Stars, studs and duds: 'In Boston you only talk about one goal'

Stars, studs and duds: 'In Boston you only talk about one goal'

BOSTON – Inside the Boston Celtics’ practice facility, you’ll see nothing but championship banners hanging from the walls, a reminder of how success with this franchise is a little different – OK, very different – than other franchise in the NBA.
So the idea of Boston winning the Atlantic Division title with Monday’s 114-105 win over Brooklyn went over like a deflated balloon at a 10-year-old’s birthday party.
“It’s not something that we necessarily set as a concrete goal,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
The Celtics (52-29) will finish at least one game ahead of Toronto (50-31), the Atlantic division champion from last season.
“Toronto is a heck of a team and to even be at a level where throughout an 82-game season, that we are at the top of that division I guess it means something,” Stevens said.
It means something to Avery Bradley, the longest-tenured Celtic.
“It shows that we’re starting to play the right way,” said Bradley, in his seventh season – all with the Celtics. “This is going to help us get closer to our goals and we just need to finish the season out strong and prepare for the playoffs.”
And it is in the playoff where the Celtics’ true goal this season – to make a deep playoff run – will emerge.
“In Boston you only talk about one goal, right?” Stevens said. “So everything else is leading up to that.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday night’s game between Boston and Brooklyn.

Isaiah Thomas

Just another day in the life of the fourth quarter assassin. He led all scorers with 27 points on 10-for-21 shooting with four rebounds and three assists.
Jeremy Lin

His perimeter shooting and ability to get to the free throw line proved crucial in Brooklyn’s third quarter rally. He finished with 26 points on just 4-for-9 shooting from the field, and 16-for-17 shooting from the free throw line. Lin also led all players with 12 rebounds.
Brook Lopez

While Lin was cashing in from the free throw line, Lopez was getting baskets around the rim as he tallied 25 points on 10-for-21 shooting to go with seven rebounds.
Avery Bradley

He is looking like his pre-injury self, making sharp cuts and timely baskets while delivering at both ends of the floor. He had 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting with five rebounds.
Al Horford

He had a major mismatch with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson defending him, and Horford frequently made the Nets pay for putting a smaller defender on him. Horford had 19 points to go with eight rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot.

Celtics’ third quarter slump

Boston built up a considerable lead through the first two-plus quarters, and it was a good thing, too. After an Isaiah Thomas jumper put Boston ahead 69-42 in the third quarter, the Nets responded with a 31-14 run that made a Celtics cake walk into a relatively competitive game down the stretch. Boston can’t afford to have too many, if any, games like that in the playoffs.

Against Magic, C's do what they're supposed to

Against Magic, C's do what they're supposed to

Beating one of the few teams already eliminated from the playoff race is in itself not that big a deal.

It’s called doing what you’re supposed to do.

But for these Celtics, their 92-83 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night was more than just another victory.

It was the latest installment in a season filled with teachable moments and lessons that can bolster in some fashion their chances at a deep playoff run.

While there’s no way they’re going to go far without their core guys Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, getting guys to fill in for them and still manage to win, is important in this team’s overall development in both the present and future.

No one on the Celtics’ roster can score like Irving, the league’s 11th-ranked scorer at 24.4 points per game.

Still, getting his fill-ins Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin to go for 17 and 10 points certainly helps.

And Jaylen Brown’s ability to play both ends of the floor at a high level is huge, but rookie Abdel Nader has shown he too has some potential to be a solid two-way talent.

Smart’s defense sets him apart from others, but the Celtics collectively were able to make up for that with an impressive defensive rating of 83.1 against the Orlando.

And their collective efforts serve as yet another teachable moment for the Celtics.

Here are five takeaways from a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might lead one to believe: 

There may not be another Celtic whose stock has risen more than Terry Rozier’s this season. He has become a reliable two-way talent off the bench whose capable of giving you starter-like production when needed. He had 17 points against the Magic along with seven rebounds and five assists.

With Marcus Smart (right thumb) out for the rest of the regular season, Terry Rozier in the starting lineup along with Marcus Morris, those are three really big chunks of Boston’s second unit no longer coming off the bench. The second unit players might have been different, but that didn’t affect the Celtics’ bench from impacting the game in a significant way. Against the Magic, they outscored Orlando’s backups, 39-28. 

He signed with the Boston Celtics at a time when a role for him was far from defined. His patience and Boston’s faith in him has paid for both as Larkin continues to be that utility player that Brad Stevens has leaned on at times. Larkin was solid off the bench, scoring 10 points.

This may be one of the closest Coach of the Year votes we have ever had in the NBA. Regardless how short the list may be, you can bet Brad Stevens will be on it. The way he has been positioning the Celtics to be among the last teams standing despite all the injuries they have endured this season, speaks to his ability to not just draw up X's and O’s but also his ability to develop players who when called upon to play, are more than ready for the challenge.

It’s fair to expect the Celtics are going to be short-handed for the rest of the season, which means those still around have to step their game up – Horford included.

For Horford, stepping up involves being more assertive as a scorer and not rely as much on his skills as a play-maker. We saw that from Horford on Friday, as he tallied a near double-double of 15 points and nine rebounds but more important, he took a game-high 18 shot attempts.


'Big Baby' busted with 126 grams of pot, $92K in cash

AP Photo

'Big Baby' busted with 126 grams of pot, $92K in cash

Former Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis was arrested last month in a hotel room in Aberdeen, Maryland, with more than 126 grams of marijuana and more than $92,000 in cash.

Davis, 32, who played on the Celtics 2008 championship team was last in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015, was arrested Feb. 7 after the hotel owner at the Aberdeen Hampton Inn smelled marijuana coming from Davis' room, WMAR-TV in Baltimore reported.

“They recovered 126 grams of marijuana,” Aberdeen Police Lt. William Reiber told WMAR. “In addition to that, there was a briefcase that contained 92,164 dollars of U.S. currency along with a ledger that contained language which is consistent with someone involved in the sale and distribution of narcotics.”

Davis is charged with seven counts of drug possession and distribution.

Police said the strains of marijuana were from a Los Angeles wholesaler that court records show Davis told police he was in business with.

He told officers he was visiting family in Maryland. Davis' attorney told WMAR the former Celtic (2007-11) adamantly maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court next month to clear his name.