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Doc Rivers picked up his 400th regular-season win as coach of the Celtics.Some news, notes, and analysis after the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors 99-95 on Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre:
* CONTROLLED CHAOS: The Celtics won their fifth straight since losing Rajon Rondo for the season with an ACL tear, but this was by far the best of the bunch (yes, trumping even the double-overtime win against Miami and Sunday's takedown of the Chris Paul-less Clippers). Sure, the Celtics were far from perfect on Wednesday, particularly when they came unraveled at the end of the third quarter and allowed Toronto to open a double-digit lead. But it's how they responded in the fourth frame, showing some oft-unseen resolve that speaks volumes about the inspired ball this team is playing at the moment. Turnovers killed Boston -- it committed 14 overall for a whopping 28 points -- but gave the ball away only twice in the final frame. Without a pure ballhandler to lean on down the stretch, that's solid damage control.
"Tonight was tough," Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters in Toronto. "These are the games when you really miss [Rondo] because you needed to get organized a couple times. But our guys did it. We wasted a couple timeouts to get them organized every time I thought they were not. And there's no ballhandler. We come out of timeouts and you don't know who's going to bring the ball up on our team right now. Hell, I don't know half the time, and it's good. It's good confusion."
* RIVERS' 400TH WIN AS C'S COACH: Rivers became only the third coach in team history to reach the 400-win plateau and is creeping up on Tommy Heinsohn (427) for second place behind virtually uncatchable Red Auerbach (795). Now in his ninth season with Boston, Rivers is 400-288 (.581 winning percentage) overall in the regular season (and 53-43 in the postseason). Including his four-plus years in Orlando, Rivers owns 571 career regular-season wins.
* BARBOSA/TERRY/GREEN STRIKE AGAIN: Boston has really found something with the three-man combo of Leandro Barbosa, Jason Terry and Jeff Green as a sub lineup. In fact, the Celtics leaned on those three, alongside Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, for virtually the entire fourth quarter on Wednesday (all but a 22-second backcourt swap with Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee). That five-man group limited the Raptors to 5-of-15 shooting (33.3 percent) and was plus-17 in plus/minus as Boston outscored Toronto 30-16 overall in the final frame.
* C'S MAKING THEIR MOVE: Wednesday's win north of the border, coupled with Milwaukee's loss in Utah, leaves the Celtics and Bucks with matching 25-23 marks and tied for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference (Milwaukee owns the head-to-head tiebreaker after winning three of four meetings this season). Boston is quietly starting to make its move before the All-Star break with the goal of climbing the East playoff ladder with more consistent play in the second half of the season.
* JOSEPH REJOINS CLAWS: Kris Joseph, Boston's second-round draft pick who was waived by the team on Jan. 6, has signed an NBA D-League contract with the Maine Red Claws. While no longer property of the Celtics, Joseph rejoins the team-controlled minor league affiliate. The 24-year-old forward appeared in 10 games while on assignment from Boston, averaging 17.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Joseph is expected to join the team for Thursday's game in Springfield.
* BEDTIME FOR BOO BOO: Garnett's on-court postgame interviews never lack for entertainment. After Wednesday's win, he appeared on Comcast SportsNet and, after throwing out his favorite new word ("consolidate") to describe again how the Celtics have soldiered on without Rondo, Garnett closed the interview by looking into the camera and telling his 4-year-old daughter, "Boo Boo, better have your [behind] in bed."