Celtics

On 30-point games and playoff momentum

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On 30-point games and playoff momentum

Earlier this morning, I was flipping through some of Paul Pierces old playoff games on Basketball-Reference and came across a relatively meaningless, but still interesting statistic.

Ready?

Over the entirety of his 14-year career, Pierce has scored 30 points in consecutive playoff games only once.

Slightly shocking, no?

The consecutive efforts came in the first two games of Boston's 2003 series with New Jersey.

In Game 1 (which was played nine years ago tomorrow), Pierce had 34 points, eight assists, five rebounds, four steals, two blocks and eight turnovers.

In Game 2, Pierce messed around with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

(Pretty great, except that the Celtics lost both games on their way to being swept by Jason Kidd, Brian Scalabrine and the far-more-talented Nets. Also, the only other constant between that Nets series and this Hawks series? Jason Collins was New Jersey's starting center.)

And that's it. That's the only time over the course of 112 career playoff games that the Captain has broken 30 in consecutive outings. And I have no other commentary except that I imagined it would be more. (By unfair comparison, LeBron has done it 20 times in 95 playoffs games, including two four-game streaks and a five-gamer.)

Tonight at the Garden, Pierce will try to do it again.

In theory.

In reality, with Rondo (and maybe even Ray Allen) back in the mix, the Celtics don't need Pierce to carry them like he did on Tuesday. There's no way he'll take as many shots (his 26 field goal attempts in Game 2 were a new personal playoff high), or play as many minutes. Honestly, I'd say it's just as likely that Pierce scores 15-16 points as it as that he drops another 30.

Then again, if Rondo decides to make a run at 20 assists, and if Pierce is feeling fresh and energized by the home crowd

Man, isn't crazy how one game can change everything?

When the Celtics took the court on Tuesday, the situation was bleak. No one had ruled out the possibility of them stealing that game from the Hawks, but the overall vibe just looked and felt so helpless.

All it took was one victory, and now everything is calm and confident.

One victory, and we're right back to writing off the Hawks as pretenders, and looking ahead to Philly or Chicago.

One victory, and I spent the morning casually perusing box score porn and contemplating 30-point games instead of sitting in a dark room, pining over the end of a historic era of Celtics basketball.

It's wild.

But through all the calm and confidence, we never lose sight of of the fact that it only takes one loss to for it to all come crumbling down. That it doesn't matter if Ray Allen plays or Josh Smith doesn't because nothing is for sure in the NBA playoffs.

We know that.

More importantly, the Celtics know that. And with a surely-psychotic Rondo leading the way, and the Garden crowd just waiting to explode, you have to feel good about the C's taking care of business.

As for Pierce dropping another 30-spot?

Eh, not so much.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Could Gordon Hayward return this season?

0:41 - Kyle Draper, Brain Scalabrine, Tommy Heinsohn, and Mike Gorman break down the Celtics loss to the Cavs and Gordon Hayward’s injury.

4:22 - Tom Curran, Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their reactions to the gruesome injury to Gordon Hayward and how it impacted the game.

9:39 - Dr. Chris Chihlas joins BST to give his medical opinion on Gordon Hayward and if he thinks there is a chance Hayward could return this season. 

13:40 - Chris Mannix and A. Sherrod Blakely discuss what the feeling was like in the arena when Hayward went down but how there is actually a 'cautious optimism' surrounding the injury.

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

Jayson Tatum flashes potential with double-double debut

CLEVELAND – Jayson Tatum has seen plenty of games featuring Cleveland’s LeBron James.

And in the Boston Celtics’ preparation for Tuesday night’s matchup, the 19-year-old rookie had seen plenty of James on film.

But facing him, up close and personal, was something entirely different.

“He’s way bigger than I thought,” Tatum said. “He’s way better than I imagined. That’s the reason why he is who he is.”

MORE:

James’ play was among the key factors in Cleveland handing Boston a 102-99 loss on Tuesday night.

But Tatum showed he too has some big-time potential by finishing with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds which included some nifty drives to the basket as well as showing the ability to hold his own on the glass in terms of rebounding the basketball.

The last Celtics rookie to post a double-double on opening night?

That was Larry Bird back in 1980, helping the Celtics to a 114-106 win over the Houston Rockets.

What’s even crazier?

Bird had 14 points and 10 rebounds in that Rockets game, too.

Tatum’s solid performance didn’t seem in the making in the first half when Tatum had missed all five of his shot attempts while tallying just two points.

But as the Celtics mounted their comeback, Tatum’s play was a key to the team’s improved play.

“Just being more relaxed” was how Tatum described his improved play in the second half.

Tatum added, “first half, I think I was nervous and anxious. And then the game slowed down for me. That helped out a lot.”

And the Celtics will need even more from Tatum going forward after Gordon Hayward’s left ankle injury that will keep him sidelined indefinitely.

There was plenty of room for him to improve upon following Tuesday’s game.

But for the most part, head coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from the rookie.

“Jayson was pretty good,” Stevens said. “He did a pretty good job for a first game. That’s pretty hard to do, to be thrown into this environment, first game and play that well.”

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