Paul Pierce comes up with six huge free throws in the final seconds of overtime, in the process eclipsing 20,000 points for his career. He finishes with 28 for the game, 20,005 for his career, and a dramatic 105-102 win. The C's improve to 3-0 at home this season and 4-1 overall.
What a story. Pierce is the hero, and the C's persevere and win it in crunch time.
They've got a day off Thursday before taking on the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. Pierce will begin the journey to 25,000.
Overtime, 10.3 seconds, Celtics 103-100: Pierce isn't done yet. He hits two more clutch free throws. He's got 20,003.
Overtime, 13.3 seconds, Celtics 101-97: Wow. Paul Pierce gets to the line and hits two free throws. He now has 20,001 career points, and the Celtics are on their way to a victory.
You just witnessed Celtic history — and you witnessed the C's likely finishing off an incredible win.
Overtime, 14.0 seconds, Celtics 99-97: The C's get a stop. A huge one.
There's exactly a one-second difference between the shot clock and the game clock as Ray Allen calls timeout. The C's might just let the seconds bleed away, forcing the Bucks to foul.
Meanwhile: Paul Pierce now has 19,999 career points. Something to bear in mind.
Overtime, 34.9 seconds, Celtics 99-97: For approxmiately the zillionth time tonight, the rims are cruel to the Celtics. Paul Pierce has a jumper to make it a four-point game, and it shockingly rims out.
The Bucks have a good chance of making this a double-OT ballgame.
Overtime, 57.3 seconds, Celtics 99-97: Paul Pierce hits two huge free throws, but Andrew Bogut comes right back with a bucket inside to put the Bucks back within two.
The C's could still use one more bucket to finish this thing.
Overtime, 1:38, Celtics 97-95: Now both Celtic centers have fouled out. Jermaine O'Neal joins Glen Davis on the bench.
Doc Rivers is afraid to use Semih Erden in a big moment. He opts instead to go small, inserting Marquis Daniels.
That will likely leave Kevin Garnett guarding Andrew Bogut. Big, big matchup for KG.
Overtime, 1:49, Celtics 97-95: Jermaine O'Neal comes up big. After both KG and Ray Allen rim out on the jumper for the lead, J.O. makes the tip-in to put the Celtics in front.
The Celtics' center only has five points tonight, but those two were huge. The C's have a lead.
Can they hold on?
Overtime, 3:08, Celtics 95-93: Glen Davis tries to take a pivotal charge against Carlos Delfino, but he's called for a block, and it's his sixth foul. Big Baby is done.
Jermaine O'Neal will check in for Boston. Delfino will shoot two with a chance to tie the game.
Overtime, 4:20, Celtics 93-91: Rondo to Pierce for the bucket inside. The Celtics draw first blood in the extra session.
End of fourth quarter, 91-91: The Celtics isolate Rajon Rondo for the final play. He bricks one from 19 feet out. That can't be how Doc drew it up.
We're headed for overtime, folks.
Pop some more popcorn. This could be a long night.
Fourth quarter, 5.2 seconds, 91-91: Carlos Delfino comes through. We're all tied.
Doc calls his final timeout — of regulation, anyway.
Now who gets the last shot for Boston? Ray Allen has been hot tonight. He could ice the cake with a game-winner here…
Fourth quarter, 16.3 seconds, Celtics 91-89: Ray Allen is pretty much the most dependable free-throw shooter on the planet, but he misses one of two here to keep the Bucks very much alive.
Who gets the ball for the Bucks' last shot? Brandon Jennings has had an off night, but this could be his moment to shine.
Fourth quarter, 17.4 seconds, Celtics 90-89: Paul Pierce with an extremely costly turnover. Brandon Jennings breaks away and gets an easy layup — the Bucks are now within a point.
Doc has called timeout.
The Bucks might need to foul now. They're still down one, and the Celtics are too smart to make another crunch-time mistake.
Fourth quarter, 44.2 seconds, Celtics 90-85: Ray Allen misses the 3 that could have finished the deal for Boston. Corey Maggette comes up with a huge defensive rebound and calls timeout. The Bucks are still very much alive, down five in the final minute.
They need a quick bucket. They could really use a sign of life from Brandon Jennings.
Fourth quarter, 1:26, Celtics 88-84: Rajon Rondo gets a steal, gets going in transition, and finds Paul Pierce to lay it in. It's a 14-4 run. Scott Skiles desperately needs the timeout now.
Can the Bucks regroup?
Fourth quarter, 2:12, Celtics 83-82: Now it's Paul Pierce's turn for the three-point play. It's a 9-2 Boston run — and the lead. Unbelievable.
Fourth quarter, 2:30, Bucks 82-80: Tempers flare under the basket between Andrew Bogut and Kevin Garnett, as KG finishes at the rim and draws a hard foul from Bogut. The Garden is thunderous in its support for the Big Ticket.
KG hits the free throw after the double technicals are doled out, putting the Celtics within two. They're alive and well.
Fourth quarter, 3:27, Bucks 80-74: Ersan Ilyasova just crushed the Celtics' souls with a 3. It's now a six-point game, and the Garden has been deafened.
