Halftime stars, studs and duds: Strong showing from Tyler Zeller

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Strong showing from Tyler Zeller

BOSTON – With two quarters in the book, the Boston Celtics seem well on their way to another blowout against the Orlando Magic.

Boston jumped on them early and never let up which set into motion a first half that ended with the Celtics on top 68-48.

Many of the keys to Wednesday’s 120-109 win over Houston were once again on display by Boston.

They continued to play a more physical brand of basketball which once again led to the opponent getting into the bonus early.

But it also led to more transition scoring opportunities via turnovers or rebounds, the kind of things that Boston has to do to continue their ascension up the Eastern Conference standings with the only teams ahead of them being defending champ Cleveland and the Toronto Raptors who have been on a wicked slide of late.

Orlando, losers in 11 of their last 14 games, held their own for the first couple of minutes.

With the score tied at 15, Boston went on to close out the first quarter with a 24-9 run to lead 39-24 after the first.

The second quarter was more of the same, with the Celtics getting major contributions from just about every player who stepped on the floor.

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



 Tyler Zeller

After not playing in Boston’s last 11 games, Zeller quickly made up for lost time with a strong showing in the first half. He had 10 points while making all five of his shots from the field.

Nikola Vucevic

The 7-footer left little doubt as to why the Boston Celtics have given some thought to trading for him. At the half, he had 12 points and five rebounds and for the most part was the only consistent threat to the Celtics defense.



Kelly Olynyk

Olynyk was giving the Magic the business at both ends of the floor. In addition to scoring 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting, Olynyk also grabbed five rebounds.

Aaron Gordon

His game has steadily improved from one year to the next, which allows him to do more than just dunk the ball. At the half, he had 11 points which included a 3-pointer.



Jeff Green

You would not have known he ever played for the Celtics by the way the crowd showed little emotion, good or bad, towards him when he was introduced. And then Green went out there and did literally nothing while missing all four of his shot attempts from the field but did make a pair of free throws – not exactly a boo-worthy performance.

Serge Ibaka

A non-factor all game, Ibaka missed six of his seven shot attempts in the first half and didn’t grab a single rebound in 14-plus minutes on the floor.

Rozier gets a big test tonight against Thunder

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Rozier gets a big test tonight against Thunder

BOSTON -- Terry Rozier has stepped up his game this season. There’s no disputing that point. 
And the Celtics have rewarded him with increased playing time, which he has proven he deserves. 
While he has made the most of his opportunity with an increased role due to injuries, at some point Rozier’s minutes should go back to being 20 or so per game. 
It’s amazing how far Rozier has come in such a short period of time, from a first-round pick many questioned as being a reach on Boston’s part, to an integral part of the team’s quest towards Banner 18.
And it is games like tonight’s against the Oklahoma City Thunder that will put the experience gained by Rozier as a major contributor, to the ultimate test when he faces off against reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook.
No one expects Rozier to put up Westbrook-like numbers . . . but would anyone be shocked if he did?
Remember, Rozier’s first NBA start came this season and he racked up his first career triple-double. The next game out, he dropped a career-high 31 points. 
But as we get deeper into the season, he’s no longer viewed as a backup or a role player, They see him as a player that has to be accounted for, regardless of whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. 
“There’s a lot of teams in this league you could easily see him starting for,” a league executive told NBC Sports Boston via text. “He’s not Kyrie [Irving] obviously, and he’s a different kind of player than Marcus [Smart], but he can play. If teams didn’t know it before, they know it now.”
Rozier may not be a secret anymore, but here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on tonight as the Celtics go for the season sweep against the Oklahoma City Thunder. 


If the Celts expect to win tonight, they better get it done in four quarters of play. Because overtime has been a good time for the Thunder. They come into tonight’s game with a 3-0 record in overtime this season. They are one of eight teams with an unblemished overtime record, and no other team in the league this season has as more wins (3) in overtime without a single defeat. 


The NBA hit Marcus Morris up for $15,000 following “verbal abuse of a game official” at the end of Boston’s 108-89 loss at New Orleans.  Morris will be lighter in the wallet, obviously. But it also might get him even more fired up tonight which could lead to him lighting up the Thunder. 


Scoring around the basket has not been a strength of the Celtics, but with key players on the perimeter hurt, Boston has to generate points in other ways. Doing so against the Thunder, a team that has allowed 43.1 points in the paint per game --10th-fewest allowed in the league this season -- will be a challenge.


At some point tonight, Boston will be challenged to get back on defense and not allow Russell Westbrook to score on the break. The Celtics have been one of the league’s better transition defense teams in allowing 10.2 fast-break points, which is the fourth-fewest allowed per game this season. Meanwhile, the Thunder average 14.1 fast-break points, which ranks third in the league. 


The Celtic players talk all the time about how great the TD Garden crowd can be. But at the end of games lately, they haven’t let them much to cheer about. The C's come into tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with losses in five of their last seven home games with the lone wins coming over Memphis and Charlotte – two teams currently out of playoff seeding. Boston’s last home win over a team that’s currently in the top 8 was a 97-96 win over Portland on Feb. 4, a game in which Al Horford hit a game-winning, fadeaway jumper as time expired.


Report: Kyrie Irving may need screws removed from knee

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Report: Kyrie Irving may need screws removed from knee

BOSTON — Kyrie Irving is reportedly going to get a second opinion on his sore left knee which may result in him having season-ending surgery.

98.5 The Sports Hub’s Tony Massarotti reported on Tuesday that Irving will get a second opinion as early as Wednesday.

Irving suffered a fractured left knee cap during the 2015 NBA Finals.

He underwent surgery that sidelined him for the rest of the playoffs.

The surgical procedure performed on his knee involved the insertion of screws to aid the stabilization of the  kneecap.

The Celtics have already been ravaged by injuries this season. They lost Gordon Hayward just five minutes into the season due to a left ankle injury. Daniel Theis is out for the season with a torn meniscus injury to his left knee. Marcus Smart recently had right thumb surgery that will keep him out for the rest of the regular season, with there being a chance he will return at some point for the playoffs. And Jaylen Brown suffered a concussion that has him sidelined, as well.