Final, Grizzlies 95-88: The first victory of the year will have to wait at least another couple of days for the Celtics.
Once again, the Celtics were within striking distance of their first win of the year. Once again, their poor execution down the stretch doomed them to another defeat.
The Grizzlies outscored the Celtics 29-16 in the fourth quarter to wipe out a 72-66 Boston lead after three quarters. Jeff Green had a promising beginning and finished with 22 points, but faded down the stretch and missed all three shots he took in the final minutes.
The Celtics were 6-of-18 from the field and gave Memphis 10 free throws in the final frame while making just one trip to the foul stripe themselves. An even scoring attack by the Grizzlies featured three players with 15 points and six players scoring between 15 and eight points.
After rebounding so well for three quarters, the Celtics once again got soft on the glass. They were outrebounded 10-4 in the fourth after owning a 28-26 advantage in that area for the first 36 minutes.
Fourth quarter, Grizzlies 93-88: Guh.
Jeff Green got the ball in his hands, but his 3-point try from the wing missed extremely badly. After Boston intentionally fouled, Mike Conley knocked down both freebies to essentially ice this thing for Memphis.
Fourth quarter, :32, Grizzlies 91-88: That could have been prettier, but it wasn’t the worst thing for the Celtics.
Jared Sullinger got a good look at a three and missed off the front rim, but Zach Randolph was whistled for a kick-ball, giving the Celtics renewed life.
Here goes …
Fourth quarter, :55, Grizzlies 91-88: A timeout called, the Celtics coach pulled the guys together to draw up an 18-footer pull-up jumper by Paul Pierce.
The old standby isn’t available anymore, so it will be interesting to see what Brad Stevens draws up for this pivotal possession. The Celts do not need a three. A 2-pointer keeps things interesting.
Fourth quarter, 2:34, Grizzlies 89-86: If Jeff Green’s going to be the “go-to” guy, this was the kind of shot he has to make.
With the Celtics trailing by three, they swung the ball around the perimeter to find Green in the corner. Green rose, launched and … missed.
Jeryd Bayless, who nobody has ever called a No. 1 option, should get the entire W himself if Memphis wins. He had zero points entering the fourth quarter. He now has 13 points.
Fourth quarter, 5:08, game tied 82-82: The Celtics are doing all they can to avoid their first victory of the season. For the second straight night, it’s turnover-related.
The Celtics have committed just two turnovers in the fourth quarter, but they have been costly. Memphis capitalizes on turnovers like no other team, turning every extra possession into an ugly scoring opportunity.
Perhaps we owe Dave Joerger an apology about Jon Leuer. Leuer has been active, and has scored four points off pure energy that has given Vitor Faverani and the Celtics trouble.
Fourth quarter, 9:54, Celtics 77-70: Time to talk it over, Memphis.
A wing 3-pointer by Courtney Lee in transition puts the Celtics up by seven points, capitalizing on an odd Memphis lineup. Pro tip to first-year coach Dave Joerger: Jon Leuer typically isn’t the go-to big guy in close, late-game situations.
That one’s free, Dave. Anything from here on will cost you.
End of third quarter, Celtics 72-66: Suddenly, Jared Sullinger is doing his Jordan Crawford impression.
What that means, of course, is that Sullinger ended the third quarter by taking some questionable shots — but making them. Sully’s 3-pointer at the end of the frame followed a huge baseline jumper and helped the Celtics extend their lead to six points entering the final 12 minutes.
That’s actually Sullinger’s second three of the game, which is good for him, but probably not great for the Celtics if he gets too attached to it.
Third quarter, 3:01, Grizzlies 66-62: Every time the Grizzlies looks ready to pull away, the Celtics rein them back in.
Jordan Crawford took an absolutely awful 26-footer that somehow hit twine, but Brad Stevens did not hesitate to yank him anyway. Crawford’s triple ended a stretch of turnovers for Boston that enabled Tony Allen to get free for a rim-rocking dunk, but the Celtics have responded.
Courtney Lee was able to get the ball deep and found Avery Bradley cutting for a reverse layup to cut Boston’s deficit to four points. Memphis coach Dave Joerger took a timeout to remind his guys that, yes, these are the Celtics, but they’re not playing like the Celtics right now.
By the way, it appears Gerald Wallace has a bruised right knee and will not return.
Third quarter, 9:14, Grizzlies 54-52: Oh, yeah. So this is how the Grizzlies are capable of playing.
The Griz blitzed the Celtics out of intermission, deflecting a pass on what seemed like every single defensive possession and opening the second half on a 6-2 run. They’re back in control, forcing Brad Stevens to waste a timeout to regroup.
Halftime, Celtics 50-46: No, that’s not a typo (although I have been known to make mistakes from time to time). The Celtics really do lead the Grizzlies at halftime.
