Tag: Al Horford

Boston Celtics Are Still The Beast Of The East

The talk around the league after the trade deadline was the moves made by the Philadelphia 76ers and how they are the favorites to come out of the East. Last night, the Boston Celtics, without Kyrie Irving, faced off against the newly formed big four in Philly of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Needless to say whenever Boston goes against a championship level team they bring their A-game, and last night was no exception. Boston overcame Philly 112-109, led by Gordon Hayward’s game-high 26 points, Jayson Tatum had 20 points and Al Horford chipped in with 23 points, five assists and eight rebounds.

The Celtics are the Sixers Kryptonite

In their last 19 games, including the playoffs, Boston has a 17-2 record against Philadelphia, their only two losses came on January 18, 2018 when they lost by nine and in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when they lost 92-103.

Even with Irving, who’s out with a strained left knee, the Celtics played as perfect as they could against the 76ers. It helped a bit that Embiiid was in foul trouble throughout the game while shooting 9-22 from the field. Harris and Butler had better games as they shot a combined 11-26 from the field, Butler also missed important free throws in the fourth quarter that could’ve tied the game at 106.

With Embiid in foul trouble, Marcus Smart slammed down a vicious dunk through Embiid who decided not to contest with five fouls, which put Boston up 110-107. Tatum would ice the game with two clutch free throws to put Boston up 112-109, with no timeouts remaining Butler couldn’t get the shot up in time in hopes of sending the game to overtime.

Are the Celtics Better without Kyrie?

The numbers don’t lie, the Celtics have played better when Irving has missed games, they’re 8-2 when Irving’s out of the lineup. Last night, the ball moved around more then with Irving on the floor, Hayward had his best performance again a championship level team, Tatum reminded everybody why Danny Ainge wants to keep him in Boston and Horford had a big game on both sides of the floor.

With Irving in the lineup the team is 28-19, a small difference but we can’t deny what we saw from the Celtics young core last season in 60 games without Irving. Over the span of three rounds in the postseason, the Celtics went 14-8 and eliminated Philly in five games.

Boston is averaging 112.9 points per game this season in 57 games played, when Irving is out of the line-up the numbers jump to 113.5 ppg.

Irving will miss his second game tonight as Boston takes on Detroit at TD Garden, their last game before the All-Star break.

Advertisements

Celtics lose a Close one Against Warriors

A miscommunication at the free throw line with less than 10 seconds to go in regulation cost the Boston Celtics a chance to upset the reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. At the end, Kyrie Irving’s 32 points and 10 assists was not enough to break Golden States nine game winning streak, as the Warriors came out on top 115-100 at TD Garden.

Al Horford was big for Boston on both sides of the floor, he had 22 points and 13 rebounds. Jayson Tatum caught fire in the second half as he opened up the third quarter with three straight three pointers, he finished with 20 points and five rebounds.

The Boogie Problem in the League

The difference DeMarcus Cousins makes on both sides of the floor for the Warriors is a scary sight for the rest of the league. Last night’s game against Boston was a prime example of how Cousins makes this Golden State team even more deadly. One multiple occasions on defense, Irving and Smart could be seen trying to fight through a Boogie screen to close out on either Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry, but to no avail.

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers
DeMarcus Cousins is having a major impact for the Warriors starting five. (Photo credit: NESN.com)

The size and strength of Cousins caused problems for the defense when trying to close out the shooters, which left Curry and Thompson with so much daylight for an open three. Both Thompson and Curry torched the Celtics from behind the arc, Curry at one point hit five consecutive three’s after starting 0-of-4 and Thompson started the game with eight easy points and two from three. Curry finished with 24 points on 7-of-15 from the field, while Thompson scored 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

Kevin Durant led the Warriors in scoring with 33 points and Cousins had 15 points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes of action.

Hayward is a Defensive Liability for Boston

When Gordon Hayward entered the game you can see he wasn’t himself on offense, on multiple occasions in the first quarter he would attack the basket but wasn’t looking to score. His drives to the hole would often result in an intercepted pass or a turnover. The defense would collapse on Hayward as he dribbled into the paint leaving him stuck in the paint with four Warrior players around him.

On defense it was the same story all season, players would expose Hayward’s lack of quickness off the dribble and score easy jumpers. Hayward was a -8 while on the floor last night, he missed all five of his shot attempts, but managed to grab seven rebounds.

