The Boston Celtics got off the schneid Wednesday night with their most complete effort in what feels like forever.
Boston’s defense smothered the Brooklyn Nets, allowing the fewest points it has all season in a 89-81 Celtics win.
Doing the work on the offensive end were Avery Bradley and Tyler Zeller, who poured in 21 and 18 points, respectively.
?(My mindset was) just to be aggressive,” Bradley told CSNNE’s Abby Chin after the game. “Let my defense get my offense going. That was my main focus (Wednesday), and that?s what I did. I tried to slow down Jarrett Jack; he?s been playing very well. I just wanted to blow up their offense. … That?s what I tried to do (Wednesday), and I feel like I did a great job.”
Jack, who torched the Celtics for 27 points during the teams’ last meeting, was held to just 15 points in 39 minutes Wednesday.
— The Nets leaped out to a 10-2 lead in the opening minutes. Yet another slow Celtics start, right? Head coach Brad Stevens didn’t see it that way.
?Even when we were down 10-2, I felt good about the way we were playing,” Stevens told reporters after the game. “It may have looked like a slow start as far as the numbers went, but we just missed layups. We probably missed seven or eight layups tonight, but we just grinded it out. The effort baskets went our way.”
— Speaking of effort, here’s a prime example of why Stevens loves him some Jae Crowder:
That one won’t end up on any Brook Lopez highlight reels.
Crowder did Wednesday what he’s done in each of his his nine games with Boston: inject the Celtics will a noticeable shot of adrenaline off the bench. He ended up hitting just two of his seven shots (six points overall) but added five assists and two steals in the win.
?He missed some point-blank (shots), but he still had a huge impact on the game,” Stevens said. “He?s a physical guy, and I think he can get better, especially on the defensive end of the floor. He can be a lockdown defender if he continues to improve.”
— Jeff Green was nowhere to be found again for the Celtics. Green played 33 minutes — second on the team behind Bradley — but finished with just eight points on 4-of-11 shooting. It was the third time in the last five games that the forward failed to reach double figures and the fourth time since the Rajon Rondo trade.
Though he remains the Celtics’ leading scorer this season, Green has averaged just 13 points in the 10 games since Rondo was dealt and has been the team’s top scorer in just two of those contests.
— The unique makeup of Boston’s roster — 15 capable NBA players; zero legitimate stars — and Stevens’ spoken desire to limit his rotation to 10 guys has led to some difficult decisions for the coach. On Wednesday, that meant James Young and Jameer Nelson were inactive, and Brandan Wright, Gerald Wallace and Phil Pressey dressed but did not see playing time.
Stevens said he, for the most part, was pleased with Wednesday’s rotations but acknowledged his need to get Wright onto the floor.
?Brandan Wright needs to play,” he said. “I think that will just be a night-to-night thing. I feel more comfortable playing four than five (bigs), but some other night may not be somebody else?s night. That?s probably the way we?re going to look at it.”
— What do the C’s need to avoid falling back into their losing ways? Simple: effort.
?We just have to come out every single night and play hard — everyone,” Bradley said. “Everyone that?s in the game. Not just one person. Not just two people. It has to be the whole team playing hard.
GIF via @MrTrpleDouble10
Thumbnail photo via Frank Franklin II/Associated Press