Celtics bench the bright spot in a disappointing loss

USA TODAY Sports Photo

Celtics bench the bright spot in a disappointing loss

HOUSTON – Marcus Morris was knocking down shots all over the floor. Ditto for Terry Rozier and Greg Monroe.

Marcus Smart was having a decent night as well. 

It was just the kind of performance Boston needed from its bench in order to compete with a Houston Rockets team that came into Saturday’s game with the best record in the NBA. 

Even with the Celtics bench having their best scoring game of the season, it still wasn’t enough as the Rockets edged the Boston Celtics 123-120.


Smart launched a desperation 3-point shot as the final horn sounded that grazed the rim as time expired. 

“When I released it, I thought it was (going in),” Smart said.

If it did, it wouldn’t have been a total shock considering how the game was playing out for Boston’s bench which tallied a season-high 67 points. 

“They were great,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens of his second unit players. “I didn’t think we were great out of the gates, but we were great off the bench and I thought obviously Terry (Rozier III) is playing at a high level. I thought (Marcus) Smart was great in the first half, and Greg Monroe played great, and I thought Marcus (Morris) obviously had another really good game. We’re going to need those guys and then some to continue to help us.” 

Leading the Celtics’ second unit scoring was Morris who had a team-high 21 points. In fact, three of Boston’s top four scorers on Saturday came off the bench.

“We’re just going out there and playing,” said Morris when asked about the improved play of the bench since returning from the All-Star break.

Said Rozier: “We know we can play. We’re here for a reason. A lot of people may have their doubts; there are a lot of things that weren’t going well throughout the season. But we’re the ones that have to play. We have to keep it going, finish out the season strong for our team.”


Boston came into Saturday’s game averaging 53.5 bench points since the all-star break which ranks third in the NBA according to hoopsstats.com.

Prior to the All-Star break, Boston’s 32.1 bench points per game ranked 23rd in the NBA.

Their improved play comes at a time when the Celtics sense the need to start clicking in all phases of play, never knowing what will be needed in the postseason in order to win.

“The bench is really coming together at the right time,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “And that’s one of the encouraging things (following Saturday’s loss). Even though we didn’t win the game, I feel like we will all be better.”


Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

File Photo

Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

There hasn't been all positive news surrounding Gordon Hayward as of late.

The Celtics have been shooting down rumors of Hayward returning this season. Recent news has detailed a minor setback in his recovery.

But it's always good to see the C's superstar up early crushing a workout in the weightroom.

We might not see him back in 2018, but his dedication during recovery is something to admire.


Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

AP Photo

Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

It seems all season we’ve talked about the Boston Celtics overcoming adversity, whether it be a bad injury to a key player or a blown assignment leading to a loss.

Nowhere is this more apparent than their play on the road this season which ranks among the best in the NBA.

The Celtics will look to continue on their road warrior-like ways tonight at New Orleans, a team that’s fighting for playoff position in the tighter-than-usual Western Conference.

In recent years, the terrain has been rough for teams from the East venturing into Western Conference territory.

For this year’s Celtics?

Not so much.

Boston comes into tonight’s game with a 17-7 record against Western Conference teams, tops among all teams in the East.

And while Boston has eight road games left this season, they are on pace to finish with one of the best road records in franchise history.

Currently 24-9 away from the TD Garden (tops in the East, third overall in the NBA), that’s a winning percentage of .727 which is the fourth-highest in franchise history.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on when the Boston Celtics take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.


It’s a given that Al Horford will spend time defending Anthony Davis tonight. And while Davis will likely have a strong night scoring the ball, you can count on Horford making it extremely tough on him. When the two teams met on Jan. 16, Davis was 8-for-19 shooting for 16 points in 52 possessions when defended by Horford. For the game, Davis had 45 points on 16-for-34 shooting.


We’ve seen “Playoff" Rondo and “National TV" Rondo deliver some impressive performances in the past. What will we see from “Well-Rested” Rondo? The Pelicans gave the ex-Celtic the night off on Saturday as to not play him in back-to-back games. Of the two games, it made sense to sit him against the Rockets and have him ready to roll against a Boston Celtics team that will not have its full complement of players available.


Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had some choice words about the officiating in New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday that he clearly felt cost his team a better chance at winning. The only cost in play now is how big will the check be that he’ll pay the league for his comments about the officiating. His issue was that Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough calls based on the physical abuse he takes per game. Davis ranks fourth in the NBA in free throw attempts (7.8) per game, but only had four attempts against the Rockets. It’ll be worth watching whether the Pelicans, 16th in the league in free throw attempts (21.4) per game, will get to the line significantly more or less than their season average.


One of the keys to Boston’s improved play since returning to the floor since the all-star break, has been their ability to begin games with strong play. Boston has outscored their opponent in the first quarter each of the last eight games, and 10 of 11. In addition, Boston has been ahead at the half in each of their 10 games since the all-star break, which comes on the heels of trailing at the half in the seven games prior to the break.


Jayson Tatum has been one of the most impactful rookies in the NBA this season which will likely land him a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first or second team. One of the strengths of Tatum has been his durability, evident by him being one of just two first-year players to appear in each of his team’s games played this season. He is joined by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks.