Final: Celtics 107, Spurs 97. In case you'd forgotten, the Celtics are still capable of winning a big game when they really want to. You just saw a tremendous example of that. The C's have beaten the Spurs on their home floor by double digits.
Paul Pierce gives the C's 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in the victory. Rajon Rondo adds 22 with 14 assists; Kevin Garnett adds 20 with nine rebounds. The C's get a great all-around team effort to beat the Spurs, finishing a 2-0 season sweep.
Tony Parker drops 23 points and Tim Duncan adds 20 for the Spurs.
The Celtics will look to sweep a back-to-back on Friday night. They've got to hop on a plane and head straight to Atlanta.
Fourth quarter, 1:29, Celtics 103-92: The Celtics put together another quick 6-2 burst, getting all the offense from KG and Big Baby. They're now up 11 with under a minute and a half to play. Forget it. This one's over.
KG, Baby, Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce have combined to shoot 36-of-59 (over 61 percent) in this game. When they produce like that, no one else has a chance.
Fourth quarter, 2:57, Celtics 95-83: The Celtics' bigs just can't miss a shot. Glen Davis is now 7-for-11; Kevin Garnett is even better, at 7-for-9. The Spurs can't stop the C's when they hit shots like this.
This one's not over yet, but it's getting mighty close.
Fourth quarter, 5:30, Celtics 89-80: The Spurs have discovered the secret to having any chance at all of a comeback — attack Glen Davis in the low post. Big Baby isn't big enough. He's got a terrible matchup with Tim Duncan.
Duncan just drew a foul from Davis down low. He's got two shots.
He needs to get inside and get dirty a few times more. That's the Spurs' only hope at this point.
Fourth quarter, 7:40, Celtics 89-78: Ray Allen hits a 3. It feels like his first in an eternity. Couldn't come at a better time for the Celtics, who have opened a double-digit lead over the Spurs in the fourth quarter.
Without Nenad Krstic, Doc is going super-small with a three-guard unit of Allen, Rondo and Delonte West. So far, it's working.
Can the C's finish this thing? Their chances look good.
Fourth quarter, 8:53, Celtics 84-76: Kevin Garnett is back on the floor, and he just joined forces with Glen Davis to set an impenetrable double screen to open up a Rajon Rondo jumper.
Rondo nails it. He's now got 20 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Huge, huge night for the C's point guard.
Fourth quarter, 10:29, Celtics 82-72: Jermaine O'Neal just made a heck of a power play, drawing a double team in the low post from Antonio McDyess and Matt Bonner, splitting it, and scoring anyway. Draws the foul, too.
J.O. gets to the line and finishes the three-point play. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are on the bench howling their approval.
The Celtics are feeling pretty good now. But they can't let up. This is the Spurs, after all.
End of third quarter, Celtics 77-70: The Celtics have trailed for most of the night, but all it takes is one emphatic 14-0 run to seize control again. The C's are in the driver's seat now with 12 minutes to play.
Rajon Rondo has stepped up for the Celtics, with 18 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Paul Pierce has an eerily similar stat line — 19 points, nine assists, five rebounds.
The C's don't have Nenad Krstic, but they've got a five-man unit with a whole lot of heart. They want this win badly.
Third quarter, 2:38, Celtics 73-67: Paul Pierce gets to the basket in transition — two points, easy. He's now got 19 points, matching Tony Parker's game high. The Celtics are on a 10-0 run, and they have their biggest lead of the night at six.
Rajon Rondo's also been dazzling all around in this third quarter — he's got 18 points, nine assists and five boards. He's taking mid-range jumpers with confidence, and he's even making them.
The Celtics have tightened their rotation, and it's working. They know they can win this game with just seven healthy bodies.
Third quarter, 5:08, Spurs 67-65: Rajon Rondo just made a length-of-the-court pass to Jeff Green under the basket for a layup. With most guys, it takes years to develop the chemistry to make plays like that. Not Rondo and Green — they've clicked instantly.
