Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics get sleepy start vs. 76ers

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics get sleepy start vs. 76ers

The Boston Celtics looked like a team that didn’t get their wake-up call this morning, seemingly sleep walking through long stretches in the first half in their early afternoon matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers.

But the Celtics rose to occasion in the second quarter as they put together a series of good plays at both ends of the floor to pull ahead for a 51-46 lead at the half. 

Boston fell behind by as many as eight points (33-25) in the second quarter, but reeled off seven straight points which included a 3-pointer by Gerald Green that cut Philly’s lead to 33-32.

The Celtics began to play more alert at both ends of the floor courtesy of an 11-0 run that put them ahead 36-33. 

Philadelphia’s Dario Saric broke the Celtics’ run with a lay-up that cut Boston’s lead to 36-35. 

But that didn’t do much to stop a Boston 20-5 surge that was capped off by a fade-away jumper by Avery Bradley that put Boston ahead 45-38 (Boston’s biggest lead of the game at this point) with 2:48 to play in the half. 

The Celtics remained ahead the rest of the half, although head coach Brad Stevens could not have been pleased with the Sixers’ last-second offensive rebound by Richaun Holmes that he converted into the final points of the quarter.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Sunday’s game against Philadelphia.

STARS

Al Horford: He was the Celtics’ most consistent performer, making his presence felt at both ends of the floor. At the half, he had 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting along with four rebounds and three assists.

Dario Saric: He has emerged as a front-runner for the NBA’s rookie of the year award, and the Celtics saw first-hand why. He led all players at the half with 14 points to go with four rebounds and an assist.

STUDS

Robert Covington: Like Horford, Covington didn’t waste any time getting on track offensively. He had 11 points and five rebounds.

Terry Rozier: He has been struggling with his shot of late, so he was more than due for a good game shooting the ball. He led all Celtics off the bench with 12 points, connecting on 4-for-6 shots to go with five rebounds.

Avery Bradley: The Celtics’ two-guard made the most of his opportunities to score in the first half. He had 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting with two rebounds and an assist.

Richaun Holmes: His rim protection and timely baskets around the rim were huge for the Sixers in the first half. He had six points on 3-for-4 shooting with three rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. 

DUDS

Jaylen Brown: He was better than we saw at Brooklyn on Friday night, but still looks to be a bit off his game. At the half, he had two points on 1-for-4 shooting.

Green's hot start sets tone for Celtics in 104-95 Game 4 win over Bulls

Green's hot start sets tone for Celtics in 104-95 Game 4 win over Bulls

CHICAGO –  Gerald Green was inserted in the Boston Celtics' starting lineup to help create better spacing for his teammates, but still being a viable option they could turn to, you know, just in case they needed a basket here and there.
 
Green wasn’t just a warm body moving about on the floor.
 
He was the one starter – not Isaiah Thomas, not Al Horford, not Avery Bradley or Jae Crowder – whose play set the tone in Boston’s 104-95 Game 4 win over Chicago.
 
Green finished with 18 points, including a jacuzzi-hot start in which he had 16 points in the first half as Boston's lead surged to as much as 20 points.
 
With the win, Boston has tied the best-of-seven series at two games apiece and regained home court advantage in this series.
 
Isaiah Thomas led all Celtics with 33 points along with seven assists. Al Horford had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds along with four assists.
 
Meanwhile the Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler’s 33 points with Dwyane Wade chipping in with 11 points and six rebounds.
 
After Chicago came within 81-76, Thomas scored five straight that led to a Bulls time-out with 9:01 to play and Boston back on top by double digits (86-76).
 
Chicago continued to battle back, but every Bulls surge was met by an even stronger one by Boston.
 
After a solid first half by Boston, the Bulls opened the third quarter with a 7-2 run to come within 59-53. But a dunk by Green followed by a driving lay-up by Jae Crowder made it a double-digit game again.
 
The momentum was short-lived for the Celtics as the Bulls continued to chip away at their lead which stood at 53-58 following a 3-pointer by Isaiah Canaan with 7:41 to play in the quarter.
 
Prior to his 3-ball, Canaan drew an offensive foul against Isaiah Thomas which gave the Celtics’ best player four personal fouls for the game.
 
Chicago continued to close the gap, and eventually went ahead 65-63 on a lay-up by Robin Lopez.
 
Thomas, who was on the bench due to foul trouble, returned to the floor and scored four straight to put the Celtics back on top 67-65 which led to a time-out by the Bulls with 3:39 to play in the third quarter.
 
Boston would score 12 straight to lead 75-65 before the third quarter ended with the Celtics ahead 79-70.
 
The down-to-the-wire finish was very different from how the game started.
 
Boston began tonight’s Game 4 matchup against Chicago with a 14-4 run, similar to what they did in Game 3. And just like Game 3, Boston continued to pull ahead in the first quarter which ended with the Celtics ahead 30-18.
 
But there was a distinct difference in Game 4.
 
Butler, who had 14 points on 7-for-21 shooting in Game 3, was noticeably more aggressive looking for his shot. And it resulted in him getting to line a lot. In fact, he had more free throw attempts in the first quarter (8) than the entire Celtics team (7). For the game, Butler had 23 free throw attempts which ranks third all-time among Celtics opponents in the playoffs.
 
But it didn’t matter.
 
Because even though Boston wasn’t getting to the line, they were getting essentially whatever else they wanted to offensively.  
 
In the first quarter, they shot better than 50 percent from the field as part of a commanding start.
 
The second quarter saw Boston’s control of the game remain strong as the Celtics pulled ahead by as many as 20 points on multiple occasions.
 
And the intensity of the game really picked up after Marcus Smart and Butler got into a little dust-up in the second quarter that led to both players being whistled for technical fouls.
 
The incident fired up the Bulls initially, but not enough to where Boston’s lead in the first half was seriously threatened.

Watch Gerald Green hammer dunk on Dwyane Wade

Watch Gerald Green hammer dunk on Dwyane Wade

Gerald Green missed his shot, so he went back for more.

The Boston Celtics veteran grabbed the rebound of his missed 3-pointer, and streaked toward the hoop. Dwyane Wade stepped in to defend Green, but it was too late.

Green elevated and collided with Wade, but still managed to hammer in a massive dunk.

Green started Game 4 for the second straight game, and finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. With all of his dunks, his field goal percentage was efficient at 53.8 percent. He was also 4 of 9 from behind the the 3-point line.

Watch his huge dunk in the tweet below or the video above.