The Celtics had every reason to look disjointed on Saturday night in Chicago. On the back end of their second game in as many nights, the team was without not only Rajon Rondo (who required a minor surgical procedure to remove a pin from his wrist) but also Marcus Smart following his injury on Friday.

But the Celtics instead showed tremendous energy and intensity for most of the night, building a big enough lead — a 20-point advantage at one point, the first time in five years that the team had built such a large advantage in Chicago — that they were able to withstand a late, spirited charge by the Bulls and claim a 106-101 victory on the road. The Celtics shot 52 percent from the floor and had excellent ball handling and distribution, with 25 assists and just 12 turnovers.

Here are five takeaways from a contest that allowed the Celtics to improve to .500 (3-3) for the season:


The Celtics’ 52 percent performance from the floor on 81 shots represented the third time this year (in six games) that the Celtics have shot at least 50 percent from the floor, tied for the most such contests in the NBA this season. The Celtics are now shooting 47.4 percent from the floor on the season, fifth best in the NBA to this point.


With Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger leading the way, the Celtics have been one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA so far. The C’s grabbed 45 boards, seven more than the Bulls reeled in, continuing a pattern that had seen the Celtics enter the night with the third-highest rebound percentage in the league (53.8).


Through five games, Evan Turner had been particularly unimpressive, scoring 6.4 points per contest with 3.2 boards and 2.2 assists a night. But given a start at point guard in his native home of Chicago, Turner delivered his best performance with the Celtics, scoring 19 on 7-of-13 from the floor with five rebounds, six assists and just two turnovers in 33 minutes. He’d previously averaged 2.2 turnovers in 19 minutes a night.


Jared Sullinger was on the floor for 27 minutes, but he made an impact with his all-around game from the frontcourt, scoring 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting, grabbing eight boards and delivering four assists, and generally, when he was in the game, the Celtics outplayed the Bulls (especially their frontcourt) by a significant degree. Indeed, the Bulls’ comeback in the fourth quarter came with Tyler Zeller on the floor in Sullinger’s place for much of the night. The evaporation of a monumental lead in that time offered a reminder that Sullinger, who was a +25 while in the game, leads the Celtics with a +6.7 plus/minus on the season.


Kelly Olynyk had yet another strong offensive game, making six of his nine shots including a pair from beyond the 3-point arc en route to 16 points with 11 boards. He now has eight 3-pointers through six games, a pace that would yield 109 3-pointers for the year. If he continues this early-season pace, he could become just the fourth 7-footer in NBA history to hit 100 or more 3’s in a season, joining Dirk Nowitzki (the 7-footer record-holder with 151 3-pointers; he’s reached triple digits in the category six times), Spencer Hawes and Andrea Bargnani (three times).

Despite his contributions from outside and on the defensive glass, however, Olynyk committed four turnovers and also continued his early-season penchant for committing ill-timed fouls. Though he had just three personals on the night, he committed a particularly ill-advised foul on Aaron Brooks on an off-balance jumper from just inside the arc. He made up for that, however, with a pivotal offensive board after a miss in the final 30 seconds with the Celtics clinging to a two-point lead. When that prolonged possession resulted in a pair of Turner free throws, the Bulls never again threatened.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

The Celtics‘ top two point guards are both out agains the Bulls on Saturday.

The Celtics‘ top two point guards are both out agains the Bulls on Saturday.

Celtics rookie Marcus Smart is expected to miss 2-3 weeks after suffering a left ankle sprain with bone bruising, according to a press release from the team. The C’s welcome the news after what initially appeared to be a more severe injury.

“Hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens after Friday’s 101-98 victory against the Pacers, “because he’€™s really playing great basketball, and I’€™m sure it’€™s really disappointing to be out five games into your rookie year, even if just for a little bit of time.

Meanwhile, Celtics captain Rajon Rondo did not travel with the team to Chicago, undergoing a successful procedure to remove screws from his surgically repaired left hand. He is expected to be available when the C’s host the Thunder on Wednesday.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

When Marcus Smart landed awkwardly on Lavoy Allen‘s foot with 11:07 left in the fourth quarter and the game tied, 75-75, Celtics coach Brad Stevens learned a lot about this Celtics team. Just five games into an 82-game grind, he learned that this team will fight for each other, especially when one of their brothers goes down with injury.

Not only did medical staff hurry onto the parquet, every teammate came over to check on Smart’s condition before he was eventually lifted onto a stretcher and carted off the court and into the Celtics locker room.

“It was really scary and then obviously he was writhing in pain, so that makes it even more scary,” Stevens said. “I’€™m glad to be a part of it. I’€™m glad to be a part of a team that feels like that.”

