Smart's big block on Horford stands out

Smart's big block on Horford stands out

BOSTON - It's hard not to like Kent Bazemore's game, especially if you're a fan of these Celtics.

Danny Ainge was reportedly interested in Bazemore to some extent before he chose the Hawks, and it's pretty obvious why. Bazemore is the kind of player who is always going to bring it out on both ends of the court.

Undrafted out of Old Dominion, he went from rarely playing on the Warriors three seasons ago to starting for the Atlanta Hawks. So yes, he's worked for just about everything he has in the NBA, and should make some nice money as a free agent this offseason.

But it takes a guy like Bazemore to know a guy like Bazemore, and that's why his comments about Marcus Smart after Friday's game stood out a bit.

Asked if he was surprised the Celtics got so many stops with Jonas Jerebko at the rim, Bazemore said he wasn't surprised and then commended Smart's "defensive energy" out there as a big reason the Celtics won Game 3.

"When Marcus Smart is out there, the defensive energy he brings is kind of contagious," Bazemore said. "And tonight, like I said, the energy from them was much different, and they ramped it up. They definitely took their game to another level and flied around. The block he had in transition on Al, Marcus Smart, was huge. Those are plays that win games. Those are the winning plays and you’ve got to give them credit. They wanted this one a little bit more than we did. A couple loose balls, they were diving on the floor. We were trying to run and scoop them. So those small plays like that really show what team wants it more.”

The block Bazemore is referring to came at a crucial point in the game with the Celtics leading the Hawks 104-100 with a little over three minutes to play. Horford got the ball in transition and dribbled coast to coast, working his way past Jerebko and Isaiah Thomas in the paint and going up for what he thought was the easy layup. 


Smart jumped up and just got a hand on it to prevent the two points, and Boston instead turned it into one point of their own when Isaiah Thomas got fouled on the ensuing possession, hitting one of two free throws.

Smart, who finished with 11 points and five assists, had just missed a three-pointer prior to his block, but didn't let that negatively affect his play. Perhaps that was a real sign of maturity as he and the C's held off the Hawks down the stretch.

"Just staying poised," Smart said. "The Hawks are a great team. They have some great players. They're going to make some plays that you just look at and want to be like, 'Dang', you want to hold your head [low]. You can't do that against those guys. You have to move on to the next play and you have to execute."

Smart did move on to the next play, and it may have prevented a big momentum swing in favor of the Hawks in the process. They know it, too.

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.