Keys to the Game
Key Moment
Key Player
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night

Key Moment

Active hands. That’s what Brad Stevens wants his Celtics to showcase each and every night, and boy, are they making that happen.

The C’s are putting a smile on their coach’s face by breaking up passes, reaching in for steals and tipping balls to their teammates at a higher rate than any team in the league. Boston entered Monday’s action with a league-leading average of 11.3 steals per game, and if tipped balls were tracked, they’d probably be in the lead in that category as well.

Boston’s steals average rose Monday night, thanks in large part to the team’s activity during the third quarter. Passing lanes were pretty much nonexistent for the Rockets as steals, tip-outs and everything between piled up for the C’s.

Marcus Smart’s five steals spearheaded an incredible 16-steal performance by Boston. Eight players grabbed a steal, including four who grabbed at least two.

Five of those steals were ripped during the third quarter. Three of those steals were grabbed over a span of just two minutes and 14 seconds of the period, and they boosted the C’s toward a blowout win.

It all started when Marcus Smart grabbed his third steal of the night at the 6:13 mark of the quarter. Boston capitalized on that turnover just 14 seconds later with a driving, and-one layup by Jae Crowder that put the C’s on top 65-60.

Then the C's grabbed another steal on Houston’s next possession, when Amir Johnson broke up a bad pass by Motrezl Harrell. Isaiah Thomas pulled up for a smooth jumper from the left elbow just six seconds later.

Three possessions later, it was Crowder’s turn to get into the action at the defensive end. The league-leader in steals picked off a pass by Jason Terry and took it the other way for a layup at the 3:53 mark that put his Celtics on top by seven.

Boston’s activity continued over the remainder of the game, as its players out-hustled Houston’s in every facet of the game. The C’s eventually pulled ahead by as many as 29 points en route to a 111-95 win, and it was all due to those active hands.

Key Player

Avery Bradley is playing so well he might be locking himself into a role as a reserve.

Wait, what?

Yeah, you read that correctly.

Bradley, who had started 99 percent of his games over the past three-plus seasons prior to Sunday night, was brought off the bench for the second consecutive game Monday night in Houston. This situation originated when Brad Stevens said he wanted to ease Bradley back into the lineup following a left leg injury. It’s now turning into a decision that may become permanent.

Bradley was outstanding during his 20 minutes of action off the bench. He scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including a 4-of-7 performance from long range. He was especially accurate during the second half and his buckets helped Boston run away from Houston. Bradley canned five of his seven shots over the final 24 minutes.

Did the shooting guard lead the game in scoring? No. In fact, he didn’t even lead the Celtics in scoring, as Isaiah Thomas dropped in a game-high 23 points. Bradley did, however, put together his second consecutive outstanding performance off the bench.

If he keeps it up, this may become a regular thing.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Marcus Smart, who logged 30:16 of playing time, was the only Celtics player who played more than 30 minutes.
  • Dwight Howard was the only player in the game who grabbed double-digit rebounds. He finished with 12.
  • Isaiah Thomas (23 points) and Avery Bradley (21 points) were the only players in the game who eclipsed the 20-point barrier.
  • Thomas and Smart tied for the game high in assists with six apiece.
  • Smart led the Celtics in rebounding with nine boards.
  • None of Boston's players grabbed double-digit rebounds, yet the C's outrebounded the Rockets 49-46.
  • Boston scored 24 points during both the first and the fourth quarters.
  • Trevor Ariza led Houston with 19 points.
  • Each team led by at least 15 points during the game. Boston's largest lead was 29 points.
  • The C's racked up 27 assists.
  • James Harden, who led the league in free-throw attempts with nearly 12 per game prior to this contest, took only four freebies on the night.
  • Boston outscored Houston 58-38 in the paint.
  • Dwight Howard scored only five points on 2-of-4 shooting.
  • Smart grabbed a game-high five steals.

Quote of the Night

We're showing that we're going to come out and fight each and every night.

Jae Crowder on what the Celtics, who have won five of six, are showing the league.

Key Player

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