Jan 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) during the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
The Celtics proved to be the better team tonight beating the Atlanta Hawks 89-81 after trailing by 19 at one point in this game. They managed to put together a tremendous second half that included holding the Hawks to a nine point third quarter. Over the past two games the C’s have been a dominant defensive team against the Pacers and the Hawks.
Tonight the Celtics held Atlanta to only 40% shooting and ended up outrebounding them 44 to 35 including 16 rebounds on the offensive end of the floor. After having five turnovers in the first quarter the C’s only had seven for the rest of the game. They had 11 steals tonight and forced the Hawks into 18 total turnovers.
Now, getting into the grades.
Rajon Rondo: B-
Rondo ended up finishing the game with a triple double. He registered 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists along with 3 steals. Though that stat line looks good, in the context of the game in its entirety he was subpar. He didn’t score until five minutes into the second quarter and had more turnovers than assists at the end of the first half. He allowed Lou Williams to have a hot start shooting it with a 16 point first quarter and a 21 point first have making 9-10 field goals. Rondo had a stellar second half on both ends of the floor tallying seven assists and eight points. He ended the game on a strong note and was apart of the reason why they won.
Avery Bradley: C
Avery didn’t have a very good game. He struggled from the field shooting 3-9 and only scoring 6 points on the night. He was just a step behind all night and that’s going to happen when you’re playing basketball for the first time in months. He’s going to have to get used to being back on the NBA floor. Jeff Teague took full advantage of this scoring 13 first half points. He didn’t play much of the second half, only playing 19 minutes in the game.
Paul Pierce: B
Pierce had the strongest game out of all of the Celtics and he was in foul trouble for most of it. Pierce struggled in the first quarter shooting 2-9 and only scoring 9 points, but he made up for it in the third quarter of the game shooting 6-11 and scoring 17 points. He had a huge third quarter that turned the game around for Boston, scoring 16 of his points there. Without him having that huge third quarter the Celtics wouldn’t have been able to win this game.
Kevin Garnett: B
Garnett was probably the most consistent Celtic out of any tonight. He made his mark on the defensive end giving Horford, Smith and Pachulia troubles all night. He finished the game scoring 14 points with 5 rebounds and 2 assists and shot 7-12 from the field. He was the defensive anchor for the team helping to hold Josh Smith and Al Horford to a combined 6-25 on the night.
Brandon Bass: B
Bass had a really good game tonight shooting 5-6 from the field and scoring 10 points. He racked up 3 offensive rebounds and was stellar defensively against Smith, Horford, and Pachulia. His rebounds were the most important thing that eh offered tonight giving the Cs some extra chances.
Jason Terry: C
Terry ended up playing 24 minutes tonight but only shot 2-8 from the floor. He wasn’t really stellar at any moments in the game, but did end up playing well defensively on Jeff Teague holding him to only 4 points in the second half of the game.
Jared Sullinger: B
Sully showed why he’s a fan favorite tonight. He probably gave the most effort out of any Celtic tonight scoring 8 points and snatching 9 rebounds in only 23 minutes of play. Sullinger was a huge reason for the Celtics’ big rebounding differential as he had 4 rebounds on the offensive end. Anytime you can get some extra possessions from you bench, that’s going to help you win some games. That’s what Sullinger constantly did for the Celtics tonight.
Jeff Green: D
Green wasn’t very good at all tonight. He was terrible on the defensive end no matter who he was guarding and only shot 1-4 from the field and scored 3 points. At this point, I’m thinking he may be the worst contract in the NBA.
Courtney Lee: C-
Lee had a minimal impact on the game in only 8 minutes of play. He scored 2 points on one shot, had an assist, and a rebound. He played back up point guard for the Celtics for a stretch in the first quarter and in the second quarter.
Overall Grade: B+
This isn’t a pretty win for the Celtics, and they rarely have been for this team. But with the way they dominated a good Hawks team on the glass and forced them into turnovers in the second half had to be a good sign for a team that needs plenty of good signs. The next time we’ll see the Celtics play is Monday at 7:30 p.m ET. They’ll have a huge challenge against the New York Knicks in the Garden. You won’t want to miss it.