Brown comes up big in Celtics comeback win over 76ers in London

Brown comes up big in Celtics comeback win over 76ers in London

LONDON – As the Boston Celtics were making their comeback in the third quarter, Jaylen Brown heard a familiar voice from the Sixers bench basically telling him he couldn’t shoot. 

Moments later, Brown raised up for a 3-pointer that hit nothing but the bottom of the net, one of the many big shots made by the Celtics in their 114-103 comeback win over Philadelphia. 


For Brown who led Boston (34-10) with 21 points, the victory was sweet on several levels. 

It gave him something to talk smack about in the offseason with some of the Sixers bench players. After his shot, he blew the entire bench a kiss.

“The main person was Justin Anderson,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston. “That’s my guy. I worked out with him pre-draft, known for a very long time. That was for him, because he should know better, of all people.”

And to come up big in London, one of the cities Brown spent time in this summer in preparation for what has been a breakout season for the second-year wing player, makes it even better. 

“We had a business mindset coming here,” he said. “We had fun but we had to take care of business, too. I’m glad we got the win.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 114-103 win over the Philadelphia 76ers which improved Boston’s winning streak to seven straight along with improving their East-leading record to 34-10. In addition, the Sixers’ four game winning streak is a thing of the past now. Boston also won for the third time this season over the Sixers which means the Celtics have clinched the head-to-head series. Also, the loss dropped the Sixers’ record back to below-.500 (19-20) this season.


Jaylen Brown: Rather than flood the game with points, Jaylen Brown’s was more of a steady drip variety. He led all Celtics with 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting along with four rebounds. 

J.J. Redick: It was Redick’s red-hot shooting that helped catapult Philadelphia to a dominant first half. He wasn’t nearly as impactful in the second half, but still finished with a game-high 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting with seven rebounds.

Kyrie Irving: This wasn’t one of his better games statistically, but Irving was among the Boston players setting the tone in the second half with yet another comeback win. Irving had 20 points on 7-for-20 shooting with six rebounds and seven assists. 



Marcus Morris: Playing without any minutes restrictions, he delivered exactly what the Celtics needed from the second unit. He scored 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting along with snatching eight rebounds. 

Jayson Tatum: His aggressive demeanor at the start of the third quarter provided a much-needed lift for the Celtics at a time when they were on the cusp of fully swinging the game’s momentum in their favor. He had 16 points for the Celtics on 7-for-13 shooting.

Al Horford: Horford’s defense was once again top-shelf work for the Celtics, and in the second half he picked up his scoring to finish with Horford-esque game of 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting, with eight rebounds and seven assists. 



Joel Embiid: I couldn’t help but think about the words spoken by his coach Brett Brown earlier who drew a distinction between players who are popular, and superstars. Embiid’s talent is undeniable, but he still has a level or two to reach before you can consider him a superstar. No team proves this point more than the Celtics who continue to be the one team he consistently struggles against. He had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds, but did so on 6-for-17 shooting with most of his made baskets coming on backup center Daniel Theis. Credit Boston’s Big Three of Al Horford, Aron Baynes and head coach Brad Stevens whose mixing and matching defensively kept Embiid off-balance and guessing most of the game.


Celtics fans may see a little Pierce in Middleton's game

Celtics fans may see a little Pierce in Middleton's game

MILWAUKEE – Sitting down before a recent shoot-around, Khris Middleton looks comfortable, at ease, very chill.

And when you watch him play, he exudes similar qualities on the floor, often moving at a pace that seems slower than most and yet he still manages to get buckets – lots of buckets.

Celtics fans have had the pleasure of seeing similar skills on display for more than a decade in Paul Pierce.  

So, it’s no surprise that Middleton counts Pierce among those whose play has greatly influenced his game.

“He was a great scorer,” Middleton said of Pierce whose number 34 was retired earlier this season at the TD Garden. “He had great footwork. He knew how to use his body, angles to get his shot off. He was probably a little bit faster than me, more athletic than me but he was crafty, knowing how to create just enough space to get his shot off or get by a guy. That’s what I try to do.”

While Boston has a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series against Middleton's Milwaukee Bucks, it certainly hasn’t been because of Middleton’s scoring.

