Marcus Smart warms up the cold-shooting Celtics

Marcus Smart warms up the cold-shooting Celtics

BOSTON – For most of the first quarter of Boston’s matchup against Minnesota, based on how both teams came out misfiring, you would have thought the game was being played outdoors in the frigid temperatures and swirling wind.

And then...Marcus Smart entered the game.


While he is well respected for his defense and energy, offensive turnarounds aren’t exactly his forte.

And yet there he was, giving the Celtics’ flailing offense a much-needed lift that factored heavily in the 91-84 victory.

Smart had a team-high 18 points for the Celtics (32-10), doing so on 8-for-13 shooting from the field.

“It felt amazing. It felt good to see a couple shots finally go down,” Smart said. “We stuck with it and our defense came and got us a victory.”

This was the second consecutive game in which Smart has made a huge impact on the game with his shot-making. In the past two games, he’s averaging 17.0 points while shooting 51.9 percent from the field.

“Sometimes when we’re struggling, I think the ball is going to find energy,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “And Marcus Smart has energy. And plays that way and plays with a great chip. He’s playing at a good level. We need him to continue to do so. Obviously, he’s a really important part of our team.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the victory that extended Boston’s winning streak to five.

Karl-Anthony Towns

The Celtics had no answer for Towns’ play inside the paint or from the perimeter. He would finish the night with a dominant performance, tallying a double-double of 25 points and 23 rebounds with two blocked shots. 

Kyrie Irving
The ability to impact the games in ways besides scoring, is becoming quite apparent when it comes to Kyrie Irving. He truly gave the game what it needed on Friday night as he flirted with a triple-double before finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Marcus Smart
He delivered his usual top-shelf play defensively in addition to one of his better shooting performances this season. Smart had a team-high 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field.

Terry Rozier
Like Smart, Rozier also made a significant contribution off the bench for Boston. He came oh-so-close to a double-double, tallying 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting to go with nine rebounds.

Aron Baynes
With so many players flirting with double-doubles, someone had to get one for the Celtics right? It was Baynes who had 11 points and 10 rebounds and a plus/minus of +7 which was tops among all Celtic starters.

Jimmy Butler
The perennial All-Star was never able to get into any kind of steady flow or rhythm. And the end result was an underwhelming game in which he had 14 points, finishing with more turnovers (4) than made baskets (3).

Celtics 3-point shooting
Normally one of Boston’s weapons of choice, the Celtics consistently misfired on Friday, connecting on just 6-of-36 attempts for a season-low 16.7 percent from 3-point range. But as it turned out, the previous low (21.9 percent) came in a victory over a team from the Western Conference (Golden State on Nov. 16).



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.