Celtics Notes: Boston’s Early Deficit Leads To Extra Bench Minutes Vs. Kings

by NESN Staff

November 17, 2019

The Celtics had their 10-game winning streak snapped Sunday in Sacramento as Buddy Hield and the Kings took down Boston 100-99.

Boston’s starting unit found themselves battling back from an early double-digit deficit for the second consecutive game, leading Brad Stevens to go deep into his bench in the first half. Semi Ojeleye (11 points) and Enes Kanter (10) led the bench’s scoring charge, but Stevens noted the starters have to be better when it comes to opening games going forward.

“Our starters haven’t started games well the last two games,” Stevens said during NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “We’ve gotten a lot out of (the bench). We’ve been behind, 30-17 today, something like that on Friday, so I thought that group gave us a huge lift. I think Brad (Wanamaker) and Semi were excellent and I thought Kanter gave us good minutes. There was a lot of positives on the bench, that’s encouraging.”

Stevens added there were plenty of areas to improve upon following the loss, while giving credit to the Kings for making shots down the stretch.

“There were a lot of controllables that we missed today,” Stevens said, per NBC Sports Boston. “But they had to also make some incredible shots. So I think it was a mixture of those two and we’ll get to work from a film standpoint on those controllables and hopefully be better in some of those scenarios tomorrow (vs. the Phoenix Suns).”

Boston’s depth, like Stevens said, was able to give quality playing time, including some key second-half stretches. Ojeleye (21 minutes), Wanamaker (19), Kanter (18) and Carsen Edwards (15) all played double-digit minutes, which continued to allow Stevens and Co. to search for their perfect formula. Grant Williams and Javonte Green, who have seen varying minutes over the last two weeks, did not play Sunday.

Despite the 10-2 record, the Celtics still are very much a work in progress. According to Stevens, that’ll continue going forward.

“We’ve talked about it before, no Javonte the other night, no Grant today, we’re searching for our best groups off the bench,” Stevens said. “Everybody’s had their moments certainly, but everybody will have other opportunities as we move forward.”

Here are some other notes from Sunday’s Celtics-Kings game:

— Marcus Smart’s buzzer-beating attempt came up just short in heartbreaking fashion, but it appears the guard is dealing with a few ailments as well.

Smart told reporters after the game that his hip was “banged up” following Friday’s win over the Golden State Warriors. He also sprained two fingers in his shooting hand, but should be fine, per The Athletic’s Jay King.

As for his thoughts on the final shot, well, they sound quite similar to everyone else’s.

— Ojeleye’s 11-point effort was his highest output this season, and his first of the double-digit variety. Besides last year’s season finale against the Washington Wizards, Ojeleye hadn’t had a double-digit showing since Dec. 21 of last year.

His three 3-pointers matched a career-high, making it the third time he’s done so over his three-year span in Boston.

— Robert Williams played just six minutes after entering Sunday as questionable on the injury report. He wasn’t particularly good when he was on the floor, but either way his minutes were slim.

Boston’s continues to see a rotating door when it comes to its frontcourt, but Daniel Theis has been consistently solid. He had 14 points and 10 rebounds on 5-of-6 shooting in 22 minutes Sunday, further solidifying himself as the Celtics’ starting center against the majority of opponents. Of course, a giant lineup like the Philadelphia 76ers, for example, may create some obstacles.

Thumbnail photo via Ed Szczepanski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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