An obvious work in progress through the first week and a half of the new season, Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics entered halftime of their Thursday night game in Oklahoma City against the Thunder in perhaps their worst spot yet.
Down by 16 through 24 minutes of play, the Celtics entered their locker room having shot just 31.8 percent behind a 14-for-44 start, which included a dreadful 0-for-11 mark from behind the arc. The Green’s transition defense also remained an unmitigated disaster, and Boston’s lack of any sort of actual identity had officially become maddening.
How did the Celtics respond?
By finally showing just how dominant they can be as an offensive unit.
In a third-quarter comeback headlined by three straight triples drained by C’s big man Al Horford, the Celtics absolutely shot the lights out. Particularly from the three-point range they fumbled and stumbled over in the first half, with conversions on nine of their 14 attempted three-pointers in the third quarter, and a 19-5 run to finish the frame.
The effort was good enough for Boston’s first lead of the night, and set the stage for a back-and-forth fourth quarter that gave Marcus Morris the proper time to shine. On a night that saw the streaky wing contribute 21 points in 29 minutes off the Celtic bench, Morris dominated in the second half, shooting 5-for-6 in the second half, and with makes on four throws from deep.
And tied at 95-all, it was Morris that found the wide open look from deep courtesy of a pass from Horford, and drained to put Green on top for good. It was part of a closing stretch over the game’s final 4:22 that saw the Celtics outscore the Thunder 16-1.
There’s odds eventually breaking your way, and then there’s what the Celtics had happen to them in the second half; Boston shot a staggering 52.4 percent from deep in the second half, while Thunder star Russell Westbrook turned into the OKC’s finest bricklayer, with connections on just three of his final 15 field goal attempts (and 0-for-5 from deep).
With the win, the Celtics improved to 3-2 on the year. They’ll head to Detroit for a Saturday night meeting with the Pistons.