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After Tuesday’s game, it’s safe to say if the Celtics’ big men aren’t fully healthy, the C’s will get absolutely eaten up inside during the playoffs. Why? The proof’s in the pudding.
Tuesday night against the Pacers, the Celtics were down to three healthy bigs (and I use the term “bigs” loosely) in Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis, and Nenad Krstic. Troy Murphy, Shaquille O’Neal, and his brother from another mother Jermaine were all out with injury (though Jermaine should be back within a week, supposedly). Advantage: 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert, who scored 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting to lead the Pacers past the C’s 107-100.
The Pacers largely controlled the second and fourth quarters (and had a nice first quarter too), and Hibbert came up huge for much of the game while being guarded at times by the much shorter Davis (6’9″), who was playing extensive minutes while Krstic (17 minutes, 7 points) and Garnett (25 minutes, 6 points) battled foul trouble.
“Kevin and Nenad were in foul trouble, and tonight, we need that extra big body,” he said. “Tonight, the foul trouble just killed us. It crushed us today.”
Paul Pierce did all he could to will his team to victory, scoring 23 points on 8-13 shooting. Rajon Rondo, who Doc Rivers announced before the game would not play due to his finger injury, played nearly 40 minutes, finishing with 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 assists. But, per the usual during these troubled times, the C’s had a fourth quarter lead (a 4-pt lead entering the final frame) but failed to hold it.
Ray Allen scored just 11 points while the undersized Davis added 20 for the C’s, who had no answer for Darren Collison. The guard killed several late Celtics runs in the fourth quarter, ensuring the Pacers victory, finishing with 17 points on 8-9 shooting.
“In the most important part of the game, the fourth quarter, we couldn’t get a stop right there,” Pierce said. “It’s a weird time to be talking about this, when there are nine games left in the season.”
Finally, the Celtics were able to crack the 100-point scoring mark for the first time since an ugly 109-103 loss March 9 to the Clippers. Unfortunately, it also marked the first time since that game that they allowed more than 100 points. Where is the consitency, people!?!
“We became a great team because we were known to do it for 48 minutes,” Garnett said. “We seem to be missing that right now.”
The Celtics, who have lost 7 of 12, now finally have two days off, but have another back-to-back set up on the road against the Spurs (Thursday) and Hawks (Friday). Yikes.