It wasn’t just Hayward who had an off game, Marcus Morris struggled to find his jump shot, although he made up for it on defense by playing stellar defense on Durant. Morris finished the night with nine points and nine rebounds, he shot 3-of-12 from the field.

The Celtics continue their home stretch tomorrow as the Brooklyn Nets come to Boston. The C’s will look for revenge after losing to the Nets two weeks ago 109-102.

Celtics vs. Warriors; NBA Finals Preview?

One of the most anticipated match-ups of the season takes place tonight when the Golden State Warriors visit the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. This will be the first meeting between these two teams as both clubs are currently riding winning streaks. Golden State has won nine games in a row and the Celtics have won five of their own.

Warriors sit at the top of the Western Conference and Boston still finds themselves in the fifth seed in the East.

Baynes and Cousins Set to Go Tonight

As if the hype for this game wasn’t big enough both Aron Baynes and DeMarcus Cousins are set to play tonight, both coming off major injuries as Baynes continues to be limited to just 18 minutes of playing time since returning from a broken hand injury. Cousins on the other side is still working his way back from an torn Achilles tendon he suffered last season with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Head Coach Steve Kerr has limited Cousins to just 20 minutes of playing time, but that hasn’t stopped the big man from making an impact alongside Golden States other four All-Stars in Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. In their last game against the Washington Wizards, Cousins put up 17 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes of action. Cousins has gelled in nicely alongside the Warriors starting five, he’s made an impact in the paint with his post-game and is still hitting the three at an efficient rate.

Battle of Point Guards: Curry vs. Irving

Whenever Curry and Kyrie Irving go head-to-head NBA fans know they’re going to be in for a treat. The countless battles they’ve shared in three straight Finals was something nobody could forget. During the 2017 Finals Irving averaged 29.4 points per game (PPG) and 4.4 assists per game, while Curry averaged 26.8 PPG and 9.4 APG.

Who can forget the last meeting these two point guards had last season. It was last January when Curry and Irving lit up Oracle, Curry led the Warriors to a 109-105 victory by dropping 49 points and five assists, Irving had 37 points and four assists.

What to watch out for; The Boston Depth

Boston’s depth will determine the outcome of this game. Brad Stevens will look at his young trio of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier to make a huge impact on both sides of the floor. Rozier will have a tough assignment as he will occasional have to switch up onto Curry whenever Irving’s on the bench or needs to lay back on the defensive side. Brown and Tatum will have to score in double digits if Boston wants a chance to beat Golden State

terry+rozier+jaylen+brown+cleveland+cavaliers+xhoyva6di50l
The Boston depth of Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier, Al Horford and Jaylen Brown will play a key role in tonight’s match-up. (Photo credit: Zimbio)

And then there is Al Horford, which since coming back from injury has been playing well. Against the Miami Heat, Horford put up 16 points and controlled the glass with 12 rebounds.

Both Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris will need to bring their grittiness and toughness on the defensive side when checking Durant and Thompson.

Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. Their next match-up will take place after the All-Star break at Oracle Arena on March 5.

Boston Gets a Sloppy Road Win in ATL

It wasn’t a pretty win for the Celtics, before the game Gordon Hayward was ruled out due to personal reasons, in the third quarter Marcus Smart was ejected after receiving a second technical, Marcus Morris and Al Horford shot a combined 7-21 from the field. It was a combination of another heroic Kyrie Irving fourth quarter and sloppy plays by a young Atlanta Hawks team that secured Boston the 113-105 victory.

This is Boston’s third straight win after losing three in a row. Since the start of the New Year Boston has won seven of their last 10 games and still sit in the fifth spot in the East.

Kyrie Irving Saves the Night

Maybe it was the back-to-back games, but the Celtics started the game slow and at one point were down by as many as 16. With 6:30 remaining in the second quarter Irving re-entered the game to find his team down 38-52, from there Irving scored or assisted on 20 of Boston’s 32 second quarter points, which included 15 points of his own. At the half Boston cut the 14 point lead to just seven.

During the third quarter Boston lost their defensive guy in Marcus Smart when he lost his cool with Hawks DeAndre Bembry during a jump ball. Smart and Bembry had to be separated after an exchange of words, which resulted in a double technicals that being Smart’s second he would be ejected. The defensive pressure feel on Irving and Terry Rozier once Smart was out of the game and Rozier stepped up.

