After crushing the Nets at TD Garden on Friday, the Celtics suffered what may end up being their worst defeat of the season, 111-101 at Brooklyn (3-11). Considering the C’s (7-6) own the Nets‘ first-round pick, the loss is twice as tough to swallow.
The Celtics closed the third quarter on an 18-6 run, trimming a Nets lead as large as 22 in the first half to single digits entering the final frame. The C’s pulled within four in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get over the hump. They never led.
The Celtics started sloppy. Ten of their 17 turnovers came in the first half, and they couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm until the third quarter. But Brooklyn held firm in the fourth, shooting 50.6 percent for the game and out-rebounding the C’s, 49-35.
Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas both scored 27 points to lead the Celtics. And Evan Turner added 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Brook Lopez (23 points, 10 rebounds) and Thaddeus Young (11 points, 11 rebounds) each recorded a double-double for the Nets, who won for just the third time in 14 games this season.
Bradley scored nine points (all 3-pointers) during the 18-6, third-quarter run and was a reliable option whenever the Celtics needed buckets. He scored 27 points on 9-of-20 shooting, including 7-of-14 from distance. He added four rebounds and two steals.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Amir Johnson.
Johnson was a minus-17 on the night and didn’t provide the Celtics much of anything in 18 minutes of play. He scored two points and didn’t grab a single rebound. Celtics coach Brad Stevens turned to Tyler Zeller in the second half, and the backup center chipped in five points, an offensive rebound and one assist in seven minutes.
VINE OF THE NIGHT:
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Marcus Smart’s health.
With Bradley in the starting lineup for the injured Marcus Smart (out 1-2 weeks), the Celtics’ bench missed its new sixth man. Aside Turner and Kelly Olynyk (eight points
While Marcus Smart is going to be out for 1-2 weeks, the Celtics’ bench really missed Avery Bradley tonight. Aside from Turner’s 13 and Kelly Olynyk (8 points), the Celtics didn’t get much production from their reserves. Stevens may be turning to Zeller more often if David Lee (0-for-3) has another scoreless outing.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 3-point shooting.
The Celtics’ 3-point shooting cut into Brooklyn’s 22-point lead and sparked a 14-2 run in the third quarter. The Celtics shot 37.8 percent on 14-of-37 shooting from behind the arc. They entered the game shooting 31.3 percent from distance, which ranked 22nd in the league, so Sunday’s 3-point effort was a welcome sign in an unwelcome outcome.
Smart left the 120-95 victory with 9:26 remaining in the fourth quarter and was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a bruised left knee. Turner played the final 16:07 of the win.
The results of the MRIs and extent of the damage to their knees is unknown. Medical personnel fear damage to Turner’s meniscus and poplitel tendon and a tibiofibular subluxation for Smart, according to the source.
Turner suffered a right knee strain during the preseason, but has not missed a game in a Celtics uniform, playing all 82 contests last season. Smart missed three games with a toe injury earlier this season and 15 games last year. The Celtics are not scheduled to practice on Saturday and are planning to leave for Sunday’s rematch with the Nets in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon.
A 5-minute recap of the Celtics victory over the Nets. David Lee talks about his improved play, Brad Stevens discusses using Isaiah Thomas off-ball before completely ignoring Gino Time.
[0:00:06] ... the WEEI Celtics broadcast of sandbags here. Welcome into the WEEI Celtics podcast the seas below at the nets. 14295. Celtics shoot a crazy 58 point 6%. From the field as a team this year which I think. Is best for her one demon that for any team in the NBA this season in the first quarter the Celtics were led by Jae Crowder who scored eleven points on five of seven shooting. Knocking down 13 exit three rebounds two steals and one assist or just aren't great quarter Crowder. And he kind of kept the Celtics in the scheme is IsiahThomas started off over six bit in the second quarter is really where the Celtics dominated. They shot an amazing eighteen for 21 from the field scoring. 43 points and has really start up and played David Leo I've been kind of skeptical about DavidLee's presence on this team all year I don't think he's that great defender. But in the past few games he's been playing ... [0:02:15] ... were one point he threw that reaches behind the back pass to IsaiahThomas in the corner. Who knocked down a three I say it's another per player for the Celtics who had a great second ...
