|Fast Break: Avery Bradley, balanced attack fuels C’s rout of Magic||12.07.16 at 9:33 pm ET|
With Isaiah Thomas back in Boston receiving treatment on his strained groin, the question for the Celtics was who would replace the production of their leading scorer Wednesday night. The answer: everyone.
Seven Celtics scored in double figures (and Kelly Olynyk was one point short of being the eighth) as the C’s dominated the Magic in the second half en route to an impressive 117-87 victory.
Avery Bradley led the offensive onslaught with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 6-of-7 free throws. Terry Rozier came off the bench to pour in 16 points, Jae Crowder had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Marcus Smart, Amir Johnson and Jaylen Brown — who had a highlight-reel dunk early in the second quarter, driving from the 3-point line and hammering down a one-hander over Magic 7-footer Nikola Vucevic — each netted 13. Al Horford amassed 10 points, eight assists and six boards — and was a plus-31.
And before you dismiss the Magic, consider that Orlando was coming off a road trip in which it won four out of five, including an eye-catching win over the Spurs.
The C’s outscored Orlando 68-37 in the second half. They opened the half on a 10-2 run, playing fierce defense and unselfish offense. On one sequence Bradley hounded Evan Fournier and eventually blocked his runner out of bounds. The C’s continued to pour it on at both ends — the run went to 18-2 — and pushed their newfound lead up to 18 points at 78-60 late in the period after a three-point play by Brown. At that point the C’s had hit 11 of their 13 shots in the period, and assists were credited on 10 of the 11 baskets.
But it was at the defensive end where Bradley said the C’s were focused.
“Every possession counts, and we showed that,” Bradley told CSNNE’s Abby Chin. “We got together at halftime and we told each other, ‘We’ve got to come out and player harder. We’ve got to get consistent stops. We can’t worry about the offensive end.’ And it showed in the second half.”
|Fast Break: Al Horford misses last-second layup as Celtics let one slip away to Rockets||12.05.16 at 10:46 pm ET|
The Celtics were handed a gift Monday night in Houston, but they treated it like an ugly sweater on Christmas morning — something they’ll look back on only with disgust.
Houston led by three points and had the ball with 16 seconds left, but in an instant the C’s were put in position to win after Rockets star James Harden was called for an offensive foul — and a flagrant 1 to boot — after throwing his elbow into Marcus Smart’s face while trying to create space. However, Boston could not capitalize.
After Smart (a 60 percent shooter from the line) hit two free throws to get the C’s within a point, Isaiah Thomas missed a driving layup, although the C’s retained possession when Harden knocked it out of bounds. On the ensuing inbounds, Al Horford caught the ball at the 3-point line and found an open lane to the basket but missed a layup with one second remaining, allowing Houston to escape with a 107-106 decision.
“I felt good when I shot it,” Horford told reporters about the final shot. “It just didn’t go down.”
“We got two good looks,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said in his postgame press conference. “The guys did a great job in those moments.”
Harden led all scorers with 37 points on 8-of-14 field goals (3-of-5 treys) and 18-of-18 free throws. He also had eight rebounds, eight assists and 10 turnovers.
Horford led the Celtics with 21 points and nine assists. Thomas scored 20 points. Bradley had 16 points and 10 rebounds — and he’ll rue the additional point he thought he had. With 46 seconds left and the C’s trailing by five, Bradley lined up at the arc and drilled a big shot to end a 13-2 Houston run, but the officials ruled his toe was on the line, and it held up on review despite protestations from the Celtics, who saw the replay on the arena scoreboard.
“They said it was inconclusive and it was called a 2,” Stevens related.
|Fast Break: Celtics use balanced attack to turn away Heat||11.28.16 at 10:08 pm ET|
Although the Heat are one of the weaker teams in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics had to be a little concerned when center Al Horford stayed in Boston for the birth of his second child. After all, one of the Heat’s strengths is Hassan Whiteside, who came in leading the league in rebounds (14.9) and second in blocks (2.5) per game.
