After a dreadful loss at home to Charlotte, the Celtics entered tonight looking for a win of any kind. Stevens held a physical practice on Tuesday to fire the team up. It didn't show at the beginning of the game, as we saw another slow start for the Boston offense. Missed layups and turnovers left the first unit with just two points on the board at the under 7 mark. Thankfully, the Celtics put together a small run to get them out of single digits. They tried to involve Jeff Green early with a few isolations and postups, but those possessions didn't really produce anything of substance. Boston only scored 19 points and trailed by six after one quarter.
Both teams struggled to find points in the second quarter. Marcus Thornton went scoreless and looked pretty rusty in his first game action in a month. It seemed like the offense made a turn for the better after Marcus Smart's consecutive threes, but that certainly wasn't the case. Fortunately they didn't really need to play much better, because Brooklyn kept shooting worse. The Boston defense held them to only made five shots in the entire quarter. The Celtics put together an 8-0 run to end the half leading by one. Despite some missed layups, Zeller was pretty effective inside. He and Bradley led the team with 12 points apiece after the first half. Overall it was just ugly basketball, with both teams were shooting under 40%.
Tyler Zeller started the third quarter with a quick six points, and the rest of the offense picked up as well. They scored 15 points in the first 4 ½ minutes of the third, which seemed impossible after watching the first half. Bradley had an excellent quarter as well. His shot was falling, and he made the Nets pay on a few nice cuts to the rim. Jae Crowder made a fantastic hustle play at the end of the third to give Boston a 2 for 1 opportunity. The Celtics finished one point shy of a 30 point quarter and entered the fourth leading by seven.
Stevens went with a platoon of bench players to start the fourth. This unit of Smart-Thornton-Crowder-Bass-Olynyk extended the lead to 14 in their six minutes together. Thornton looked much better and scored five points. This group was a little sloppy on offense, but played with enough effort to overcome that. The Celtics were able to coast for the rest of the game, and finished off the Nets without much trouble. Bradley and Zeller were the stars of the game for sure, with 21 and 18 points respectively.
The race to the bottom continues for Jeff Green's trade value. Green has been shooting 30% in his last four games and that awful trend continued tonight. He only managed eight points on 4 of 11 shooting. He made a few nice shots late, but really struggled for most of the game.
Fresh off his 21 minutes against the Hornets, Bass received a cool 19 minutes tonight. He actually played pretty well too. Bass is pigeon holed as a mid-range specialist, but attacked the rim pretty well. He drew a couple fouls and made some layups. He finished the game with nine points. It's not spectacular, but it's an improvement.
The scarcity of minutes hurt Brandan Wright this time, as he didn't see the floor. Kelly Olynyk wasn't much of a factor with his six points and two rebounds. He scored a combined 7 points over his last three games, so tonight was a bit better depending on how low your standards are. Sullinger had a rough game too, with just two points.
Marcus Smart had a solid game. He shot the ball well and threw a few great passes inside leading to layups. He's still raw, but showing some flashes of being a good player.
Jae Crowder continues to play with great energy on defense. His offensive game still needs some work, but his effort is definitely there.
James Young's hot three point shooting provided a spark last game. Unfortunately he was scratched tonight, so he didn't see any action at all. It's a little disappointing not to see him, but it's probably for the best long term.
This win was much needed after their recent performances. Enjoy it if you can, because the upcoming schedule brutal after the Indiana game.