Boston Celtics: 2013PreseasonGAme7
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Jeff Green came through with arguably his finest effort of the preseason, playing 37 minutes and scoring 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds. Jason Terry was right on Green's heels with 22 points of his own, as he sank four of his six 3-point field goal attempts. Boston was further bolstered by a 13-point, 11-assist double-double from Rajon Rondo, and 10 points and 8 rebounds from Jared Sullinger.
TURNING POINT: The Celtics trailed by as many as 20 with 7:18 remaining in the second quarter, but they chipped away from there and ended the first half on a 24-9 run, trailing by only five heading into the break. The teams exchanged buckets for the majority of the third period, with the Knicks maintaining a slim three-point edge heading into the fourth quarter. But the C's came out strong in the fourth, with rookie Kris Joseph converting back-to-back three-point plays to give Boston its first lead since the first quarter. Green added a deep jump shot minutes later to beat the shot clock and then fired off a three-quarter-court outlet pass to Lee for a wide-open dunk, giving Boston a 94-87 edge with 7:21 remaining. The Celtics then embarked on a 12-0 offensive run to take complete control and cruise to a lopsided victory.
BOLD PLAY OF THE GAME: Micah Downs seemed to have this locked up after a sleek behind-the-back layup on the left side early in the second quarter, but a monster third-quarter block from Green couldn't be ignored. A Boston turnover gave way to what, at first glance, appeared to be an easy transition layup for Mychel Thompson, but Green gave chase and launched into the air from behind, completely stuffing Thompson's layup bid.
GREEN DOING IT ALL: Taking advantage of Paul Pierce's night off, Green started at the small forward spot and came through with another strong outing, putting in a preseason-high 25 points. Green brought forth a very balanced offensive game, as he mixed in sleek and strong drives to the rim with a flurry of jumpers from the perimeter. He connected on three of his five 3-point attempts, and 10 of his 16 field goal attempts overall. He also added six rebounds -- an area he said before the preseason that he wanted to see improvement in. Add in a steady defensive showing, including the aforementioned block on Thompson, along with a fourth-quarter assist to Courtney Lee that helped Boston run away with this thing, and it was a very respectable all-around performance for Green.
JET HELPS BRING C'S BACK: Terry scored 16 of his 22 points during the middle two quarters, over a period when Boston was making its comeback and not allowing the Knicks to re-establish a considerable lead. It was a great demonstration of what Terry can bring to this team off the bench, with his quick release and deep range helping Boston keep pace with a Knicks team that didn't take its foot off the gas until the final quarter. Terry scored six points over the final two minutes of the first half, helping chop Boston's deficit to just five heading into intermission.
UNSUNG HERO: Joseph garnered significant playing time for the second consecutive game and came through again with a solid fourth-quarter effort. His two transition layups to start the final frame were pivotal to Boston's comeback effort, as they kick-started the offense. Worth noting is Joseph's tendency to hang around the paint and not shy away from contact under the rim. Though he can play along the front line, he isn't necessarily built to battle in the paint, but that hasn't seemed to deter him in his two most recent outings. Joseph finished Saturday's game with 10 points and 3 rebounds in 26 minutes.
DOWNS STILL FIGHTING: Strong outings from Green and Joseph might have further hindered his chances of making the final roster, but Downs came through with another solid, active effort Saturday. He was 3-for-3 from the field for 6 points in just under 14 minutes, including that flashy second-quarter layup, and also grabbed 3 rebounds. Green's prolific evening probably hurt Downs' chances of increased minutes, but so far he has shown he's worth keeping around. It might simply be a case of not enough roster spots being available.
* OPERATION UPRIGHT: The Celtics are expected to hold out veterans Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for rest purposes, while Brandon Bass (knee) and Darko Milicic (wrist) will also sit as a precautionary measure. With the final exhibition game of the season looming Sunday back in Boston, the Celtics' primary goal the next 48 hours is to get in some work and keep everyone healthy. Expect some different lineup combinations tonight as Rivers gets one last chance to play mad scientist given the short roster. For the Knicks, the plan was to hold out Amare Stoudemire after he played his first preseason game Friday against the Raptors.
* A CHANCE FOR JOSEPH: Coming off his best preseason effort (11 points in 12 minutes), Kris Joseph could get extended action Saturday, particularly with Pierce being held out. The rookie second-round draft pick, who appears to have secured the 15th and final roster spot, showed some of the potential that set him apart from Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith during Thursday's win in Brooklyn. Let's see if that confidence carries over to Saturday's game.
* CLEANING UP PICK-AND-ROLL: The Knicks gashed the Celtics in the pick-and-roll when they met for the first time this preseason a week ago. Even with a depleted cast, Boston can see if they've cleaned up some trouble spots over the past few games. New York operated with smaller lineups in the first meeting, which Boston would be fine with seeing again given the fact that Garnett and Milicic will sit out.
* LAST CALL FOR INVITES?: Though they could see time in the exhibition finale Sunday, this might be the last real opportunity for camp invites Micah Downs and Rob Kurz to make an impression (one that probably won't help them muscle into a roster spot in Boston, but could help them land on someone's radar, whether it's another NBA squad or an overseas option). The Celtics do have the ability to assign camp cuts to Maine of the D-League as affiliated players. It's a low-money option, but one that could keep a camp body in the system with a longer chance to prove themselves in the minors (all without the hassle of moving overseas). Rivers previously said final cuts would come at the end of Boston's exhibition slate and likely before the team dives into seven days of practice leading up to the season-opener in Miami.
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