Halftime stars, studs and duds: Smart brings pesky defense, much-needed offense

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Smart brings pesky defense, much-needed offense

The Boston Celtics, courtesy of some red-hot shooting in the second quarter, were able to rally from an early deficit and lead Toronto 55-46 at the half.

Two of the league’s better teams offensively got off to a surprisingly slow start scoring the ball in the first quarter which ended with the Raptors ahead 23-18.

Both teams picked up their play offensively in the second quarter which was good for the Celtics who went on a 7-0 run that put them ahead 49-43 – their biggest lead of the game – with 2:31to play in the half.

After a Toronto time-out, the Celtics continued to surge ahead after a lay-up by Marcus Smart following a breakaway dunk by Jae Crowder which gave Boston its first double-digit lead, 53-43.

The Celtics shot 52.2 percent in the first half, fueled heavily by a second quarter in which they connected on 66.7 percent (16-for-24) of their shots.

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

 

STARS

Marcus Smart

He was playing his usual pesky defense for the Celtics, in addition to bringing some much-needed offensive punch. He led the Celtics with 14 points to go with three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan

These two deserve their own line because 1) their impact is pretty much the same for the Raptors and 2) they each had the same point total in the first half. They each scored 10 points, but DeRozan had four rebounds while Lowry chipped in with an additional five assists.

 

STUDS

Gerald Green

Once again Green was delivering instant offense to the Celtics, scoring nine points off the bench in under 12 minutes of court time.

Isaiah Thomas

Toronto was intent on getting the ball out of Thomas’ hands as much as possible. He still made an impact in the first half, scoring nine points while dishing out three assists.

Jonas Valanciunas

Foul trouble (he had three in the first half) limited him from being even more impactful. Still, he managed to score six points to go with 10 rebounds.

 

DUDS

Patrick Patterson

He’s usually a Celtics killer, but has been a non-factor in the first half. He was scoreless, missing both of his field goal attempts  which were each 3-pointers.

Highlights: Boston Celtics 109, Indiana Pacers 100

Highlights: Boston Celtics 109, Indiana Pacers 100

Catch the highlights of the Boston Celtics 109-100 win over the Indiana Pacers at home and hear from Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Al Horford.

Bradley 'not even tired' after playing 39 minutes vs. Pacers

Bradley 'not even tired' after playing 39 minutes vs. Pacers

BOSTON – As Avery Bradley made his way to the middle of the post-game media scrum inside the Boston Celtics locker room, he was informed that he had played 39 minutes in their 109-100 win over Indiana.

“I played 39?” Bradley said. “Man, I’m not even tired.”

And that may be the clearest sign to date that Bradley, a defensive pest who has been pestered by injuries this season, is as healthy as we’ve seen him in some time.

In addition to scoring 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, he also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out a couple of assists, had a steal and was the head of the defensive snake that made life as hard as possible on Paul George who still managed to have a big night scoring the ball.

For Bradley to play so many minutes is a bit of a surprise when you consider how overcautious the Celtics were with his return from a right Achilles injury that kept him out for 18 straight games.

Bradley attributes the Celtics having some time off leading up Wednesday’s game.

“It was good for us and we were definitely prepared (on Wednesday),” Bradley said. “And it showed we’re improving every day as a team. We’re really locking in when we need to.”

And while he was one of three different primary defenders on George (Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder were the others), Bradley was the guy head coach Brad Stevens turned to most consistently down the stretch.

Bradley was the only Celtic to play all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter. The only other players that were on the floor for the entire fourth quarter, were Indiana's Monta Ellis and George.

You think Bradley was out there to shut down (2-for-10 from the field) Ellis?

Uh … nope!

“He (Bradley) was on Paul some,” Stevens said. “Not the whole time he was in. Marcus (Smart) guarded him a lot. Jae (Crowder) guarded him some as well. We just felt like we had to rotate bodies on them. I did not plan on playing Avery quite that many minutes.”

Stevens put Bradley back in the game to start the second and fourth quarters, something he normally does for Terry Rozier who did not play (coaches decision).

“And he maybe sat a minute at the end of the second,” Stevens said. “So that’s 24 minutes and usually it’s about twelve-to-fifteen.”

The additional playing time is something Bradley certainly isn’t going to ever complain about.

The same holds true for the Celtics having clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s tip-off.

“I don’t think anyone talked about it,” Bradley said. “We were just treating this like any other game, try to be prepared, go out there and execute the offensive game plan … I feel we did a great job of doing that.”

Indeed, the Celtics are playing with a flow and overall rhythm that’s making it extremely tough on their foes.

“If you look at their roster, everybody knows what to expect out of everybody,” said Paul George. “There’s never a moment where a guy is like, ‘What kind of shot are you taking?’ or ‘what are you doing?’ They are beyond that.”