Usually the number 13 is not a good number but for the Celtics its a number they like, as they have won 13 straight games in a row beating the Indiana Pacers 99-88 on Sunday Afternoon at the TD Garden. Led by captain Paul Pierce’s triple double and Shaq’s huge dunk on Jeff Foster the C’s continue to roll into the big show down on Christmas Day in Orlando. The following from CSNNE.com:
BOSTON — Everyone knows how Shaquille O’Neal is this time of year.
The Big Fella is always in a giving mood.
On Sunday, O’Neal was giving the Indiana Pacers fits early in the game as the Celtics continued their impressive stretch of success with a 99-88 win.
The Celtics (22-4) have now won 13 in a row, and remain atop the Eastern Conference standings.
And they have done it with a roster that has had more different looks than the halftime entertainment group.
One thing that has been a constant for the Celtics has been Paul Pierce, whose play will soon catapult him into the league MVP conversation if the C’s keep on winning.
Pierce delivered arguably his most complete game of the season, tallying a triple-double of 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
“He’s our point-forward now,” said C’s coach Doc Rivers, who is without the services of Rajon Rondo (left ankle) for at least another couple weeks. “We’re putting him basically in Rondo’s spot, in a lot of ways. He’s doing a good job of it.”
Said Pierce, who tallied his first triple-double in the Big Three era: “I’m just happy we got the win, truthfully. All those individual stats are good, but it really doesn’t mean too much when you don’t win.”
And winning has indeed been a constant with the Celtics, winners of 13 straight.
Pierce’s big game certainly was important, but O’Neal controlling the action in the game’s early moments was pivotal to Boston spending the bulk of Sunday’s game with a lead.
“He was great,” Rivers said of O’Neal. “Had great energy.”
O’Neal went to work early, scoring all 11 of his points in the first six minutes of play, which included an alley-oop dunk over Jeff Foster in which O’Neal was fouled on the play.
Rivers admitted he was surprised when he saw Pierce make the above-the-rim pass to O’Neal.
“I thought, ‘no, there was just no way (he would catch it),’” Rivers said. “And he not only caught it, but he finished it. So that was nice.”
O’Neal credits getting rest – he had missed the previous four games due to a right calf injury – and the treatments he has received from Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte, as being instrumental in him being able to make such a play.
And after the dunk, O’Neal gave the TD Garden fans a glimpse of the ‘Diesel Walk.’
“Learn it … take a picture … patent it,” O’Neal quipped afterwards.
Even with O’Neal helping the Celtics with a strong start – all of his points came in the game’s first six minutes – the Pacers have proven themselves to be a tough team to beat for the NBA’s elite.
Ask Miami and the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, both suffering losses at home to the Pacers.
Indiana kept the game relatively close, and eventually took a brief lead in the second quarter.
Keeping the Pacers within striking distance were Danny Granger (19 points) and Roy Hibbert (17 points, 14 rebounds).
The Pacers also got a timely basket from ex-Celtic James Posey, whose 3-pointer with 10:33 to play cut Boston’s lead to 71-70.
Boston bounced back with a 10-2 run to regain control, and finished the game with a 14-7 spurt.
“They’re a heck of a basketball team and they’re stingy in the fourth quarter,” said Pacers head coach Jim O’Brien, who is also a former Celtics coach. “We didn’t stop them enough times to give us (a) chance to make a run.”