Second night of a back-to-back; a stubborn, hard-nosed defensive opponent that won't give up; an offense that wasn't clicking all evening; some questionable calls down the stretch -- all of these factors would have caused Boston to pack it in for the night. But this Celtic team is supposed to be different than the one that held back during the last regular season and waited for the playoffs to give a full effort. And so, down six with three minutes to go, a Glen Davis offensive rebound led to a three-pointer from Ray Allen. A Kevin Garnett dunk over Andrew Bogut was punctuated by a forearm to the big Aussie's chest, resulting not just in a double technical foul, but a reinvigorated crowd and team. A Paul Pierce three-point play gave Boston the lead, and another three-point play by Garnett got it back after a Milwaukee basket. A Rajon Rondo steal led to another Pierce layup, and a Glen Davis steal on the subsequent Buck possession resulted in a pair of made free throws. In just 100 seconds, Boston had gone from down six to up six, completely turning the evening around in just a few possessions.
They didn't close the game smoothly, coughing up that six-point lead in regulation thanks to a turnover, a missed free throw, and a blown defensive possession. But they regrouped in overtime and came away with the victory. If you were looking for proof that this year's regular season would be different than the last, this was a good first step.
- Boston's defensive effort was strong throughout most of the evening. But they got killed on the offensive glass, giving up 13 offensive rebounds, including six by Bogut. Many of the offensive boards were tap-ins or tap-backs, the latter perhaps a reflection of Bogut's size relative to Jermaine O'Neal and Glen Davis. The team didn't do a bad job on the boards, especially when you consider that Shaq was out, but this game would have been in the bag had Milwaukee not had so many second chances.
- The offense looked stagnant for most of the evening. Gone was the pace and flow from the night before against the Pistons. Give the Bucks credit; they're a strong defensive team. But the Cs allowed themselves to be slowed down. They lacked purpose, even in the way they ran upcourt.
- WIth some free throws in overtime, Pierce passed 20,000 points for his career -- every minute of which has been spent in Celtic green.
- Rondo had 15 assists, giving him the most in NBA history through five games. (He also has the record through four games). He also had six turnovers, though a big chunk of those came early in the game. Most importantly, he showed that he can score when the situation warrants it, with 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting. The baskets came at particularly opportune times, too. Twice in the fourth quarter, with Milwaukee looking like it might pull away, Rondo came up with a deuce to keep his team within striking distance.
- Jermaine blocked three shots, all in the first half (I think).
- Doc played Davis down the stretch alongside KG (until Davis fouled out).
- The bench (save Davis) was pretty bad tonight, for the second straight game.
- Semih Erden was the only Celtics big I saw boxing out consistently.
- In terms of end of quarter plays, Pierce ran a nice pick-and-pop with Nate Robinson that resulted in a corner three for Allen. The nice thing about the play is that the team initiated it with enough time to go to the second or third option off the play, a big improvement over last year. Boston also had the ball at the end of the third quarter, but some good full-court pressure from Milwaukee prevented them from getting a good look.
- Bogut had a strong game for Milwaukee, but really seemed to be coddling his injured right arm.
The Celtics are back on TV Friday night against the Bulls.