It turns out the C’s had nothing to worry about.
Despite an off shooting night from Isaiah Thomas, Boston used a big second quarter to pull away early and kept a safe distance from Miami the rest of the way in a 112-104 victory, its fourth in five games and its fourth straight road win.
The C’s led by two points after one period, then outscored the hosts 27-12 in the second quarter. Miami stayed within striking distance the rest of the night but never was able to make a serious challenge for the lead.
“I never felt really good about getting a stop in the second half, which isn’t good, but we scored enough to win,” C’s coach Brad Stevens told reporters in his postgame press conference.
Thomas rallied to finish with 25 points on 7-of-23 shooting (just 2-of-10 treys) and 9-of-9 free throws. He also had eight assists.
Boston had six players in double figures. Jae Crowder had an efficient game with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Avery Bradley scored 18 points. Kelly Olynyk netted 14 (more on his strong all-around effort below). Marcus Smart (12) and Tyler Zeller (10) were the other double-figure scorers.
Tempers flared in a chippy fourth quarter, with Smart (no surprise) in the middle of things. After Whiteside grabbed a rebound with 3:17 remaining and cleared some space as he prepared to finish, Smart raced in and knocked over Whiteside, earning a flagrant-1. Later, the Heat repeatedly intentionally fouled Smart (a 55 percent free throw shooter), and he took exception and pushed Goran Dragic, earning a technical foul.
|Fast Break: Celtics find swagger, pull away from pesky Nets||11.23.16 at 10:00 pm ET|
If you missed the Celtics’ 111-92 victory over the Nets on Wednesday night, take a break from your Thanksgiving meal Thursday and check out the highlights.
The C’s played their most entertaining game of the young season, demonstrating tremendous ball movement — leading to 26 assists — and coming up with a handful of dazzling plays in a dismantling of the Nets that capped a 3-0 road trip.
Isaiah Thomas led the way with 23 points and five assists. Avery Bradley had 22 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Al Horford amassed 17 points, five rebounds and eight assists. Jae Crowder added 15 points and five boards.
“Just [regained] our swagger,” Thomas told CSNNE’s Abby Chin in an on-court interview after the game. “We’re hitting first. Other than the Golden State game, we’re hitting first. We’re playing with that swagger where we’re not backing down from anybody and we’re bringing that energy and that grit and that toughness that Celtics basketball is about.”
Contributions came from everywhere. Jonas Jerebko (10 points) did his part to keep the Celtics in charge when the Nets were trying to make a run early in the fourth quarter. The Swede hit three shots in a row, including a corner trey. However, Brooklyn was able to close to within seven before Boston finally put it away. Bradley had a big bucket in the closing stretch when he drove baseline past Robin Lopez, who had switched out on him, missed a lay-in but then immediately jumped up from the other side of the rim and tapped in the rebound with one hand for a 13-point lead with 5:11 remaining, leading to a Nets timeout.
The Celtics looked like they were ready to deliver the knockout blow when they went on a 16-4 run to close out the third quarter and take a 79-66 lead. The spurt featured a nice play by Marcus Smart when he drove to the top of the lane, dribbled behind his back, then made a nifty pass to a cutting Tyler Zeller for a wide-open layup and one of his eight assists.
|Fast Break: Al Horford, Terry Rozier fuel Celtics’ comeback victory over Timberwolves||11.21.16 at 10:32 pm ET|
The Timberwolves entered Monday’s game ranked last in the league in second-half scoring. Luckily for Boston, that trend continued, as the Celtics rallied in the fourth quarter for a 99-93 road victory.
The Timberwolves ranked second in the league in first-half points (59.8) but last in points after the break (45.2). So, even though Minnesota led by 10 points at the half (52-42) and 13 points heading into the fourth quarter (81-68), there was reason to believe the C’s could make a run. And what a run it was — 19 consecutive points that started with a basket with one second remaining in the third after Boston had trailed by 15.
