INDIANAPOLIS -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers studied the green play sheet in front of him with his coaches huddled around, then made his selection. But this is a democracy, so he put his choice up for discussion. One by one his assistants offered input. First Kevin Eastman, then Mike Longabardi. Finally, soft-spoken offensive coordinator Armond Hill announced he wanted a rare audible.
Rivers obliged and the Celtics ran a brilliant set -- one the Pacers had blown up three quarters earlier -- that ended with a Jeff Green layup in traffic with a half second to play, capping a double-digit fourth-quarter comeback as Boston emerged with an 83-81 triumph over the Pacers at Bankers Life FieldHouse.
"I had drawn up another play and Armond Hill walked over and -- he rarely does it -- he said, ‘Hey, listen, the play you drew up from the first half worked, let’s run it again,’" explained Rivers. "And so I switched to the play he wanted me to run. And it was great, it worked out perfectly."
Broadcast Screenshot/Pacers TV
Paul Pierce sets a back pick on David West to free Jeff Green.Rivers had debated going with a straight pick-and-roll with Green and Garnett, hoping Green's size and athleticism could force a mismatch. But, with Hill's prodding, he elected to run Green off a back pick from Paul Pierce, who perfectly pinned David West (see screenshot above), allowing Green to curl free to the rim after giving Garnett the ball at the left elbow.
In fact, the only error in execution was that Garnett, leery of another deflection by Roy Hibbert, threw the ball a bit too high and Green couldn't complete the initial alley-oop. Instead, he went to the floor and managed to go back up with four white jerseys collapsing on him and muscled home the winner.
Here's what the key participants saw:
* Garnett: "I saw Jeff Green open at the basket, and then I saw help come across the baseline. I thought I had a little bit extra on it, but he was open off the initial [move]. I just had to make sure he took the corner and I hit him with the pass. The first time I did it in the first quarter, I noticed, obviously Hibbert is a very long guy. ... I noted to myself to wait until Jeff turned the corner and the guy's hands go down. Second time, I just did that. I pump-faked and his hands went up, I saw his adjustment ... and threw it right over the top of his hands to Jeff. Jeff made a tough, difficult layup for the game."
* Green: "I had to come down with it first. The pass was high and I knew I had to come down, gather myself and go up strong. ... I wanted the ball. But I had to be a great decoy and, like always, all the attention went to Paul and Kev. They doubled Kev on the pass and Kev made a great pass over the double-team. I went up, tried to go up strong and win it. ... I'm really happy it went in. Great pass by Kev, great execution by us. It was a great draw-up by Doc."
* Pierce: "It was great, especially when you come away with the win. Good things happen when you execute -- being in the right spot, setting the screen. It showed tonight. Everybody was in the right spot."
* Rivers: "It was executed great. We got it down to the last second, either Kevin was going to try to hit Jeff -- the whole play was about Paul Pierce’s back pick. He was terrific. He set a nice back pick. [The Pacers] got a little mixed up. And Jeff had to make a tough shot. They doubled Kevin, so the pass was a little bit off mark. And Jeff had to adjust. Great when you win on execution. ... It’s great when you draw up a play and then the guys know the play and you can hear them, 'Yeah, this is a good one for us.’ It doesn’t mean it’s going to work. But you know they are going to run it with confidence. Right when we drew that up, you could hear them say, ‘This is good.’ And they told Kevin, 'Kevin, we had it in the first quarter,’ he got it deflected, it was the exact same play and I think Paul said, ‘We had this in the first quarter; don’t get the ball deflected.’ So they had confidence in it, and when a group has confidence in anything you do, you have a chance that it’s going to work."