After a horrid three game road tip, the Boston Celtics got a much needed victory tonight, beating the Indiana Pacers by a score of 118-112. This was a huge win for the Celtics, as they had fallen all the way out of a playoff spot in their recent cold stretch, as they were sitting in 9th place in the Eastern Conference coming into tonight’s action. Now they can look to get back to their winning ways, and move back up in the East standings. Kemba Walker had easily his best game of the season, dropping 32 points and dishing out 6 assists, leading the Celtics to victory.
Early on it looked like the Celtics were headed for yet another rough game, as they fell behind 18-4 early in the first quarter. They Celtics quickly made up some ground, with Kemba Walker scoring all 10 of his first quarter points within a span of two minutes. The Celtics would eventually come all the way back take the lead heading into the second by a score of 32-31. Both teams would score 29 points a piece in the second quarter, setting the stage for the second half.
The Celtics took control of the game in third quarter, and went into the fourth with an eight point lead. Despite leading by double digits on multiple occasions, the C’s couldn’t fully put away the Pacers, and spent most of the fourth quarter making sure they didn’t rally to pull out the victory. Walker again had a solid quarter, as he dropped eight points, including the game sealing free throws, while also finding Daniel Theis in the corner for a huge three pointer that effectively ended the game.
Despite the recent dry spell the Celtics went on, this may be as encouraging a victory as we’ve seen from them all season. For starters, Kemba Walker proved he’s still got it, as he carried the Celtics throughout much of the contest. Whenever the Celtics needed a bucket to keep them in the game or keep the Pacers at bay, Kemba was the go-to-guy. It felt like the game was slipping away from the C’s early in the fourth, but Kemba came back into the game and shifted the momentum back towards Boston.
The Celtics also pulled out a victory on a night where Jayson Tatum struggled mightily. Tatum had his second straight poor shooting performance, as he only managed to shoot 4/18 from the field tonight, following up his 4/20 performance against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Tatum has been the Celtics primary scorer for much of the season, so to be able to pick up a victory when he’s having an off night is an oddly encouraging sign. On the other hand, the Celtics probably won’t win too many games when Tatum shoots this poorly, so he will need to break this slump sooner rather than later.
The Celtics also got some great performances from their bench tonight, as the unit combined for 39 points. Rob Williams III and Jeff Teague each chipped in 14 points a piece, while Payton Pritchard dropped nine of his own. Seeing Teague produce in really any capacity was a welcome sight, as he has been one of the biggest disappointments for the Celtics so far this season. Teague however, was outdone off the bench by Rob Williams, who also had arguably his best game of the season. Along with his 14 points, Williams led the team in rebounds, with 11, while adding four assists, three blocks, and one steal. It was a fantastic all around performance from Williams, as he displayed his full potential throughout the contest.
This victory couldn’t have come at a better time for the Celtics. If they lost this game, things could have started to get really ugly in Boston. The Celtics have three more games before the All Star break, and if they can find a way to get their record back to .500 before the break, the Celtics should be in a decent position to make a big playoff push in the second half of the season.
The Celtics can make it back to the .500 mark with a victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday. The Celtics will be looking for revenge after suffering a tough loss to the Wizards the last time these two teams faced off, and hopefully they can carry the momentum over from this solid victory. If Walker and the rest of Celtics can carry over their performance from this game to the next, the Celtics should have a good shot to hit .500 with two games to go until the All Star break.
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