The Boston Celtics got down by as much as ten during the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans, but they adjusted and rallied to win 117-108.
Avery Bradley missed the game with a minor Achilles injury, but Marcus Smart stood strong in his spot start and Isaiah Thomas dropped 38 points. It was the tenth win over the last 12 games for the Celtics as the Pelicans fell to 14-24. A full box score can be found at ESPN.com. Here’s tonight’s Beantown Baskets Three Pointer.
Layup: Holy crap Anthony Davis is good
He might have slowed down in the middle portion of the game when everything was starting to click for the Celtics, but hot damn Anthony Davis is good at basketball. Because the Pelicans are so bad and the Western Conference is stacked with talented individuals, a lot of fans might not realize that Davis is averaging 28.6 PPG, 12.0 RPG and 2.5 BPG; that scoring average is second only to Russell Westbrook across the entire league right now. His 15 point first quarter had New Orleans out to an early lead and showed you everything he could do. He drove to the hoop, he hit a three, he scored with his back to the basket; this guy does everything. It doesn’t seem like the Pelicans are getting ready to rob a team of draft picks and assets for this guy, but if that was ever up for discussion then this is a dude that Danny Ainge needs to think about giving it all up for. He disappeared a bit during the middle two frames when Boston started to build a lead but Davis caught fire once again in the fourth quarter and helped keep his team alive, finishing with 36 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Midrange: Refreshing to see Smart step up like that
It isn’t rational to think that Marcus Smart will shoot like this consistently, but if you had to pick a night for him to play like that then this was the one. Playing without Avery Bradley is tough because you lose a First Team All-Defense talent along with a guy knocking down over 40% of his threes this year, but Smart dominated in his spot start. The former Oklahoma State star hung 22 points on the Pelicans to go along with six assists, four rebounds, two steals, a block and he was coming up big from the start, opening the game a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor as he scored nine point in the opening frame. One possible downside to this is the idea that his 5-for-7 performance from beyond the arc will cause him to attempt a few ridiculous heat check shots early in their next game which he probably won’t wind up making. Bradley’s injury doesn’t seem that serious, but fans have to feel good about Smart’s ability to click in this starting lineup if they need to use him there going forward; even if the next game is against the division leading Toronto Raptors.
Three Pointer: And don’t forget about the rest of the guys
While it’s noteworthy that Smart was in the starting lineup, playing starter minutes is nothing new to him as he averages close to 30 minutes per game to begin with. The loss of Bradley means that more players need to step things up and the Celtics depth was on full display in this one. Kelly Olynyk got off to a fast start and banged home seven first quarter points while Gerald Green showed up in the second frame and scored ten points of his own there. Olynyk would go onto finish the game with 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four assists while Green scored 15 points and grabbed three boards. Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier also saw extended minutes with Bradley out and contributed in little ways here and there. Brown was held scoreless but he snagged four rebounds and recorded two assists while making a noticeable impact on the defensive end of the floor, posting a +12 rating which was only outdone by Smart’s +14. Rozier finished with four points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Remember a few years ago when fans wanted Ainge to strike a deal with the Rockets and scoop up Omer Asik? He ranked up a nice fat DNP – Coach’s Decision in this one and he’s been on a huge decline since averaging a double-double during the 2012-13 season. He’s been terrible for the Pelicans; this was a smart pass by Ainge.
This was another game that goes to show how much Al Horford means to this team regardless of how many points he scores. The Dominican big man led the Celtics with seven rebounds, eight assists and two blocks. Nobody on this team is as smart with the basketball and it makes everybody around him a better player.
Isaiah Thomas had no assists in his recent 52 point explosion against the Miami Heat and he also had no assists during a 38 point outburst tonight. Avery Bradley didn’t play in either of those games and Marcus Smart started in his place. This is thanks to Smart’s development as a point guard as he allows Thomas to maximize his scoring off the ball, although these wins have come in close wins against two bad teams so it’s hard to tell if it makes the team better as a whole.
The Celtics are hot and the next game is a huge measuring stick. Hopefully Bradley is good to go for it.