It wasn’t pretty, but the Boston Celtics will take it.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens certainly will be lamenting about defense again after Saturday’s 105-99 win over the Paul George-less Indiana Pacers, but Boston still deserves some credit for picking itself up off the court after an overall weak first half. The C’s did go into halftime on a 13-0 run, but they still just barely held onto a 48-45 lead.
There were some unlikely heroes in this one, though, as James Young came out of nowhere to help with that run in the second quarter and continued to play hard through the second half. Point guard Terry Rozier had a pretty nice game off the bench, too.
Here’s how it all went down.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson.
Saturday night’s game easily was the best of Young’s career, which probably says a lot about how the Celtics were playing through most of it.
The 21-year-old swingman was a hustle machine and gave the Celtics a huge lift when they needed it. Young’s 12 points, three rebounds, one assist and two steals don’t look all that flashy on paper, but when he was in, he was on. Young was 5-for-6 on field goals and was 2-for-3 from 3-point range. When the Celtics were struggling, his presence off the bench was a huge pick-me-up for Boston.
It’s not very often that Boston can’t rely on Thomas, but that was (mostly) the case Sunday night, as the point guard was largely ineffective through three quarters after having a monster game against the New York Knicks on Friday. Thomas wound up with 23 points, but that was on 4 of 13 shooting. In fact, more than half of Thomas’ points came on free throws, as he went 14-for-15 from the charity stripe. The 27-year-old ended the game with a minus-6 differential in 29 minutes on the court.
If there’s any consolation for the Pacers, it’s that the Celtics won’t necessarily be going home happy. This was an all-around ugly game. Defense was nonexistent, a lot of shots were missed and, regardless of the result, both Boston and Indiana have a lot to learn from this contest.
PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Bradley stole the ball from Indiana center Myles Turner with just over a minute left in the game to start this sequence that basically sealed the Celtics’ win.
The Celtics head to New Orleans, where they’ll take on the Pelicans on Monday at Smoothie King Center at 8 p.m. ET. Boston center Al Horford is expected to return to the lineup after missing the last six games with a concussion.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images