Celtics

Celtics-Magic Takeaways: Kemba Walker sets the tone, C's follow in comeback win in Orlando

Celtics-Magic Takeaways: Kemba Walker sets the tone, C's follow in comeback win in Orlando

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics were about as depleted as we’ve seen them in some time, with three core players - Jaylen Brown (ankle), Enes Kanter (hip bruise) and Jayson Tatum (groin) - out against Orlando. 

The Celtics were going to need their best scorer (Walker) to be even more impactful when it came down to making shots. 

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And Walker did not disappoint, delivering the kind of performance that leaves no questions as to why he is going to the All-Star Game for the fourth consecutive season and second in a row as a starter.   

Just as important, Walker’s impressive scoring night was enough to help an injury-riddled Celtics team escape with a 109-98 victory which was win No. 300 for Brad Stevens (only the fifth coach in franchise history to amass 300 or more wins coaching the Celtics). 

We had the will to win tonight,” Walker, who had a game-high 37 points, told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the game. “That’s how it has to be.”

Boston was playing without Jaylen Brown (ankle) and Jayson Tatum (groin), in addition to Enes Kanter (hip bruise) which put more of an emphasis on Walker leading the charge 

“Everyone made plays but he kept us in it,” Stevens said of Walker. 

GORDON HAYWARD

With no Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum or Enes Kanter available, the Celtics absolutely had to have a big game scoring the ball from Gordon Hayward. 

And he did not disappoint, finishing with his fifth double-double this season, with 22 points and a season-high 14 rebounds along with dishing out five assists. 

While Hayward is often criticized for up-and-down-play, the days when he’s off his game are few and far between. 

He’s impacting the game as a 3-point threat, a mid-range scorer and a finisher at the rim. The challenge for him and most NBA players, is doing what he does best more consistently. 


GRANT WILLIAMS

Into the starting lineup due to injuries, Williams had a quietly strong game for Boston. Kemba Walker had a huge game, and Williams’ ability to deliver bone-crunching screens was a big part of that. To see the bodies bounce off of Williams when he sets a screen gives is important when it comes to freeing up teammates for scores. He would finish with nine points, four rebounds and three assists along with a steal and two blocked shots.

There’s a do-it-all style about Williams’ game that affords him the ability to impact the game in a multitude of ways with Friday’s victory for Boston being the latest example. 

In the first half, he had a sequence in which he set a screen that freed up Kemba Walker for a shot, blocked a shot at the rim and drained a 3-pointer all within sixty seconds

It’s unclear how much longer Brown and Tatum will be out, but knowing that Williams will be ready certainly puts the mind of Brad Stevens at ease. 

 
JAVONTE GREEN

While his seven points and six rebounds were great to see, Green continues to prove that there’s quite a bit of untapped potential when it comes to his game. He has been electrifying offensively with his above-the-rim exploits.

But on Friday, it was Green’s defense that really stood out. 

He was among the handful of Celtics that took turns trying to limit Terrence Ross who is one of those players who tends to light up Boston, home or away. 

Green and company limited Ross to just eight points on 3-for-14 shooting. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Green had spent some extra time brushing up on matchups leading up to Friday’s game. That extra time paid off almost immediately for both him and Boston.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pelicans, which begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 6 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Kemba Walker injury: Celtics star (knee) ruled out vs. Jazz as road trip ends

Kemba Walker injury: Celtics star (knee) ruled out vs. Jazz as road trip ends

The Boston Celtics won't have Kemba Walker for Wednesday night's matchup against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City.

The veteran point guard will miss his fourth straight game after the C's officially ruled him out Wednesday afternoon. Walker has been dealing with a sore left knee and has not played on the Celtics' road trip, which ends in Utah.

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The 29-year-old star last played for the Celtics in their win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 13. He played three days later in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, including a long stint in the fourth quarter when the matchup got really competitive. Should Walker have played in the All-Star Game given the situation with his knee? No, probably not, but the team is taking the right approach by sitting him now and not letting the injury get worse. 

The Celtics will need Walker to be healthy and ready to go come playoff time. If he has to miss a few games in February and March for that to happen, so be it. Walker is averaging 21.8 points, five rebounds and 4.1 assists per game this season.

Second-year center Robert Williams (left hip bone edema) also has been ruled out for Wednesday night's game versus the Jazz.

Blakely: Yes, the Celtics could win a title in 2020

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Jazz, which begins Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Celtics vs. Jazz odds: Best NBA picks with Boston as road underdog

Celtics vs. Jazz odds: Best NBA picks with Boston as road underdog

If the Boston Celtics want to be legitimate title contenders, they'll need to win tough games.

Enter Wednesay's contest against the Utah Jazz, who sit fifth in the Western Conference standings and host a Celtics team on the second night of a road back-to-back.

Boston took care of business Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers but will be without Kemba Walker again as the All-Star guard recovers from a knee injury.

That means the Celtics will need Jayson Tatum to stay piping hot if they want to earn a win as rare underdogs against Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz.

Here are our betting predictions for Celtics-Jazz, as well as two NBA locks against the spread.

(All odds provided by WestGate Superbook.)

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Boston Celtics at Utah Jazz, 10:30 p.m. ET

Moneyline: The Jazz have lost three in a row out of the All-Star break and just took Mike Conley out of the starting lineup. Boston's only two losses in its last 12 games are to the Lakers and Rockets. That's enough evidence for me to take the underdog Celtics (+180).

Point Spread: The Celtics (+5) have covered in 12 of their 16 games as underdogs this season, the second-best rate (behind the Lakers) in the NBA. They ride Tatum to victory against a Utah team that's 3-9 against the spread in its last 12 games.

Point Total: I'm always tempted to take the under whenever the defensive-minded Jazz are involved, but these teams have hit the over in four of their last six meetings. Expect the point total to go OVER a modest 218.5 point total.

Darren's record picking the Celtics' moneyline, point spread and point total: 78-44-1 (63.4% success rate)

NBA Lock of the Night

Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat (-11): The tanking Timberwolves have covered just twice in their last 15 games and have lost three consecutive games by double digits. They stand no chance in Miami against the NBA's second-best home team (23-3).

Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks (+4): The Hawks are awful on the road but have won six of their last seven at home. Trae Young carries Atlanta over a Magic team that's 3-10 against the spread over its last 13 contests.

Darren's record picking NBA locks against the spread: 39-41-1 (48.1% success rate)