Halftime stars, studs and duds: A tale of two quarters

Halftime stars, studs and duds: A tale of two quarters

CHICAGO –  For most of the first half, Brad Stevens’ bold lineup change to start Gerald Green instead of Amir Johnson, worked about as well as the Celtics could have imagined.
But the second quarter was all Chicago, as they nearly wiped out Boston’s huge lead before the half which ended with the Celtics leading 44-41.
Boston led by as many as 20 points early in the second quarter, doing so behind some red-hot shooting.
But they soon went ice cold from the field, giving the Bulls multiple opportunities to chip away at their lead.
And leading the charge for the Bulls was Dwyane Wade who had eight of his 14 first-half points in the second quarter, in addition to dishing out three assists in the second.
Making the Chicago even more disappointing for the Celtics was that the Bulls were playing without Rajon Rondo who suffered a right thumb fracture in Game 2 and is unlikely to play again in this series.
Early on, Rondo’s absence was quite obvious.
Chicago had no flow at either end of the floor, giving up easy looks to Boston while showing an inability to score against a Celtics defense that they have lit up for long stretches in Games 1 and 2.
The Bulls scored 11 straight in the second quarter before a dunk by Al Horford snapped the cold spell which put the Celtics ahead 39-28.
But Chicago continued to charge forward, and had a chance to tie the game at the end of the second quarter but Jimmy Butler’s last-second heave just grazed the rim as time expired.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Game 3 between Boston and Chicago.


Dwyane Wade

For most of the first half, Chicago’s best offensive play was getting the ball in Wade’s hands and letting him go at it. He led all scorers with 14 points in the first half on 5-for-10 shooting along with three assists.
Avery Bradley

He was among the many Celtics who consistently missed open shots in Games 1 and 2. That was not the case in Game 3 as Bradley scored 11 points on 4-for-6 shooting.

Jae Crowder

His scoring in the first quarter really set the tone for the Celtics offensively. He had 10 points, all of which came in the first quarter.
Paul Zipser

He was the latest Chicago reserve to give Boston fits with his scoring. At the half, he had eight points.
Al Horford

He did a much better job of keeping Robin Lopez from inflicting too much damage on the Celtics, while finding a way to get himself going a bit, too. He had eight points and three rebounds which included 2-for-3 from 3-point range.

Jimmy Butler

Arguably the best player in this series, Butler was a non-factor throughout the first half. After two quarters of play, Butler had two points and four rebounds while missing seven of his eight shot attempts from the field.

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.