Scary Terry Steps up Defensively

Over the last three games Rozier has stepped up on the defensive side after many head scratching plays on the offensive end this season. During Boston’s Florida trip that resulted in two losses to Orlando and Miami, Rozier has flipped the switch on the defensive side. In the past three games, the team has had a 93.7 defensive rating when Rozier is on the floor and his 17.5 net rating is third on the team.

2cac2afc2a037f145edd0eb0e059a0a0
Terry Rozier has stepped up for Boston on the Defensive side since their three game road trip. (Photo Credit: Yahoo Sports)

Rozier has be so inconsistent on the offensive side with many questionable shots and lack of production because of a bench role. For the past couple of games Rozier has been picking up opponents full court, flying around on the defensive end and has made good decisions on offense.

Head coach Brad Stevens has praised Rozier’s effort as of late, “Terry’s playing at a high level and he can go 4 for 12 and impact us in a real positive way. Then on the nights he’s 9 for 12, he’s going to feel great and he’ll impact us in a positive way, but I’m excited about the way he’s played in the last two,” Stevens said.

Boston has a chance to avenge their loss to Miami tomorrow when the Heat visit the Celtics at TD Garden.

Tensions Flare In Boston, As the Celtics Loss Again

The roller coaster of a season for the Boston Celtics goes on as tensions continue to raise amongst players, and in last night’s 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic a brief disagreement was caught between head coach Brad Stevens and superstar point guard Kyrie Irving.

First it was Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown’s brief scuffle during a timeout in Thursday’s loss to the Miami Heat, and last night an argument was witnessed between Stevens and Irving over a drawn up play for the last shot of the game. At the end, Gordon Hayward inbounded the ball to Jayson Tatum, who then attempted a fade away over Magic guard, Wesley Iwundu, with 2.7 seconds remaining in regulation. After the game, Irving seemed frustrated over Hayward’s decision to give the ball to Tatum for the last shot, Irving can be seen telling Hayward, “You had Al,” who was open at the top of the key.

Irving Critical of Young Teammates over Lack of Experience

After the game Irving and Al Horford both questioned their young teammate’s inconsistent play, “We play hard at times. We don’t play hard all the time,” Horford said.

We’ve reached the mid-way point of the season and the Celtics continue to show inconsistency on both sides of the floor. Boston seemed to have figured it out after their team meeting occurred after their loss to Milwaukee on December 21. The Celtics won 7 of their last 9 games after the meeting took place, but their losses to non-playoff teams in the Heat and Magic over the week have the players thinking if the problem has resurfaced.

Irving was critical of his young teammates and how they’ve played this season, “The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship-level team. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we’re trying to get to the finals?” said Irving.

Time heals all Wounds

Even throughout these low points in the season Irving still believes in this team’s potential, “I know from the majority of the fact that we’re better than most teams in this league,” said Irving. “It’s just going out and proving it every single night and demanding it and actually showing it.”

Irving emphasized how experience has been a major issue to why this club hasn’t lived up to their potential. This is the most stacked team in the NBA and Brad Stevens has to find a way to mesh the egos of nine legit starting players into accepting new roles, which includes less playing time, low productivity and bench roles. Guys like Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum who were playing at an All-Star level last season have seen their productivity decline since Irving and Hayward returned this season.

Time will tell if the Celtics can bounce out of their inconsistency and FINALLY make a run at the number one seed. Home court advantage is going to play a major role in the playoffs with teams like Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia and Indiana gunning for a spot to represent the East in the Finals since LeBron James departure to the West. We’ll see if Boston can get it together before it’s too late.

Are the Boston Celtics Finally Ready to Steamroll through the East?

Last night’s showdown between two red-hot Eastern Conference teams seemed to be no problem for the Boston Celtics as they rolling through the Indiana Pacers 135-108.

The four game home stand was something the Celtics needed after winning one out of four games on their West coast road trip two weeks ago. Boston have now won four straight and are 15-5 at TD Garden. They play a back-to-back today as they take their talents to South Beach and play the Miami Heat.

Boston’s Depth on Full Display

At the start of the season the talk around the league was the amount of talent the Celtics have, they have eight legit starting caliber players and last night’s victory showed that. The Pacers were out gunned yesterday, even with their talented duo of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Boston had seven players that reached double figures, which now makes it four consecutive games where at least five players have scored in double figures.

