For the past week, most of the discourse surrounding the Celtics has been questioning the makeup of the team, as they dipped into a three-game losing streak. Yet the team responded on Friday night, kicking that streak with a 118-112 over the Indiana Pacers at TD Garden.
Save a shaky first few minutes, it was the kind of overall effort the team has been lacking not just over the last week, but last month. Perhaps most importantly, they were able to close out a close game in the fourth quarter, a feat which has been elusive for the team for most of February.
Of course, the slow start seemed concerning given the Celtics’ last few games. Myles Turner had nine of the Pacers first 12 points, as Indiana jumped out to a 14-2 lead in the first four minutes. But unlike Wednesday night’s blowout loss, Boston was able to overcome the early stumble. Despite being down by as many as 14, the C’s took the lead 32-31 in the final minute of the first quarter, and carried that lead into the break.
Both teams traded small leads for the majority of the second quarter. At one point, the Celtics’ advantage grew to six points, but Indiana didn’t let them pull away. Heading into halftime, Boston led 61-60.
The Celtics opened the second half with a 10-2 run, eventually grabbing their first double-digit lead of the game. In response, the Pacers put together an 11-2 run, getting back within a point late in the frame. Boston wouldn’t let them get the lead though, and closed the quarter strong to take a 92-84 lead into the fourth.
Most of the fourth quarter saw the Celtics holding off Pacers charge after Pacers charge. Although they never surrendered the lead, they also never expanded it beyond 10 points. Indiana got within three points in the final 30 seconds, but the Celtics were able to hit their free throws and put the game away.
Kemba Walker has a monster game that’s felt like it was building for some time. The 30-year-old has been averaging just 19 points a game in the month of February, but exploded for 32 on Friday night, with six assists as well.
Daniel Theis turned in a highly-efficient 17-point game, shooting 6-of-9 from the floor, 2-of-3 from deep, and hitting three of his four three throws. He also blocked three shots.
The Celtics also got a major boost from their bench on Friday night – something they haven’t had much of in recent weeks. Robert Williams contributed a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double with three blocks, while Jeff Teague added 14 points of his own, getting to the line eight times.
With the win, the Celtics improve to 16-17 on the season. While they still sit under .500, they’re well above that mark at home, now at 9-5. With their final three games of the first hall all at home, they have a chance to pick up some momentum heading into the All-Star break.
That chase continues on Sunday, when the Washington Wizards visit TD Garden. Coverage for that game begins on 98.5 The Sports Hub starting at 6:30, leading up to a 7:00 tip.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.