The Celtics were already pretty old to start the season. When Rajon Rondo tore his ACL, they got older. When rookie forward Jared Sullinger went out for the season, they were about as young as a men’s rec league team.
Older doesn’t necessarily mean worse, of course. Doc Rivers called it when the injuries happened — the Celtics weren’t going to expire so easily. A game in Utah against one of the youngest and best home teams in the league (21-6 at home going in) wasn’t going to be easy, but Rivers called on his old man to bring it home. To the stars!
Third Star: Bradley Beal – (20 points, 6 rebounds, 8-for-13)
Beal just keeps getting better and better. Every month this season Beal has improved his field goal percentage and points per game. Does it help he set the bar so low? Sure, but it’s clear to see Beal is becoming more confident and really figuring the league out. In January and February, Beal is shooting nearly 50 percent from behind the arc, and this month, he’s scoring 17.3 points per game. It’s too late for Washington to make the playoffs (they’re 9 games back of the 8-seed), but is it too late for Beal to steal some first place Rookie of the Year votes from Damian Lillard? If he keeps trending this way, it might not be.
Second Star: Al Horford – (23 points, 22 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks)
Horford tied a career-high with 22 rebounds in a blowout win over the Pistons, mainly just by hanging around the rim and swallowing everything up. Horford’s 7 offensive rebounds gave the Hawks plenty of extra chances, and they knew what to do with it. Atlanta shot above 50 percent from the field as a team, thanks in large part to Horford putting in little shots around the rim.
First Star: Paul Pierce – (26 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists)
Pierce was great all night, but his incredible scoring in overtime put the Celtics over the top. After narrowly missing a potential game-winner in regulation, Pierce rattled off seven straight points in overtime on a variety of buckets. Even against a really solid individual defender in DeMarre Carroll, Pierce was able to come off screens and get his deadly jumper off with relative ease. Enjoy these performances while you can — it will be a long time before we see another scorer who manipulates space like Pierce does.