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Fast Break: Celtics bench shines but can’t overcome Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan in loss to Raptors 12.09.16 at 10:32 pm ET
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Dec 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) shoots against the Boston Celtics in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

DeMar DeRozan (10) shoots against the Celtics in the first quarter at TD Garden. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

It was clear in Friday night’s 101-94 loss to the Raptors that this Celtics team needs Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas was on the bench with a groin injury and watched his team lose a tough one at the Garden.  

The Celtics bench did look strong in the first half, scoring 21 points with a consistent shot distribution.

The team as a whole looked confident in this win. Al Horford also had a strong game, as he and Avery Bradley both led the team in scoring with 19 points. 

The Celtics led 50-42 at halftime before losing the lead late in the third quarter. The Raptors pulled ahead to lead 75-68 at the end of the quarter and outscored the Celtics 33-18. 

Boston fell apart and had trouble driving to the hoop in the second half, missing 13 of 18 shots in the third quarter. They made nine of those shots from beyond the arc and only sunk three of them. 

“It was hard for us to break their wall of defense,” coach Brad Stevens said after the game of the Raptors in the third quarter. “They were pushing into us, they were very, very athletic at a number of positions and they ratcheted it up. And it was hard for us to handle that pressure. And when we drove they collapsed and used their athleticism to affect us in the paint. They were very good. Their defense was fantastic in the third quarter.” 

For the full box score, click here.

The Raptors sat starting forward DeMarre Carroll to rest his knee so he wouldn’t play in back-to-back games. Norman Powell started in Carroll’s place and scored 20 points. The Raptors had three players score 20 or more points, as Kyle Lowry led the team with 34 while DeMar DeRozan scored 24. 


Stud of the night: The Celtics bench

The bench carried the first half for the Celtics, scoring a total of 32 points in the game with 21 in the first half. Terry Rozier alone scored 12 of those points and had three rebounds and three assists. 

Dud of the night: The third quarter

The third quarter flat-out stunk for the Celtics. This was where they lost all their steam and let the game slip away. They missed more than half of their shots and made only two their shots in the paint. 

When the game was lost: Also the third quarter

The Celtics cooled off considerably in the third quarter and never started their engines up again for the rest of the second half. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
Fast Break: Celtics overcome weak start, beat Sixers 12.04.16 at 8:55 am ET
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Dec 3, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) has his shot blocked by Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics defeated the 76ers 107-106. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Al Horford (42) had this shot blocked by Jahlil Okafor, but the Celtics managed to win in the end. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

It didn’t look good in the beginning, but the Celtics ultimately beat the Sixers 107-106 on Saturday for their second win in as many nights. 

The Sixers are not a great team, and even with Joel Embiid on the bench, the Celtics struggled at first on defense. The intensity was lacking for Boston in a rough first quarter that ended with the team trailing 30-22 and missing both 3-point shot attempts.

The Celtics let the Sixers knock down nine 3-pointers in the first half, while Boston themselves only ended up making two. Lack of rebounding and defense in the paint were the team’s other biggest weaknesses as they found themselves down 53-45 at halftime. 

“We weren’t very good in the first half. I don’t think that’s rocket science to figure out,” coach Brad Stevens said after the game. “The second half we really competed. They made great plays and great shots. … It was a heck of a tough win for us. Considering we didn’t play well in the first half, it’s a good win.” 

Isaiah Thomas did not take this game lightly and played aggressively throughout, leading the Celtics with 37 points. Avery Bradley came in second in points with 20. 

For a complete box score, click here

Boston picked up its defense enough in the third quarter to take the lead for the first time since the opening minutes of the game. Still the score was closer than it should have been for much of the second half before the Sixers tied it at 100 with 34.6 seconds left in the game. Thomas made a layup to give the Celtics a 102-100 lead before they ultimately won the game on free throws. 

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Fast Break: Al Horford, Jae Crowder hit spot for Celtics in win over Pistons 11.19.16 at 10:17 pm ET
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Al Horford proved pivotal for the Celtics Saturday night (Tim Fuller/USA Today Sports)

Al Horford proved pivotal for the Celtics Saturday night. (Tim Fuller/USA Today Sports)

One night after the Warriors humiliated them at the Garden, the Celtics looked confident and in sync and overcame 20 lead changes to hand the Pistons their first home loss of the season on Saturday night. 

And having both Jae Crowder and Al Horford back in the lineup sure didn’t hurt. 

It was Horford who punctuated the 94-92 win, notching the game-winner with 1.3 seconds remaining.  (For a complete recap, click here.)

Isaiah Thomas’ strong words about the team and coaching staff yesterday might have also inspired the Celtics to step up their game. Thomas himself led the team in scoring with 24 points and in assists with eight.  Crowder finished with nine points in 26 minutes.

The Celtics were up, 50-47, over the Pistons at halftime with help from Thomas’ 13 points and Horford’s 12. But the game took a sharp turn in the Pistons favor in the third quarter and Detroit led the Celtics 73-71 going into the fourth. But the Celtics battled back thanks in large part to Horford, who finished with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.. 

Marcus Morris had a night for the Pistons with 22 points, while Andre Drummond scored 17 with 14 rebounds. 

Despite the shaky-at-best second half, the Celtics finally look like they’re headed in the right direction as a cohesive team. 

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Celtics, Avery Bradley hit stride in solid win over Hornets 10.29.16 at 10:07 pm ET
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Brad Stevens saw his team fix some things in earning their second win of the season. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

Brad Stevens saw his team fix some things in earning its second win of the season. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics finally found a groove in their 104-98 win over the Hornets, their second win of the season. 

After two lackluster games, the third time was the charm for the Celtics this season. They came out of the gate strong in the first quarter grabbing the lead early with 3-point shots. Their first 15 points were all from 3-pointers. 

The Celtics pulled ahead with a 28-19 lead after the first quarter, but leveled off with a stagnant bench and the Hornets closed the Celtics’ lead gap to 44-41 at halftime. 

The Celtics defense overall was stronger than in the past two games. Rebounding was key in this one, with Bradley coming through with a career-high 11 boards, while Jae Crowder grabbed nine. 

“I thought we were locked in,” coach Brad Stevens said in his post game press conference. “I thought our guys were really locked in. … They just played with poise, chipped at it.”

The team looked generally in sync offensively as the bench woke up in the second half and they returned to shooting with confidence. Crowder made two 3’s in the third while Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas each sunk one. 

The Celtics lost the lead in the third and ended the quarter behind 72-71 before regaining it quickly in the fourth on another Bradley 3-pointer and went on to go on a 22-5 run in that final quarter. 

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