The Celtics, struggling for offensive consistency all night, finally got hot while the Timberwolves went ice cold, with the hosts failing to score a single point for almost seven minutes. Al Horford came up with a bucketful of big plays, including a block on Gorgui Dieng in front of the basket followed by a dunk at the other end.
Terry Rozier also provided a spark in the fourth, hitting a pair of 3’s, including one that tied the game at 81 with 6:52 left. Shortly thereafter, he came up with a steal on the defensive end that led to a breakaway one-handed dunk and a two-point Boston lead. When Horford hit a short jumper on Boston’s next possession it capped the 19-0 run and forced Minnesota to call its third timeout of the period and final one of the game.
While the C’s continued to attack, Minnesota continued to struggle to find the basket. The hosts scored just 12 points in the fourth (41 in the half). It marked the fifth time this season the Timberwolves squandered a lead of 14 points or more.
Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 29 points. Horford had 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Rozier finished with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting (2-for-4 treys).
|Fast Break: Isaiah Thomas nets 37 but Celtics let it slip away vs. Pelicans||11.14.16 at 10:45 pm ET|
When the Celtics were in a funk last week, Isaiah Thomas said that he needed to do more to help the team regain its identity. On Monday night in New Orleans, Thomas did his part, but the Celtics still let one slip away to the lowly Pelicans, 106-105.
Thomas scored 18 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter, displaying a variety of impressive moves on drives to the basket against much bigger defenders. He made 13-of-29 shots and 8-of-10 free throws while adding seven assists.
Thomas got free for a layup high off the glass with seven seconds remaining — with help from Kelly Olynyk sealing off Pelicans big man Anthony Davis in the paint — tying the game at 105. At the other end, Pelicans guard Tim Frazier — who had a big steal seconds earlier — faked out Olynyk just inside the 3-point line and drew a foul with 2.5 seconds remaining. He made 1-of-2 free throws that gave New Orleans just its second win in 11 outings this season.
Avery Bradley had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Marcus Smart contributed 15 points, six rebounds and four steals.
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 25 points and 16 rebounds. The New Orleans bench outscored Boston’s subs 57-20, led by Langston Galloway’s 21. Terrence Jones added 15 points and 10 boards.
“My biggest concern coming into the game were the other guys,” C’s coach Brad Stevens told reporters in his postgame press conference. “Because I thought that Anthony’s going to be Anthony, and he’s averaging 31 a game. But you can’t let Langston Galloway go off. Terrence Jones has had great games against us for as long as I can remember playing against him. So, obviously you’re very concerned and you need to start with Davis in a game plan. But those other guys really hurt us. They really hurt us tonight.”
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|Fast Break: Isaiah Thomas, James Young lead way as Celtics knock off Pacers||11.12.16 at 9:40 pm ET|
Earlier this week, following back-to-back blowout losses, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas lamented the fact that the C’s had lost their “swag.” He put it on himself to find away to help the team regain its identity.
Thomas overcame an off shooting night by hitting some big baskets in the fourth quarter as the Celtics put together a strong performance for a second straight night, leading to a 105-99 victory over the Pacers in Indiana, Boston’s first road win of the season.
Thomas shot just 4-for-13, but he hit 14-of-15 free throws to finish with 23 points. He joins Sam Jones (1965-66) and Kevin McHale (1986-87) as the only Celtics to score 20 or more points in each of the team’s first nine games of the season.
It was 99-94 with just over a minute left after Thomas hit two free throws. At the other end, Bradley snuck up on center Myles Turner at the 3-point line and stole the ball, then passed it to Smart in the middle of the court as he was falling out of bounds. Smart caught it in the air and, without coming down, fired it ahead to Thomas for a reverse layup under pressure that put the C’s ahead by seven with exactly a minute to play. Indiana never threatened thereafter.
For the second straight game, Brad Stevens elected to start Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart as Boston looked to avoid the disastrous starts that previously were a problem in embarrassing losses to the Nuggets and Wizards. The C’s did give up a lot of points in the opening nine minutes to the Pacers and trailed by seven after one period, but they led by three at halftime (48-45) and maintained that margin after three quarters.
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