At least the Celtics
avoided a bad night turning into a really bad night.
The Celts might have lost their first-round pick, Marcus Smart, for an extended period of time due to a fourth quarter, left leg injury. (For more on Smart’s situation, click here.) But the C’s were able to avoid what would have been a demoralizing loss to a depleted Indiana team.
Down by two points heading into the final quarter, the Celtics rallied in the fourth to hang on for a 101-98 win over a Pacers club that has now lost five straight games. (For a complete box score, click here.)
THE PROMISE OF MARCUS SMART MAY HAVE TO WAIT
With the rookie being wheeled off the TD Garden floor on a stretcher, the reality of Smart’s first season was severely clouded. While continuing to struggle shooting the ball — having gone 1-for-6 from the floor after coming into the game with just a 30 percent percentage — he had shown flashes both defensively and in his offensive aggressiveness.
Smart came into the game averaging 21.5 minutes per game, suggesting a continued confidence from Celtics coach Brad Stevens. A heavier reliance will most likely be put on Marcus Thornton (who played just 7 minutes Friday night) and perhaps Phil Pressey, who totaled a season-high 12 minutes.
AT LEAST THEY DIDN’T GIVE IT AWAY (THAT MUCH)
One game after allowing Toronto 36 points off of turnovers, the Celtics made it a point of hanging on to the ball. Prior to the game, C’s coach Brad Stevens suggested that the issue in the previous contest was mostly due to the efforts of the Raptors. The results Friday night supported that take.
The Celtics didn’t commit their first turnover against the Pacers until there was 7:10 left in the first half. The ball security allowed Indiana to go the entire first half without a fast break basket.
When the Celtics did start turning it over again — allowing five miscues in the third quarter — that’s when Indiana started getting back into it. After trailing by as many as 13 late in the first half, the Pacers went on a 15-0 run early in the second half to claim a brief four-point lead.
KELLY OLYNYK IS PROVING TO BE A FIND
The second-year forward has proven to be one of the most consistent performers for the Celtics, coming into the game averaging 23.9 points and 13.6 rebounds per 48 minutes, shooting 57 percent.
In this case Olynyk’s efforts were much-needed this time around, with Indiana making no bones about their intentions. The Pacers scored 16 of their 26 first-quarter points in the paint, with Roy Hibbert (who was coming off an 0-for=7 showing), Luis Scola, and Chris Copeland owning the inside.
Thanks to Tyler Zeller, there were moments where Celtics big men not named “Olynyk” made their presence felt …
RAJON RONDO STILL IS LOOKING FOR MAX-CONTRACT VALUE
Although he has shown flashes of dominance this season, Rondo proved good, but certainly not great, this time around.
The point guard totaled eight points on 4-of-10 shooting (8 points), staying on the floor for 28 minutes. Rondo had averaged 34 minutes and 9.3 points per game prior to Friday night.
BRAD STEVENS DIDN’T DESIGN THE NEW UNIFORMS
Before the game, when asked about the new Celtics uniforms (which they will be wearing six times this season), the Celtics coach had this to say:
‘I think the biggest thing is, if our guys like them, I like them. The last thing I can do, and all of you who know me know this, is analyze fashion. Ask [Rajon] Rondo, a couple of our other guys, what they think because they have a much better eye then I do.’
(Click here to see the new uniforms.)
For what it’s worth, another Boston head coach, Claude Julien, was also in attendance, watching the game courtside Friday night.