Celtics-Nets at the half: Starting five sets the tone for Celtics


Celtics-Nets at the half: Starting five sets the tone for Celtics

BOSTON – In the eyes of most NBA experts, the Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets are worlds apart.
Boston is a contender with its sights set on a deep playoff run.
The Nets are expected to be a contender for the worst record in the NBA.
Both teams seemed to be playing up – or down depending on how you look at the Nets – to expectations with the Celtics going into the half with a 62-50 lead.
Boston’s starting five set the tone with a balanced, long-ball attack that put the Nets in a double-digit first quarter deficit that they were never able to climb out of.
After one quarter of play, Boston led 29-16 with three different players (Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas) each scoring seven points.
As we have seen throughout most of the preseason, the Celtics went to their bench for long stretches in the second quarter.
And as they have done in the past, the group did not disappoint as they were to manage a double-digit lead most of the quarter.
Former Harvard star Jeremy Lin cut Boston’s lead to 34-25 only for Boston’s Terry Rozier to come right back with a corner 3-ball to increase Boston’s lead to 37-25.
 What we liked

The overall shot-making of Boston’s starting unit continues to be a thing of beauty.  It can’t be over-stated how much easier shots are coming for all of the Celtics players with Al Horford in the lineup. His presence and its impact on ball movement are undeniable. In the first quarter, Boston had a 13-point lead while shooting 55 percent (11-for-20) from the field. Isaiah Thomas led the way with 19 points while making all six of his shots from the field.
What we didn’t like

When Boston wasn’t making shots, they were being way too careless with the ball with most of the turnovers being of the unforced variety. At the half, Boston had committed 16 turnovers which led to 18 points for the Nets.
Second half goals 

Cutting down on turnovers for Boston is a given. Beyond that, use the second half to get the bench players more court time and in doing so, allow the coaching staff and the front office to better evaluate the players before cuts are made.

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

File Photo

Isaiah Thomas isn't ruling out return to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas back in green? Maybe there's a chance after all.

The former Celtics guard, now with the Lakers, started a Q&A session on Twitter and was asked whether he'd consider returning to Boston this offseason. This was his answer...

That's not a no.

Thomas has had a rough go of it since leaving the Celtics. His brief tenure in Cleveland didn't go according to plan, and things haven't gotten a whole lot better out in L.A. The 29-year-old is averaging 15.3 points per game just a year after averaging 28.9 with Boston.

Let the speculation begin.


Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Horford not making any excuses after C's rough outing vs Pelicans

Al Horford understands that there’s plenty of blame pie to go around following Boston’s 108-89 loss to New Orleans. 

Considering how Pelicans stud Anthony Davis dominated the game on so many levels Sunday night, Horford was quick to acknowledge his role in the loss. 

“He (Davis) was able to get behind our defense a lot,” Horford told reporters after the loss. “Some mistakes on my end; gotta give him credit. He dominated tonight. I’ll definitely take the blame for that.”

Davis finished with a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds, a total that would have been higher if not for the game being so lopsided which allowed Davis to head to the bench early in the fourth. 

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Pelicans

And Horford’s struggles defensively were just as problematic on offense as the five-time All-Star tallied just six points on 3-for-11 shooting to go with four rebounds and three assists. 

Boston has been a team whose collective sums have fueled their success. 

But Horford understands he has to be a high impact performer, a job that’s even more vital when key starters like Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) are out as well as top reserves Marcus Smart (right thumb) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus). 

And by Horford’s own admission, he just didn’t bring it on Sunday at a level to give him and the Celtics a legit shot at winning the game.

“Defensively we had too many breakdowns,” Horford said. “And the game got away from us in the second half. So there’s no excuses. I didn’t give us a chance, either; missing a lot of looks offensively. I just need to be better.”

And he’ll have to be if Boston (47-23) is to get back on track with a win on Tuesday against a talented Oklahoma City squad led by Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. 

At full strength, the Thunder would be a significant challenge for the Celtics. 

But having a roster with a number of key players out with injuries, it becomes even more imperative for Boston’s top players to elevate their play. 

And as you scan this Celtics roster and examine those who are healthy enough to play, it’s clear that Horford more than any other Boston player, has to find a way to become more impactful.

Certainly, more points and rebounds would help. 

But as we’ve seen time and time again with Horford, often his greatest contributions to winning games don’t necessarily show up in the final box score. 

That being said, a six-point, four-rebound game doesn’t cut it. 

Horford has to be better, something he knows better than anyone. 

“I’ll definitely look at the film and see how I can be better individually,” Horford said. “The good thing about the NBA, is we have a chance to play on Tuesday. Hopefully we’ll learn from this game and be ready to go Tuesday at home.”