Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Brown the difference-maker in huge win vs Warriors

Stars, studs and duds: Brown the difference-maker in huge win vs Warriors

BOSTON – This was not one of Kyrie Irving’s better games. But to his credit, he did what the game’s best players do and that’s deliver when the game matters most. 

Irving scored seven of Boston’s last nine points which lifted them to a 92-88 victory over Golden State. 

CELTICS 92, WARRIORS 88

He finished with 16 points, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter with the bulk of those fourth quarter points – seven actually – coming from the free throw line.

“He got to the free throw line a lot. That’s it. He didn’t make no shots,” said Draymond Green. “He got to the free throw line. Whether they were fouls or not, that’s a whole other discussion. He got to the free throw line.”

And in doing so, gave the Celtics their best win of the season. 

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State to extend the Celtics’ winning streak to 14 in a row. 

STARS

Kyrie Irving:  The final numbers for Kyrie Irving – 16 points on 4-for-16 shooting – don’t look good. But Irving gave the Celtics just enough down the stretch for them to get the victory. 

Kevin Durant: The Warriors rarely lose, let alone lose on a night when Durant has an efficient game shooting the ball. He led all scorers with 24 points on 9-for-18 shooting along with three, rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. 

Jaylen Brown: Kyrie Irving’s late-game heroics aside, Brown was the difference-maker for Boston. He led the Celtics with 22 points along with being a spark defensively to some of the team’s biggest runs against the Warriors.

STUDS

Al Horford: One of the few Celtics who shot the ball well, Horford had a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds which came on 7-for-11 shooting. 

DUDS

Marcus Smart: Smart missed all seven of his shots from the field and finished with just one point. Boston has continued to find ways to win, but it’s getting harder and harder to do so with Smart struggling so mightily from the field night-in and night-out. 

Golden State backcourt: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are arguably the best backcourt in the NBA, but you would not have known it by the way they shot the ball on Thursday night. The two all-stars tallied 22 points but did so on a horrific 8-for-32 shooting from the field.

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Can Celtics plug recent defensive leaks vs. Pacers?

Can Celtics plug recent defensive leaks vs. Pacers?

While the Boston Celtics remain tops in the NBA in defensive efficiency with a rating of 100.7, there’s no escaping the reality that they have had some slippage lately which is why the Celtics are 3-3 in their last six games.

Plugging the team’s defensive leaks won’t get any easier tonight against an Indiana Pacers team that has been among the better offensive clubs in the league this season.

The Pacers come into tonight’s game averaging 108.2 points which ranks seventh in the NBA.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens attributes some of the Celtics’ struggles recently to a lack of consistent effort, a sentiment that’s shared among his players.

“We definitely need to play with better effort more consistently,” Boston’s Semi Ojeleye told NBC Sports Boston. “There’s really no excuse for it. We know we have to better, going forward.”

Especially against a Pacers team that’s playing with a chip on its shoulder this season.

Predicted by many to be among the worst teams in the East after trading away Paul George in July for Victor Oladipo and Domantis Sabonis, Indiana (17-13) comes into tonight’s game in a tie for the fourth-best record in the East.

Boston beat the Pacers 108-98 earlier this season, but Indiana was without Oladipo who was out with a bruised right knee.

His availability tonight and his team-leading 24.4 points per game, will certainly have an impact on tonight’s outcome.

Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game between Boston and Indiana.

INDY POINTS OFF TURNOVERS

Boston’s transition defense which has been up and down lately, will be challenged early and often by an Indiana team that likes to get out and run especially off of turnovers. They come into tonight’s game averaging 19.0 points off turnovers which ranks fourth in the NBA. Meanwhile, Boston is giving up 14.3 points off turnovers this season which is second in the league. Boston has given up 13.3 points off turnovers in the last six games, but it ranks just ninth in the league in that span.

SABONIS’ LOVE FOR THE CELTICS

Domantas Sabonis’ father Arvydas, spent his entire NBA career with the Portland Trail Blazers. But according to Domantas, his father was a huge fan of the Boston Celtics and Larry Bird.

Oh, there’s more.

“His favorite color is green, so he loves it even more,” Domantis said shortly after his workout for the Celtics in 2016. “Just everything about the team, the tradition, the winning … everything.”

ARON BAYNES

Teams with physical, smack-first, ask-questions-later-type centers, have given the Pacers problems this season; specifically, Andre Drummond of Detroit and Steven Adams of Oklahoma City, both of whom gave the Pacers major fits while each finishing with a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds. Baynes has provided a much-needed presence around the rim for the Celtics, and has a defensive rating of 94.9 which is tops among all NBA players averaging 15 or more minutes played per game.

INDY’S PULL-UP GAME

There really isn’t any time when the Celtics can relax defensively against a Pacers team that has shown itself to have a diverse set of skills when it comes to scoring. For example, when it comes to pull-up shooting, they rank among the league’s best in several categories. According to NBA.com/stats, they are shooting a league-best 42.8 percent on pull-up shots which generates 21.9 points per game which ranks fourth in the league.

JAYSON TATUM

The Celtics have won three of their last five games, with each win followed by a loss in that span. There are lots of factors, but one that jumps out is the scoring of Jayson Tatum. In the two losses, he scored four and seven points, respectively. But in the three wins, the 19-year-old reached double figures in each game, scoring at least 11 points. For the season, he’s averaging 14.4 points while shooting 53.9 percent on 3’s and 53 percent from the field when the Celtics win. In losses, his scoring drops to 11.6 points per game while shooting 39.3 percent from the field and 40.9 percent on 3’s.

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Pacers in Indiana. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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