Pain doesn’t affect all people the same.
Some, it makes them curl up in the fetal position and start sucking their thumb. Some it makes go out of control crazy…for Jeff Green, it just made him go off.
Green scored 18 points off the bench, 12 of them after taking a nasty spill in the lane, having his feet taken from underneath him, as the Boston Celtics dished out a 94-86 beating to the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden on Friday night.
Paul Pierce – no stranger to pain himself with a chronic pinched nerve in his neck – scored a game high 26, joining Green as the only Celtics in double figures. Chris Wilcox led a group of Celtics with single digit efforts that would have made a great cribbage hand. Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and Avery Bradley joined Wilcox in scoring 8 points a piece while Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry chipped in with seven each.
Steph Curry, he of a 54 point effort Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, was held to 25 points on abysmal 6 of 22 shooting as Boston defenders dogged his every move. Harrison Barnes chipped in 16 points and Klay Thompson 15 for the Warriors, who fell to 33-26 on the season.
David Lee led a concerted assault on the boards, ripping down 19 as Golden State outrebounded Boston 54-44 overall, and by an astounding 13-2 on the offensive glass. Garnett led the Celtics with 13, while Pierce and Wilcox pulled down 8 and 7 respectively.
Bradley was masterful on defense, as usual, limiting Curry by staying in his face and not giving him open looks. Curry scored just one field goal with Bradley on him, and scored the majority of his points against him by getting to the foul line. Curry was 10 of 10 from the stripe as Bradley was in foul trouble most of the night – but that didn’t slow his defensive effort at all.
The scrappy and athletic Warriors hung tough for nearly three full quarters, and had the game tied at 60-60 until Green spurred a 17-6 run that blew the game open. After hitting the floor hard, Green remained on the court for several minutes while being attended to by trainers and then left the court under his own power, gripping and flexing his left arm…
…returning just moments later sporting a protective sleeve, and proceeded to bury the Warriors with the help of Wilcox, who set wicked screens all night, and Terry, who was scoreless until the run.
Boston led by just four at halftime, but upped the lead to seven entering the final frame, leading by as many as 13 as Boston raised it’s record to 31-27. The lead may have been more, except for Boston’s erratic-at-best free throw shooting and the fact that their starting backcourt of Bradley and Lee were relegated to the bench for long stretches in the second half with foul trouble.
The Warriors end their eastern conference roadie tomorrow night in Philadelphia, then head back home where they play their next seven in a row while Boston takes a couple of days off before beginning another five-games-in-seven-nights stretch starting Tuesday in Philadelphia then heading to Indiana on Wednesday before returning home to host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the tandem of Green and Wilcox coming off the bench is providing the spark the Celtics need in crucial moments, with Terry contributing sporadically – but new arrival Jordan Crawford, whom Celtics’ coach Doc Rivers has high hopes for, seems to be playing out of control and could benefit from some half court, set offense to get into more of a team-first mode.
The Celtics are 3-3 since emerging from the All Star break, going 2-3 on their western conference road trip, gutting out a big win over the powerful Utah Jazz in overtime before returning home to defeat the Warriors. The next week provides a difficut stretch for the green, but also an opportunity to get a look at their new acqisitions and make their adjustments for the stretch run.
At this pont, the Celtics are firmly entrenched as the seventh seed in the eastern conference, and only three games out of the fourth seed and a guaranteed home court for the first round playoff series. Conversely, their lead over the eighth seeded Milwaukee Bucks is but two games, so the Celtics must keep winning to avoid falling to the eighth seed and a first round matchup with the Miami Heat…
…a series that is going to be painful for whoever is unfortunate enough to earn that distinction.