce at the other end. Pierce came up with the next two steals and finished both possessions with two points, first on two free throws and then on an unguardable turnaround jumper from the elbow.
The Celtics used incredible defense and quick scores to turn a four-point game into a 12-point game in a matter of just one minute and 23 seconds. That’s all it took to turn this contest from a near-collapse to a blowout win.
Key Box Score Line
Here’s a reminder to the NBA: Paul Pierce still has it.
Pierce went off on the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night by scoring a game-high and season-high 40 points. The points were great, but the fashion in which he accumulated them was even greater.
Boston’s captain was unstoppable – literally – all night long. He finished the contest making 13 of his 16 shots from the field, including a 6-of-7 performance from downtown. Folks, that’s 81.3 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from 3-point range.
Are you kidding me?
Pierce didn’t stop with his scoring, either. He also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds, grabbed a game-high three steals, and dished out five assists, which trailed only Rajon Rondo’s eight in the game. And despite his incredible usage rate tonight, Pierce committed just one turnover.
That, my friends, is the Pierce we’ve come to know. Just a reminder to the league that he’s still around.
Box Score Nuggets
- The Celtics shot 59.7 percent and the Cavaliers shot just 40.9 percent.
- No Cleveland player accumulated more than four assists in the game.
- Boston committed 24 personal fouls and Cleveland committed 22.
- The Celtics never trailed in the game, leading by as many as 20 points.
- Paul Pierce scored a season-high 40 points on 13-of-16 shooting. He made his first six 3s of the night.
- Rajon Rondo, who scored 20 points, attempted a game-high 10 free throws, making six.
- Both teams grabbed 35 rebounds.
- Tyler Zeller led Cleveland with a career-high 20 points.
- Rondo's eight assists were a game high.
- All five Cleveland reserves who appeared in the game scored either two or three points.
- Jason Collins started at center for Boston and played a season high 23 minutes.
- The Celtics outscored Cleveland in every quarter.
- Paul Pierce's six 3s were one more than Cleveland's entire team made.
Quote of the Night
He never takes the same shot. He doesn't even have the same release point. No kid should watch that. Doc Rivers on Paul Pierce's shooting form