Celtics-Magic preview: Seconds helping

941499.jpg

Celtics-Magic preview: Seconds helping

ORLANDO, Fla. What was supposed to be a strength for the Celtics this season -- their bench -- is finally starting to flex some muscle.

There are many factors that come into play when the Celtics are successful, and bench scoring is near the top of that list.

Boston's second unit has outscored their counterparts in three of the C's last four victories. That includes Friday night's 108-100 win over Oklahoma City, a game in which Boston's backups outscored the Thunder's second unit by a decisive 35-13 margin.

But it's not just their point total that shows how the C's second group is starting to play with more cohesion. Leandro Barbosa, an instant offense-type player for years, has developed some Avery Bradley-like tendencies defensively -- something the Celtics had no idea was even in him.

Chris Wilcox, just months removed from heart surgery, is the Celtics' sixth man most nights while coming into the game for Kevin Garnett.

And then there's Jeff Green, a player who is trending toward playing with the kind of consistency that the C's will need in order to be successful.

"I don't think most people realize how difficult it is to get on the same page when you have a lot of new guys," Wilcox told CSNNE.com. "It's not like guys are trying to not play good together. It just takes time, that's all. We're not there yet, but we're getting there."

The second unit will get another chance to make an impact tonight against an Orlando Magic team that, like the Celts, is also figuring out how to play well with one another.

Here are some other keys in tonight's game as the Celtics try and build off of arguably their best win of the season.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: There's always a delicate balance that has to be struck by the Celtics in generating points but not getting into a shoot-out. It would certainly bode well for Boston to take advantage of an Orlando team that's next-to-last in scoring (90.2) this season. But consider this: The Magic are 4-0 this season when scoring 100 or more points in a game.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brandon Bass vs. Glen Davis. It's one thing for childhood friends to make it to the NBA. But to be traded for one another? Small world indeed. Bass' scoring numbers are down this season, but that's in part because of the C's need for him to do more work defensively. Meanwhile, Davis is getting plenty of shots which as the Celtics know all too well, isn't necessarily a good thing.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Jeff Green was impressive with a season-high 17 points against his former team (Oklahoma City) on Friday night. But can he do it against an opponent where there's no added motivation to play well? His versatility makes him a tough cover for the Magic, and you can bet the Celtics will do what they can to take advantage of this.

STAT TO TRACK: One day of rest is apparently all the Boston Celtics need this season. They come into tonight's game with a record of 4-1 this season when there's a day off in between games. To give that some perspective, consider this: The 2007-2008 championship team won 75.4 percent (49-16 record) of its games played with one day off in between games.

Report: Celtics not one of the teams trying to acquire Cousins

Report: Celtics not one of the teams trying to acquire Cousins

The Sacramento Kings are "fully engaged" in DeMarcus Cousins trade discussions, but it appears the Boston Celtics are not in the running for the All-Star center.

According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, the Celtics are not one of the teams talking to the Kings about Cousins.

More to come. . . 

 

Davis' 52 points breaks Chamberlain's All-Star record, West beats East, 192-182

all-star_game_anthony_davis_021917.jpg

Davis' 52 points breaks Chamberlain's All-Star record, West beats East, 192-182

NEW ORLEANS – The stars were everywhere, on and off the court during the 66th annual NBA All-Star game.

There were lots of hugs, handshakes and goody-good vibes shared by all.

And then … the fourth quarter arrived.

It’s the only time of the game when the All-Star game actually looks like a game and not an open gym full of the best players on the planet.

And as we’ve seen this season, no one is better in the fourth quarter than Boston’s Isaiah Thomas.

True to form, Thomas saw a playing time in the fourth quarter.

But his scoring prowess wasn’t enough with the Western Conference emerging with a 192-182 win.  It is the sixth time in the last seven All-Star games that the West has come away with the victory.

Thomas had 20 points on 7-for-15 shooting and 4-for-10 from 3-point range.

That’s not a bad performance, but there were others who were a lot more prolific shooting the ball.

Kevin Durant, playing in his first All-Star game as a member of the Golden State Warriors, had a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, MVP each of the previous two All-Star games, finished with 41 points – one shy of tying the most points scored in an All-Star game.

Despite Westbrook’s monster game, the record wound up being shattered by New Orleans’ Anthony Davis who had 52 points which broke Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star game record of 42 points set in 1962.

Shooting 26 for 39 from the field, Davis also grabbed 10 rebounds.

One of the more interesting stretches came in the first half between Thomas and Westbrook.

Westbrook grabbed an offensive rebound, saw that he was being guarded by Thomas and snarled at him moments before banking in a 3-pointer.

Thomas wasn’t about to be showed up by his fellow All-Star.

On the ensuing possession, he came right back and hit a long range 3-pointer in Russell’s mug. Westbrook came back with a 3-pointer that was off the mark followed by a Thomas miss.

That sequence was about as close as we came to seeming some semblance of defense played by either team, with lay-ups, and wide open dunks reigning supreme all night.

The much-talked about “reunion” between Durant and Westbrook was very civil, one that included the two connecting on a give-and-go in the first half that ended with a Westbrook basket.

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the crowd better dunks in the All-Star game than the actual slam dunk contest, finishing with 30 points on 14-of-17 with 12 dunks.