Javonte Green

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.

Watch Celtics' Marcus Smart dish unbelievable no-look pass vs. Grizzlies

Watch Celtics' Marcus Smart dish unbelievable no-look pass vs. Grizzlies

Marcus Smart is a human highlight reel.

The Boston Celtics guard typically makes his presence felt with his scrappy play and All-NBA defense. But lately, he's been raising eyebrows with his passing.

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In the second quarter of Wednesday night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Smart effortlessly dished a no-look assist to Javonte Green.

Shortly afterward, Smart showed off his passing prowess on another assist to Jayson Tatum.

Even when the shots aren't falling, Smart will find a way to make a positive impact on his team. Whether it be for his defense, passing, or his unquestioned leadership, he continues to show why he's so valuable to this C's squad.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Suns-Celtics Overreactions: Is Marcus Smart becoming a knockdown shooter?

Suns-Celtics Overreactions: Is Marcus Smart becoming a knockdown shooter?

The Boston Celtics losing streak hit three games by virtue of their loss at the hands of the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. The team has dropped six of their last eight games amid what is far and away their worst slump of the season.

The Celtics were without the services of Kemba Walker (knee) and Jaylen Brown (thumb) and as a result, their offense simply couldn't do enough. Despite a superb effort from Marcus Smart (more on that later), the Celtics fell by a score of 123-119. And they'll have to start thinking about making some changes moving forward to ensure they snap out of this skid.

Here are three instant overreactions from the C's loss, which brings them to 27-14 on the year.

1. Marcus Smart is becoming a knockdown 3-point shooter

Verdict: Overreaction

Marcus Smart just had the best 3-point shooting game in Celtics history. He scored a career-high 37 points and his offense was essentially the only thing that kept the C's in the game against the Suns.

Smart is hot from downtown. He was to start the season for the Celtics and in the team's first 11 games, he was hitting 40 percent of his shots. Now, he's on a similar hot streak.

After struggling to hit shots in the wake of an eye infection, Smart has been on fire from beyond the arc in his last six games. He has gone 19-of-38 from deep in that stretch and has been one of the team's most consistent shooters during their slump.

As much as we'd love to believe that Smart has turned the corner, it's hard to recommend trusting Smart from long-range long-term. He's simply too streaky of a 3-point shooter and it's important to remember that he had a 15-game stretch where he shot just 23 percent from downtown.

The Celtics will keep riding the hot hand while Smart has it. But eventually, he will cool off, so the team shouldn't plan on him being a high-volume 3-point scorer. Maybe he'll finish the season with a career-high in 3-point shooting, but seeing him making 40+ percent of his threes is likely unsustainable.

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2. Javonte Green needs more minutes

Verdict: Not an overreaction

When the Celtics were in need of a jolt in the first half, Brad Stevens turned to Javonte Green as the team operated with a short bench. And in his action, Green didn't disappoint.

Green provided the Celtics with the energy that they needed to spark a comeback against the Suns. He drew the team's first free throws of the game early in the second quarterback by driving to the rim. He aggressively attacked the boards. And he made plays to snap the Celtics out of their early first-quarter funk.

Green finished the game with six points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal. That said, he only logged three minutes in the second half despite his solid first-half effort.

Moving forward, Green deserves more minutes for the squad. He's just a rookie so he may not be consistent, but he deserves more than the six-odd minutes that he had been averaging in the previous five games the Celtics played.

3. Devin Booker is the Celtics kryptonite

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Celtics fans everywhere should be thankful that Devin Booker plays for a non-contending Western Conference team. If he was in the Eastern Conference, the C's would have a lot of trouble dealing with him.

Entering the Celtics game with the Suns, Booker ranked second all-time in points per game against the Celtics with 29.6. Exiting the game, he was tied for first all-time with an average of 30.7 points per game against the C's.

And who is he tied with? That would be Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player in NBA history.

Booker netted 39 points on 12-of-20 shooting. He was efficient and also added 10 rebounds and nine assists in a near triple-double. Even though Marcus Smart did well on him at times, the team simply couldn't stop him from scoring when he wanted to.

Again, the C's struggles against Booker doesn't matter much in the long run as long as he's on the Suns. But his presence will certainly create problems every time that the team has to play against Phoenix.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Monday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.