Celtics Notes: Tyler Zeller Bests Roy Hibbert; Evan Turner Thriving


April 2, 2015

BOSTON — Roy Hibbert is a two-time All-Star, but the best big man on the court the last two times his Indiana Pacers have played the Boston Celtics has been Tyler Zeller.

The Celtics center went a combined 16-of-19 from the floor over those two most recent contests, including an 8-for-9 showing Wednesday night that produced a team-high 19 points in a 100-87 win for Boston.

“We should play them more often,” Zeller joked after the game. “I guess the matchups just worked out for me. I was able to pick-and-pop the first (game). I knew that they were going to change and not let me do that, so I tried to dive a little more (Wednesday), and it worked out well for us.”

This recent success was a sharp departure from the two earlier meetings, during which Hibbert had his way with the Celtics’ undersized front line:

[tweet https://twitter.com/ZackCoxNESN/status/583493655622651904 align=’center’]

Hibbert was a non-factor Wednesday night, with six of his seven points coming during one three-minute span in the third quarter. He went 0-for-6 from the floor over his other 16 minutes of action.

“He dominated us the first two games of the year, scoring-wise,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I think he might?ve had 50 combined in the first two games. But we?ve trapped him a lot more, we?ve brought traps from different places. We?ve gotten better at our traps. And we?ve also picked our spots where we were just going to play him straight-up. I thought everybody played him well, with the exception of a couple fouls here and there.?

Some additional notes from Wednesday’s action:

— Evan Turner has turned into something of a triple-double machine for the Celtics. He recorded his third since Feb. 25 against the Pacers, racking up 13 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. Only Oklahoma City Thunder star and MVP candidate Russell Westbrook (seven) has more since the All-Star break.

?It?s not anything to do with me,” Stevens said of Turner’s recent success. “I think the one thing is he plays in a lineup where he has the ball a lot, and he?s probably never had the ball that much before, as far as playing the point. You know, Marcus (Smart) can play the point when they?re in together as starters, but even today, Isaiah (Thomas) was in with both Evan and/or Marcus and we put Isaiah off the ball a little bit because that stretches your defense. … Evan is playing well, but it?s not like he?s forcing anything. He?s just playing good basketball.”

There’s also this:

[tweet https://twitter.com/SeanGrandePBP/status/583475369598124032 align=’center’]

— The story of the night was Kelly Olynyk’s massively bruised left eye and the strong, 19-point performance he had in spite of it. The bruise also complemented Olynyk’s postgame wardrobe, as Turner happily pointed out.

“I don?t know if you saw his outfit,” Turner said. “He had on a royal blue hat, a light blue eye, baby blue shoes, midnight blue pants, a navy blue vest — so obviously, he kind of had it planned a little bit.?

— Olynyk said after the game that part of the reason he decided to play through his injury was so he wouldn’t have to hear about it from his friend Dougie Hamilton, the Boston Bruins defenseman and fellow Toronto native. When informed of this, Turner sounded like a guy who’s heard the “hockey players are tougher than basketball players” line a few too many times.

“Oh, that’s so funny,” Turner said sarcastically. “They’re really tough, huh?

“I think the biggest thing is, don’t embarrass yourself in front of Gerald Wallace,” he added, referring to the veteran Celtics forward. “That’s a pretty tough thing in general. I think having to look at Gerald every single day would be way worse than seeing the guys across the hallway we barely see.”

— In a deja vu-inducing sequence, Celtics point guard Marcus Smart went down hard during the second half while battling for a rebound.

The fall was similar to the one that sidelined Thomas for eight games last month, but after remaining down on the floor for a few moments, Smart climbed to his feet and was able to complete the game without issue.

The rookie finished with four points, four rebounds, three assists and four steals in 34 minutes.

Thumbnail photo via Elise Amendola/Associated Press


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