Halftime stars, studs and duds: A better effort from Celtics


Halftime stars, studs and duds: A better effort from Celtics

WASHINGTON – The Boston Celtics put forth a much better showing than we saw in Game 3.
But it still wasn’t good enough for to go into the half leading as both teams are knotted at 48.
Washington’s John Wall launched a 3-pointer that was off the mark, but Marcin Gortat had a chance to tip it in.
But his shot rolled out of the rim as time expired.
Despite coming into the game having won two of the first three games, the Celtics have found themselves in an uphill battle in each game.
The average deficit the Celtics had in the first three games after the first quarter, was 16.3.
And for a moment there, it looked like it would be more of the same tonight.
The Wizards scored the game’s first eight points, but the Celtics didn’t allow the early hole they dug themselves to get much deeper.
Boston responded with a 12-2 run of their own which gave them a 12-10 lead and would eventually go ahead by as many as five points (20-15) in the first before the Wizards responded with five straight to tie the game at 20.
But the Celtics finished the quarter with the final four points – a 3-pointer by Marcus Smart and a free throw by Kelly Olynyk – to lead 24-20 after the first.
The Celtics would go ahead by as many as 11 points in the second quarter, with scoring coming from the perimeter as well as on cuts to the basket for lay-ups.
But the Wizards closed out the quarter with a 22-11 run to tie the score going into the fourth.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Game 4 between Boston and Washington.

Isaiah Thomas

He vowed to be in more of an attack mode in Game 4 and Thomas did not disappoint. He led all scorers at the half with 17 points.
Otto Porter, Jr.

This would have been a Celtics blowout in the first half if not for Porter’s scoring. He had 12 points, 10 of which came in the first quarter that kept the Wizards within striking distance when he was on the floor.

Al Horford

Like Thomas, he too was more aggressive in terms of his defense, rebounding and playmaking. At the half, Horford had nine points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Bradley Beal

He has been at his best the last couple of games in the first half, and Game 4 was no exception. He had nine points on 4-for-8 shooting at the half.
Kelly Olynyk

Booed every time he touched the ball, Olynyk finally shook off the crowd with a dunk and a nifty dribble-spin move that led to another basket scored.  At the half he had eight points.

Celtics Rebounding

It’s once again a problematic area for the Celtics who currently being out-rebounded 28-18. Back in the first, the Celtics were minus-4 (13-9) on the glass, but led by four points in part because the rebounding battle was relatively close.

Celtics have shown a knack for the comeback this year

AP Photo

Celtics have shown a knack for the comeback this year

BOSTON -- As I made my way towards the Boston Celtics locker room following their 100-99 win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, I walked past co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, who, as you might expect, was pleased with what he had just witnessed.
“That was a good one,” he said.
That’s one way to describe it.


But explaining the Houdini-like way the Celtics seem to get out of some serious jams over and over again, and against really good teams, is indeed a head-scratcher for most.
It’s getting to the point where we’re running out of fresh adjectives to describe this team, which has a knack for the comeback.
“Improbable” doesn’t do justice to how Boston’s hit-the-lottery luck has played out so often on nights when it seemed on the doorstep of defeat.
And this town loves a good comeback story, whether it’s Tom Brady leading the Patriots to a Super Bowl win after being down by 25 points, or the Celtics spotting the NBA champ Golden State Warriors a 17-point cushion before rallying for a meaningful November win -- a rarity in the NBA.
But the obscure and unexpected have become standard in this seemingly alternate basketball universe that the Celtics play in, one that we have been bearing witness to all season.

I mean, look at their body of work:

DECEMBER 18: Down by one on the road at Indiana in the closing seconds of play in what appears to be a tough road loss, Terry Rozier steals and races down the floor looking like Deion Sanders in high-tops, for a game-winning dunk.

DECEMBER 28: Trailing the Houston Rockets by 26 points in the third quarter, they rally back and steal the win with not one, but two offensive fouls drawn in the last minute by Marcus Smart against perennial league MVP candidate James Harden.

JANUARY 11: In London, they erased a 22-point deficit and defeated Philly.

FEBRUARY 4: There was a buzzer-beater by Al Horford to beat Portland on Super Bowl Sunday.

And . . . well, you get the idea.

Boston has six wins by a single point this season, which is tied with Miami for the season lead and is one shy of tying the franchise record for one-point wins in a season. 

In addition, Boston has won 10 games this season in which it fell behind by 12 or more points. 
Winning so many games under less-than-ideal circumstances has not only padded the Celtics' win total, but also reinforced this team with a Teflon-strong mindset. They believe they're tthe ultimate practitioner of basketball necromancy, consistently finding a way to rise up from the basketball graveyard of defeat and win in dramatic fashion.

Like they did Tuesday night against the Thunder.

How can you bank on Carmelo Anthony, a career 81.2 percent free-throw shooter, missing a pair with less than nine seconds to play?
Or botching the play Brad Stevens drew up at the end of the game -- "We kind of messed [it] up," said Jayson Tatum -- but, rather than it leading to a turnover, instead becoming a game-winning 3-pointer by Marcus Morris with 1.8 seconds to spare? 


 It was another crazy ending in what has been a season filled with bizarre finishes, jaw-dropping rallies and a never-say-it’s-over brand of basketball that has kept Celtics fans on the edge of their seats all season.
“It’s great to be in a situation where you’re down six with under a minute to play or whatever it was, and you find a way to win the game,” said Stevens. “That’s going to be pretty unique, but they just kept playing the next possession and we were fortunate that that shot went down. That was a heck of a shot by Marcus."
A heck of a shot?
But in this bizarro world of Celtics basketball this season, it was predictable as the Thunder became yet another team to play Boston and leave wondering the same thing most Celtics fans do … “Did THAT just happen?


Kevin Garnett predicts Marcus Morris' game-winner right before it happens

Kevin Garnett predicts Marcus Morris' game-winner right before it happens

Kevin Garnett was paying close attention to Tuesday night's thriller between the Celtics and Thunder.

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

On KG's Area 21, the former Celtics great watched as Boston rallied in the game's final minute to make a stunning comeback. Right before Marcus Morris drilled the game-winner, Garnett called it by saying, "The Morris twin will end up shooting this or something because he like 'yeah I'm about the moment'"

Not a bad call. Morris certainly was "about the moment" Tuesday night as he has been multiple times this season.