From outward appearances, you wouldn't think the Celtics won this one. They shot only 38% from the field and committed 15 turnovers. Paul Pierce scored only 7 points, Kevin Garnett scored only 9 points. They finished with only 80 points as a team. So, how in the world did they win?
The key to the second half and thus the win was defense and hustle. They filled the lanes and racked up 11 steals. They out rebounded the Cavs 51-47. And they held the Cavs to 33% shooting and only 70 points. The Celtics took their biggest lead at 77-56 and then with the starters on the bench, the Cavs were able to cut into the lead in the last five minutes of the game, but the result was never in doubt.
Paul Pierce came out after the half with energy, intercepting passes, poking away the ball, diving for loose balls, flying out of bounds to save the possession, taking charges, and generally playing hard defensively. He didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but he hustled and played defense and did the little things that got his team energized and because of that, he won the Tommy Award. He finished with 7 points on 2-7 shooting to go with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals in 29 minutes. KG also struggled offensively with only 9 points on 2-12 shooting and 5-7 at the line along with 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks in 26 minutes. KG started out the game with a huge block and played solid defense, despite the offensive struggles.
Rondo had a slow start and when he sat down the first time, had nothing but 1 foul on the stat sheet. He quickly turned that around when he came back in, finishing with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 1 block. Ray Allen had the hot hand among the starters and finished with 20 points on 8-16 shooting along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in 34 minutes. Perk had a solid game, playing good defense inside and rebounding well. He finished with 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.
James Posey was again a key player off the bench playing with energy and defense and finished with 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 steal. Big Baby played very well in 20 minutes, taking charges, getting into the passing lanes and just bringing energy to a team that very much needed it. He finished with 9 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 block before fouling out in 20 minutes. He is definitely making a case for more playing time. Eddie House played finished with 6 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, and 1 steal.
Tony played his first game since suffering a bruised thigh. He finished with 3 points and 6 rebounds in 18 minutes. He missed several layups and appeared that he didn't have much lift. Scal played only 8 minutes and went scoreless with 3 rebounds. Powe played the last 5 minutes and had 3 points and 1 rebound.
LeBron didn't play and so that will put an asterisk next to this win. Defense was the game plan on both sides and resulted in a rather ugly 80-70 win for the Celtics. They stayed perfect at home and in spite of both Pierce and KG struggling offensively pulled out the win. one of these days, all 3 of the stars will have a good game at the same time and it could get very ugly for the other team.