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Saturday, November 8, 2014

When Will Things Finally Start Going the Celtics' Way Again?

I realize that with 17 NBA championships comes a lifetime of haters and jealousy across the country (and world) so I understand that nobody outside of their fanbase will ever feel bad for the Celtics when they are stuck in neutral for years like this. Boston (2-3 overall, 2-1 home) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 101-98 win tonight at TD Garden vs. Indiana (1-5 overall, 0-3 away). Unfortunately, what this victory will be remembered for most is rookie Marcus Smart's leaving the court on a stretcher due to a brutal ankle injury in the fourth quarter.

Seeing anyone get injured is depressing enough but Smart has showed plenty of potential in the first five games of this season. His offensive game is still a work in progress but he's already an excellent defender and has a high basketball IQ. All we can hope is that it's not as bad as it looked and he's not out for too long. Credit to the Celts for pushing through that after seeing him go down. They might not be very good (yet?) but you can tell it's a tight-knit group.

Jared Sullinger (17 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists) led five Celtics in double figures: Jeff Green had 15 points and seven rebounds, Kelly Olynyk scored 12 points with five rebounds, Avery Bradley added 11 points and Brandon Bass notched 10 points off the bench.

With Paul George, George Hill and David West all out, there aren't many teams in the NBA more decimated by injuries than the Pacers. Roy Hibbert had a game-high 22 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks but it wasn't enough. Former Knick Chris Copeland scored 17 points with six rebounds, Donald Sloan put up 15 points, Solomon Hill posted 12 points and Luis Scola supplied 11 points and eight rebounds. Former Sixer Lavoy Allen contributed 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Boston led 30-26 after the first quarter and 55-52 at halftime. Indiana outscored Boston 23-18 in the third quarter to take a 75-73 lead into the final frame but the C's rallied for the much-needed win. The Celts hit four more 3-pointers (9-5), had eight more assists (26-18), three times as many steals (6-2) and six more fast break points (8-2). That allowed them to survive Indiana's dominance inside: 56-34 points in the paint.

Back-to-back games in the NBA are always tough but the Celtics really have their work cut out for them tomorrow night (8, CSN) as they visit the Bulls (5-1 overall, 1st in Central Division). Derrick Rose didn't play in Friday's 118-115 win over Philadelphia as he rests his ankles. Talk about a guy that could use a healthy season, geez. Boston head coach Brad Stevens said that Smart wouldn't make the trip to Chicago (duh) as they await the MRI results in the morning. Think good thoughts Celtics fans!

UPDATE 11/8: The Celtics announced that Smart is only expected to miss two or three weeks which is great news. Also, Rondo missed tonight's game in Chicago because he was getting the screw(s) out of his hand. He's expected back on Wednesday vs. Oklahoma City.

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