Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Final six minutes 'crushed' Celtics vs. Raptors

Stars, studs and duds: Final six minutes 'crushed' Celtics vs. Raptors

No matter where Isaiah Thomas sprinted to on the floor, there was seemingly one or two defenders with him, awaiting him or on his heels.

The Toronto Raptors did all they could to take away as much of Thomas’ airspace as possible.

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And he still managed to score 27 points and dish out seven assists.

Thomas got solid contributions from his teammates offensively.

But their defense more than anything else, was to blame for Tuesday’s 114-108 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

“We didn’t make plays,” Thomas told reporters after the game. “We didn’t make shots on the offensive end. And on top of that we didn’t get stops. They got into a rhythm. They scored at will the last part of six minutes.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens echoed similar sentiments:

“The last six minutes of the third quarter crushed us and the last six minutes of the fourth,” Stevens told reporters after the game. “It was like 42-15 in those time frames.”

Despite the loss, Stevens said he took more positives away from the loss than negatives.

Al Horford believes in the long run, the Celtics will benefit from having gone through a game like this.

“This is a good learning experience for our team,” Horford told reporters. “We’ll grow from this. We really had this game in control and just let it get away.”

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

STARS

DeMar DeRozan: He was a man among boys in the second half which is when he scored 31 of his game-high 41 points.

Isaiah Thomas: Thomas did a nice job of balancing his scoring with getting others involved, scoring a team-high 27 points with seven assists which was also a team high for Boston.

Kyle Lowry: Extremely efficient with the ball, Lowry had 24 points on 7-for-12 shooting with nine assists, four rebounds and two steals.

STUDS

Marcus Smart: It was a solid night for Smart who is still filling in for Avery Bradley (Achilles injury). Smart had 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting with four rebounds and five assists with four steals and a blocked shot.

Jonas Valanciunas: Boston had no answer for how to keep him off the boards, as he finished with a double-double of 18 points and 23 rebounds with two blocked shots.

Al Horford: It was yet another stat-stuffing night for Horford. He had 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting, to go with nine rebounds and four assists.

DUDS

Patrick Patterson: He’s usually a wild card that winds up hurting the Celtics, but not so on Tuesday night. He was scoreless for the Raptors in 21 minutes, missing all three of his field goal attempts while racking up four personal fouls.

Marcus Smart upgrade to questionable for Game 5

Marcus Smart upgrade to questionable for Game 5

BOSTON –  Once considered a long shot to return by Game 7 of Boston’s first-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks, Marcus Smart may be on the floor as soon as Tuesday night's Game 5 matchup.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said there was no update on Smart following the team’s practice on Monday, but the team has since upgraded Smart's status to “questionable” for Game 5 – the first time he has been listed as anything other than “out” since he had his right thumb surgically repaired last month.

In the past couple of weeks, Smart has increased his workload and made it clear that he was inching closer to getting back on the floor possibly ahead of schedule. 

Prior to Boston’s Game 4 loss, Smart discussed his potential return. 

“I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there,” Smart said at the time. “I’m just waiting for the OK.”

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It appears his most recent visit to the doctor went as planned with Smart now likely cleared to practice – and with that clearance, available to play. 

The return of Smart would be a huge plus for a Celtics team that has struggled mightily in this first-round series against Milwaukee from a defensive standpoint. 

During the regular season, Boston had a league-best defensive rating of 101.5. But against the Bucks, Boston’s defense has slipped to second-to-last among playoff teams which has heavily factored into the series now being tied at two games apiece. 

You can count Boston's Jaylen Brown among the Celtics eager to get Smart back into the fold. 

“When he gets in there he changes the whole game on defense,” Brown said. “He’s definitely missed so when he comes back that’ll make a lot of our jobs a whole lot easier.”

Stevens had similar sentiments about Smart. 

“Marcus is one of our most reliable players for the last four years,” Stevens said. “No question Marcus as been a huge part of us.”

Smart has appeared in 54 games for the Celtics this season, averaging 10.2 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds while playing 29.9 minutes per game.

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Jaylen Brown's crucial flub in Game 4 was actually officiating error

Jaylen Brown's crucial flub in Game 4 was actually officiating error

BOSTON -- The NBA’s two-minute report on Boston’s Game 4 loss at Milwaukee revealed a trio of incorrect non-calls in the closing moments of play, two of which went against the Celtics in their 104-102 loss. 

With Boston ahead 100-99 with less than a minute to play, Jaylen Brown lost the ball on a driving lay-up attempt. 

No call was made on the play, one that Brown thought he was fouled on. 

The two-minute report confirmed “that (Khris) Middleton makes contact to Brown's arm that affects his driving shot attempt.”

Had the call been made, Brown would have gone to the free throw line with 43.5 seconds to play with the Celtics already ahead by one point. 

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But on the ensuing Milwaukee possession following the non-call, Malcolm Brogdon drained a 3-pointer that put the Bucks ahead 102-100.

With 47.9 seconds to play, the two-minute report also indicated that an offensive foul should have been called against Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-minute report indicated that, “Antetokounmpo extends his arm and wards off (Semi) Ojeleye's arm, affecting his ability to contest the shot attempt.”

And with 1:14 to play, Antetokounmpo was fouled by Jayson Tatum although no call was made. On the play, the two-minute report says that, “Tatum clamps Antetokounmpo's arm and pushes him, affecting his (freedom of movement) and ability to receive the pass.

On the ensuing possession following the non-call, Tatum hit a jumper that put the Celtics ahead 100-99 with 52.4 seconds to play. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been asked about officiating quite a bit in the last few days. And his response in each instance remains relatively the same.

"I'm not going to ever say anything bad about referees because they have a really tough job," Stevens said. 

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