|2014 NBA Playoffs Expert Picks: First Round||NBA First Round Predictions||Datsyuk’s Late Heroics Topple Bruins in Game 1||Celtics Go 1-1 in Draft Order Tiebreakers|
Rajon Rondo led the way for the Celtics in a meeting between the league’s two best teams, scoring 12 points, 10 rebounds and a return-to-form 22 assists in the 105-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night in Boston.
Rondo’s prolific play helped the Celts pull out the W in a tight game, though the Spurs still hold the best record in the league (29-7) despite losing two straight. Rondo’s triple-double was his second of the season and Glen Davis filled in for the injured Kevin Garnett nicely, scoring 23 points in the win. Ray Allen was the leading scorer for the team with 31.
Allen was a curious story. For most of the night, he had it going, playing catch-and-shoot with relative ease. As his points piled up, it was no surprise when he drilled a clutch three-pointer to make it 101-96 with under two minutes to play. The Celtics then fell asleep, turned the ball over twice, and after Rajon Rondo’s 10th rebound of the game, Allen found himself headed to the free-throw line to put the game away for good. Except he didn’t. The 89% career free-throw shooter missed both shots, and again the Spurs had life.
Despite his earlier struggles, the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili got in hot in the fourth quarter, and naturally a play was drawn up for him to take the final, potentially game-tying shot. As Ginobili hurried a 24-footer, Paul Pierce blocked the shot, sealing the win and putting an exclamation point on what had been a great battle between the two players all game long. Rondo caught the block and hurled the ball toward the rafters as time expired.
Despite his almost-goat status, Allen was dealing all night. He runs as well as anyone away from the ball, and he was free all night, popping off of double screens to great reward. Allen was 13-for-16 from the floor, and between him and Rondo, it was a two-man clinic. Pierce and Ginobili forced one another to work hard for every play, with Tommy Heinsohn noting the Spurs ability to almost predict where Pierce would be before he got there. Pierce scrapped his way to 18 points with 9 in the third quarter and Ginobili scored 20 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter.