Boston Celtics: 2012Game15

Rapid Reaction: Celtics 100, Wizards 94

January, 22, 2012
1/22/12
3:40
PM ET
AP Photo/Nick WassJermaine O'Neal finishes strong against the Wizards.
Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Washington Wizards 100-94 Sunday afternoon at the Verizon Center:

HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Paul Pierce put forth his best effort of the season, scoring a season-high 34 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and 12-of-15 shooting from the free throw line, adding 8 rebounds and 10 assists to his totals. The Celtics' efforts were bolstered by Kevin Garnett (17 points, 5 rebounds), and Mickael Pietrus, who scored 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting. The Wizards countered with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists from John Wall, 19 points from Nick Young, and 12 points from Jordan Crawford off the bench.

DOWN GOES ALLEN
Ray Allen departed midway through the second quarter after jamming his left ankle when he collided with Wizards forward Jan Vesely on the left baseline. Vesely was attempting to set a screen on Allen that sent him sprawling to the floor. Allen was re-evaluated at halftime before he was pronounced out for the second half.

TURNING POINT
The Celtics squandered a comfortable 15-point, third-quarter lead and had to fight the Wizards down to the wire, eventually prevailing in the final minutes. Pierce was instrumental in the Celtics' run, finding Brandon Bass for a tough layup and coming back with a strong drive of his own that put Boston up 93-86 with 3:23 remaining. After the Wizards cut it to three, a strong Kevin Garnett tomahawk dunk in the lane gave Boston a five-point edge and he followed it up with a short jumper on the left side with 31 seconds remaining. Avery Bradley, Pierce, and Garnett capped things with three free throws between them in the final 20 seconds.

UNSUNG HERO
Bass was reliable as ever, scoring 13 points to go along with nine rebounds off the bench. He helped the Celtics keep their third-quarter lead by burying a handful of turnaround jump shots on the left side, and he grabbed a pivotal offensive rebound with four minutes left in the game that led to him being fouled while scoring a tough layup on the left baseline. He buried the free throw to give the C's a five-point lead at the time.

WHAT IT MEANS
Half of the Celtics' wins this season have come against the Washington Wizards, and while it might not be a glamorous fact, the C's will take a win any way they can get it these days. There were a number of positives to take away from Sunday's win, including the rejuvenation of Pierce, the rate at which Allen was getting shots in the opening quarter before he left with his injury, and Pietrus' efforts as he stepped in for the injured Allen and contributed on a more important level. The Celtics need to take the momentum from today's win and carry it over to Monday night's bout with the Orlando Magic, when they will hopefully be bolstered by the return of Rajon Rondo.

2-on-2: Celtics vs. Wizards (Game 15 of 66)

January, 22, 2012
1/22/12
8:14
AM ET
AP Photo/Nick WassThe Celtics and Wizards clash yet again on Sunday.
The Celtics (5-9, 1-4 away) and Wizards (2-13, 2-7 home) meet for the third time in less than a month Boston travels to the nation's capital Sunday for a matinee clash at the Verizon Center (1 p.m., CSN). Given the early start (and a far-too familiar opponent), we're going with a quick game of 2-on-2 with ESPN Boston's Greg Payne to preview this matchup:



1. What's the biggest problem with the Celtics offense right now?


Payne: A lack of balance. There has been very little consistency for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. We're used to seeing the trio rifle off a fairly even number of shot attempts, but those figures have been erratic all season, and as a result, each player's individual scoring has been inconsistent. Until the Celtics find a way to get those three back on a similar track scoring-wise, I think we'll see the same offensive struggles that we've seen so far.

Forsberg: The problem? It's nothing but jump shots. Listen, the Celtics are actually an excellent jump shooting team (according to Synergy Sports data, they rank sixth in the NBA, averaging 0.929 points per play on jumpers, shooting nearly 40 percent from the floor overall on them). But there's a huge danger in leaning solely on jump shots, especially with aging legs, and Boston has little else in its arsenal at the moment (outside of Rajon Rondo-fueled transition). According to Synergy, 11.9 percent of the Celtics' offense comes off pick-and-roll plays in which the ball-handler creates the offense, but Boston is averaging a mere 0.685 points per play in those situations, which ranks 26th in the league. And the Celtics have virtually no post offense, with 10.1 percent of their plays generated there, but averaging only 0.786 points per play (15th in the league). Boston is shooting only 38.9 percent in the post, which is downright cringe-worthy.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

PODCASTS

Tim Hasselbeck, NFL

ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck talks about Patriots-Vikings, Bears-49ers, Jets-Packers, the state of the Giants, Falcons-Bengals and more.

ESPN Boston High School Football Podcast

The ESPN Boston High School Football crew reflects on Week 1 and looks ahead to this weekend's slate of games.

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9