Jeff Green, who scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the 101-98 win over the Pacers, spoke for the team when he described the tightness and togetherness of the players.

“It was very difficult,” Green said. “You hate to see a teammate go down especially when he’€™s playing well. Marcus is a soldier though. He’€™s going to get himself back together quick. I know he’€™s going to work hard to get back. Tough loss for us.

“I think its just a matter of focus. I think everybody on the bench no matter if they played or didn’€™t play they were focused, they were into the game, they were watching the game to figure out the impact of the game if they got in. You saw first-hand guys who are focusing on the game and where they can impact. Saw Gerald (Wallace) come in, the defensive intensity he came in with. The way Phil (Pressey) played on that pick and roll, breaking down their defense it was wonderful to watch.”

With Jeff Goodman of ESPN reporting that x-rays found no break, there remained a sliver of hope that Smart could return at some point later this season. But MRIs on Smart’s left ankle still need to be examined.

“Hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later, because he’€™s really playing great basketball and I’€™m sure it’€™s really disappointing to be out five games into your rookie year, even if just for a little bit of time,” Stevens said. “That’€™s what we hope it is.

“That’€™s a hard situation because you know that first and foremost you think about the team. You think about the player. You think about how he feels. Your team is clearly affected by it, because they care about him, which is a good sign. And then you have to go play, and that’€™s hard. But I thought that, if anything, the player wants your team to play with that kind of enthusiasm and that kind of passion that those guys played with in the last 8 minutes and 37 seconds or whatever it was. So again, you feel, you hope for the best. I’€™ve seen some injuries that have been pretty nasty over my time and hopefully this isn’€™t one of them. It doesn’€™t sound like it from the early indications.”

With the game tied, the Celtics outscored the Pacers 22-15 in the next eight minutes, taking a 97-90 lead. But the Pacers made one final charge. They scored the next six points and had a chance at a the lead if they could only grab an defensive rebound. But it was Green who got the ball with six seconds left, was fouled and made both free throws. Indiana cut it to one again, 99-98, on an ill-advised Avery Bradley foul with 3.7 seconds left. But the Celtics found a way to hang on for their second win in five games. A total character win in the eyes of coach Stevens.

“I thought we were great defensively at the end,” Stevens said. “We were up one, Tyler (Zeller) and (Brandon) Bass subbed in and had a great defensive possession; we ended up with the rebound, we called time-out, we executed well, Avery (Bradley) got a good shot, Jeff (Green) was in rebound position, got the rebound, got fouled. We defended well. We were not trying to foul with six seconds left but we fouled. Because I didn’€™t think we’€™d be able to get a rebound, to be quite candid. I thought it would be hard to keep (Roy) Hibbert and those guys off the glass. But we got lucky that they made two, we made two, and then we got one more stop.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Marcus Smart won’t be the only Celtics guard out of commission for their game in Chicago Saturday night.

Marcus Smart won’t be the only Celtics guard out of commission for their game in Chicago Saturday night.

According to, point guard Rajon Rondo stayed behind in Boston after Friday’s 101-98 win over the Pacers to have a minor surgical procedure to remove a screw that was inserted into his broken left hand in late September.

Eyebrows were raised Friday when Rondo played only 28 minutes – a season low – in Friday’s win over the Pacers. In his shortest stint of the season, he scored just eight points, six assists and four rebounds.

Just three days before camp opened in late September, Rondo broke the third metacarpal on his left hand. Rondo said he slipped in the shower in his Lincoln, Mass. home. The team initially estimated a recovery timeline of six to eight weeks, but Rondo’s recovery exceeded expectations, coming back in time for opening night on Oct. 29, just five weeks after the initial surgery.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has insisted that the bone has healed properly. The procedure this weekend is to remove the screw that was helping in the healing process, likely causing discomfort.

Rondo, who racked up a triple-double in Wednesday’s loss to Toronto, is averaging nine points, 11.2 assists and eight rebounds in just over 33 minutes per game this season.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

At least the Celtics avoided a bad night turning into a really bad night.

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

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.)


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.


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.


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 …


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.


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:

‘€œI 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.

Blog Author: 

Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart was taken off the court on a stretcher with 11:07 left in the game at TD Garden against the Pacers after injuring his left ankle while going in for a lay-up against Indiana’s AJ Price.

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart was taken off the court on a stretcher with 11:07 left in the game at TD Garden against the Pacers after injuring his left leg while going in for a lay-up against Indiana’s AJ Price.

Smart had played 16 minutes, going 1-for-6 with two rebounds before the injury.

The entire Celtics team ultimately came out and gathered around Smart while he was being put on the stretcher, with the TD Garden crowd chanting the rookie’s name.

Smart came into Friday night’s game averaging 7.8 points and 21.5 minutes per game.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford