Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics can't slow down Mudiay, Nuggets offense

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics can't slow down Mudiay, Nuggets offense

BOSTON – There’s been a lot of talk about the struggles lately by the Boston Celtics defense. 

Such chatter will only become more of a topic of discussion after a disastrous first half defensively which put the Celtics in a deep 77-52 hole to the Denver Nuggets. 

Denver came in having played last night at Detroit, but they looked like the well-rested squad, not the Celtics. 

As expected, Denver had their way with the Celtics on the glass which led to them having a 9-2 edge in second-chance points.

But what was surprising was how well the Nuggets shot the ball, both from the perimeter and of course around the rim on potential second-chance opportunities. 

The Celtics seemingly had no answer defensively as the Nuggets spent a decent amount of time in the second quarter shooting better than 70 percent before ultimately “cooling off” to 64.4 percent at the half. 

Gary Harris, making his first start of the season for Denver, scored seemingly at will in the first couple of minutes. 

Emmanuel Mudiay, a 27 percent shooter from 3-point range this season, was unstoppable from deep (he hit three consecutive 3-pointers in the first quarter) as well as off the dribble which helped account for the Nuggets red-hot shooting in the first half. 

Boston was blowout-bound for a large chunk of the first half, with one of the few bright spots being the play of Isaiah Thomas who had 10 points. But he got little help other than a nice stretch in the second quarter when Jordan Mickey had a trio of point-blank dunks off guard penetration.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half. 



Emmanuel Mudiay

Hands down, the best player in the first half. He had a stretch near the end of the first quarter in which he scored 15 straight points for the Nuggets. At the half, he led all players with 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field.



Isaiah Thomas

He didn’t have a great first half, but it was better – much better – than his teammates. Thomas had 21 points on 6-for-9 shooting.



Celtics defense

They rank near the bottom of the NBA in a number of categories, and they showed why on Sunday. They couldn’t get stops defensively, or rebound the ball nearly good enough to keep the game relatively close. Poor rebounding coupled with shoddy defense have been key factors in what’s shaping up to be a Celtics beatdown.

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.