"Celtics coach Doc Rivers often says his team performs best with its collective back against the wall. And the Celtics' situation seemed quite desperate in Tuesday night's Game 2 of their playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks.
The Celtics were without Ray Allen (ankle) and Rajon Rondo (suspended), then lost Mickael Pietrus to early foul trouble. By late in the third quarter, they were faced with a double-digit deficit.
And a lot of unfamiliar backs were lining up against the Philips Arena walls.
But the combination of stifling defense and Paul Pierce's ability to take over the game carried the Celtics to an 87-80 victory, evening the series at 1-1 with Game 3 Friday at TD Garden.
"I felt I had to do everything,'' said Pierce, who had 36 points and 14 rebounds. "Rondo being out, a lot of responsibility falls on me with playmaking, scoring, rebounding. And that's all part of it. A lot of guys stepped up. I thought we played terrific defense. We got off to a great start, which was important.''
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