The Boston Celtics barely pulled off the win tonight in a game that was the second of a back-to-back, as their match versus the Brooklyn Nets went until the game's final seconds. In the end, the Cs would take the W in a low-scoring 87-85 victory.

Al Horford was scratched from the lineup a few hours before tip-off because of a sore left knee, which he injured last night versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. There hasn't been much information released on the injury, which is most likely a good sign, showing that it's nothing serious. Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris rounded off the starting lineup in Horford's absence. 

The Celtics dearly missed their floor-facilitator tonight, and struggled to get any ball-movement going in the first half. Each player in green seemed to have their own agendas in mind when on the floor. There were a lot of isolation plays, which resulted in forced shots, which ended in misses. In the entire half, the Cs only tallied four assists. The Nets didn't play much prettier, so overall, it was a disgusting half of basketball. 

The Cs played decent defense in the first quarter, but had a hard time putting the ball into the bucket. They missed all of their six three-point attempts, and all of their four free-throw shots. They'd finish the quarter shooting at a 38% clip, down by six points, 22-16.

Jaylen Brown scored four points in the first quarter, but then didn't hit another shot all game. He was found driving into contested lanes, and throwing up difficult shots near the basket with many hands in his grill. It wasn't a great strategy, and because of it, he shot 25% from the floor tonight. 
The second quarter began with a spark behind the efforts of Shane Larkin. He hit a nifty, running floater from the elbow to start the quarter, and then the next play, scored in a similar fashion by following his own rebound after a miss and finishing in the lane. On the next defensive stand, he forced a turnover, which resulted in a Kyrie Irving jumper that tied the game at 24 a piece.

The first three-point basket for the Celtics came over 17 minutes into the game, when Kyrie Irving hit this step-back jumper. The first free throw came about a minute later, when Kyrie then hit one-of-two from the line. Not ideal. 

The Celtics would eventually go scoreless in over three straight minutes of play in the second quarter, and in that time, the Nets would put up eleven points. The run ended with a Jayson Tatum three-pointer, and the Cs went into the half down 44-39. Kyrie and Aron Baynes led the Celtics in scoring and rebounding with 8/4 a piece.

One of the few positive aspects of the half was the Cs' defense. They made it difficult for the Nets to score, and consistently got their hands on the ball to alter plays. In the first half, Marcus Smart finished with three steals and a block. The young Jayson Tatum ended the half with two steals and four blocks.

The Celtics finally found some flow in the third quarter, when they scored 25 points in the twelve minute range, the most of any quarter all game. They took their first lead in the third after a 13-2 run, behind some classic Kyrie slings and a few Tatum slamaroos. Kyrie would end the quarter with a team high 17 points. 

Shooting from the Celtics was dismal all night. Five of their players shot below 40%, and as a team, they went for an ugly 38% from the field. The Nets were surely d-ing up against them, but there were many great looks that just missed their target. Luckily, the Nets shot worse: 33%. Ew! 

Things got spicy in the fourth quarter, with the lead changing a total of eight times between the teams. It was a back-and-fourth final frame, with most of Brooklyn's scoring coming from Spencer Dinwiddie, who finished with 20 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Semi Ojeleye didn't log a minute of play in the first three quarters, but was sent out in the game's final minutes for his defensive presence. He didn't take a shot or score any points, but his time on the floor was spent valuably, as he stopped the ball on multiple plays near the basket. His knack for going up straight and making clean plays is impressive.

In the end, it was the rookie again coming-up in the clutch. He hammered-home another humdinger in the final minutes, and then drained the dagger from deep to confirm the W. Tatum finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and a career-high 6 blocks on the night, making him one-of-two rookies ever to have more than five blocks in a game. The other...Kevin Garnett.

The Nets had a chance to tie it up in the game's final seconds, and had plenty attempts to do so. They, however, weren't able to find the twine, and the Celtics took the win, 87-85.

Numbers to notice:

Boston 3pt: 27.8%
Brooklyn 3pt: 19.4%

Boston rebounds: 44, 12 offensive
Brooklyn rebounds: 55, 12 offensive

Kyrie Irving: 21 points on 8-22 shooting, 6 assists, 4 rebounds
Aron Baynes: 10 points on 5-14 shooting, 6 rebounds
Jaylen Brown: 4 points on 2-8 shooting, 5 rebounds
Marcus Smart: 11 points on 4-14 shooting, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals
Terry Rozier: 2 points on 1-7 shooting
Daniel Theis: 8 points on 4-6 shooting, 10 rebounds
Shane Larkin: 9 points on 3-4 shooting

DeMarre Carroll: 10 points, 7 rebounds
Tyler Zeller: 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists
Joe Harris: 10 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists
Jahlil Okafor: 12 points, 5 rebounds

Now, Celtics' fans can prepare to twiddle their thumbs for the next week. The Cs won't play until Thursday when they'll take on the Philadelphia 76ers in the long-awaited London game. 

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Photo: AP Images

Unknown 1/06/2018 09:15:00 PM Edit
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