Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics putting on a defensive clinic

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BOSTON –  The Boston Celtics defense has been hit or miss lately.
 
On Monday, they were hitting the Brooklyn Nets hard in the first half which propelled them to a comfortable 58-40 lead.
 
The Celtics, looking to take sole possession of first place in the East with a win coupled with a Cleveland loss, opened the game with a 7-2 run and closed out the first quarter with its largest lead of the game, 28-13.
 
Boston continued to control the action in the second quarter against a Brooklyn Nets team that has been playing some of the best basketball in the East the last couple of weeks.
 
They came into Monday’s game having won four of their last five games, and seven of 12 which is a dramatic improvement for a team that has won just 20 games all season.
 
Boston had lots of players contribute offensively, but the difference-maker in the first half was Boston’s defense which did as good a job as we’ve seen lately not only contesting shots but also getting back in transition in addition to providing help whenever one of the players defending on the perimeter was beat off the dribble.
 
It was a defensive clinic unlike anything we’ve seen from the Celtics recently with the Nets shooting just 27.3 percent in the first half.
 
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the first half of Monday’s game between Boston and Brooklyn.
 

STARS
 
Isaiah Thomas

He was scoring like he normally does, as the Nets did little to slow him down as Thomas led all scorers with 12 points.
 
Avery Bradley

His defense and shot-making helped set the tone tonight for sure. At the half, he had nine points on 4-for-5 shooting with four rebounds.
 
 
 
STUDS
 
Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk looked really aggressive offensively which is what Brad Stevens, his teammates, fans, etc. have encouraged him to do more often. He had nine points off the bench in 10 minutes, along with four rebounds and three assists.
 
Jeremy Lin

The Nets have been a significantly better team with a healthy Lin, who was arguably the best player on the floor for Brooklyn. He had 11 points and six rebounds.
 
Marcus Smart

He was part of a dominant defensive showing by Boston in the first half. But he also made an impact scoring the ball, tallying nine points on 3-for-5 shooting from the field.
 
 
DUDS

Brook Lopez

He gets buckets and not much else. So to see the 7-footer score seven points in the first half without grabbing a single rebound … no surprise.

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