Somewhere between TD Garden and the Texas state line, the Celtics lost their way.

Brad Stevens’ team arrived safely in Houston for Saturday night’s tilt, but its game was misplaced. Everything that went well for the Celts in their runaway, season-opening win Wednesday night went wrong in a 104-90 loss to the Rockets.

In a nutshell, the Celtics weren’t aggressive enough early on, and were remarkably bad from beyond the 3-point line. The C’s went to the foul line 24 fewer times than the Rockets, while having the worst 3-point shooting night in franchise history.

With the 1-for-25 showing from beyond the 3-point stripe, it marked the first time in franchise history the Celtics have not hit a three while taking more than 10 attempts. Jeff Green hit his team’s 22nd attempt. The NBA record still stands at 0-for-22, set by the Nuggets in 2012.

The closest the Celtics would come in the second half was 11 points.

RAJON RONDO IS A WORK IN PROGRESS

It was easy to forget Rondo didn’t play a single preseason game after watching him excel against the Nets. But in Game No. 2, the point guard seemed out of sorts from the start.

Before exiting the game for the first time, with the Celtics trailing, 22-8, Rondo had trouble both offensively and defensively (where he was often lost on rotations after double-teaming Dwight Howard). He would re-enter the game with the C’s still trailing by 14 (32-18), continuing to lack any sort of spark.

Rondo finished the first half going 0-for-2 from the field. For the game, the point guard went 2-for-9 from the floor, but did haul in 10 rebounds.

LEANING ON JUMPERS PROVED DANGEROUS

There was a reason the Celtics attempted just three first-half free throws, while the Rockets were going to the line 24 times: the C’s weren’t exactly taking it at the hosts.

The missed jumpers, particularly in the first quarter, were especially damaging considering how Houston was able to transition into makable shots (shooting 57 percent from the field in the initial quarter, leading to a 15-point Celtics deficit). The Celtics started going inside more in the second quarter, but the hole had already been dug.

The most noticeable aspect of the Celtics’ reliance on their outside game came from beyond the 3-point line, where they turned in a historically bad performance.

DEALING WITH HOWARD PROVED DICEY

Stevens attempted to rotate the trio of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller on Howard. That strategy, however, ran into some issues with all three carrying three fouls into halftime. The trio finished with five fouls apiece.

The unevenness at the position also translated to a dramatic 180 for Olynyk from Wednesday night, when he totaled 18 points. This time the second-year big man couldn’t find a comfort zone

Howard only finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, but his presence allowed for the likes of James Harden (26 points) to get in the clear.

LIVING WITH THE UPS AND DOWNS OF MARCUS SMART

So much was made of the performance of the rookie in Game 1, with Smart contributing on multiple levels against Brooklyn.

This time, however, he couldn’t supply any help for a Celtics team desperate for some aggressiveness. Smart went 0-for-7 from the field

HOT STARTS ARE STILL A THING OF THE PAST

The Celtics failed to go 2-0 once again, not having accomplished the feat since 2009.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Kyle Draper joins Danny Picard to talk about the Celtics chances this season in the Eastern Conference, last Wednesday's home opener blowout against the Nets, and Rajon Rondo's future in Boston

Does the NBA need to take a lesson from MLB? (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)



CHRIS VILLANI

BIO | ARCHIVE


There was a different feel to this Kevin Garnett homecoming than the first. No longer paired with Paul Pierce on the Nets, he received a standing ovation from Celtics fans and a smattering of “KG” chants during Brooklyn’s pregame announcements in the Garden, but nothing like the catharsis in January.

Still, the love is there, as it always will be in Boston, and the feeling is mutual.

“It’€™s always special to come back to Beantown,” Garnett said after a 121-105 loss. “Hearing the little things, it’€™s very hard to focus. I had to go to yoga this morning, ooh-sah, get my meditation right, stay level. A lot of energy in the building. It’€™s always great to come back here. I love Beantown. I’€™m always bleeding green. Y’€™all know what it is.”

Garnett finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes, but old friend Rajon Rondo who won the night, amassing 13 points, 12 assists and seven boards in 30 minutes. “Rondo was classic,” added Garnett. “I don’€™t know what he said he was at — 89, 83 percent? That was a hell of an 83 percent.”

Rondo returned the favor. “It was special again going against KG,” he said. “He’€™s like my big brother. He hit me a couple times on the pick, but he didn’€™t hit me as hard as he was hitting Avery [Bradley]. He nails guys on the pick, and I’€™m used to him nailing guys for me. It’s always great to play against the guy, especially since it’s his 20th year.”

Garnett begrudgingly paid respect to another old friend he would’ve rather not seen: Gino. So often staring at the Jumbotron, disco dancing in Celtics sweats at the end of blowout wins from 2007-13, KG retreated to Brooklyn’s huddle and didn’t even glimpse at the long-haired man who brought him so much joy.

