BOSTON — Head coach Brad Stevens has said it many times before: The Celtics have a lot of big men.
Boston’s frontcourt numbers crunch has put playing time at a premium, as evidenced by Tyler Zeller’s virtual disappearing act this season (8.9 minutes per game after averaging 21.1 minutes per game last season).
It’s also put the squeeze on David Lee, who got off to a slow start to the 2015-16 campaign and saw his minutes shrink as a result. Yet the former Golden State Warrior has found his groove of late, knocking down 68 percent of his shots (21 for 31) over his last seven games.
“I’m going to continue to do what I told you a couple weeks ago, and that’s take the minutes that I get and make the most of them,” Lee said before Friday’s contest against the Brooklyn Nets. “Be super aggressive when I’m out there, and hopefully that will earn me more minutes.”
Lee did just that Friday, scoring all 11 of his points in the second quarter on 5 for 5 shooting as part of Boston’s monster run. The 32-year-old even turned back the clock with a vicious jam:
That’s one way to catch Stevens’ eye.
“He moves the ball, he’s able to score in and around the basket, he’s making that midrange, he’s shooting free throws well,” Stevens said of Lee. “I mean, he’s doing a lot of good things for us right now.”
Let’s hit a few other notes from Celtics-Nets:
— Isaiah Thomas caught fire in the second quarter after a brutal start.
The Celtics point guard went 0 for 6 in the first frame but kept firing away in the second, and his resilience paid off big time. Thomas was a perfect 5 for 5 in the quarter and hit all four of his 3-point attempts to help Boston surge to an early lead.
Thomas was asked after the game if shooting is contagious.
“No doubt,” he replied. “Missing is contagious, too. They’re both contagious.”
— The Celtics did more making than missing Friday night. Here are a few impressive stats from Boston’s offensive explosion:
— Marcus Smart left the game in the fourth quarter with a bruised left knee. Stevens said the point guard will get an MRI on the knee Friday night, but Jae Crowder said he doesn’t believe his teammate’s injury is serious.
“Just for precautionary reasons, he’s going to get checked out (Friday night),” Crowder said. “It sounds like he’ll be OK.”
— Crowder had an excellent night offensively, tallying a season-high 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting. He’s now scored in double digits in five consecutive contests, an impressive streak for a player who prides himself on his defense.
“He’s all over the place,” Thomas said of Crowder. “He’s always in the right spots. Now, offensively, he’s beginning to be in the right spots, so he’s walking into layups, getting wide-open (3-pointers), and it’s helping us.”
— It’s pretty common knowledge the Celtics have the rights to Brooklyn’s first-round draft pick in 2016, and with the Nets about to fall to 2-11, the TD Garden crowd busted out a creative chant late in the fourth quarter.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics forward David Lee (42) shoots against the Dallas Mavericks in the second half at TD Garden. Dallas defeated the Celtics 106-102.