Stars, studs and duds: A number of Celtics embrace opportunity

Stars, studs and duds: A number of Celtics embrace opportunity

As good as Isaiah Thomas has been this season, he’s not the reason why the Celtics are among the better teams, record-wise, in the NBA.

Boston’s success is fueled in large part because of the steady play of those around Thomas, something that was on display in Thursday night’s 120-111 win over Portland.

Thomas had a game-high 34 points, but Marcus Smart filled the stat sheet in several categories while filling in for Jae Crowder (family emergency), who was not with the team.

Boston (34-19) also got a strong game from its second unit, led by a near double-double from Kelly Olynyk (13 points, 7 rebounds).

“One of the things that this stretch of games, we hope it helps with in the big picture is, we got different guys that have an opportunity,” Stevens told reporters after the win. “To do different things . . . "

Like the put-back dunk by Gerald Green in the fourth quarter that reminded us all that the former slam-dunk champion still has plenty of bounce left in him. Or the hustle plays by Smart. Or the clutch baskets by Jaylen Brown (his 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter gave Boston a one-point lead going into the fourth).

“Hopefully we can keep getting better out of this,” Stevens said.

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


Marcus Smart: Easily the difference-maker on Thursday, Smart had 18 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 assists, which included scoring a put-back basket, forcing a turnover and drawing an offensive foul in the final couple minutes of play.

Isaiah Thomas: Just another day at the office for Thomas in leading all scorers with 34 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter.

Damian Lillard: Boston had problems limiting him most of the game. Lillard finished with a team-high 26 points -- 10 of which came in the fourth quarter.


Al-Farouq Aminu: He's played some of his best games against the Celtics and Thursday was no exception. Aminu had a season-high 26 points and five assists.


Celtics defense: For most of the game, Boston’s defense struggled defensively once again. The Blazers shot 50.6 percent from the field, a reminder that the C's, while winning, have plenty of room for improvement.

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.