“Listen, I was so upset. I didn’€™t even get to really, really get Gino in my system. My low moment for the night, you know what I mean? Gino is a big part of me, and I didn’€™t even get to celebrate it, but I’€™m still a huge Gino fan.”

KG didn’t just reserve praise for Rondo and Gino. The newest C’s stars also earned his respect.

“Their schemes were very clever,” he said. “They do unorthodox things, such as putting a big in the corner and having a big roll. That’s a lot of pressure on the smalls. My hat goes off to coach [Brad] Steven and his schemes. They played well. They shot the ball really well tonight.”

And of Marcus Smart, the rookie whose defensive intensity brings back recent Celtics memories, KG added, “The kid’s very impressive. This is my first time seeing him live, playing against him and stuff. He and Rondo and Avery, that’s going to be a tandem. I can’t wait to watch some of the games. They played great tonight. They seem to have a nice chemistry together. Hopefully they can be consistent with that.”

Yup, everything felt different in KG’s second return. Basketball in Boston has moved on.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Rajon Rondo's contract year has commenced. (Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)

This is Rajon Rondo’s team, and this is his time.



The Celtics hosted the Nets on an opening night where it seemed nothing could go wrong for the home team at TD Garden.

The Celtics hosted the Nets on an Opening  Night where it seemed nothing could go wrong for the home team at TD Garden.

First it was the C’s taking a 26-point lead into halftime, then the Celtics dropped 101 points by end of the third quarter thanks to a Kelly Olynyk buzzer-beater.

In the end, the Celtics played extremely well as a whole, winning, 121-105, while shooting an insane 55.7 percent for the game. (€Click to see box score.) And it was Rajon Rondo who gave them the shot in the arm that they really needed.

Rondo dazzled in his return

Rondo returned to action just shy of five weeks after having surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand and was better than ever. Wearing protective padding over his injured hand, Rondo posted a near triple-double in his first game action since April, finishing with 13 points (6-for-9 FGs), 12 assists and seven rebounds in just under 30 minutes of action.

Brad Stevens said prior to the game that there is no minute restriction on his star point guard, but that he will open up the season playing in these types of short stints followed by even shorter rests.

Marcus Smart was solid in his first regular season game

Marcus Smart made his NBA debut. Smart got his first basket as a pro by stealing an inbounds pass and taking it all the way to the rim for an easy dunk.

Smart finished the game with 10 points on 3-for-7 shooting, but was even better on the defensive side of the ball where he collected four steals to go along with his typical lockdown defense. Fellow rookie James Young received a DNP in his first game.

Eight Celtics scored in double-figures

The Celtics’€™ victory was a complete team effort on all fronts and the scoring distribution showed it. Olynyk led eight C’€™s in double-figures with 19 points, followed by Jeff Green (17), Avery Bradley (15), Rondo and Jared Sullinger (13 each) and Smart, Evan Turner and Marcus Thornton (10 a piece). On top of that, the only other two Celtics that played, Brandon Bass and Tyler Zeller, had eight and six points respectively.

The fans showed much love for Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett returned to the Garden to play in his second game in Boston since departing to Brooklyn in a trade. Garnett received a loud round of applause followed by plenty of chanting and cheering when he was announced in the starting lineups. It wasn’€™t quite as heartfelt as when he and Paul Pierce returned together with the Nets last January, but it’€™s clear that Boston still loves them some KG.

The Celtics now have a couple days of practice before a road trip takes them to Texas to play the Rockets on Saturday and the Mavericks on Monday.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

He’€™s been giving us updates on himself all week, from 79 percent on Monday to 83 percent on Tuesday, but now Brad Stevens has made it official.

He’€™s been giving us updates on himself all week, from 79 percent on Monday to 83 percent on Tuesday, but now Brad Stevens has made it official. Rajon Rondo will play in the Celtics‘€™ first game of the season on Wednesday night just 33 days after surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand.

Stevens was straight to the point when asked if Rondo would play and if he would start, simply responding, ‘€œyes’€ to both questions.

Then Stevens was asked if Rondo would have a minutes restriction: ‘€œNo,’€ said the coach. ‘€œThe way that I’€™ve looked at it is that I might play him in shorter stints, but no minute restrictions. And then, you know, it will be about how he plays after that, it really is his first preseason game as well for him.’€

Stevens also went on to say that Rondo will receive shorter rest than he did last year in between his playing stints.

Rondo’€™s presence means that rookie Marcus Smart will be demoted to coming off the bench. Meanwhile, Rondo will start alongside Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow
Its time to start the season for the Celtics! We talk about the things we like about the Celtics and the things we dont like very much. Plus Sam feels like a jerk for laughing at Julius Randle.