Celtics

Horford's game-winner wraps up spectacular performance vs Trail Blazers

Horford's game-winner wraps up spectacular performance vs Trail Blazers

BOSTON – Brad Stevens was in rare form following Boston’s 97-96 win over Portland, a game in which Al Horford drained the game-winner as time expired. 

But it was difficult to do a deep dive into the game itself, not with Stevens addressing the media with the sleeves cut from his shirt a la New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, and Celtics forward Marcus Morris – a Philadelphia native who is a die-hard Eagles fan – by his side. 

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Stevens was asked if them being together on the podium was part of a bet. 

“No,” Stevens said. “You don’t want to do that.”

Morris replied, “Taking all bets …”

Stevens was asked about his football-themed attire which included a winter Patriots cap. 

“Football game to watch,” Stevens said. “And we’ve had a lot of back-and-forth discussions, so I thought I’d bring Marcus along.”

In his fifth season, it was arguably the most light-hearted press conference ever involving Stevens with a lot of the amusement centered around Stevens’ Belichickian preferences and attire. 

Stevens was asked about whether he would cut the sleeves of all his suits now. 

“If the NBA would let us, I would wear – I was hoping that we would figure it out and go to a much more casual look on the sidelines,” Stevens said. “But maybe … Nike can push the NBA on that a little bit.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 97-96 thriller against Portland.

 

STARS

Al Horford: Even before delivering the game-winning shot, Horford was having a special game for the Celtics. He would finish with a team-high 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting and 10 rebounds for his team-leading 13th double-double this season. 

Damian Lillard: He struggled with his shot most of the game, only to deliver down the stretch to give the Blazers a shot at pulling out the win. He tallied 21 points, 17 of which came in the second half.

C.J. McCollum: For most of the first three quarters, McCollum’s scoring was a key to Portland maintaining the lead. He would finish with a team-high 22 points on 9-for-22 shooting.

 

STUDS

Terry Rozier: He didn’t have a triple-double or set a career high scoring, but Rozier did a lot of good things for Boston today. He had 11 points on 5-for-18 shooting to go with six rebounds and five assists. 

Mo Harkless: After having made just six 3-pointers in the month of January, Harkless had five against the Celtics today, finishing with 19 points off the Portland bench on 7-for-12 shooting. 

Jayson Tatum: We’ve seen him score, but he’s also showing he can get others involved as well. Today he had 17 points on 6-for-14 shooting along wit five assists. 

Jusuf Nurkic: Very effective scorer in the post, Nurkic had 14 points on 7-for-13 shooting to go with eight rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

 

DUDS

Evan Turner: We love Evan Turner the person, but the player today? Not so much. He took just three shots – all misses – while grabbing four rebounds in just over 23 minutes of court time. 

Celtics’ points in the paint defense: It was a low-scoring game, but that didn’t stop the Blazers from dominating inside scoring. Portland finished the game with 40 points in the paint compared to just 22 for Boston.

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Jayson Tatum gets no respect!

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Jayson Tatum gets no respect!

The popular narrative surrounding struggling Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum is that he’s hit the dreaded “rookie wall.” Another fun theory is that he’s been hampered by a dislocated finger suffered on December 20 vs Miami. One or both may be the cause of his dip in shooting since the start of this calendar year (he went from 58.5 eFG percent in 2017 to 46.2 eFG percent in 2018). But another factor could be respect, or the lack thereof, for Tatum when driving to the hoop.

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From October through December, Tatum averaged 4.6 drives per game, coming away with points on 77 percent of those drives (fourth in the NBA). A lot of those points came at the line, as Tatum drew a foul on an NBA-leading 15 percent of his trips to the basket. Since January 1, Tatum is averaging 6.5 drives per game, but is only coming away with points on 55 percent of those drives. Oddly, the Celtics forward is only drawing a foul on 6 percent of his drives over that span, which is 67th in the NBA.

It’s hard to say why he’s no longer getting fouls, but the lack of respect is definitely impacting his overall efficiency. Hopefully the zebras will start treating Tatum like the obvious future Hall of Famer he is in the final stretch of the season.

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Hawks may buy out Ilyasova; would Celts be interested?

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Hawks may buy out Ilyasova; would Celts be interested?

A buyout seems to be looming for the Atlanta Hawks power forward Ersan Ilyasova. 

The 6-foot-10 inch forward is averaging 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 46 games played this season. He's on a one-year, $6 million contract with the Hawks.

If he hits the open market, as seems likely, he might be worth a look from the Celtics. A stretch forward who can make 3-pointers is a notable addition to any team.

Ilyasova could ultimately add some size and depth to a guard-heavy Celtics team that's looking to make a deep playoff run come April. 

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