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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).