Celtics

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics get sleepy start vs. 76ers

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics get sleepy start vs. 76ers

The Boston Celtics looked like a team that didn’t get their wake-up call this morning, seemingly sleep walking through long stretches in the first half in their early afternoon matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers.

But the Celtics rose to occasion in the second quarter as they put together a series of good plays at both ends of the floor to pull ahead for a 51-46 lead at the half. 

Boston fell behind by as many as eight points (33-25) in the second quarter, but reeled off seven straight points which included a 3-pointer by Gerald Green that cut Philly’s lead to 33-32.

The Celtics began to play more alert at both ends of the floor courtesy of an 11-0 run that put them ahead 36-33. 

Philadelphia’s Dario Saric broke the Celtics’ run with a lay-up that cut Boston’s lead to 36-35. 

But that didn’t do much to stop a Boston 20-5 surge that was capped off by a fade-away jumper by Avery Bradley that put Boston ahead 45-38 (Boston’s biggest lead of the game at this point) with 2:48 to play in the half. 

The Celtics remained ahead the rest of the half, although head coach Brad Stevens could not have been pleased with the Sixers’ last-second offensive rebound by Richaun Holmes that he converted into the final points of the quarter.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Sunday’s game against Philadelphia.

STARS

Al Horford: He was the Celtics’ most consistent performer, making his presence felt at both ends of the floor. At the half, he had 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting along with four rebounds and three assists.

Dario Saric: He has emerged as a front-runner for the NBA’s rookie of the year award, and the Celtics saw first-hand why. He led all players at the half with 14 points to go with four rebounds and an assist.

STUDS

Robert Covington: Like Horford, Covington didn’t waste any time getting on track offensively. He had 11 points and five rebounds.

Terry Rozier: He has been struggling with his shot of late, so he was more than due for a good game shooting the ball. He led all Celtics off the bench with 12 points, connecting on 4-for-6 shots to go with five rebounds.

Avery Bradley: The Celtics’ two-guard made the most of his opportunities to score in the first half. He had 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting with two rebounds and an assist.

Richaun Holmes: His rim protection and timely baskets around the rim were huge for the Sixers in the first half. He had six points on 3-for-4 shooting with three rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. 

DUDS

Jaylen Brown: He was better than we saw at Brooklyn on Friday night, but still looks to be a bit off his game. At the half, he had two points on 1-for-4 shooting.

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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