BOSTON — Jared Sullinger hit the big shot, but Jordan Crawford did a lot of the work to put the Celtics in position for Sullinger’s shot to matter.
The Celtics’ 108-100 win over the Bucks on Tuesday was the epitome of a complete team victory, with just about every player who logged a minute for Boston being able to claim Most Valuable Player honors for some portion of the game. Jeff Green poured in 18 points in another quiet — yet effective — offensive performance. Brandon Bass continued his steady play at both ends and came up one rebound short of a double-double. Courtney Lee returned from a two-game absence due to a sore knee and erupted early in the fourth quarter when the Celtics needed a boost.
Crawford’s turn came in the fourth quarter, when he scored 15 of his 25 points to lead the Celtics to their first win over the Bucks in three tries. And there was no shock from his teammates that Crawford was to one who had the biggest hand in closing it out.
“He’s cold-blooded,” Green said.
Green recalled a game in which Crawford, then with the Wizards, hit a game-winner in Portland. Celtics coach Brad Stevens remembered watching a matchup between Kansas State and Xavier in the 2010 Sweet 16 in which Crawford hit a 28-footer to force double overtime. Needless to say, seeing Crawford deliver in the clutch is nothing new to most of his fellow Celtics.
“He’s not scared of the moment,” Stevens said. “They played Kansas State when he was at Xavier in one of the great all-time shootouts I’ve seen in person, to the point where you’re getting ready for whoever wins and you’re just sick to your stomach. If you remember, he hit a deep, deep, deep three … and the magnitude of that shot, I could not forget. He has the ability to knock those shots down, and I think that’s a good trait to have.”
If you don’t remember the shot Stevens is referring to, check it out in the video below.
Lee was back in action, reminding everyone just what a great year he is having. The Celtics’ per-minute superstar was at it again, recording 11 points in under 16 minutes, including seven in a crucial stretch at the beginning of the third quarter after the Bucks had closed the gap to four points.
“He was huge,” Stevens said. “You talk about the third, early fourth quarter, and he kind of helped settle us down. He made tough ones. He looked like he had an extra bounce in his step.”
Lee may in fact have had an extra bounce because he was the only Celtics player on the floor who wasn’t coming off a quick, 18-hour trip to Wisconsin. Lee stayed home to treat his sprained left knee while his teammates flew off to play the Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday, and Stevens wondered if that didn’t contribute to Lee being fresher for Tuesday’s game.
Whatever the reason, Lee came through for the Celtics — as many players did in this one.
Gerald Wallace doesn’t get up the way he used to and he’s the first to admit it. The veteran forward is a lot older than his 31 years due to all the mileage racked up on his body in an infamously arduous 13-year career.
You couldn’t have known it, though, watching Wallace leap for a rim-rattling dunk over a cowering Zaza Pachulia in the second quarter. The dunk brought the Celtics bench to its feet and drew shouts much later in the postgame locker room. Even Wallace seemed a little surprised by it.
“Don’t get used to that,” Wallace said. “That was a spur of the moment type of thing.”
Wallace didn’t stuff the stat sheet the way some of his teammates did, but he contributed an extremely solid and productive 21 minutes. He finished with six points, four assists, four rebounds and two steals. Every one of those statistics was needed in a game that could have easily swung in the other direction.