The 6-foot-8 wing is averaging 28.0 points in the first two games, along with six rebounds and 3.5 assists, while shooting 64.7 percent from the field and 69.2 percent (9-for-13) from 3-point range.

Game 3 is Friday night in Milwaukee.

“He’s a good player,” said Boston’s Marcus Morris, who has competed against Middleton dating to when they were at Kansas and Texas A&M, respectively.

Middleton’s ascension to being such a key figure in Milwaukee’s roster speaks to how he was prepared when given an opportunity to perform.

A second-round pick of the Detroit Pistons in 2012, injuries limited his chances to play there.

So they traded him in 2013 to Milwaukee as essentially a salary-cap filler as part of a deal that sent Brandon Knight to the Bucks and Brandon Jennings to Detroit.

Middleton stresses that he has no ill-will towards Detroit; in fact, he’s thankful in hindsight for them trading him to a franchise that was willing to give him a shot at playing and to Middleton’s credit, he has been healthy enough to take advantage of it.

“Growing up all your life, you’re kind of that guy,” he said. “And then to get to the next level and be told you’re not that guy...it’s humbling. But it gave me a hungry mindset to keep working and never give up. That’s why I keep working, prove that I belong in this league and I belong on that court.”

You won’t get an argument from Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who has been singing the praises of Middleton well before Boston found itself facing him and the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.

“Middleton spaces the floor. He can run off screens and score,” Stevens said earlier. “He’s a really good scorer cutting off the ball. And he’s a knockdown shooter.”

And he’s hungry to continue adding to his offensive arsenal by learning from the league’s best players past and present, a group that includes Pierce.

“I try to take a little stuff from their game and fit it in my game,” Middleton said. “I’m not the most athletic guy, so I see how they set up some of their moves just to create a little bit of space to get their shot off; that’s what I try to do.”




Can Celtics take what worked at home on the road?

Can Celtics take what worked at home on the road?

MILWAUKEE – The Celtics are no different than most NBA teams that have successfully defended home court through the first couple playoff games.

As good as things may appear to be, taking what has worked at home on the road is easier said than done.

“We’re up 2-0, but we’ve seen teams lose [series after being up] 2-0,” said Celtics forward Marcus Morris. “So, we’ve got to go to Milwaukee and continue to take care of business.”

And while it may sound like typical coach speak, Brad Stevens has every reason to sound the alarm about this series being far from over, even with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“They’ve got a lot of strengths we’ve got to do a good job against,” Stevens said. “They put you in a lot of tough positions on offense and defense.”

The biggest issue for Boston up to this point has been at the defensive end of the floor where the Celtics have allowed the Bucks to shoot 53.8 percent from the field, which is tops among all playoff teams.

Boston’s defensive rating in the playoffs (105.9) ranks ninth among the 16 teams in the postseason, a noticeable dip from their league-leading 101.5 defensive rating in the regular season.

Still, the Bucks have in many ways been their own worst enemy, averaging a league-high 17.5 turnovers per game which have led to a total of 48 points for the Celtics which is tied with Oklahoma City for the most points scored off turnovers in the playoffs thus far.

To put that in perspective, Milwaukee’s turnovers have accounted for 20.6 percent of the points scored by Boston in this playoff series.

In the regular season, points off turnovers accounted for 17.0 percent of the points scored by the Celtics.

And that doesn’t even include the hustle plays that are also going Boston's way.

According to nba.com/stats, the Celtics have 66 box-outs compared to 62 by Milwaukee. And when it comes to getting loose balls, Boston has the edge there as well, 22-19.

In the postseason, those are the little things that on many nights, is the difference between having a “good try, good effort” loss or one in which you claw and fight your way towards victory.

Boston has played with a deep understanding of this.

The Milwaukee Bucks?

Not so much.

“We just have to be more into it, got to be a more desperate and hungry team,” Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton said following the Game 2 loss.

While the cast of characters who stepped up in Games 1 and 2 varied slightly for Boston, the fundamental keys to Boston’s victories over the Bucks remained very much the same.

But there’s no telling what impact Milwaukee returning home will have on what has worked thus far for the Celtics. 

But one thing all involved know – it can't hurt the Bucks, who know a Game 3 loss would all but end any hopes of moving on to the next round.