Celtics

Celtics

Monday’s 111-95 win at Houston was yet another night when the Boston Celtics got their hands on a few balls – OK, quite a few balls which led to lots of turnovers.

And Houston’s turnovers were quickly converted into a ton of easy points.

It’s unusual to see a team at seemingly every position on the floor, be as active with their hands as the Boston Celtics.

And yet when you watch them on film, they’re playing effective, high impact defense without a lot of gambling.

“It’s all position,” Boston head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. “It’s been position the whole time. These guys are doing a good job of taking appropriate gambles. You can’t play like a robot but at the same time, they’re in the right spots. They are very aggressive. They have great hands and they’re playing real hard. If you do that, you have a chance to make things happen at that end of the floor.

Stevens added, “But it’s gotta be our DNA. If it’s not we’re in trouble.”

Trouble is what the Celtics seem to be bringing to opponents who have struggled to avoid turning the ball over against them.

The Rockets committed 22 turnovers that led to 39 Celtics points.

Said Marcus Smart: “We just look at the scouting report. It’s another team effort. It took five of us on the boards, guarding James Harden keeping Dwight (Howard) off the glass. We just stayed focused throughout the whole game.”

 

It was the kind of performance that produced a number of difference-making performances.

And with that, here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 
STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The case to keep him in the starting lineup continues to get stronger and stronger with each passing game. He led all scorers with 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the field for his third straight game with at least 20 points scored. He also had six assists, three rebounds and two steals.


Jae Crowder

Crowder’s toughness really shined in the third quarter for the Celtics. He finished with a season-high 16 points, nine of which came in the third quarter.

 

STUDS

Amir Johnson

The numbers rarely tell the full story when it comes to what Johnson has brought to this team. There were tip-out rebounds, contested shots and hustle play after hustle play that ultimately positioned the Celtics for a rousing blowout win. He finished with six points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and a blocked shot.


Marcus Smart

He missed 10 of his 11 shots from the field and finished with just four points. But Smart’s presence all game was instrumental for the Celtics. He finished with four points, but also has nine rebounds, six assists, five steals and maybe most significant, the Celtics were a +30 – tops on the team – when Smart was on the floor.

 

DUDS

James Harden

The league’s second-leading scorer was a non-factor most of the game. He finished with 16 points on 4-for-10 shooting. The 16 points scored matched his season low.