Celtics Notes: David Lee Struggles; Gregg Popovich Lauds Brad Stevens


BOSTON — If you’ve watched the Celtics this season, you could point to any number of reasons for the team’s back-to-back losses to the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs.

When you boil it down, though, there’s one pretty simple explanation: They’re just not hitting their shots.

Boston struggled mightily from the field Sunday afternoon, shooting just 35 percent (35 for 98) from the floor in a 95-87 loss to San Antonio at TD Garden.

The Celtics managed just 31 points in the first half on 29 percent shooting (14 of 48) and hit only six of their 29 3-point attempts, with four of those makes coming in the fourth quarter.

It was the second consecutive poor shooting game for Boston, which hit 37 percent of its shots (32 for 85) in Friday night’s loss to the Raptors. But head coach Brad Stevens adopted a positive outlook when asked about the team’s shooting woes after Sunday’s loss.

“I give credit to (the Spurs’) defense, because their defense was really good and their length really affected us,” Stevens said. “I think we’ve just got to believe in ourselves and shoot the ball. We’ll have better shooting nights than this.”

Let’s dive into some more notes from Celtics-Spurs:

Click to read the Celtics-Spurs Wrap >>

— The Celtics traded for David Lee in large part for his offense, but he hasn’t provided much so far this season.

The former Golden State Warrior tallied just two points on 1-for-7 shooting Sunday. He’s scored just 16 total points through three games and looks pretty rusty offensively.

While Lee’s frustration is evident, the veteran forward isn’t about to let a few bad games bring him down.

“I’m out there thinking more than I’m playing right now,” Lee said. “And that’s by no means an excuse. I obviously have to be better finishing the ball — that’s what I do. I think I’ve shot 50 percent or better for a decade now, so I don’t expect this to continue.”

— Lee isn’t the only Celtics big man who’s struggled out of the gate.

Tyler Zeller failed to score in less than seven minutes of playing time, while Kelly Olynyk also didn’t tally a single point.

Their offensive woes once again opened the door for Jared Sullinger, who scored 10 points in 23:31 minutes of action. Given the Celtics’ logjam in the frontcourt, Zeller certainly won’t do himself any favors if his slump continues.

“We’ve got a lot of bigs,” Stevens said after the game when asked about Zeller’s lack of playing time. “I’m still working through it. That’s not on Tyler, that’s on me.”

— Postgame handshakes between NBA head coaches usually last a matter of milliseconds, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spent several minutes talking with Stevens after Sunday’s game had ended.

Popovich, universally regarded as one of the best coaches in the league, apparently holds the 39-year-old Stevens in very high regard.

“I really respect what he does,” Popovich said after the game. “I’ll still watch his Butler tape trying to learn some stuff he did there, to be honest with you. I really respect the hell out of him. He’s a really fine young coach — great demeanor. His team executes really well, and they’re just going to keep getting better. So, I enjoy him.”

— Avery Bradley suffered a finger injury on his right hand near the end of Sunday’s contest.

“I got it caught in someone’s jersey and bent my fingers back,” Bradley said after the game. “It’s just swollen right now.”

Bradley was a bright spot for Boston on offense. He scored a team-high 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting, two of which came on a monster dunk late in the fourth quarter.

— James Young and Jordan Mickey were the Celtics’ two inactives for the second consecutive game.

Young has yet to suit up for a game this season.

Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics forward David Lee (42) drives to the hoop against San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) during the first half at TD Garden.
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