It was an ugly shooting night for the Celtics, especially in the first half, when they missed more than 70 percent of their attempts, but somehow they remained with four of the Spurs in the final minutes.
It was a testament to their defense, but despite making several runs to cut into a 15-point deficit, the Celtics couldn’t ever get over the hump in a 95-87 loss that dropped them to 1-2 on the young season.
Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 18 points on 18 shots before leaving the game with 26 seconds left and retreating to the locker room with the team doctor. Marcus Smart (17 points), Isaiah Thomas (15 points on 18 shots), Jared Sullinger (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Amir Johnson (10 points) also reached double figures.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Marcus Smart.
His offensive game could still use some polish, as he missed his first four 3-point attempts and two of his four free throws, but Smart was everywhere on defense. He stripped each of San Antonio’s big three — Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker (twice) — leading to points each time. And Smart was one of the few Celtics players capable of creating offense. He’s shown an improved willingness and ability to get to the rim, resulting in a handful of layups when nobody on the C’s could hit a jump shot.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: David Lee.
It wasn’t his night, and it hasn’t been yet this season. Lee converted just one of his eight shots and committed two turnovers to his one assist. He did grab eight rebounds in 20 minutes of action, but if his shot’s not falling, then he’s a liability, because he wasn’t much help on the Spurs frontcourt of LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan defensively.
VINE OF THE NIGHT:
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: 3-point shooting.
The Celtics entered the game shooting 30 percent from 3-point range (15-50 3P) — one of the worst marks in the league through their first two games — and they were worse on another 27 attempts against the Spurs, shooting 6-of-28 from beyond the arc (22.2 percent). Prior to the season, Danny Ainge said he felt like they’d be an improved shooting team. That is sort of the key to taking a step forward for a team that struggled to score points last season when Isaiah Thomas wasn’t carrying the load. It’s hard to pay with space when the defense isn’t convinced you can make shots from distance.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 22 and 13.
That’s how many points and rebounds Aldridge finished with. Whenever the Celtics made a run, the Spurs turned to Aldridge in the post, where he generally abused Sullinger and scored almost at will. With only Amir Johnson as a reliable defensive big, the Celtics will struggle to stop teams with two talented frontcourt players, and San Antonio certainly qualifies in that regard.
@ OF THE NIGHT: