Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Horford, Celtics successfully limit Porzingis

Stars, studs and duds: Horford, Celtics successfully limit Porzingis

BOSTON – Al Horford gets a lot of praise for his ability to stretch the floor as well as score around the basket.

But four games into this season, we have seen him show some serious versatility as a defender.

In the last two games alone, we have seen him defend Philadelphia’s 6-foot-10 point-forward Ben Simmons effectively, then switch out and limit their all-everything big man Joel Embiid.

Horford was back at it on Tuesday night, delivering one of the better defensive performances you’ll see in containing New York’s Kristaps Porzingis who was a non-factor in Boston’s 110-89 win on Tuesday.

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Porzingis, who scored 30-plus points in New York’s first two games this season, was limited to just 12 points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field.

“A lot of names get thrown around, rightfully so, in the defensive talk around the league,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “There’s a lot of really good defenders, but Al’s right up there and doesn’t always get mentioned, and that’s okay with Al. He’s okay with just contributing to winning whether he gets talked about or not.”

While Horford’s defensive success of late might come as a surprise to some, the 6-foot-10 big man has been among the better defensive bigs in the league most of his career.

The reason it’s more noticeable of late is because the Celtics have him paired in the frontcourt with Aron Baynes who often takes on the opposing team’s center while Horford defends power forwards.

“It gives me a little more freedom on defense,” Horford said.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-89 win over the New York Knicks.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

The Knicks had no answer for Brown who had a monster game. That, and the Celtics getting the win, made for a pretty awesome 21st birthday for him. He would finish with 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

He gets a lot of grief for not putting up bigger numbers, but these are the games that truly define Horford. His defense on Kristaps Porzingis was about as good as you’ll see on the talented 7-foot-3 big man. Horford also managed a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds along with five assists.

Jayson Tatum

With a second unit consisting of three rookies, a guy that was out of the league last season (Shane Larkin) and a career backup (Terry Rozier), Tatum carried the scoring load that really put some serious separation between the Celtics and the Knicks. He would finish with a career-high 22 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter when the Celtics outscored the Knicks 24-16.

Kyrie Irving

He’s looking more and more comfortable in figuring out how best to get his scoring, get others involved and do so while limiting his turnovers. Against the Knicks he had 20 points to go with seven assists with only three turnovers.

 

DUDS

Kristaps Porzingis

Boston’s Aron Baynes and Al Horford delivered a defensive 1-2 punch that kept Porzingis under wraps all game (Semi Ojeleye had some nice defensive moments off the bench defensively, too). After dropping 30-plus points in each of New York’s first two games, the Celtics limited Porzingis to just 12 points on 3-for-14 shooting which included him missing 11 of his first 12 shot attempts.=

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Celtics draft big man Robert Williams in first round

1:24 - A. Sherrod Blakely, Brain Scalabrine and Kyle Draper break down the Celtics' selection in the 2018 NBA Draft and are joined by the man who made the pick himself, Danny Ainge.

7:49 - The Nets and Dwight Howard have begun buyout talks, which means the veteran center could soon be a free agent. Michael Holley, Danielle Trotta and Luke Bonner debate if Howard would be a good fit in Boston.

11:59 - Brad Stevens fields questions from the media immediately following the Celtics selection of Williams.

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Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

Ainge stays patient in draft by standing pat at No. 27

BOSTON – Danny Ainge went through his customary routine of making calls up and down the draft, looking for any and every opportunity to make a deal that would strengthen the Boston Celtics roster. 

And while he was open to getting a deal done and move away from the team’s late first-round pick, Ainge said he went into Thursday night’s draft intent on standing pat with the 27th overall pick that was used to select Robert Williams.

The past few weeks were spent by Ainge and his front office staff examining what the price would be for them to move up in the draft. 

That price proved to be too steep for Ainge’s liking. 

His assessment afterward?

“We were preparing for the 27th pick,” Ainge said. “We were preparing for opportunities to move up; not all the way to the top of the draft but somewhere in the middle and we were preparing for guys we didn’t like, and move back in the draft. It’s the same thing we do every year, prepare for any situation that comes up.”

But this draft felt different, in part because the Celtics were beginning further back than recent years in which includes Boston having the No. 3 overall pick in back-to-back drafts. 

And just like Boston seemed to get great value out of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from the last two drafts, they are hoping for continued draft success in adding Williams who at one point was considered a player with lottery (top-14) pick talent. 

“Robert will have opportunities to play, but that will depend on how well he plays, what he does,” Ainge said.

Williams’ head coach Billy Kennedy echoed similar sentiments.

“He’s a special talent,” Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy told Boston Sports Tonight. “He can do things some of the other guys in the draft can’t do.”

Which made staying patient and not aggressively trying to move up in the draft, a worthwhile decision for Ainge in Boston landing a player that they did not go into the draft anticipating would be available to them if they stood pat with the 27th overall pick.

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