Have Celtics solved their second-quarter problem?

Have Celtics solved their second-quarter problem?

Let’s face it.

The second quarter has been a major problem for the Celtics this season.

And then there’s Friday night in a 110-98 victory in Detroit, where the Celtics outscored the Pistons 38-21 in the second to take control of the game.

The 38 points tied a season-high for second-quarter scoring and the +17 scoring margin in the quarter was their best in a second quarter this season.

Boston’s point differential for the season speaks to how, while the Celtics don’t score a ton of points, their defense allows them to have a bit of a scoring cushion most nights.

For the season, Boston’s point differential of +3.7 ranks fourth in the league behind Houston (+8.9), Toronto (+8.3) and Golden State (+8.1).

Still, if you hone in on what the Celtics do in the second quarter...it’s not pretty.

Their scoring differential this season in the second quarter is -1.1, which ranks in the bottom 10 in the NBA (24th specifically).

Here are five under-the-radar storylines you might not be thinking about heading into tonight’s game between the Celtics and Knicks as they close out their regular-season series (Boston leads, 2-1):


With the victory in Detroit, the Celtics won their 20th road game of the season. The victory puts them in select company in the NBA. Only Golden State (22-7) and Houston (21-7) have more road wins or a better road record than the Celtics (20-8).


Seeing Aron Baynes head to the bench and soon after towards the locker room with an elbow injury was not a good look. Following the win at Detroit, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Baynes had not been ruled out from playing tonight. Boston has been atop the NBA most of this season defensively and the play of Baynes has been critical to that success. Prior to the Pistons game, Boston’s defensive rating when Baynes was on the floor was 96.4. When he was not playing, it ballooned to 103.5.


You always have to be on guard when Beasley’s in the building. While his season numbers may suggest he’s a role player coming off the bench who can maybe score a little, don’t be fooled. Beasley is a cold-blooded scoring assassin who can kill a defense with his wide array of scoring techniques. The Celtics saw this up close earlier this season when Beasley dropped a season-high 32 points the Knicks' 102-93 victory over Boston on Dec. 21.


Boston can’t wait to flip the calendar and get on to March, because February has been brutal for the defense. In the four previous months this season, Boston’s defensive rating always ranked among the top-10 each month. But in February, Boston’s defensive rating of 108.6 currently ranks 16th in the NBA. There’s still time to improve upon that before the month is over, but February is likely to go down as Boston’s worst month defensively this season.


When it comes to history, Boston and New York share more than just being among the original teams when the NBA formed in 1946 (In 1946, the NBA had a different name, the Basketball Association of America. Following its third season, the BAA would merge with the National Basketball League to form what is now known as the NBA). They are also the only teams from the league’s inception that did not disband for a period of time, or move to another city.  



Marcus Morris leads Celtics to comeback victory over Trail Blazers, 105-100

AP Photo

Marcus Morris leads Celtics to comeback victory over Trail Blazers, 105-100

In the first quarter, the Boston Celtics had one of those “not again!” moments when Marcus Morris, with a noticeable limp, headed to the Celtics locker room with a member of the training staff. 

Even though it didn’t seem like that big a deal, Celtics fans have seen this scene before and more often than not – at least this season – it hasn’t ended well for Boston. 

Fortunately for Boston, Morris went back to get his right ankle re-taped, returned to the floor and started to do Marcus Morris-like things like, you know, hit late-game daggers. 

Morris, whose 3-pointer lifted Boston to an improbable win earlier this week over Oklahoma City, was once again coming through in the clutch as Boston swept the season series against Portland with a 105-100 win. 

“I’m just being aggressive and … shots are going down for me,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin after the win.

Boston’s execution in the closing seconds was huge for the Celtics, but it was Morris’ 3-pointer with less than a minute to play that gave the Celtics a 101-96 lead that would later serve as the game-winning shot, his second in as many games. 

Morris also led all players with 30 points, with Terry Rozier (16 points) and Jayson Tatum (13 points) also coming up big for Boston. 

The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum who each had 26 points.

Morris’ big game came hours after the Celtics learned that leading scorer Kyrie Irving was going to have a “minimally invasive” procedure performed on Saturday, which meant the Celtics would have to continue searching for a go-to scorer in Irving’s absence.

That player appears to be Morris who led the Celtics to yet another unlikely win against one of the better teams in the NBA. 

Morris’ late-game heroics began earlier in the fourth when he hit a top-of-the-key 3-pointer that put Boston up 85-84 with 6:26 to play. 

But the Blazers responded with a 7-2 run with all seven points scored by McCollum to put Portland back on top 91-87.

Boston came back with four straight points to tie the game at 91, with all four points being scored by Al Horford only for Lillard, following an offensive rebound by Al-Farouq Aminu, hit a go-ahead 3-pointer.

But back came Boston, scoring five straight that included a pair of go-ahead free throws by Rozier with 2:07 to play.


Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

With Kyrie Irving undergoing a “minimally invasive procedure” on Saturday, the Boston Celtics may look to add a player via the “hardship roster exception” that only teams that are significantly impacted by injuries, are eligible for. 

MORE - Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

The Celtics won’t have a clear sense of what the timetable will be for Irving’s return until after his procedure is performed. 

But it’s likely to be at least a couple weeks which at the earliest would put Irving’s return just before the playoffs. 

In order to qualify for the NBA’s hardship roster exception, at least four players must miss a minimum of three consecutive games, and later be deemed to be out for an additional two weeks. 

Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee) are out for the season, and Marcus Smart (right thumb) recently underwent surgery that will keep him sidelined for at least another five weeks. 

An independent doctor will determine if the extent of the aforementioned injuries as well as the recovery time for Irving, meet the two-week criteria to be eligible for the hardship roster exception. 

Once that’s determined, Boston will be given a hardship roster exception to use on a player for the remainder of the regular season but won’t be eligible for the postseason. 

If Boston does add a player, look for him to come from the Gatorade League, possibly their G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

Boston has a collection of guards who have helped fill the void left by Irving’s absence, but Boston has not been able to address the loss of Daniel Theis. 

Keep an eye on former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 16.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Red Claws this season. 

MORE - Hayward gives update on rehab

Boston has a 45-day cap on the use of its two-way players with the parent team, but that limitation ends tomorrow which means guard/forward Jabari Bird and guard Kadeem Allen can earn the league minimum for every day they are with the Celtics going forward in the regular season. That can provide some depth to a Celtics team that because of injuries, can use every healthy body they can find.