Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics depth on display vs. Bulls

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics depth on display vs. Bulls

BOSTON – Al Horford has been given a decent amount of credit for helping the Boston Celtics hum along through this early part of the season. 

So when the news came down that he was in the NBA’s concussion protocol following a hit to the head earlier this week, not-so-great play offensively seemed a given. 

But the Celtics were anything but that in the first half as they pulled ahead by double digits in the second quarter before going into the half with a 55-52 lead. 

Horford, signed by Boston in the offseason to the tune of four years and $113 million, will not travel with the team for their Thursday night matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers with his return to the lineup uncertain. 

One of the reasons Boston signed Horford in the offseason was to help them get past teams like Chicago and Cleveland. 

But against the Bulls, Boston showed off the team’s depth which once again is one of Boston’s biggest strengths. 

Boston pushed its lead to as many as 14 points following an Amir Johnson dunk from Marcus Smart who was making his regular season debut on Wednesday. 

Leading 43-29, the Bulls responded with an 8-0 run led by Jimmy Butler which included a lay-up that made it a 43-37 game. 

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens had seen enough and called a time-out with 5:55 to play in the half. 

Boston continued to play with a lead, but the Bulls managed to steadily chip away at it courtesy of repeated defensive breakdowns that allowed Chicago back into the game. 

A turn-around jumper by Jerian Grant cut Boston’s lead to 50-49. 

After a Celtics turnover, the Bulls had a chance to take their first lead since early in the fourth quarter. 

As Butler brought the ball down he was whistled for an offensive foul when he made contact with Isaiah Thomas. 

Chicago had its chances to take the lead but couldn’t make the necessary shot or get a much-needed stop to fully swing the game’s momentum and its score, in their favor. 

Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from tonight’s game.



Isaiah Thomas

Boston’s best scorer stepped up his scoring game on a night when the Celtics needed it, tallying 14 points in the first half which included shooting 4-for-6 on 3s. 

Jimmy Butler

It was Butler’s scoring in the second quarter that seemed to jumpstart Chicago’s comeback. He led all Chicago players at the half with 12 points and five rebounds.



Jae Crowder

Boston needed someone to step their game up on the boards and Crowder was indeed that guy. At the half, he had 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting. But just as important, he grabbed five rebounds. 

Nikola Mirotic

Maybe more than anyone else on the floor, he made the most of every shot attempt he got – from the field at least. At the half, he had nine points which included making both of his free throws.



Rajon Rondo

He didn’t play poorly in the first half, but he didn’t make anywhere close to the impact we’re used to seeing from the former Celtic and four-time All-star. Rondo had four points, five rebounds and three assists at the half. 

Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

File Photo

Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

There hasn't been all positive news surrounding Gordon Hayward as of late.

The Celtics have been shooting down rumors of Hayward returning this season. Recent news has detailed a minor setback in his recovery.

But it's always good to see the C's superstar up early crushing a workout in the weightroom.

We might not see him back in 2018, but his dedication during recovery is something to admire.


Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

AP Photo

Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

It seems all season we’ve talked about the Boston Celtics overcoming adversity, whether it be a bad injury to a key player or a blown assignment leading to a loss.

Nowhere is this more apparent than their play on the road this season which ranks among the best in the NBA.

The Celtics will look to continue on their road warrior-like ways tonight at New Orleans, a team that’s fighting for playoff position in the tighter-than-usual Western Conference.

In recent years, the terrain has been rough for teams from the East venturing into Western Conference territory.

For this year’s Celtics?

Not so much.

Boston comes into tonight’s game with a 17-7 record against Western Conference teams, tops among all teams in the East.

And while Boston has eight road games left this season, they are on pace to finish with one of the best road records in franchise history.

Currently 24-9 away from the TD Garden (tops in the East, third overall in the NBA), that’s a winning percentage of .727 which is the fourth-highest in franchise history.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on when the Boston Celtics take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.


It’s a given that Al Horford will spend time defending Anthony Davis tonight. And while Davis will likely have a strong night scoring the ball, you can count on Horford making it extremely tough on him. When the two teams met on Jan. 16, Davis was 8-for-19 shooting for 16 points in 52 possessions when defended by Horford. For the game, Davis had 45 points on 16-for-34 shooting.


We’ve seen “Playoff" Rondo and “National TV" Rondo deliver some impressive performances in the past. What will we see from “Well-Rested” Rondo? The Pelicans gave the ex-Celtic the night off on Saturday as to not play him in back-to-back games. Of the two games, it made sense to sit him against the Rockets and have him ready to roll against a Boston Celtics team that will not have its full complement of players available.


Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had some choice words about the officiating in New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday that he clearly felt cost his team a better chance at winning. The only cost in play now is how big will the check be that he’ll pay the league for his comments about the officiating. His issue was that Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough calls based on the physical abuse he takes per game. Davis ranks fourth in the NBA in free throw attempts (7.8) per game, but only had four attempts against the Rockets. It’ll be worth watching whether the Pelicans, 16th in the league in free throw attempts (21.4) per game, will get to the line significantly more or less than their season average.


One of the keys to Boston’s improved play since returning to the floor since the all-star break, has been their ability to begin games with strong play. Boston has outscored their opponent in the first quarter each of the last eight games, and 10 of 11. In addition, Boston has been ahead at the half in each of their 10 games since the all-star break, which comes on the heels of trailing at the half in the seven games prior to the break.


Jayson Tatum has been one of the most impactful rookies in the NBA this season which will likely land him a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first or second team. One of the strengths of Tatum has been his durability, evident by him being one of just two first-year players to appear in each of his team’s games played this season. He is joined by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks.