By: Patrick Whalen
Sound the alarms Celtics fans because the Celtics are still UNDEFEATED IN THE YEAR 2019. Yes the Celtics have now won their third straight to start the year over a Nets team that was on a hot streak of its own coming into the Garden. The Celtics got a big boost before the game as Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris both returned to the starting line up and Robert Williams was also activated and returned to the bench. Meanwhile the Nets were hit severely by the injury bug as Joe Harris, Allen Crabbe, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and of course Caris LaVert were all side lined by various injuries. This meant that the Celtics could go with their usual starters of Irving, Smart, Tatum, Morris and Horford while the Nets had to go with D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier, Rodions Kurcus, Jared Dudley, and Jarrett Allen.
The Celtics offense was a group effort last night as all five starters were all in double figures. Kyrie led the group attack in his return with 17 points on 8-16 shooting with 6 assits including this one to Morris to open the scoring.
Jayson Tatum had 16 points on 5-12 shooting with 4 rebounds and 4 assists including this hammer slam in the first quarter.
The other three starters each had 12 points. Morris on 4-10 shooting and 3-6 from three after sitting out last game, Marcus Smart on 4-10 shooting , 4-8 from three, with 7 assists and 4 rebounds and Al Horford on 6-7 shooting with 9 rebounds and 5 assists despite his 25 minute limit that is still in play for the Celtics due to Horford’s knee issue. With the Celtics blowing out the Nets it allowed for the second and third unit to get some extra minutes and for the first unit to get some rest. The bench was led by Gordon Hayward with 12 points on 4-10 shooting with 4 rebounds. Daniel Theis had his second straight big night off the bench with 11 points and 8 rebounds and Terry Rozier also chipped in 10 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. But a couple of the loudest points of the night were scored by Semi Ojeleye and the Time Lord Robert Williams on two big dunks in the fourth quarter to cap of a great Celtics win (Basketball-Reference.com).
The Nets struggled offensively as they were missing many of their main contributors on that end of the floor. The Nets main man, D’Angelo Russell, struggled mightly as he had just 5 points, 5 assists, and 6 turnovers. Their young center Jarrett Allen also struggled on the offensive end with just 6 points and 8 rebounds. The local UConn product Napier had 10 points on a poor 4-12 shooting but aslo had 5 rebounds and 6 assists. The big surprise from the Nets was from rookie Rodions Kurucs as he had 24 points on 8-15 shooting and 5-8 from downtown. The bench kept the Nets in the game but wasn’t enough to make a comeback attempt. Kenneth Faried had 13 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes. Spencer Dinwiddie had 15 points on 4-10 shooting and Ed Davis had 11 points and 9 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.
The Celtics jumped out to an early 12 point lead at the end of the first quarter and just kept building on it all night long. The Celtics still led by 12 at the end of three but they were able to pull away in the fourth to get the 21 point win by a score of 116-95. The Celtics defense was a big part of the Celtics getting this win as they forced 23 turnovers by Brooklyn including 13 steals by the Celtics. With the Celtics holding the Nets to 95 it is just the second time this season the Celtics have held opponents under 100 points in back to back games since October 25th. if this defense could stick around for the rest of the season the Celtics could easily get back to being the east favorite everyone had them pegged as before the season (Basketball-Reference.com).
With the win the celtics have now won 3 in a row to get to 24-15 on the season. they currently are fifth in the eastern conference and only trail Toronto by 4.5 games. The Celtics could also gain more ground with their up coming schedule which features a tough test at home against the Indiana Pacers on wednesday before they go on a three game road trip tat consists of @ Miami, @ Orlando, and @ Brooklyn. after that the Celtics have a big matchup at home against division rival and the east leading Toronto Raptors. If the Celtics can stretch this win streak out to 8, 9, 10 games like they did in late November and early Decmeber the Celtics could jump right back up towards the top of the east if not take over the top spot by the end of next week. Lets see if the Celtics can continue their recent winning ways and finish off this homestad with a big win against a potentail playoff opponent in the Pacers.
Also remember to vote for all your favorite Celtics players to send them to the 2019 NBA All Star game in Charlotte. Hit the link below and vote to help us get all your favorite and deserving Celtics to Charlotte in February.