Five takeaways from Celtics' win over Hornets
Five takeaways from Celtics' win over Hornets: Back at full strength
BOSTON – For a change of pace, Celtics coach Brad Stevens went into Friday’s game against Charlotte with every player on the roster available for him to use as he saw fit.
That meant some guys would play less (Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson) or not at all (Tyler Zeller).
But when the end result is a 96-88 win, which snapped a three-game losing skid, you won’t find any Celtics complaining about their role.
“We needed the win, no doubt,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “We felt like this is the one we needed and had to have. We talked about it [Friday] morning how we had to have this win. So, we just came out and tried to take care of business.”
And that they did in a game that they spent more time playing catch-up in, but to their credit they turned it on at both ends of the floor and pulled away for the victory.
Here are five takeaways from Friday’s win:
HORFORD RATCHETS UP HIS AGGRESSION
There was an aggressiveness about Al Horford that we’ve seldom seen this season. Here’s hoping it wasn’t a passing fancy because Horford’s low-post skills are pretty special against certain teams. He had 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting to go with eight rebounds, five assists and five blocked shots.
PLAYING THE SMART GAME
Back to coming off the bench now that Isaiah Thomas is back, Marcus Smart continues to make his presence felt. In addition to playing solid defense, Smart had five points, seven rebounds and five assists.
HITTING FIRST AND OFTEN, WORKS
There were lots of good moments on Friday, but one of the most important came moments after the opening tip-off. That is when Jae Crowder drove to the basket and drew a foul just 13 seconds into the game. It set in motion that the Celtics were going to be on the attack which allowed them to withstand the surges by Charlotte.
Never sure of how much playing time he’ll get, Jerebko continues to be one of the more reliable players in head coach Brad Stevens’ rotation. His versatility allows them to play him at all the frontcourt positions, although he seems to thrive the most when Boston puts him at power forward. He gave the Celtics solid defense for the most part, along with a decent scoring night. He had nine points on 4-for-8 shooting to go with three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
THOMAS THE CLOSER
He has been one of the best fourth-quarter performers in the NBA all season, so it came as no shock that he was once again having a major impact on the game’s outcome with his play in the fourth. Thomas missed four of his five shots in the fourth, but still managed to score seven points courtesy of getting four free throw attempts and making all of them, in addition to dishing out two assists. For the game he led all scorers with 26 points - his season average - and five assists.