Boston Celtics: 2013PreseasonGame6
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: The Celtics steamrolled the Nets by way of a balanced offensive and defensive attack. All five of Boston's starters scored in double figures, with Paul Pierce and Courtney Lee leading the charge with 18 points apiece. Pierce continued his hot shooting of late, knocking down all four of his 3-point field goal attempts. Jason Terry, meanwhile, provided a strong spark off the bench, putting in 15 points of his own, connecting on all five of his 3-pointers. Rookie Kris Joseph also had his strongest performance of the preseason, playing 12 minutes and scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting. As a team, the Celtics shot a whopping 56.5 percent from the field, while holding Brooklyn to just 37.2 percent shooting.
BOSTON STARTS STRONG: The Celtics' defensive intensity was at an all-time preseason high at the beginning of Thursday's bout. Three of Brooklyn's first four possessions ended with a Boston steal, as the C's overplayed on many of the Nets' first passes. And they didn't stop there. Boston's offense was just as effective as its defense early on, as the Celtics sprinted out to a 9-0 lead less than two minutes in. Rajon Rondo and Courtney Lee both made layups, while Pierce added a 3-pointer and a two-handed dunk in transition.
TURNING POINT: Boston had this one virtually locked up at halftime. After holding the Nets to just 15 first-quarter points, the Celtics piled on 32 more of their own in the second frame, taking a 59-44 lead into intermission. Though the Nets made a brief third-quarter run, nearly cutting Boston's double-digit lead in half, the C's were able to halt that advance and reassume control in the fourth quarter, where the lead blossomed all the way to 30.
BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME: Though it happened early on, the sequence leading to Pierce's first-quarter dunk summed up how the night went for Boston. Garnett secured the steal, fed Rondo on the right side, got it right back from Rondo in transition, and fed a sprinting Pierce for the loud finish. Defense consistently led to offense for Boston for much of the evening.
C'S FACE MINOR INJURIES: The injury bug could be Boston's biggest adversary this season, and Thursday saw both Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass exit the game with minor maladies. Pierce twisted his left ankle after landing awkwardly on Gerald Wallace's foot following a made 3-pointer midway through the second quarter. He left the game to get his ankle retaped and returned for the second half. Bass, meanwhile, suffered a bruised right knee during the first half and did not return for the final 24 minutes. Bass' injury isn't considered serious, and he's expected to play against the New York Knicks on Saturday.
LEE PRODUCTIVE ON BOTH ENDS: Building off of a strong performance on Tuesday, Courtney Lee came back with a stellar performance Thursday, scoring 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go along with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 steals. Emerging once again as a member of the starting lineup, Lee exhibited the many facets of his game that will aid the Celtics this season. He routinely broke out in transition, making himself available for easy layups and dunks, knocked down open jump shots, and was a true pest on the defensive end. Not only did he come away with four steals, but he played strong one-on-one defense on the likes of All-Stars Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.
* NATIONAL SHOWCASE FOR NETS: The Nets sat out their entire starting 5 during a 97-96 triumph over Boston on Tuesday at TD Garden. It might only be preseason, but a national broadcast against a division rival at its pristine new arena should have Brooklyn preening a bit. The Celtics might be more inclined to rest veterans, though an offday Friday would make Saturday's start of a back-to-back in Albany, N.Y. the more likely rest option. All of which could mean an entertaining exhibition if we get starter-heavy lineups. The Celtics heaped plenty of praise on Brooklyn the other night, including Kevin Garnett who said, "I like [the Nets' offseason]. Brooklyn is a very solid team, man. I was telling [Paul Pierce] that. Joe Johnson, all the pieces, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with. Nothing like last year. They are going to be strong, I like their team."
* GARNETT'S TURN TO CRANK IT UP?: The Celtics have eased Garnett into the new season as the 36-year-old center has averaged only 14.8 minutes per game (sitting out a game earlier this preseason). The other night against Brooklyn, Pierce made a conscious effort to ramp up his aggressiveness and responded with a 29-point outing. With the exhibition season winding down (and rest likely as part of the back-to-back this weekend), tonight seems like a night where Garnett could play longer minutes.
* A GOOD TEST FOR SULLINGER: Celtics center Darko Milicic is not expected to dress after getting a cortisone shot in his ailing right wrist after Tuesday's game. That could mean another busy night for rookie Jared Sullinger, who will get a strong test if Brooklyn's frontline of Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries are on the floor. Expect to see a good amount of Jason Collins as well to add size to Boston's lineup.
* STARTING LINEUP ROULETTE : With the preseason winding down, Rivers is likely to start honing in on his rotation. Wednesday's addition of Leandro Barbosa might encourage Rivers to keep Jason Terry with the starting unit until Avery Bradley is healthy, as Barbosa adds another combo guard with ball-handling abilities to the second unit (easing the load on Courtney Lee and Terry when Rajon Rondo iss off the floor). Then there's the question of whether Rivers will keep power forward Brandon Bass with the starting group, or consider Sullinger at that spot in order to utilize Bass in a reserve role that offers more offensive firepower (and a strong defensive presence) to that second unit.
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