Celtics Live Blog: Rajon Rondo Hands Out 15 Assists as C’s Drop Bucks 87-74 in Regular Season Finale

by abournenesn

Apr 26, 2012

Celtics Live Blog: Rajon Rondo Hands Out 15 Assists as C's Drop Bucks 87-74 in Regular Season FinaleGame over, Celtics win 87-74: Rajon Rondo was the only Celtic who did not score, instead handing out 15 assists in 25 crisp minutes as the Celtics finished off the Bucks in the regular season finale.

Avery Bradley was the Celtics' leading scorer with 14 points.

The Celtics are off until Sunday, when they will take on the Hawks in Game 1 of a first-round playoff series in Atlanta.

Fourth quarter, 6:20, Celtics 83-66: At some point in the playoffs, Dooling might hit a big shot. He hit two in this game, and seems to have a knack for those end-of-the-shot-clock triples.

Every member of the Celtics had scored, except Rondo, who looked like he was going for the single-double of zero points, 15 assists and two rebounds.

Fourth quarter, 8:19, Celtics 83-64: The Bucks seemed resigned to their losing fate, which is rare for a Scott Skiles-coached team. It will be a long summer for the Bucks, who let a possible playoff spot slip away in the season's final weeks.

JaJuan Johnson, who has struggled with his confidence, got two boosts with strong dunks at the end of the third quarter and at the beginning of the fourth. He and Larry Sanders are matched up in a battle of stringbean forwards.

End of third quarter, Celtics 78-61: Bradley has looked playoff-ready for most of the game, and he took off in the third quarter. Bradley led all scorers with eight points in the frame, playing all 12 minutes.

An Atlanta loss seemed highly unlikely, but the Hawks' lead was dwindling in the third quarter at last check. It looks like the Celtics will take care of their end of the bargain and only have to wait to see if the Hawks can fold.

Third quarter, 2:54, Celtics 72-56: This much is for sure: Jennings does not like playing against Bradley.

The Bucks point guard was 5-for-14 from the field with only two assists. Jennings' shot selection is never the greatest, but Bradley has forced Jennings to take shots that are tough even by his standards.

Third quarter, 4:39, Celtics 68-56: The Bucks managed to cut into the Celtics' lead in the third quarter, but it was not pretty. The Bucks shot 6-for-14 in the first seven minutes off the third quarter, and outscored the Celtics 14-8 mostly by owning the glass 9-3 and grabbing as many offensive rebounds as the Celtics had total.

Rondo was up to 15 points at last count with still no points.

Halftime, Celtics 60-42: Home court may have escaped the Celtics, but they did their part in the first half of this game.

While the Hawks built a massive lead against the Mavericks, the Celtics led by as many as 21 points over the Bucks. Brandon Bass gave the Celtics their largest lead with a jumper assisted by — who else? — Rajon Rondo. The Celtics had 21 assists on 23 field goals, with Rondo obviously accounting for more than half of those assists.

The Good: Rondo was on a roll, with 12 assists and one turnover. … Paul Pierce only played seven minutes due to toe trouble, but he got up seven shots in that time and hit five of them for a game-high 12 points. … Ryan Hollins went from looking lost to looking spry in a matter of days. Hollins exploded for seven points in the second quarter, while grabbing three rebounds and blocking two shots.

The Bad: Brandon Jennings led the Bucks with 10 points, but it came on 4-for-11 shooting and with four turnovers against just two assists.

The So-so: Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett did not have their shooting legs, but the Celtics' front line managed to contribute. Bass nabbed six boards, the most of any Celtic, and Garnett handed out three assists, the most of any Celtic not named Rondo.

Second quarter, 2:23, Celtics 51-35: Every team has a couple players who do some un-fundamental things, but the entire Bucks team seems to commit the sin of leaving their feet without an idea of where they want to go with the ball. It has led to them shooting 13-for-35 and committing 11 turnovers.

Pierce returned, apparently healing quickly from his "doubtful" return with a sprained left big toe, and caught a sick bounce pass from Rondo for a fastbreak layup.

