Wow! What a difference a player makes – the return of Avery Bradley may not have yielded a W against the Grizzlies on Wednesday night, but his energy was clearly key in helping spark the Celtics to their most convincing win of the season, a 94-75 demolition over the Indiana Pacers. The C’s played with passion and energy, and in the process played the kind of defense that Doc Rivers has been searching for all season long.
Bradley’s numbers may have been pedestrian, but his effort was positively contagious. Jared Sullinger went double-digits in the rebound column. Brandon Bass was snagging rebound and blocking shots, even though his own shots weren’t falling.
Indiana was held to 31.8% shooting from the field, and 23.5% from behind the arc. And suddenly, the Celtics’ recent struggles are a thing of the distant past.
And the spark plug? Has to be Bradley, whose presence seems to energize his teammates.
This was a huge win over a quality team. The Pacers may have been without Danny Granger and George Hill, but they still have enough horses to beat most teams. Who knows, this may very well be the turning point for a Celtics team that has failed to click thus far this season. Bradley’s return allows Jason Terry and Courtney Lee to fall back to the reserve roles that Rivers had figured on. And Sullinger’s energy in the frontcourt should play well with what Bradley is bringing to the perimeter. Forget that he’s undersized; Sullinger more than makes up for it with basketball IQ. And with Bass continuing to struggle, the door is wide open for Sullinger at this point.
Not that all is perfect in Boston following this win. Jeff Green continues to struggle, and Jason Terry’s shooting percentage reflects a lack of comfort level in what he’s doing on the floor. Hopefully both will get untracked, and soon. And hopefully Bass will snap out of his funk.
If so, we could very well be on our way to something big.
And if so, we can look back and say that it happened here, tonight, against the Indiana Pacers.