Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Looking ahead to 'great challenge' of Warriors

Stars, studs and duds: Looking ahead to 'great challenge' of Warriors

There are some things in life that you know are absolutes.

Talk centering around Golden State within moments of defeating Brooklyn?

Yup, that’s one of ‘em.

The Celtics managed to survive a hard-fought, 109-102 win at Brooklyn which extended their winning streak to 13 in a row, setting the stage for Thursday night’s battle between Boston and Golden State, two teams with the top two records in the NBA.

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Golden State being there?

No surprise.

But the Celtics, especially after losing Gordon Hayward (ankle) for what should be the rest of the season, and then dropping their first two games only to win the next 13 – something no team in NBA history has ever done – has put the Celtics in class of distinction few if any expected this season.

“It’s always a great challenge to go against those guys,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving who returned to the Celtics lineup after missing the Toronto game on Sunday due to a facial fracture. “They have unbelievable talent. They built an incredible culture there. For us as a young team, trying to come in and be in that number one spot like they are, and that’s being a championship team, we have to face tests like this in the regular season. It’ll only be a chance for us to get better. We understand that they have incredible players. But we have incredible players as well. It’ll be great to see some high-level play, some high-level players.”

Said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens: “We just have to play really solid on both ends and do what we do as well as we can, and see where we stand. Obviously, they are outstanding.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 109-102 win over Brooklyn which extended their winning streak to 13 in a row with defending NBA champion Golden State up next.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

The plastic mask he hates to wear didn’t do much to impact his ability to score. He led all players with 25 points on 8-for-20 shooting along with five assists.

Marcus Morris

He was the man for the Celtics in the fourth quarter, tallying 11 of his 21 points to go with 10 rebounds.

Joe Harris

As the Nets fought their way back from a deficit that peaked at 21 points, Harris’ long-range shooting helped significantly. He led Brooklyn with 19 points which included five 3-pointers.

Brad Stevens

He has been an absolute star thus far this season, pushing all the right buttons, getting the most out of his players and more than anything else, winning games – a lot of games.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

It was yet another highly efficient shooting night for Horford, tallying a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds which included him shooting 8-for-10 from the field.

Jayson Tatum

Just when you think you’ve seen the best of Tatum, the 19-year-old shows you a move that leaves you once again slack-jawed that a player so young can be so skilled and have such a feel for the game. He had 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Spencer Dinwiddie

For a third-string point guard (Jeremy Lin and D’Angelo Russell were both out), Dinwiddie did a lot of nice things for the Nets, finishing with a double-double of 12 points and 11 assists.

 

DUDS

Celtics bench

This was one of those nights when they provided very little in terms of actual production or impact. Shooting-wise, they were a collective 4-for-26 from the field while scoring just 13 points. And defensively, three of the four worst defensive ratings for the game came from the second unit (Semi Ojeleye, 151.0; Terry Rozier 108.2; and Marcus Smart 101.1).

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Report: Clippers willing to offer Tobias Harris, draft picks for Kawhi Leonard

Report: Clippers willing to offer Tobias Harris, draft picks for Kawhi Leonard

The Clippers are firmly in the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes.

According to the Los Angeles Times, they would be willing to part ways with Tobias Harris and the No. 12 or 13 pick in this year's draft for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Harris was the piece they received from the Pistons in the Blake Griffin trade last season.

Leonard wants out of San Antonio and has declared the Lakers his preferred landing spot, though the Clippers reportedly are among the teams he would consider.

Of course, the Celtics have also been named as a possible destination for the 27-year-old. 

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Blakely: Celtics may come up with a winner at No. 27

Blakely: Celtics may come up with a winner at No. 27

BOSTON -- The Celtics aren’t expected to try and move up in Thursday night’s NBA draft.

Judging by the success teams in recent years have had at their draft position, you can understand why.

Indeed, the 27th pick in recent years has been -- on many levels -- as good or better than players selected several slots higher in their respective draft.

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Look at last year’s draft, one in which the Los Angeles Lakers nabbed Kyle Kuzma with the 27th overall pick. As a rookie, he averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in earning a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team -- the only player drafted outside of the lottery (top 14) to be chosen for the first unit.

In the previous season, Toronto selected Pascal Siakam from New Mexico at No. 27. He appeared in 55 games as a rookie, making a total of 36 starts while averaging 4.3 points per game. This past season he was key to a strong bench that played an instrumental role in Toronto recording a franchise-record 59 wins, giving the Raptors the best record in the East for the first time in franchise history.

As you continue to look at the 27th pick lineage, it’s clear that all the talk about Boston being able to find a player who can contribute that late in the draft isn’t overly optimistic.

Rudy Gobert, drafted by the Utah Jazz in 2012 at No. 27, has been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team three times and will be in contention for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award again. He was also on the All-NBA second team in 2017.

Last season Boston finished with the second-best record in the East with a roster that was the league’s fifth-youngest. Most of that core group is set to return, with only Marcus Smart (restricted) and Aron Baynes (unrestricted) on the free-agent market. Finding a potential replacement for either of those guys is possible (unlikely, but definitely possible) with the 27th pick.

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More important than that, Boston has to continue to add players who can produce regardless of their position.

And while it’s certainly a far cry from the last two years, when the Celtics had the third overall pick in each draft (Jaylen Brown in 2016, Jayson Tatum in 2017), history has shown that teams can find more than just a warm body at No. 27. The Celts hope to add another chapter to that narrative this week.

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