Halftime stars, studs and duds: Lopez continues to cause problems for Celtics

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Lopez continues to cause problems for Celtics

BOSTON – Game 2 for the Boston Celtics looked in many ways like Game 1 as the Chicago Bulls made all the big shots, grabbed all the rebounds and put the Celtics in catch-up mode with the half ending with the Celtics trailing 54-46.
Boston came out with what looked like a clear mandate to be a more physical, aggressive team at both ends of the floor.
And it worked.
It was a good look for the Celtics who opened the game with a 7-2 run.
But the Bulls soon got back to what they’ve done well – attack the offensive glass.
They soon began scoring around the rim, and led by as 12 points in the first quarter.
Robin Lopez continued to cause the Celtics problems around the paint which is where the Bulls outscored Boston 32-20 in the first half.
The Bulls shot 47.1 percent from the field in the first half, with strong contributions from their bench.
But instead of Bobby Portis who had 19 points and nine rebounds in Game 1, Paul Zipser chipped in eight points on 3-for-4 shooting.
AS bad as Boston was playing, the Celtics did finish the first quarter with an 8-2 run to come within 31-26 after one quarter of play.
Boston usually starts the second quarter with Isaiah Thomas on the bench.
But considering the deficit they were trailing by and the significance of this game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens decided to keep his best scorer on the floor.
His presence was felt as the Celtics opened the second with an 8-2 spurt to lead 34-33 following a Marcus Smart put-back basket.
But the lead was short-lived after Portis drained a corner 3-pointer to put the Bulls back on top 36-34.
On Boston’s ensuing possession, Smart drove into the lane and found Jae Crowder open for a game-tying lay-up.
The Celtics would not get any closer for the remainder of the half.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Game 2 between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.
Nikola Mirotic

After missing eight of his nine shots in Game 1, he came back with a vengeance in the first half, scoring 10 points – all coming in the first quarter – on 4-for-6 shooting.
Isaiah Thomas

It was another strong start by Thomas, who seemed to have a little more pep in his step. He led the Celtics with 11 points.

Jimmy Butler

He didn’t force the action too often, and yet still looked in control of things even as his shot continued to misfire. He had nine points on 4-for-11 shooting from the field.
Marcus Smart

One of the few sparks off the bench, Smart had six points and six rebounds in the first half.
Robin Lopez

He kicked the Celtics’ butts in Game 1 (14 points, 11 rebounds), and he has done more of the same in Game 2. At the half, he had 10 points and six rebounds.
Paul Zipser

Those second-chance opportunities created by Lopez, Zipser was among the Bulls’ players to benefit from them. He had eight points at the half on 3-for-4 shooting from the field.

Al Horford

He grabbed four rebounds which was nice, but did little else for the Celtics in a game that they absolutely needed someone not named Isaiah Thomas to step their game up. Horford missed all three of his shots from the field and had just one point in the first half.
Celtics rebounding

After a great start on the glass, that rebounding success came to a crashing halt minutes later. Chicago continues to clean the Celtics’ clock on the boards, evident by them going into the half with a decisive 28-20 advantage.

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

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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

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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.