Stars, studs and duds: Celtics win despite 'bad day at work'

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics win despite 'bad day at work'

BOSTON – A poor practice by the Boston Celtics on Thursday seemed to carry over into Friday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers, one in which the Celtics began the game with what looked like a lackluster effort.

For large chunks of the game they were slow getting to loose balls, out of position defensively and playing with little edge to their game.


Despite their obvious struggles, the Celtics still managed to escape with a 116-110 victory over the Sixers behind a strong fourth quarter.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens will be the first to acknowledge that it was not one of his team’s better performances this season.

“I think you’re going to have days like that throughout the course of the season,” Stevens said. “they can’t become something you that you have too often. But you know, everybody between October and April is going to have a bad day at work.”

There were several Celtics who fell into that category in the first half and for the early stages of the third quarter.

But Boston went on a 23-8 run in the third that spilled into the fourth to lead 89-84 after a Marcus Smart steal ignited a fast-break that ended with Isaiah Thomas cruising in for a lay-up.

It was a game that featured several gut-check moments in the fourth quarter by the Celtics whose home winning streak now stands at three in a row.

And considering how poorly players thought their practice on Thursday was, finding a way to compete let alone emerge with the win, was a success in its own right.

“You try to do your best the next day,” Stevens said. “I don’t put too much thought into that; I put more thought into, you should be always as focused as you can to bring value to your team, to prepare to win. And then when you get between those lines you have to be the harder playing team. Philly was the harder playing team for the first 28 minutes of the game. You’ve got to outplay somebody to beat somebody, to beat them.”

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



Al Horford

It wasn’t his highest-scoring game of the season, and he didn’t dominate the glass. But you would be hard-pressed to find a more significant performance by Horford in his short stint thus far as a Celtic. He finished with 19 points, 14 of which came in the decisive fourth quarter. He also grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out four assists along with two blocked shots.

Joel Embiid

His play in many ways justifies all those losses Philadelphia racked up the season prior to his arrival. It won’t be long before he’s the undisputed best big man in the Eastern Conference and on everyone’s short list as the best in the league. On Friday, he had 23 points on 6-for-12 shooting with eight rebounds and two blocked shots. And he did it in less than 26 minutes.



Avery Bradley

The 6-foot-2 guard had his best game at home this season, scoring a team-high 26 points with nine rebounds. The nine rebounds gives him 245 rebounds total for the season, which is four more than his old career-high for rebounds in a season.

Isaiah Thomas

He didn’t have to carry Boston in the fourth quarter on Friday, but Thomas still had a solid game for the Celtics. He finished with 24 points, but you can bet he’ll be thinking about those season-high seven turnovers he committed.

T.J. McConnell

Lost in the dominance of Embiid and the clutch shooting of Horford, was the play of McConnell. The only true point guard that the Sixers have that is healthy, McConnell had nine points and a career-high 17 assists while turning the ball over just two times.



Jae Crowder

After playing arguably his best game of the season with 21 points against Utah on Tuesday, Crowder was a non-factor for most of the 30 minutes he played against Philadelphia on Friday night. He finished without scoring a single point, missing all four of his shots from the field.

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.