Stars, studs and duds: Stevens believes Celtics can build off loss to Hawks

Stars, studs and duds: Stevens believes Celtics can build off loss to Hawks

ATLANTA –  The result on Thursday night at Atlanta was no different than it was for the Boston Celtics just 24 hours earlier at home – they lost.

And yet when you hear head coach Brad Stevens talk about Thursday’s 123-116 loss to the Hawks, their disappointment in the outcome is covered with optimism going forward.

“This is, sometimes you feel like you found something in a loss,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “I feel like we can build off this one. Last night (to Cleveland)? No.”

Stevens added, “I thought some different combinations played well. We guarded, competed at the end of the game to get ourselves back in it.”

The Celtics trailed by as many as 20 points, but rallied to within five points (116-111) after a 3-pointer by Isaiah Thomas made it a 116-111 game with 55.3 seconds to play.

But down the stretch, the Hawks managed to make all the big shots and key plays defensively for the win.

While the Celtics were disappointed in the outcome, they too shared Stevens’ optimistic outlook on the team’s second loss in as many nights.

“We feel more encouraged after (Wednesday) night,” Boston’s Jae Crowder told CSNNE.com. “We lost the game, obviously. What we took from this game, we played the way we wanted to play most of the second half. We dictated the game.

He added, “we dug ourselves a hole and the outcome is the outcome. We gotta stop coming out letting teams hit us first.”

Boston outscored Atlanta 61-52 in the second half despite shooting 38.8 percent in that span compared to 43.9 percent by the Hawks.

The difference?

The Celtics were the more aggressive team in the second half which led to 13 Atlanta turnovers that they converted into 18 points, in addition to that aggression on offensively resulting in Boston spending a ton of time on the free throw line.

Boston was 17-for-24 from the line in the second half while the Hawks were 12-for-20. And remember, the Celtics started to foul Atlanta players intentionally near the end so their free throw attempts total is a bit skewed.

“These last few games we’ve been going through it a little bit,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “But we’re not going to panic. We’re just going to keep fighting.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Thursday’s game between Boston and Atlanta.



Taurean Prince

There were a number of Atlanta players that stepped up their play on Thursday, but few were as big a surprise as Prince. He finished with a career-high 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go with seven rebounds and four assists.

Isaiah Thomas

Despite the double teams and blitzing defenses that Thomas sees all the time, he still managed to lead all scorers with 35 points on 10-for-21 shooting with five rebounds and four assists.

Paul Millsap

He’s still coming off the bench since returning from his knee injury, but everyone knows Millsap is an elite, All-Star caliber starter. The Celtics found this out the hard way on Thursday as Millsap led the Hawks with 26 points and 12 rebounds with four assists and two steals to top it off.



Jae Crowder

The swollen left elbow must be feeling better, as Crowder had one of his best scoring games of the season with 24 points on 9-for-14 shooting.

Tim Hardaway Jr.

He continues to give Atlanta great scoring punch from the shooting guard position, finishing with 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting with five rebounds and five assists.

Marcus Smart

Boston was a different team in the second half of Thursday’s game, and Smart’s strong play at both ends of the floor had a lot to do with that. He finished with 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting which included him connecting on five of his nine 3-point attempts. He also tallied seven assists, six steals and four rebounds.



Al Horford

For the second time in as many games, Horford had a bad game at both ends of the floor. He finished with four points on 1-for-8 shooting with five rebounds and three assists. It should go without saying that the Celtics will need more from him as they try and close out the season with some semblance of momentum heading into the playoffs.

Celtics’ first half Defense

It was turnstile city in the first half against the Celtics defense that showed very little resistance to an Atlanta Hawks squad that got whatever they wanted, scoring 71 first-half points.

Celtics should get word Friday on Irving's status

File photo

Celtics should get word Friday on Irving's status

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving has had a second opinion on his sore left knee, and a decision on what the next step will be is expected to be made within the next day or two, according to a league source.
The medical officials involved in the initial evaluation will meet with those who examined him today will get together to compare notes and determine what’s in the best interest of Irving going forward.
While surgery is a possibility, the source indicated that the current course of treatment, which consists primarily of rest, remains a consideration. 
The concerns regarding Irving’s knee are to be of the short-term variety, with the source indicating reports that there are long-term concerns with the knee are “just wrong.” 
In his first season with the Celtics, Irving has appeared in 60 games in what has been one of his most efficient seasons as a scorer. 
He’s averaging 24.4 points per game while shooting a career-high 49.1 percent from the field. The five-time all-star is shooting 40.8 percent from 3-point range this season in addition to dishing out 5.1 assists along with grabbing a career-high 3.8 rebounds.


Celtics assistant McCarty to become coach at Evansville

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Celtics assistant McCarty to become coach at Evansville

BOSTON – The first member of the Brad Stevens’ coaching tree is about to take off. Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty is expected to be named head coach at Evansville University.

McCarty, an Evansville, Ind. native, was selected over a field of candidates that included former Indiana University standout Calbert Cheaney and David Ragland who, like McCarty, is an Evansville native.

The 6-foot-10 McCarty, a 10-year NBA veteran with seven-plus spent with the Celtics, has been part of Stevens’ coaching staff since 2013. The former Celtic has been a college assistant coach at Louisville (2007-2010) in addition to the NBA’s Indiana Pacers (2010-2011).