Halftime stars, studs and duds: Shorthanded Celtics keeping it close

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Shorthanded Celtics keeping it close

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are used to playing short a player or two.

But how about five?

That was the predicament the Celtics found themselves in on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards. It didn’t help matters that the Wizards came in as one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference.

Despite having just 10 players in uniform, Boston still managed to stay within striking distance most of the first half which ended with the Celtics behind 59-55.

Two starters – Avery Bradley (Achilles strain) and Amir Johnson (ankle) – were among the five players out for the Celtics.

In addition to Bradley and Johnson, the Celtics were also playing without Jaylen Brown (ankle), Tyler Zeller (illness) and James Young (ankle).

Marcus Smart was once again in the starting lineup for Bradley, while second-year forward Jordan Mickey was making his first NBA start. At the half he had four points, two rebounds and a blocked shot in 10 minutes.

The first quarter was one in which both teams found a rhythm shooting the ball as the quarter ended with Boston clinging to a 36-35 lead.

It remained a tightly contested game in the second quarter, with neither team showing any signs of pulling away anytime soon.

However, the Wizards made just enough plays at both ends of the floor to take a slim four-point lead into the half.  

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



Bradley Beal

The Celtics had no answer for Beal in the first half, utilizing a slew of screens that freed him up for open or lightly contested jumpers. And he made the Celtics defense pay for that, scoring 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

Jae Crowder

He generates most of his offense on spot-up jumpers, and the Wizards seemed willing to give him that shot often. He led the Celtics with 14 points which included four 3-pointers.



Isaiah Thomas

He continued to drive to the basket, but didn’t seem to get a friendly whistle which frustrated him at times and led to him being whistled for a technical foul in the second quarter. That still didn’t stop him from making an impact, scoring 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting.

Otto Porter Jr.

He was a major thorn in the Celtics’ side when they played earlier this season, and he was causing problems again on Wednesday. He had 13 points, four assists and four rebounds in the first half.



Celtics turnovers

The Washington Wizards deserve some credit for Boston’s 10 first-half turnovers, but not a lot. Far too many of them were unforced miscues where the Celtics simply did a poor job at making basic passes. At the half, the Wizards had 12 points scored off of Boston’s 10 turnovers.

Greg Monroe looks comfortable as bigger offensive focal point

Greg Monroe looks comfortable as bigger offensive focal point

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum dropped 23 points, snatched 11 rebounds and Boston’s injury-riddled roster squeaked out a 100-99 upset win over Oklahoma City.

It was a good game for Tatum, but teammate Marcus Morris wasn’t moved one bit by Tatum’s historical performance.

“Now it’s not. … I’m not even impressed no more,” Morris said. “It’s to the point where I know what he’s going to bring, I know what he’s capable of. So it’s more like, I expect that now just being around, watching him play day-in and day-out, practicing with him.”

Teammates agree that the 20-year-old Tatum is growing up right before our eyes.

“With Jaylen and Kyrie being out, he’s looking to be more aggressive,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “Everybody is going to talk about offense, but on the defensive end he didn’t have an easy matchup, going against Paul George. I felt like he did a great job.”

Here are five other takeaways from Boston’s 100-99 comeback win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.


Boston’s second unit is still getting the job done even as injuries rob it of its core group that includes Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier who are now both starters. The Celtics’ new-look second unit was still impactful in Boston’s 100-99 squeaker past the Oklahoma City Thunder. Against the Thunder, Boston’s bench outscored Oklahoma City 35-10.


The big man continues to come up big for the Boston Celtics off the bench. Injuries have forced other key reserves into the starting lineup which has led to Monroe becoming an even bigger focal point offensively when he’s on the floor. Against the Thunder, he had 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting with six rebounds.


You never really know what you’re going to get from the Boston Celtics when it comes to rebounding the basketball. Well, Tuesdaynight was the good rebounding Celtics whose ability to control the glass was a huge factor in the victory as Boston out-rebounded Oklahoma City 52-44.


Remember how Marcus Smart would struggle to make shots, and still play major minutes and still make a meaningful impact? Well, Semi Ojeleye had that kind of game for the Celtics. The 6-foot-6 rookie missed all six of his field goal attempts, but showed some serious versatility against the Thunder with defensive stints on each of Oklahoma City’s Big Three of Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.


Marcus Morris made the game-winner and Jayson Tatum was as strong on the floor as we’ve ever seen him. But arguably the biggest X-factor in Boston’s win was the play of Larkin. His ability to control the flow of the game, getting his teammates in and out of sets was critical to the win, as was his offense. For the game, Larking had 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field.

NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

File Photo

NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

The NBA officials' Last Two Minute report for Tuesday is out, and boy did the Celtics get away with one!

The league admitted to missing two infractions -- both committed by Marcus Morris -- on the possession on which Morris hit a game-winning three-pointer against the Thunder. 

The C's began the possession with Morris inbounding the ball, but a stopwatch revealed to the league that Morris did not release the ball within the five seconds allotted on an inbounding play. Had the correct call been made, the ball would have been turned over to the Thunder, who at the time held a two-point lead with 7.7 seconds remaining. 

Furthermore, video replay led the league to determine that Morris traveled prior to taking the shot. The video evidence that suggested this was that Morris was wearing an NBA jersey in the video, but also he moved his pivot foot prior to the release of his dribble. That call would have also given the Thunder the ball. 

What these nerds didn't consider is that the basketball gods have more power than their stopwatches. What a win.