With three minutes to go in the 3rd quarter last night, the Celtics trailed the Hawks 65-54. I have to admit I was getting so frustrated that I changed the channel for a little while; it was too hard to watch. But Boston clamped down on defense and held Atlanta to just 15 points over the final 15 minutes, closing the game on a 33-15 run to win 87-80. There's really no logical explanation for this.
Missing two of their four All-Stars, the C's had to find big contributions from unusual places. In addition to his 36 points, Paul Pierce also pulled down a game best 14 rebounds. For the first time in over a year, Kevin Garnett led the team in assists, with 5. Avery Bradley of all people chipped in 3 blocks, as well as 3 steals, both game highs. And Sasha Pavlovic, Keyon Dooling, and Marquis Daniels, three guys who are supposed to be out of the playoff rotation completely, each played double digit minutes.
It happens time and time again in the playoffs, but we still continue to be surprised by it: old, tough, and gritty routinely beats young, talented, and athletic. Three weeks ago I wrote that I had unlimited faith in this Boston team. Last night gave me no reason to waiver.