Stars, studs and duds: Celtics praise 'really good' Pistons

Stars, studs and duds: Celtics praise 'really good' Pistons

BOSTON – For so many games, we have seen the Boston Celtics play a brand of basketball that was far from perfect, but good enough on most nights to emerge victorious.
Not tonight; not against a hungry Detroit Pistons team that’s looking for more than victories as they try and climb their way up the Eastern Conference standings.
Performances like Monday’s 118-108 win over Boston can only help.


 The Pistons (13-6) scored more points than any team has this season against the Celtics (18-4), which was aided by them shooting 51.8 percent – the highest shooting percentage any team has had against the Celtics this season.
“We know we beat a really, really good team,” said Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy. “We were able to get quality shots on a pretty consistent basis against a great defensive team.”
After the game, the Celtics players and head coach Brad Stevens praised the Pistons for a well-played game.
“They’re a good team,” Stevens said. “They’re well-coached, they run good stuff, I love what they’re doing. They’re really good.”
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 118-108 loss to the Detroit Pistons.

Andre Drummond

This was one of the more engaging performances we’ve seen from Drummond in a long, long time. He finished with a monster double-double of 26 points and 22 rebounds with six assists and four steals while shooting 10-for-12 from the field.
Tobias Harris

If there’s one thing we know about Tobias Harris, it’s that when he gets it going he becomes extremely difficult to cool down. He was knocking down jumpers, drives to the basket and 3-pointers most of the night before finishing with 31 points on 11-for-16 shooting along with eight rebounds.
Kyrie Irving

It wasn’t one of Irving’s better performances this season, but he still managed a near double-double with 18 points on 6-for-16 shooting along with nine assists.

Marcus Smart

It was yet another big night shooting the ball for Smart who led all Celtics with 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting which included six made 3-pointers.
Reggie Jackson

On a night when Drummond and Harris had big nights, Jackson also delivered an impressive performance. The former Boston College star had 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting along with seven assists and a blocked shot.
Avery Bradley

His scoring really set the tone for the Pistons who shot the ball (51.8 percent) better than any team against the Celtics this season. Bradley finished with 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting with five assists and two steals.

Celtics composure

Credit Detroit’s defense for doing more than just taking the Celtics out of what they wanted to do on the floor. The Pistons forced Boston into committing 17 turnovers which they converted into 26 points while Boston’s top-ranked defense forced just eight turnovers which led to just eight points.


Celtics continue to look for ways to rest Morris' knee


Celtics continue to look for ways to rest Morris' knee

BOSTON – Al Horford is back in the Boston Celtics’ lineup for tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz. But the news isn’t as encouraging for Marcus Morris.

Horford (rest) missed Boston’s 124-118 win over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, a decision the Celtics had decided on several weeks prior due to the way the Celtics’ schedule was breaking down.

Put it like this: the Celtics will be at game No. 41, the official halfway point of the season, on Jan. 3 when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers.

And with the 31-year-old Horford being the oldest member on the team and leading them in minutes played, it made sense for the Celtics to have a strategic rest plan in place for the four-time All-Star.

As for Morris, the Celtics will continue to seek out ways to provide him enough downtime to help strengthen his left knee, while also getting him on the floor.

“We don’t have an update on a timeline for him,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He’s feeling better as the week has gone on.”

I asked Stevens what does Morris have to do at this point to get back on the floor.

“The biggest thing is, feeling better consistently, day to day and not having these setbacks,” Stevens said. “With the schedule we’re in the midst of now, playing every day would not be the answer. I think getting him to feel as good as he can … he’s had a couple different opinions, everybody has come up with the same result and that is strengthen it, work diligently on it, and it shouldn’t be a long-term thing. But let’s make sure that we rest over the next couple of weeks, appropriately.

Stevens added, “He’s had a little bit of a setback here, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be long-term.”


Jerebko hoping for a winning return to Boston


Jerebko hoping for a winning return to Boston

When Jonas Jerebko was with the Celtics, his play and performance often drew very little fanfare or notice from anyone other than his teammates and coaches. 
Now with the Utah Jazz and back in Boston for the first time, he is once again a low-key -- but important -- contributor. 

And it's a role that Jerebko doesn’t mind playing, in part because of his time in Boston. 

“It’s all about winning over there,” Jerebko told the Deseret News recently. “I had three great seasons there, going to the playoffs, Eastern Conference finals and a lot of winning, so I just learned that this league is about winning and that’s it.”
While that’s true, Jerebko’s role with the Jazz appears to be slightly more prominent than it was in Boston. 
In his two-plus seasons in Boston, Jerebko made six starts. We’re not even at Christmas yet in his first season in Utah and the 6-foot-10 forward has already had 10 starts for the Jazz.  He’s also averaging 6.3 points, which is more than he ever averaged in a full season for the Celtics. And he’s shooting a career-high 44.4 percent from 3-point range. 
The numbers are better in Utah, but Jerebko is more concerned with helping the Jazz (13-14) rack up a few more wins.
“It’s all about that win in that column, so that’s really what I learned in spending my time [in Boston],” Jerebko said. “It was a good time.”
Here are five under-the-radar story lines leading up to tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and Utah Jazz. 

Fans are in for a treat tonight when two of the NBA’s top rookies will be on the floor. Boston’s Jayson Tatum, the NBA’s top 3-pointer shooter this season, has established himself as one of the top rookies in most categories. Meanwhile, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell has made a name for himself as one of the league’s best first-year players, evident by him averaging 17.8 points per game, which is tops among all rookies. 

Keep an eye on Boston’s 3-point defense. The Celtics come into tonight’s game limiting opponents to 33.8 percent on 3’s, which is the second-lowest average in the NBA. They face a Utah team that has been among the league’s best this season. The Jazz are shooting 38.3 percent from 3-point range, which ranks fifth in the league.

Limiting their mistakes will once again be a key for the Celts because few teams capitalize on mistakes as well as Utah. The Jazz force 16.5 turnovers per game, which ranks second in the NBA. But more impactful is the points those turnovers produce. The Jazz come into tonight’s game having averaged 19.1 points off turnovers, which ranks fifth in the NBA. 

This was supposed to be his first time facing his old team, but the dislocated left ankle injury he suffered on Oct. 17 has put him on the shelf for what’s expected to be the rest of this season. Still, that won’t prevent his former teammates from playing with a little extra something. As for the Celtics, they have had a tremendous amount of success against Utah at home which can only enhance their chances of winning tonight. 

While the Celtics are playing a ton of games before most teams in the NBA, the Jazz have their own scheduling nightmare to deal with. Specifically, the caliber of opponents that they have ahead of them is pretty daunting. They play the Celtics tonight followed by a road game against Cleveland on Saturday. From there, they face Houston and Oklahoma City on the road, then come home to take on the San Antonio Spurs (who now have Kawhi Leonard back in the mix). Including the Celtics game tonight, seven of Utah’s remaining games in the calendar year 2017 are against teams with an above-.500 record.