The Celtics have to start stringing stops together. And that means closing out on shooters, because Ilyasova and Delfino can both get hot if you leave them open.
The C's need to show some of that championship-caliber defense down the stretch.
Fourth quarter, 4:38, Bucks 75-72: Don't say good night to the Celtics yet. Pierce and Allen each drain a jumper, closing the Bucks' lead from seven to three. Allen has a shot at a trey to tie the ballgame, but it rims out.
Scott Skiles needs a timeout. When the TD Garden crowd gets behind the Celtics in crunch time, the C's are really hard to beat.
Allen now has 19 points for Boston. Rajon Rondo has 17, plus nine assists and six rebounds.
Fourth quarter, 6:07, Bucks 75-68: The Bucks start to pull away. Keyon Dooling gets a fast-break bucket and a foul from Glen Davis. The C's are running out of steam.
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen need to step up and start hitting shots again. That's how the C's made this game competitive in the first place.
Fourth quarter, 7:10, Bucks 71-66: Carlos Delfino just knocked down a nasty fadeaway jumper, and Andrew Bogut followed it up with a monster dunk. Understandably, Doc Rivers needs a timeout.
This game's been close the whole way, but the C's can let it slip away if they get lazy. They've got to work hard on the offensive end to get good looks, and rediscover their lock-down D. No running out of steam just before crunch time.
Fourth quarter, 8:34, Bucks 67-66: First Glen Davis, and now Ray Allen. Two Celtics have been whistled for offensive fouls in this fourth quarter.
The C's just keep finding creative ways to give the ball away.
Every possession counts in a game this close. They can't afford any more mistakes in their execution.
Fourth quarter, 10:54, Bucks 65-64: The Celtics are hoping their jump-shooters can get hot and carry them in this fourth quarter. It hasn't worked so far.
Glen Davis and Nate Robinson have each bricked one in the opening minute. The C's need to get to the basket and get better looks.
Somehow, this game remains close.
End of third quarter, Bucks 63-62: If these two teams keep trading baskets like this, then we're in for a fun game down to the wire. This game has been tied at 57, 59 and 61, and now the Celtics trail by just a point at the end of three.
Impressive that the C's keep this game close despite getting nothing in the third quarter from Paul Pierce. The captain still has 11 points, putting him 12 away from reaching 20,000 for his career.
But the C's have a game to win, and the team always comes first.
Third quarter, 1:49, 59-59: Rajon Rondo ties the game again, knocking down a jumper from 17 feet out. Rondo now has 10 points and seven assists, slowly creeping up on another double-double.
His opposing point guard has been a no-show tonight. The stat line for Brandon Jennings: three points, two assists, one rebound, three turnovers, 1-of-5 shooting.
That's the part of Rondo's game that no one's noticing. He's completely taking Jennings out of the picture.
Third quarter, 2:59, 57-57: Ray Allen gets an offensive rebound and a putback, then the C's come up with a solid defensive stand for a shot-clock violation. Very next play, Glen Davis makes it rain with a long corner two. We've got a game again.
Between the Celtics' solid 4-0 run and a couple of questionable calls from the officials, this TD Garden crowd has come to life in the third quarter.
Third quarter, 5:49, Bucks 55-53: Midway through the third quarter, we've yet to hear a peep offensively from Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen or Paul Pierce. The Celtics have gotten all of their offense from their jump-shooting big men.
Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O'Neal have kept things close, but the Celtics can't survive forever simply by settling for jumpers. They've got to get better looks, and they can't use fatigue on a back-to-back as an excuse.
Allen has 15 points and Pierce 11 for the Celtics.
Third quarter, 9:57, Bucks 49-47: Both teams go scoreless for the first two minutes of the second half, but Andrew Bogut breaks the silence by getting to the line and knocking down two shots. The Bucks are back in front.
Jermaine O'Neal is relieved that the foul is transferred from him to Ray Allen after a brief meeting of the officials. For the moment, J.O. still has only three fouls.
The C's need their center to play big minutes in the second half. He's been huge defensively.
Halftime, 47-47: A barrage of jumpers from Ray Allen and Paul Pierce has made this a game again. The Celtics and Bucks head to the locker room at halftime all knotted up at 47.
Allen now has 15 points and Pierce has 11. The C's have charged back, closing the half on an 8-4 run to tie things up.
Andrew Bogut and Ersan Ilyasova each have 10 points for the Bucks.
Second quarter, 2:49, Bucks 41-39: Jermaine O'Neal makes a big couple of plays to keep things close in the second quarter, blocking two shots in one minute.
J.O. hasn't yet made a field goal, but he's got five rebounds and three blocks. He's doing the little things right, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.
Second quarter, 5:18, Bucks 36-35: Ray Allen's doing everything he can to keep the Celtics close. He's now got 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
If the Celtics keep setting screens and moving the ball, good things will happen. When Ray's hot and his teammates work to get him good looks, the C's offense is really hard to stop.
Rajon Rondo only has two assists so far. So much for breaking Scott Skiles' record with the Bucks coach in the building watching.