Both teams are shooting over 60 percent in this third quarter. That implies that no one's playing any defense at all, but that's not the case. The Celtics and Spurs have just executed flawlessly on the offensive end.
Third quarter, 8:21, Celtics 59-56: The Celtics surge back into the game with an 8-0 run, and now Antonio McDyess is limping. Looks like he's got a knee ailment of his own.
The Celtics are going for the throat now. They're on the offensive for the first time tonight. The Spurs are back on their heels.
Third quarter, 10:03, Spurs 54-53: Nenad Krstic isn't coming back anytime soon, but the Celtics' five-man unit with Glen Davis in the middle is playing very well. Paul Pierce just nailed a jumper, and Rajon Rondo hustled for an offensive rebound on the following possession, finding KG down low for a bucket.
The C's are working hard for this one. Shorthanded or not, they appear willing to fight for a statement win.
Halftime, 49-49: The good news is the Celtics have fought back to tie the ballgame by halftime. They hold the Spurs to only 16 points in the second quarter, and they head to the locker room all knotted up at 49.
The bad news is Nenad Krstic probably won't come back out. He landed really hard on his right knee, and it looks twisted out of shape something awful. He limped off the floor at the end of the first half with the help of trainer Ed Lacerte. He doesn't look good.
Anyway, Paul Pierce leads the Celtics at halftime with 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Tony Parker has 14 points and five assists for San Antonio.
But this will definitely be an uphill battle in the second half for the Celtics, who are short yet another big man. Get well soon, Nenad — your team needs you.
Second quarter, 2:19, Spurs 47-45: Paul Pierce gets a steal and gets Ray Allen going in transition; Allen works his way to the basket and draws a foul from Tim Duncan. Two shots for Ray.
A couple free throws might be exactly what the C's shooting guard needs to find his rhythm again. He's really been slumping. He's 0-for-4 tonight, and it's been almost two weeks since he's topped 15 points in a game.
Baby steps for Ray. He's at the line for two easy points.
Second quarter, 4:56, Spurs 44-41: Rajon Rondo just got to the basket in transition for a hard driving layup. He also picked up a technical foul for loudly demanding a three-point play.
KG has to step in and protect Rondo from his own temper.
You can tell the Celtics are fired up for this one. It's still March, but we've got a playoff atmosphere in San Antonio.
Second quarter, 6:56, Spurs 40-37: Kevin Garnett is back on the floor, and he's already doing his thing. The C's move the ball with beautiful smooth rotation, getting KG an open look at a short jump shot. He buries it.
The C's have stayed within striking distance with their starters on the bench. Now's their chance to make a run.
Second quarter, 9:17, Spurs 38-31: Doc Rivers sends Sasha Pavlovic in for Paul Pierce to start the quarter. He's going with Ray Allen plus four bench guys. The unit hasn't looked too good so far.
The C's are 0-for-5 from the field in this quarter. They just made their fifth turnover.
The Celtics are deep when they're healthy, but depth doesn't do any good unless your bench guys play well. Doc is still struggling to find reserves he can trust together.
End of first quarter, Spurs 33-31: You're watching two of the most unselfish, fundamentally sound teams this game has ever seen. Right now, they're both playing some fantastic basketball.
The Celtics make 14 of 24 shot attempts in the first quarter; the Spurs make 12 of their 24. Both teams are moving the ball, getting good looks and hitting shots.
Tony Parker has a big start for the Spurs, with 12 points and four assists; Paul Pierce counters with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists for Boston.
Tim Duncan has been a beast down low with six points and seven boards.
Both Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers are going with nine-man rotations. Don't expect them to get any deeper. In a big game like this, they'll stick to their guns.
First quarter, 2:20, Spurs 27-23: Tony Parker just cruised into the lane and scored easily on Jermaine O'Neal, drawing a foul to boot. He gets to the line and finishes the three-point play.
Parker has seven points, and he's getting all of them in the paint. J.O. and Big Baby need to step up and tighten their interior defense.
First quarter, 4:22, Spurs 21-17: Jermaine O'Neal has officially made his return, but he hasn't really done anything yet. Tim Duncan is boxing out J.O., Big Baby and everyone else in sight. He's a machine.
