Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Al Horford scores season-high but disappears in 4th

Stars, studs and duds: Al Horford scores season-high but disappears in 4th

Not having Isaiah Thomas inevitably meant a lot more Al Horford offensively. 

And the 6-foot-10 big man didn’t disappoint, tallying 27 points – the most he has scored as a Celtic – through three quarters of play. 

But in the pivotal fourth quarter, Horford was a non-factor offensively in Boston’s 105-99 loss at Philadelphia. 

It seemed that the Celtics gravitated away from doing the things that helped them pull ahead by as many as 13 points, chief among them was playing almost exclusively through Horford who also had eight rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots along with his 27 points. 

Celtics guard Avery Bradley acknowledged that they should have made getting Horford the ball a bigger priority in the fourth, especially how well he had played through the first three quarters of the game.

 “It was like we were playing 1-on-1 basketball,” Bradley told reporters after the loss. “We weren’t sharing the basketball. We had a lot of guys who stepped up; we just stopped playing the right way. They came back, they started hitting shots. … we dug ourselves a hole and couldn’t get back.”

And while Horford is quick to credit opponents win or lose, he was asked about what happened in the fourth when he was scoreless despite having already scored 27 points. 

“I don’t think it was so much them,” Horford told reporters. “We probably got away from running some of the offensive stuff we ran earlier in the game. We just did some different looks. That’s how we lost.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. 

STARS

Al Horford: He was Mr. Do-It-All for the Celtics, tallying a season-high 27 points on 11-for-16 shooting with eight rebounds and six assists. 

Dario Saric: Lots of big plays down the stretch were made by Saric who is looking more and more like this year’s rookie of the year award winner. He had a team-high 23 points on 10-for-20 shooting with six rebounds and four assists.

STUDS

Robert Covington: Lots of big shots to start the game, with a few more in the end. He finished with 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting with eight rebounds and a blocked shot. 

Terry Rozier: He pushed the pace early and often, and finished with one of his better games this season. He had a double-double of 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting along with 10 rebounds. 

Sixers Bench: It seemed whoever they turned to, became a major problem at some point for the Celtics. They combined to score 49 points, but even more significant washow their backup bigs Richaun Holmes (11 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots) and Shawn Long (eight points, three rebounds) made huge contributions at both ends of the floor.

DUDS

Celtics’ 3-point shooting: There were plenty of good looks for Boston, but we’ve seen how bad those looks are if Isaiah Thomas isn’t on the floor. After making at least 10 3’s in 26 straight games, Boston has failed to do so each of the last two games which just so happens to be games in which Isaiah Thomas (knee) did not play. Coincidence? Of course not. With or without Thomas, shooting 20.7 percent (6-for-29) isn’t going to be good enough to beat many teams.

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

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Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

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Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

When it comes to the top backcourts in the NBA, you seldom hear about Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.

That may soon be changing if they have more games like the one they delivered on Saturday as Boston put together a solid second half to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks, 110-99.

Irving had a game-high 30 points which was his second game with at least 30 points scored – both against Atlanta.

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And Brown, who had a strong 22-point performance in Boston’s win over Golden State on Thursday, was even better against the Hawks in tallying a career-high 27 points.

We all know about Irving who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top guards.

But is Brown on the way?

One thing Brown won’t have to develop going forward is, confidence.

He has long maintained that he believes he’ll be among the best in the league. It’s just a matter of him performing at a high level at both ends of the floor, consistently.

“I’ve always had that confidence, I can play with the best in the world,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the win over Atlanta which extended Boston’s winning streak to 15 in a row. “It’s just a matter of coming out, doing it. My teammates found me tonight. We had a good team win tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

Back in his home state of Georgia, Jaylen Brown delivered another monster game for the Celtics by scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving

Irving had his most efficient game this season for the Celtics, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists.

Dennis Schroder

Atlanta’s best scorer delivering a strong 23-point, 9-assist performance for the Hawks.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He only had 14 points, but they all came in the third quarter and they included a few crowd-quieting dunks.

John Collins

He came into the league with the reputation of being a high motor player, and he has not disappointed. His hustle and energy led to him tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

Marcus Morris

When the offense struggled mightily in the first half, it was Morris’ scoring that kept them within striking distance. He finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

Kent Bazemore

He was Atlanta’s number two scoring option most of the night, and finished with 19 points.

 

DUDS

Boston’s first quarter defense

The Celtics can’t keep digging themselves these early holes, expecting they will turn it on and find a way to climb out of them. The Hawks led 35-20, fueled in large part by shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in addition to out-rebounding Boston 8-6.

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