Second quarter, 8:04, Bucks 30-29: The Bucks have now opened the quarter on a 14-4 run. They're letting their starters go full-throttle, and it's working. Carlos Delfino, Ersan Ilyasova and Andrew Bogut are having a field day with the C's spotty defense.
Doc will eventually cave and get his starters back out there, but he's being overly cautious about overextending his veterans on a back-to-back. This is nothing new, of course.
Second quarter, 9:50, Celtics 27-23: Doc Rivers is letting his bench guys get some extended run to start the second quarter, and it hasn't worked well. The Bucks open the period on a 7-2 run.
With Shaquille O'Neal injured and Delonte West suspended, here's your second unit: Semih Erden, Glen Davis, Marquis Daniels, Von Wafer, Nate Robinson. It's not the strongest unit defensively, and right now the Bucks' shooters are lighting it up. From out of nowhere, Keyon Dooling has six points.
Yes, Keyon Dooling is still in the league. He's only 30, too. Doesn't he feel older?
End of first quarter, Celtics 25-16: Neither side is feeling too aggressive on the tail end of a back-to-back, so what you get is a predictably low-scoring game. The C's have an early lead.
The Bucks are a ghastly 5-for-20 from the field so far in this game. John Salmons has stepped up with seven points in the first quarter, but the rest of his team looks dead offensively.
Paul Pierce and Ray Allen each have eight points, while Rajon Rondo has chipped in six for Boston.
First quarter, 2:53, Celtics 17-11: Rajon Rondo's always had the basketball IQ to take whatever the defense gives him. The Bucks aren't giving him passing lanes, but they're letting him take it to the hole and score.
Rondo's got four points early. He would have had six, but his third basket was whistled away by a questionable traveling call.
Doc Rivers has called a timeout, presumably to protest the violation.
First quarter, 4:04, Celtics 15-11: The Bucks' backup center behind Bogut is Jon Brockman. He's listed at 6-foot-7, and from the looks of it, even that might be generous. And he's a center.
Next to Glen Davis, Brockman looks tiny. Call him Medium-Sized Baby, at best.
Brockman just got whistled for fouling Kevin Garnett at the rim. If you can't beat him, foul him.
First quarter, 5:44, Celtics 9-8: John Salmons is torching the Celtics early. He's got six points on 3-of-5 shooting early, knocking down midrange jumpers over Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Astute Celtics fans may remember Salmons as the guy that lit them up back in 2009, in their first-round playoff series against the Bulls. Apparently, he's still got that Celtic-killing knack.
First quarter, 7:42, 6-6: Jermaine O'Neal has been a monster on the glass early, holding his own against the younger and more active Andrew Bogut.
He's got three rebounds early, equaling the Bucks' whole team. It's an early 5-3 advantage for the Celtics on the glass.
Rebounding was a major weakness for the Celtics last season, expecially against top-notch big men like Bogut. This year the C's have been measurably better.
First quarter, 10:26, Bucks 2-0: So far, the star-studded matchup between Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings has been upstaged by — whoa. Drew Gooden.
Gooden's got two points, one rebound and a nice steal, picking off a Rondo pass under the basket. He's got the Bucks on top early.
8 p.m.: For the first time ever at the TD Garden, Jermaine O'Neal has been introduced as the starting center for the home team. O'Neal will make the start alongside the usual four: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce.
Tipoff coming up in just a minute. Stay tuned…
7:30 p.m.: For the second consecutive night, the Celtics will be without Shaquille O'Neal.
Jermaine O'Neal will get the start for the C's against the Bucks, with Shaq taking another night to rest his sore right kneecap.
J.O. played only 21 minutes against the Pistons on Tuesday. On the second night of a back-to-back, you can expect to see him come out early and often. Glen Davis and Semih Erden will get plenty of minutes off the bench.
6 p.m.: Word around Celtics circles is that Kevin Garnett is likely to address the Villanueva incident after Wednesday's Bucks game, but not before.
To tide you over, here's the official statement from Garnett, who denies using the term "cancer patient" to describe Villanueva.
There are three sides to this story — KG's side, CV's side, and the truth.
4 p.m.: The basketball world has been abuzz all day about the alleged "cancer patient" remark directed at Charlie Villanueva by the Celtics' Kevin Garnett.
Everyone's talking about it, including one particularly vitriolic Yahoo! Sports columnist who says this incident will tarnish KG's legacy. It's hard to go that far, but we shall see. The Celtics are hours away from taking the court for their first game since the Villanueva controversy. We'll see if the C's have anything to say about the incident, and perhaps more importantly, whether they can put this behind them.
9 a.m.: The worst thing about the NBA's regular season, especially for weathered veteran teams like this year's Celtics, is those grinding back-to-backs that pollute the schedule from October through April.
This week brings another one. The Celtics, fresh off a 109-86 victory over the Detroit Pistons, are returning home to the TD Garden to play their second consecutive night, and they'll be taking on the Milwaukee Bucks for the first time this season.
As luck would have it, the Bucks are also finishing out a back-to-back. They were just home, losing 90-76 to the visiting Blazers, and now they visit the Celtics looking to right the ship after starting 1-3.
Both teams will be tired. This game will be a test of who wants it more.
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