The team was led by Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown, who each scored 22 points to go along with eight and seven rebounds. Jayson Tatum showed out offensively as he scored 20 points while shooting 60 percent from the field on 9-of-15 shots. Another positive takeaway was the performance of Gordon Hayward, who has been more consistent on the offensive end over the last couple of games. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-7 from the field.

Brooklyn Nets v Boston Celtics
Starters, Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart celebrate with teammates as they cruise by the Indiana Pacers. (Photo credit: NBA.com)

It was one of those games that allowed Kyrie Irving to take a break offensively, he played only 24 minutes and scored only 12 points. Al Horford also had a laid-back night, playing only 18 minutes and chipped in with six points and eight assists.

The True Test for Boston Begins in the Coming Weeks

Since airing out their frustrations after the loss to Milwaukee back in December, the Celtics are now 7-2 over their last nine games with their only losses coming to the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. The home stretch provided an extra boost of confidence for the Celtics, but in the upcoming weeks they will play legit championship contenders like the Toronto Raptors, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Celtics and Raptors will square-off on Wednesday at TD Garden. Their even at 1-1 over their last two meetings with Boston taking the second game in overtime when Irving exploded for 43 points.

A potential NBA Finals match-up with the Warriors will take place on Saturday the 26th, as both teams continue to get back to playing championship level basketball. Although the Celtics could be one of the first teams to face a returning DeMarcus Cousins with Golden State, as he’s scheduled to return from an Achilles tear in mid-to-late January.

Three Things Boston has to do to get by Streaking Nets

The Boston Celtics are currently riding a two game win streak with wins over western conference opponents in the Timberwolves and Mavericks, but tonight Boston will face a scrappy Brooklyn Nets team who are sitting in the seventh spot in the east. The Nets have won eight of their last 10 games and find themselves in the playoff picture for the first time since the 2014-15 season. They also have six players averaging double digit scoring.

These are three major points Boston has to do if they want to come away with a win.

Get Jarrett Allen in Foul Trouble

Since Aron Baynes went down with a broken hand last month the Celtics have had a hard time defending the paint. The team is averaging 34.4 defensive rebounds a game, but their undersized big men in Al Horford, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele have been getting pounded down low. We saw that in their loss against the Houston Rockets as Clint Capela finished the game with 19 rebounds. The Timberwolves didn’t go down easy either, Karl-Anthony Towns gave Boston trouble in the paint putting up 28 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen is in the conversation for defensive player of the year averaging 1.4 blocks per game (BPG). Allen has been a force in the paint for the Nets all season, he’s had some impressive blocks against MVP caliber players in LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo. With Baynes and Robert Williams out, Boston’s undersized big men are going to have to control Allen in the paint, which is easier said than done considering Allen is averaging 8.3 rebounds a game (RPG). Boston’s guards will have to get Allen into foul trouble so they can get easy buckets against backup center Ed Davis in switches and in the pick-n-roll.

Slow Down PG Duo of Dinwiddie and Russell

With Caris LeVert going down with a nasty ankle injury in November, in what seemed to be a similar injury that Gordon Hayward suffered last season, D’Angelo Russell has took it upon himself to carry the team offensively. He’s had helped from back-up point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who’s also in the conversation for sixth man of the year, averaging 17.2 points per game (PPG) off the bench. Russell himself is putting up 18.4 PPG and dishing out 6.4 assists per game (APG).

Marcus Smart and Kyrie Irving, who is returning from an eye injury after missing two games, are going to have to play tight defense against Russell and Dinwiddie who over the season have shown to be a match-up problem on the offensive end. Dinwiddie and Russell have respectively put up over 30 points on multiple occasions. The 6’6 Dinwiddie is going to be a match-up problem against the smaller Boston point guards in Smart, Irving and Terry Rozier.

Out Hustle Brooklyn

If we were talking about last season’s Boston Celtics we wouldn’t be having this discussion in terms of hustle plays, but that’s not the case for this season team. The Celtics ability to overcome deficits last season was the team’s identity, they had an 8-5 winning record after trailing by at least 13 points and 5-4 in games when they were down by at least 17 points. But this season Boston’s only has had a few gritty comeback victories against the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas day, Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City at the start of the season.

Brooklyn is obviously the underdog going into Monday’s match-up, but under head coach Kenny Atkinson they’re grinding out victories against big time playoff opponents. They picked up wins over the Sixers, Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers and Charlotte Hornets. Brooklyn are top ten in the NBA in offensive rebound percentage at 29.7 percent, which can play can be a big key if they want to steal a win in Boston.