Duncan has six rebounds already. J.O. has zero.
This is a mighty tough matchup for his first game back.
First quarter, 6:17, 15-15: Glen Davis is off to a good start. Only a couple of minutes in, and he's already knocked down a pair of smooth jumpers.
The C's are off to a strong start offensively. They've made seven of their first 13 attempts from the field. The Spurs are similarly solid at 5-for-10.
First quarter, 7:22, Spurs 15-10: Tim Duncan is having a fantastic first quarter for the Celtics so far. His stat line after four minutes: four points, four rebounds, one assist, one block, one steal.
Duncan just made a fantastic play under the basket to rebound a Richard Jefferson miss and find Antonio McDyess under the basket for two. The Big Fundamental is living up to his moniker.
First quarter, 9:33, Spurs 6-4: Kevin Garnett is the one guy the Celtics really don't want to see in foul trouble. And yet here he is with two quick ones.
Without KG on the floor, the C's are really lacking an interior presence defensively. They're inviting Tim Duncan to destroy them in the low post. This could be scary.
Doc Rivers gets a chance to send Jermaine O'Neal in there early with KG in foul trouble, but he declines. It'll be Glen Davis instead.
First quarter, 11:05, Spurs 1-0: Each side gets a stop to open the ballgame, but then Tony Parker gets running in transition and draws a foul at the basket from Paul Pierce. The Spurs strike first.
Parker makes one of two free throws.
His aggression is going to be a big key tonight. Rajon Rondo, healthy or not, has to work hard to stay in front of him.
8 p.m.: Informal poll — how many minutes does Jermaine O'Neal play tonight?
What do we think? J.O. says he's healthy, but there a lot of things to consider. One, conditioning might be an issue in his first game back. Two, this is a back-to-back, so he's got to pace himself. Three, Doc Rivers might lean more toward Nenad Krstic and Glen Davis for a little extra firepower offensively.
All told, J.O. probably only gets eight or 10 minutes, tops. But hey — that's eight or 10 minutes more than he's played in the last two months combined. Gotta start somewhere.
7:15 p.m.: Gregg Popovich has spoken, and he says his complete starting five is good to go. We're in for quite a ballgame.
There's nothing in the world quite like 48 minutes of Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett going head to head. Find a comfortable seat, and don't leave it for the next few hours.
7 p.m.: We're an hour away from game time at the AT&T Center, and there are still plenty of questions to be answered.
Will Tim Duncan play? Will Manu Ginobili? If they are good to go, how many minutes can they give?
This is a clash of two perennial NBA titans. It would be great if we could see them at as close to 100 percent as possible.
We'll have to wait and see.
8 a.m.: Thursday night in San Antonio will be interesting. We're either in for a full-blown potential preview of the NBA Finals, or a split-squad game with practically half of each team nursing injuries.
In any event, the Celtics will meet the Spurs for the second time this season at the AT&T Center on Thursday night. San Antonio is atop the Western Conference this season, at 57-17, and Boston isn't far off the lead out East, at 51-22. These are two of the game's titans squaring off on prime-time TV.
But will they be at full strength?
The Spurs were without four key rotation players — Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Antonio McDyess — in their last game, against the Blazers on Monday. Unsurprisingly, they lost 100-92 with a shell of their usual roster.
All four returned to practice Wednesday and looked decent. Parker (bruised knee) and McDyess (bruised back) are now expected to play, whereas Duncan (sprained ankle) and Ginobili (bruised quad) are a little less certain. No matter what, the Spurs will be banged up.
As for the Celtics, Jermaine O'Neal is hoping to play Thursday, but nothing's certain. The 32-year-old big man hasn't taken the floor for Boston since Jan. 10.
The Celtics are 1-0 against the Spurs this season, having won a crazy one at the Garden on Jan. 5, 105-103. Ray Allen (31 points) outdueled Ginobili (24) in that one.
But this will be a whole new ballgame. It gets underway at 8 p.m.