For the second consecutive game, the Celtics grabbed a big lead in the first half — the only difference this time, they were able to hold onto it. The Celtics blew out the Nets, 120-95.
The Celtics led by 24 at the half (66-42) and opened up a 30-point advantage in the third quarter — their biggest of the night. The Celtics also outscored the Nets 46-28 in the paint and shot 58.6 percent from the field.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Jae Crowder
Crowder found his offense early and often against the Nets. After scoring 11 points in the first quarter, Crowder finished the night with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He also pulled down five rebounds and had three steals.
The Celtics own as many as eight draft picks in June 2016 — only one of which is their own — and the unprotected selection from the Nets is legitimately one of the most fascinating storylines in the entire NBA this season. We’ll regularly update the status of those selections, speculating when and who the Celtics will pick.
The Celtics can thank the Rockets and Hawks for delivering the only two Nets wins in 12 tries. Houston, as we learned on Wednesday, was in disarray, and it’s likely Brooklyn delivered the knockout punch before Boston rang the death knell on Kevin McHale‘s coaching tenure. But what’s Atlanta’s excuse for losing to the Nets (2-10)?
Unfortunately, Brook Lopez (19.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.4 bpg, 1.5 apg, 53.5 TS%, 21.1 PER) and Thaddeus Young (15.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.5 spg, 55.5 TS%, 20.5 PER) might be too good to allow Brooklyn to finish with the absolute worst record in the league.
Had the Celtics beaten the Mavericks on Wednesday, this pick would’ve fallen to No. 24, and they’d legitimately be in the conversation for the East’s second-best team. They still might be. The C’s own a top-five defense, and if the shots ever start falling, their offense could be pretty darn good, too, since they play at a top-five pace and feature one of the league’s best five benches. Even despite the loss to Dallas, they rank fourth in point differential behind only the Warriors, Spurs and Cavaliers.
The Celtics didn’t do themselves any favors pick-wise by blowing an 18-point, first-quarter lead to the Mavericks. But should Boston start being concerned that Dallas might actually be decent this year. As C’s coach Brad Stevens said, “Well I expected difficulty because they’re really talented. I mean, Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, [Chandler] Parsons, [Dirk] Nowitzki — those guys are ‘player’ players. Like, those guys are good players, let alone all the other guys that made great plays for them, so that’s a good basketball team. They’re 8-4 for a reason.” All true.
Let’s change the record and run back what we said two weeks ago in this space: “The Sixers are 0-12 this season, which sounds about right. If we play the game where we predict when Philly will get its first win, I’m thinking somewhere around January … 2018. The Celtics don’t have to wonder whether this will be a high second-round pick; they just need to keep their fingers crossed the 2016 NBA draft is a deep one.”
The Heat (6-4) are outscoring opponents by 6.4 points per 100 possessions — the league’s third-best net rating behind the Warriors and Spurs. Justise Winslow, who the Celtics offered a fortune for, is averaging 7.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists as Miami’s sixth man, but it’s an undrafted rookie who’s had just as big an impact. North Dakota native Tyler Johnson is averaging 13.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists per 36 minutes, while shooting 46.2 percent on 2.5 3-point attempts per game — good enough for the Heat to finally dump Mario Chalmers from the roster.
Poythress just lost a tooth when it got caught in the net on an alley-oop dunk against Duke, which is both gross and proof he plays above the rim. Here’s a strategy for this Cavaliers pick, since it will be among the worst in the draft: Just take any Kentucky guy left standing. Look how well it’s worked out with James Young. Oh, wait …
And, yes, we’ve got the Celtics drafting international players left and right. Where else are they going to stash eight — EIGHT — draft picks? I’d be curious how many scouts they’ll have overseas, and are they looking for one to be stationed in Italy?