With more than two minutes to go in the first half, a hobbling Rondo had double-digit assists.

Second quarter, 4:56, Celtics 45-33: Even if it is highly unlikely the Celtics would host Game 1 of the playoffss — the Hawks led 50-31 in the second quarter of their game against the Mavs — Moore played like a man who wanted some playoff minutes. The rookie shooting guard dropped two threes to help the Celtics maintain a healthy lead over the Bucks in the second quarter.

Pierce was back on the bench, but he had his warmps on an he could be done.

Second quarter, 9:02, Celtics 34-20: As on Tuesday, all the Celtics had to do was get their starters out of the game as quickly as possible.

Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic, Ryan Hollins and E'Twaun Moore, who were both at the forefront of the win over the Heat, were again on the floor as they surged ahead on a 13-2 run to begin the second quarter. Garnett was around, probably just getting in the way for the bench guys.

Hollins scored seven points in the second after going scoreless in the first, all off hustle plays and running the floor.

End of first quarter, Celtics 21-18: The Celtics would love to gain home-court advantage, but more than anything they want to come out of this game in one piece.

Pierce left with the aforementioned toe sprain, Pietrus had to leave after taking a hard knock from Mike Dunleavy and Rondo needed to have his sore lower back wrapped after he exited the game. The Celtics wanted to get their rhythm back, but they also wanted to avoid any more nagging health issues.

First quarter, 2:28, Celtics 21-16: Anyone who mocks NBA teams for resting their players in the final games of the season got a reality check when the Celtics announced Pierce suffered a sprained left big toe early in this game. He probably will not return.

The severity is unknown, but any more nicks are unwelcome for the Celtics.

Pietrus came out ready to shoot, though, firing up five shots after replacing Pierce. He made three of those shots, including a 3-pointer. Air France was not going to be robbed of his shots in his return to the court.

Rondo's lower back appeared to have him laboring, but he still had six assists in the first eight minutes.

First quarter, 9:43, Celtics 6-2: The Bucks truly looked like a team with nothing to play for in the opening minutes. They missed three of their first four shots and committed two turnovers in the first four minutes.

Mickael Pietrus got off the bench early for the Celtics, who could grab home-court advantage with a win and an Atlanta loss, but they are not about to risk over-exerting their key players in the regular season finale. Pietrus replaced Pierce, who was the only member of the "big four" to play in Tuesday's game.

7:24 p.m.: The fans will appreciate this.

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo will all be in uniform for this game on Fan Appreciation Night. Only Ray Allen, who is injured, will not suit up from Boston's big four.

Mickael Pietrus will also be back in the lineup, as the swelling in his knee has gone down. Greg Stiemsma will rest another day.

Celtics fans hoping to get a glance at Milwaukee's new-look backcourt will be disappointed. Monta Ellis, who has played through a sore right hand since being traded from the Golden State Warriors, sat out Wednesday's game against the Sixers and is not suited up for the Bucks.

Jon Leuer
Ekpe Udoh
Tobias Harris
Shaun Livingston
Brandon Jennings

Kevin Garnett
Brandon Bass
Paul Pierce
Avery Bradley
Rajon Rondo 

8 a.m.: The customers should get what they paid for on Thursday when the Celtics close the regular season against the Bucks.

Many of the Celtics' stars took a seat in the Celtics' last two games as head coach Doc Rivers opted to rest them for the playoffs. With his stars rested and the door left open to grab home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, though, Rivers and the Celtics are expected to go all-in for the season finale.

Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Mickael Pietrus are all expected to be ready to go, although that could change depending on each player's health and Rivers' whims. The Celtics (38-27) could be at nearly full strength against the Bucks (31-34), who were in the playoff picture as recently as April 7 before they lost five of six games to plummet out of the race.

A Celtics win and an Atlanta Hawks loss to Dallas means the Celtics would open their playoff run at home.

Join us for updates and analysis from the TD Garden during the game, which is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m.

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