Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't maximize on opportunities vs. Spurs

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics don't maximize on opportunities vs. Spurs

Losing to the elite teams in the NBA isn’t all that shocking when you consider the lack of time spent playing together by the Boston Celtics’ starters. 

But Wednesday’s 108-101 at San Antonio was painful reminder of what’s the Celtics’ biggest problem most of this season. 

Their defense. 


They make their share of plays every night. 

It’s the ones down the stretch that far too often result in the Celtics coming up short. 

“That’s exactly what it was,” Marcus Smart told reporters after the loss. “We couldn’t get a stop when we needed it the most. We played a veteran team tonight. They made us pay every time we made a mistake.”

And while Boston certainly had its share of miscues against the Spurs, ultimately this game was decided by the Celtics’ inability to get defensive stops which was supposed to be a strength of this team this season. 

Even with the team riding a three-game losing streak, head coach Brad Stevens is still upbeat about his team’s progress. 

“We had our opportunities but didn’t maximize them,” Stevens told reporters after the loss. 

Fortunately for the Celtics, they won’t have long before they’ll be back on the court with a chance to snap their current losing skid.

Celtics guard Marcus Smart explains how he handles tough losses and not allow it to adversely affect him going forward.

“You just have to move forward, move on,” Smart said. “You have to train yourself to knock these games out, just like you do the good games. The bad games, you gotta let them go because you play again soon. That’s the part of being a professional.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Wednesday night’s game. 



Kawhi Leonard

The Boston Celtics had no answer for Leonard, at either end of the floor. He led the Spurs with 26 points and six assists.

Avery Bradley

He was one of the few bright spots for the Celtics, putting together a decent game scoring the ball as well as defensively. Bradley finished with his ninth double-double this season, tallying 25 points and 10 rebounds in addition to six assists and three steals.

Pau Gasol

He couldn’t make a shot when these two played on Nov. 25. But he was a very different, far more impactful performer on Wednesday as he tallied a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds to go with six assists and two steals.



Terry Rozier

The Celtics bench played a lot better on Wednesday than they did when these two met last month, and Rozier had a lot to do with that improvement. He finished with 12 points, his third double-figure scoring game in Boston’s last four games. 

Tony Parker

Tony Parker was pretty quiet most of the night and then … the fourth quarter arrived. That’s when the veteran guard scored 10 of his 16 points to go with four assists. 



Al Horford

Horford never got into any kind of flow or rhythm for the Celtics, which was surprising when you consider how porous the Spurs should have been defensively with David Lee in and LaMarcus Aldridge (rest) out. He had 13 points, missing eight of his 12 shot attempts. He has to play better than this in games of this magnitude.

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

File Photo

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

AP Photo

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.