Brad Stevens has entered unfamiliar territory, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
With their 111-95 victory Monday over the Houston Rockets, the Celtics are now two games over .500 for the first time in the coach’s tenure. After struggling in the first quarter, the Celtics finished outscored the Rockets 87-67 to finish the game. Isaiah Thomas led the way for the C’s with 23 points, while Avery Bradley (21) and Jae Crowder (16) were also in double figures.
The two teams played with polar opposite energy levels. The C’s played with their normal aggression/desperation, while the Rockets looked as disinterested as a prepubescent boy at a middle school dance. The Celtics were extreme active in the passing lanes, which led to a season-high 16 steals. MVP runner-up James Harden was held to only 16 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUDS OF THE NIGHT: Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas.
The pair spread their 44 points across all four quarters. In the first, Thomas carried the C’s, starting the game 4-for-5 from the field with 10 points and three assists. In the second half, it was Bradley’s turn, as he scored 13 points while sitting out the final eight minutes. Both finished 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. Thomas actually started over Bradley, who was able to score 21 points in only 20 minutes. Thomas scored a similarly efficient 23 points in 24 minutes.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: The entire Houston Rockets staff, basketball and crew.
It really didn’t seem like the Rockets ever wanted to win this game. A number of times they neglected to run back on defense. Mike Gorman was personally disgusted and offered his public condolences to Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, who I imagined just shrugged his shoulders and sighed the whole night. The Celtics seemed to win every 50-50 ball and on numerous occasions just ripped the ball out of the hands of Rockets players.
VINES OF THE NIGHT: Bae Crowder up and under …
and Bradley dominates Harden …
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: End of bench in garbage time.
With Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, and Tyler Zeller in the game during garbage time, the Celtics stopped moving the ball and started giving up easy transition baskets. The Rockets even went on a a 15-2 run, cutting the C’s lead to 14.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 16 team steals.
I know the Celtics have the fourth-best defensive rating in the league, but 16 steals is an absurd number.
@ OF THE NIGHT