Celtics again go ice cold in first half, but is there hope?


Celtics again go ice cold in first half, but is there hope?

ATLANTA – The Boston Celtics once again find themselves needing a strong comeback in the second half after falling behind early and never quite gaining their footing as the Atlanta Hawks went into the half with a comfortable 43-28 lead.

In many ways the first half of Game 2 mirrored what happened in the first half of Game 1 when the Hawks led 51-34 at the half of what became a 102-101 Hawks win.

While the beginning is eerily similar, the Celtics have reason to be optimistic for a different outcome.

For starters, they showed a lot more fight in the first half than they did in the first half of Game 1 despite trailing by as many as 21 points.

And remember, the Celtics scored just seven points in the first quarter tonight, the fewest points scored in the first quarter of an NBA playoff game in the modern era.

To be that putrid offensively and ONLY trail by 15 points at the half is reason enough for the Celtics to be confident that they can chip away at Atlanta’s lead.

The factors contributing to Boston’s sluggish start tonight weren’t all that different than the ones that factored in them trailing big in Game 1.

There were several missed shots that were more than just the shots Boston, but were wide open or lightly contested.

Open 3s for Isaiah Thomas.

Lay-ups for Evan Turner.

You name a shot and there was a good chance it was one that the Celtics missed in the first half.

Boston turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, a number of which were unforced miscues but ultimately cost the Celtics five points.

And Boston’s starting backcourt of Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart (filling in for an injured Avery Bradley) were a combined 1-for-15 at the half. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver had 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting.

Boston had its opportunities to make it a single digit game but came up short repeatedly.

Among those opportunities was a missed shot by the Hawks which they were able to keep alive via an offensive rebound. The ball eventually wound up in the hands of Korver as he continued his night of redemption (he was 1-for-10 in Game 1) when he nailed his fifth 3-pointer of the first half that pushed Atlanta’s lead to 39-26.

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

1:31 - With the results of Kyrie Irving’s second opinion on he knee looming, the Celtic’s season is certainly up in the air. A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Mannix, Kyle Draper and Gary Tanguay debate how and if Kyrie should be used if he returns.

6:02 - Back in October Michael Felger prematurely said the Bruins season was over. The B’s marketing team featured Felger in an ad for playoff tickets now that the Bruins have clinched the playoffs. Felger, Trenni and Gary react to the commercial and discuss the Bruins playoff chances.

11:47 - The Patriots are making moves! on Tursday the Pats made deals with LaAdrian Waddle, Marquis Flowers and Patrick Chung. Phil Perry, Michael Holley, Troy Brown and Tom Curran discuss how despite these moves, the Patriots should still be in search of a left tackle.

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

File Photo

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

BOSTON – We live in a world filled with success stories that came about by accident. 

The invention of the microwave oven.

Post-It notes.

The creation of potato chips.

The Boston Celtics’ game-winning play against Oklahoma City earlier this week qualfies; a play in which there were multiple miscues made by the Celtics prior to Marcus Morris’ game-winning shot. 


All these Celtics injuries have made Brad Stevens a mad scientist of sorts with some unusual lineups that may be on display tonight against the guard-centric Portland Trail Blazers. 

In Boston’s 100-99 win over the Thunder on Tuesday, we saw Stevens utilize a lineup with Al Horford and Greg Monroe, in four different stints.

Monroe, who had 17 points off the bench - the most he has scored as a Celtic -  enjoyed playing with Horford.

“Al’s so smart. He’s seen it all in this league,” Monroe told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s an all-star. Very cerebral player, unselfish. So it’s easy playing with him. He can space, drive, make plays. I feel like I can make plays, driving. It’s fun playing with him. I look forward to getting out there with him more.”

Horford had similar praise for playing with Monroe.

“Coach (Brad Stevens) made a great move bringing Greg back in, in the fourth, playing us together,” Horford said. “He made some great plays, passing the ball and just … timely plays. It’s one of those things, the more we play with each other the more comfortable we’ll get. I thought it was very positive.”

Monroe’s role has become significantly more important with the season-ending injury (torn meniscus, left knee) to Daniel Theis. And his ability to play well with various lineups will only improve Boston’s chances of weathering this latest storm of injuries which comes on the eve of the playoffs. 

And while there’s a certain amount of pleasure all players take in being on a playoff-bound team, Monroe understands better than most NBA veterans just how special it is to be headed towards the postseason.

In his eighth season, this will only be Monroe’s second time participating in the playoffs. 

The first time? 

That was last year, with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

“This is what everybody plays for, I hope,” Monroe said. “This is what I play for, to get into the postseason, make a run. It’s the best situation. I’ve been through a lot in my career, this year. I’m grateful. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team.”

And he has done that lately.

Monroe comes into tonight’s game having scored in double figures each of the last four games, a season high for the 6-foot-11 center. 

Having spent most of his NBA career watching instead of participating in the playoffs, Monroe is out to prove that he can in fact be a significant contributor to a team that’s postseason-bound.

“For sure. You have to have a little chip, a little fire, at least in my eyes,” Monroe said. “I’ve never doubted myself. It’s about being between those lines and being the best player I can be. That’s what I’m focused on.”