Brad Stevens called his team out for a lack of effort following an embarrassing 95-86 loss to the undermanned Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.
On Wednesday night, the Celtics responded.
Avery Bradley scored a team-high 21 points and Tyler Zeller added 18 points and six rebounds as the Celtics hustled their way to a 89-82 win over the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the visitors, as they played with a renewed sense of purpose after Monday’s lethargic performance.
Despite the improved effort, the win did not come easily. Outside of Bradley and Zeller, Boston’s offense struggled for the majority of the evening, shooting a lowly 40 percent from the field. The Celtics fell behind by as many as 11 points in the first half, before their best defensive performance of the season helped them earn the come-from-behind victory.
Boston limited the Nets to just 82 points in the contest, a season-low for a Boston opponent this year. Jae Crowder and Bradley set the tone with their physicality and grittiness, and the rest of their teammates followed suit, making sharp rotations and hustle plays all over the court in the second half.
No one play better encapsulated Boston's better sense of urgency Wednesday night than Crowder’s extra effort to track down this loose ball in the third quarter.
Both ends of the hustle spectrum, defined by Jae Crowder and Brook Lopez: http://t.co/s7Hpx0BlLt— Jay O (@MrTrpleDouble10) January 8, 2015
Crowder finished with six points, five rebounds and two steals in just 15 minutes on the night. Look for Stevens to give him additional floor time in the coming weeks for the toughness he brings to Boston's defense.
The next challenge for the Celtics will be to sustain some consistency with their defensive play. They will get that chance Friday night on the road against the Indiana Pacers.