Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/24/12
Los-angeles-lakers-boston
BOSTON — If Brian Butterfield is unavailable for any reason next summer, the Red Sox could always place a call to Doc Rivers. In the fourth quarter of Boston’s win on Friday, the Celtics coach resembled a third-base coach urging his team to continue pushing the ball against the reeling Oklahoma City Thunder. The only thing Rivers was missing was the exaggerated windmill motion with his arm. Encouraged by their coach to stay aggressive, the Celtics put the Thunder on their heels and never gave them time to recover in catapulting Boston to its signature win of the season thus far. From tip-off to the final buzzer, the starters and reserves maintained a steady level of pressure on the defending Western Conference champions and gave the post-holiday crowd at the TD Garden another reason to be thankful in a 108-100 Celtics victory. “This was big for us,” Paul Pierce said. “We’ve been up and down for most of the season, playing well here, playing well there. We were real disappointed with the way we lost the last game, so this is a gut-check type of win, a look-yourself-in-the-mirror type of win.” Pierce scored 27 points to lead the Celtics, who bounced back from two losses to Detroit and San Antonio that were excruciating for very different reasons. The loss to the Spurs was particularly frustrating because the Celtics were within two points with two minutes to go before losing by eight. The 20-point loss to the previously one-win Pistons was simply embarrassing. Pierce was not alone in his heroics on Friday, though. Kevin Garnett delivered 18 points and nine rebounds, Jason Terry came through in the clutch and Rajon Rondo finished with the sort of line that has become typical of the point guard: six points, 16 assists, eight rebounds, two steals. Jeff Green scored 17 points to lead an effective Celtics bench that contributed key plays by Jared Sullinger, Leandro Barbosa and Chris Wilcox. The performance may have started Friday morning, when Rivers limited the actual “shooting” portion of shootaround. Instead, Rivers met with his team and went through the roster one by one, explaining to each player his role and what is expected of him every game. Perhaps not coincidentally, the players seemed much more in sync than they had all season. “This was a must-win,” Garnett said. “Doc kind of set us aside and broke us down as a team in what he was expecting from each individual, and I thought it was very helpful. It kind of clarified people’s responsibilities, their roles, and we came out and played like it. There wasn’t any hesitation on anything. The guys played with confidence. We played together. There’s always that question mark with consistency, so we have to see if we can ride this momentum for a while.” The Celtics got off to a fast start by taking a 7-2 lead before settling in and alternating leads with the Thunder for the rest of the first half. Pierce jump-started the Celtics by scoring their first seven points of the second half and they led by as many as 14 points in the final quarter. The Thunder gradually whittled their deficit to three points and were still in striking distance after Garnett hit a pair of free throws with a minute left. But with Rivers imploring his players to push the pace, Terry faded behind a screen on the left wing and Rondo found him for the dagger 3-pointer. To Pierce it was a “gut-check.” To Garnett it was a “must-win.” To Rivers it was what he has expected all along. This was not a matter of the coach finding out what his team is capable of. “No, but I think they found out something about themselves,” Rivers said. “I already knew this, but I think they found something out. But we’ve got to keep doing it. That’s the key for us.” The Celtics fancy themselves a contender for the NBA Finals. If that is the case, they could end up facing the Thunder. For most of the first month of the season, the Celtics did not look ready for such a challenge. On Friday, they lived up to the moment. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Matt Williams wants Bryce Harper to stop getting ejected

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Larry Lucchino stepping down as Red Sox CEO

Las Vegas Mob Museum to open FIFA corruption exhibit

Does NFL have a motive to settle with Tom Brady?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Big Ten coaches opposed to 9-game conference schedule

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Hill arrested for reckless driving, clocked going 107 mph

Diamondbacks GM: Padres wanted Goldschmidt for Kimbrel

'Rowdy' Roddy Piper dead at 61

Mets acquire Yoenis Cespedes from Tigers

Eagles trade CB Brandon Boykin to Steelers

Jack Del Rio: Crabtree ‘stood out’ at first Raiders camp practice

Browns owner: ‘We haven’t given up on Johnny Manziel’

Junior Seau’s daughter will speak at Hall of Fame induction

Golden State Warriors: the rich get richer

NFL, Brady could settle to avoid appeal documents going public

Miguel Herrera apologizes for costly Philly airport fight

Russell Wilson contract $60 million guaranteed? Not so fast

Bernard Pollard backs Tom Brady, disagrees with suspension

Cardale Jones continues to show love toward Ronda Rousey

Joseph Randle on Steven Jackson: ‘He’s at home watching’

Evan Turner reps Ohio State after NBA Africa game

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Puig: Broke out of slump by playing baseball video games

Braves dump risk, exchange it for risk

David Price traded to Blue Jays

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker