As part of the NBA Global Games Initiative the Boston Celtics squared off against the Sacramento Kings in a regular season match up that started at 9pm local time, 10pm on the East Coast last night. Boston came into the game sitting at 10-8 going 2-3 in there last 5 games and in second place in the Atlantic Division behind Toronto. The C’s put one in the win column taking it to the Kings 114-97 with four Celtics scoring twenty or more points.
Isaiah Thomas, who continues in the starting line up, and Kelly Olynyk, a spark off the bench, each put up 21 points in the victory while Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder both notched 20-point games as well. The Celtics continued their balanced attack and seemed to play everyone with 12 players scoring in the game. Thomas maintained his average as coming into the game he was scoring 20.8 points per game and Avery Bradley knocking in 16.1 per contest. Other key players moving forward include Jared Sullinger and Jae Crowder both averaging double figures and Evan Turner who is close averaging 9.0 points per game adding solid defense and play-making on offense.
Sacramento hasn’t exactly gotten off to a blistering pace with their 7-13 record however they have been hampered by injury in the form of a back strain for Demarcus Cousins and are now 6-6 in games that he has played in. Cousins, a player much sought after by Danny Ainge and the Celtics this off season, was averaging 28.2 points per game in the contests in which he has been able to play coming into the game against the Celtics. Former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo was averaging a shade under 13 points and 10.7 assists per game and hoping he and Cousins can get this Kings team out of the basement of Pacific division (Also known as the Golden State division), and at least compete for an eight seed in the wild western conference.
The Celtics were able to hold Cousins to just 16 points and seven rebounds in twenty four minutes of action. Rondo scored five points and dished out eight assists in the loss. Rudy Gay appeared to be the only Kings player to really shine scoring 18 points and ripping down seven boards. Heading into the game most were excited about the match up between the always difficult to handle Rondo and a great defender in Avery Bradley, as well as the rotation of Celtics bigs in the trenches against a powerful low post presence in Cousins. Boston was able to get the best of that match up to get a victory south of the border. The Kings also lost rookie center Willie Cauley-Stein during the game with a dislocated finger, he will be out 4-6 weeks by initial reports.
The Celtics will continue to be without Marcus Smart for the road trip who is missing time due to, to steal a phrase from hockey, a “lower leg injury” which in medical terms is a subluxation of the proxmial tibfib joint. Ainge recently said on the Boston SportsHub 98.5 that he will likely be out a few more weeks but is working hard on getting back.
Fortunately for Boston they are a deep team with twelve players averaging over ten minutes per game so the rotation can pick up some slack however Smart’s spark, athleticism, defense and intensity are hard to match, the Celtics have gone 4-3 in his absence.
The Celtics got a much needed win in Mexico City as the next stretch of games are not any easier. They go on the road to play the new Twin Towers in LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan in San Antonio and then travel to New Orleans to do battle against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. After that they will host Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls before the reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, led by MVP Stephen Curry, bring their currently undefeated, high tempo show to Boston next Friday night.
The Celtics will try to continue to grind through this difficult road trip while Sacramento is falling quickly out of contention in the breakneck paced race for the western conference playoffs.