We were expecting an exciting game from the Celtics
and Suns at the TD Garden on Monday night, and that’s exactly what we got.
In the end it was an Avery Bradley turnover that led to an Eric Bledsoe fast break dunk with 29.5 seconds remaining that sealed the Suns’ 118-114 victory. (Click here for a complete box score.)
The Celtics had trouble finding a shot on their final possession again, as a whole lot of dribbling and fumbling the ball around eventually led to three Rajon Rondo free throws. Rondo went on to miss all three attempts.
Jeff Green was the high scorer for the Celtics yet again, as he is beginning to find the consistency he has long lacked. Green totaled 28 points on the night and had a pair of monster dunks in the game.
Goran Dragic and Markieff Morris carried the load for the Suns. Dragic finished with 22 points, six rebounds and seven assists, while Morris dropped 30 to go with seven boards and five helpers.
THE FAST PACE CONTINUED
The Celtics have been an elite offensive team all season. So when they welcomed the run-and-gun Suns to town, a wild game was to be expected. As has been the case with many games this year, the score at the end of the third quarter looked like it could have been the final score (89-88).
The teams got up a combine 91 shots in the first half, while also combining for 24 free throw attempts. The up-and-down pace typically favors the C’s, but in this scenario, both teams were playing the way that they wanted to.
DEFENSE REMAINS AN ISSUE
Brad Stevens has been focused on defense in practice following the Celtics’ loss to the Thunder. Since then, the C’s have allowed 122 points to the Cavaliers and 118 to the Suns.
The Celtics were good early on offense, as usual, scoring 54 points in the first half. The problem? They let up 60 to the Suns. Phoenix shot 50 percent from the field in the half, assisting on 18 of their 24 field goals.
Things didn’t get any better to start the second half; the Suns were able to score 11 points in the first two and a half minutes of the third quarter. In the end, the Suns wound up shooting over 51 percent on the night.
KELLY OLYNYK FINALLY STRUGGLED
Olynyk entered Monday’s game averaging 14.4 points on the season, having been one of the Celtics’ strongest players on a consistent basis. That came to an end on Monday, as Olynyk went scoreless in the game.
Offensive versatility is typically what keeps Olynyk on the floor to begin with, but to make matters worse, Olynyk was a clear defensive liability during much of his time on the floor. He was getting beat off the dribble often, both by his man, and other players when he switched on to them.
This was far and away Olynyk’s worst game since early in his rookie season.
TYLER ZELLER STEPPED UP
Thanks to Zeller, Olynyk’s tough outing didn’t wind up hurting as much as it could have. Zeller came off the bench to score nine points and grab three rebounds on 4-for-4 shooting in 13 first half minutes.
Zeller showed no signs of slowing down in the second half; he was an obvious difference maker throughout the entire game. He finished with 19 points on a remarkable 8-for-9 performance from the field. Zeller also had seven rebounds and three assists in what was by far his best game in green.
RAJON RONDO IS A TRIPLE-DOUBLE MACHINE
Once again Rondo neared a triple-double, this time falling one assist shy after being one rebound shy on Friday. This is becoming a nightly trend for Rondo, who has finished in the vicinity of a triple-double in practically every game he has played in so far this season.
Rondo’s totals for the night were 14 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and three huge misses at the free throw line.