The recipe isn’t hard to figure out. They are limiting their turnovers — relative to the turnover-happy tendencies of this young season, anyway — and have outrebounded the super-sized Griz. Meanwhile, Jeff Green has led a slashing offense that has operated without fear of Marc Gasol.
Green leads the way with 16 points for the Celtics, while Mike Conley has a Memphis-best 11 points and three assists. Vitor Faverani has five points, five rebounds and one blocked shot in another encouraging showing for the young center. Even the backup backcourt combo of Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee gave the Celtics some solid minutes and were plus-8 in their time on the court.
The Celtics hold a 19-18 advantage on the glass and have 10 turnovers, the same number as Memphis. If those trends continue, the Celtics will have a chance at their first win of the season.
Second quarter, 3:23, Celtics 45-42: Brandon Bass must take exception to people saying the Celtics are outmanned inside. He’s playing like he is, anyway.
Bass has muscled with Zach Randolph in the paint, something not a lot of defenders do. Bass managed to draw an offensive foul and then force Z-Bo into a 3-second violation while they were banging.
Jeff Green’s aggression and Jordan Crawford’s contributions have been nice, but the work of Bass and the rest of Boston’s big men has a lot to do with why Boston holds the advantage so far.
Second quarter, 5:58, Grizzlies 40-39: The Celtics are attacking the basket, crashing the glass and getting good shot within their offense.
Who are these guys and what did they do with the real Celtics?
A 3-pointer by Jared Sullinger — yeah, we’re not crazy about those, either, but it worked in this case — helped the Celtics temporarily regain the lead at 39-38. If only the Celtics had an answer for Mike Conley, they might be able to hold that lead.
Conley, who has long been one of the more underrated point guards in the game, currently leads Memphis with nine points and three assists. As usual, he is also taking care of the ball with zero assists. He came out of a scrum with three Celtics on the floor to convert a layup to give the Griz the lead.
Second quarter, 9:43, Grizzlies 33-30: Just when the Celtics think they’re out of the woods with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol on the bench, Memphis comes with Kosta Koufos and gives the Celtics another challenge in the post.
The big former Nugget has moved some earth in the paint with Memphis’ All-Star big man duo on the bench. The Celtics have kept attacking, though, orchestrating a post-up for Jared Sullinger on the left block.
Sullinger missed his initial hook attempt against Koufos, but he stayed with it and got a tip-in that forced the Grizzlies to take a timeout.
End of first quarter, Grizzlies 27-24: That … wasn’t awful.
Playing a defending conference finalist, the Celtics certainly could be worse off that trailing by three points after 12 minutes. They’ve gotten outstanding contributions from Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford, however, to help them stay in striking distance.
Green is attacking the basket without fear. That’s interesting considering Marc Gasol, the Grizzlies’ man in the middle, is a pretty good shot-blocker and the defending Defensive Player of the Year. Green has 11 points to lead all scorers.
Crawford is off to his second straight strong start. The reserve guard now has three assists, tying Memphis point guard Mike Conley for the game’s high, and pushed the pace with an aggressive runner that was actually a decent look.
The key as always for the Celtics is turnovers and rebounding. They are holding their own on the glass with just an 11-10 rebounding disadvantage and have committed just five turnovers — not a great number, but it could be worse.
First quarter, 5:24, Grizzlies, 14-12: It’s open to interpretation which team is better served by playing an ugly game. The Grizzlies willingly play a grinding style, while the Celtics pretty much have no choice but to play sloppy.
The teams came out chucking up bricks, partially due to two of the best on-ball defenders in Avery Bradley and Mike Conley both on the court. They’ve found their range since, then, particularly Quincy Pondexter. The long-range bomber has knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to vault Memphis into the lead, although Jeff Green was able to respond with a triple to help the Celtics keep pace.
6:54 p.m.: Jeff Green is back out of the doghouse, at least for now.
Green, who did not play in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to Detroit, will be back with the same starting five from each of the Celtics’ games so far. The Celtics will need every basket he can give them, since the Grizzlies are traditionally one of the best defensive squads in the league.
The Grizzlies have not been as stout defensively in this early season, but if they need any practice against a team that struggles to score, the Celtics are a perfect matchup.
The projected starters appear below.
8 a.m. ET: In this wild and backwards season, it would only make sense if the Celtics won Monday for their first victory of the season.
In a world where the Philadelphia 76ers are undefeated and the Orlando Magic can trounce the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics (0-3) should count on a win on the road over the Memphis Grizzlies (1-2), fresh off a trip to the Western Conference finals, right? Book it.
The Griz have had a tough start to the season. They started the season against the ageless Spurs and ran into a resurgent Dallas squad on Saturday, sandwiched around a close win over the improved Pistons. Marc Gasol and the gang are surely hoping to exhale against the Celtics.
Join us for updates and analysis during the game, which tips off at 8 p.m. ET.
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