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With playoff implications on the line, Brad Stevens laments, ‘We laid an 8-minute egg’

04.11.16 at 11:25 pm ET
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As Brad Stevens stepped to the podium Monday night after a stinker of a loss, 114-100 to the Hornets, he hid a wry smile and knew what was coming next.

What was the problem in a game that saw you outscored 39-13 in the second quarter, never to be heard from again?

“We laid an eight-minute egg at the end of the second quarter, and just couldn’t overcome,” Stevens said. “We were up 38-32 and then I think they went on a 31-3 run, offense was bad, defense was bad, everything was poor, but that’s what it boiled down to. I mean, it was an eight minute — we laid an eight-minute egg. That’s the way I look at it. That’s enough against those guys when they’re shooting it like that, to really hurt you.”

The Celtics made just 3-of-22 shots from the field in the second quarter while the Hornets hit on 11-of-19, including 3-of-8 from beyond the arc. The Celtics missed all four of theirs from long distance. The Celtics had six turnovers while the Hornets had just three. Jeremy Lin, the former Harvard star, had quite a night on Asian-American night at TD Garden, scoring a game-high 25 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field.

“I don’t know what we shot — what did we shoot? — obviously not very good, but it really wasn’t even the shooting,” Stevens said. “They’ve got to be able to believe in their work, and we’re not harping on each and every shot that they take and everything else. And so you just have to step up and shoot it confidently. And believe that the next one’s going in.

“There are times, certainly, where you don’t feel as good as other times, but at that moment, make plays for other people. But I think the biggest thing was we tried to dribble through traffic in that eight-minute stretch, and it was like we were just dribbling into five guys, 10 arms. And everybody was in the paint because we weren’t making shots. And so, you know, we just kept fumbling the ball and turning it over, and those run-outs hurt and then they got going shooting the ball and Lin was excellent for them in that stretch as well.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Charlotte Hornets

Studs and Duds: Jeremy Lin, Hornets blow past Celtics

04.11.16 at 10:13 pm ET
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Hornets guard Jeremy Lin (7) scores two of his 25 points against the Celtics. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Hornets guard Jeremy Lin scores two of his 25 points against the Celtics. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

In a game with playoff implications for both teams on the line, the Hornets dominated the Celtics en route to a 114-100 win Monday night at TD Garden.

Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley each netted 17 points for the Celtics, and Kelly Olynyk scored 10 off the bench, but it wasn’t nearly enough to hang on.

Led by Bradley’s 11 first-quarter points, the Celtics grabbed a 28-24 lead at the end of the quarter — but it didn’t last long. Charlotte outscored the C’s 39-13 in the second quarter and used a 9-3 run at the start of the third to take a 28-point lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Desperate to find his offensive rhythm, Thomas came out aggressive in the second half, scoring 10 points on five shots before his aggression boiled over at the 3:55 mark. Thomas earned a technical foul for tossing the ball at official Ben Taylor’s legs in reaction to an offensive foul call. Thomas never returned to the game. 

With the loss, the Celtics (47-34) now are tied with the Hornets fifth in the Eastern Conference. There are tiebreakers aplenty with all four teams seeded third through sixth capable of tying each other, but if the C’s take care of the Heat on Wednesday night, they will in all likelihood be hosting a playoff game this weekend.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on. 


On Asian-American appreciation night, Lin dominated the Celtics, especially in the second quarter, when he scored 19 of his 25 points. Bradley and Marcus Smart simply couldn’t stop his dribble penetration. Lin also picked up five steals, as the Celtics seemed to drive into the paint with reckless abandon.

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Celtics make their case for Evan Turner as NBA Sixth Man

04.11.16 at 8:14 pm ET
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Evan Turner for Sixth Man of the Year. (Boston Celtics)

Evan Turner for Sixth Man of the Year. (Boston Celtics)

Is there a better “Sixth Man” in the NBA than Evan Turner?

The Celtics are biased but they made their case Monday, five days after Danny Ainge called for some sixth man respect. 

Turner is in the final year of his two-year, $6.7 million contract. He becomes a free agent this summer. Turner has led the Celtics’ bench all season long in scoring (10.4 points per game) and assists at 4.5 helpers per contest. 

It was those statistics Ainge pointed to last week when making his public case for Turner.

“Well, he leads the NBA in assists off the bench,” Ainge told the team’s flagship station. “He’s a huge [in the] fourth-quarter. Everybody in Boston knows how big he’s been for us at the end of so many games this year. I don’t know what the league views of Evan.

“I think Evan sees himself as a starter and not a sixth man. But I think that in a lot of ways he is because he’s in the game often at the end. But Evan certainly should be a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year. No question.”

Turner is one of only two players in the NBA this season to record at least 350 rebounds, 350 assists and commit fewer than 175 turnovers. Those figures could easily result in Turner landing a multi-year deal worth well north of $10 million annually this summer. 

As Ainge referenced, the irony of Turner’s season is that he became most valuable to the Celtics when Jae Crowder went out with a high sprain of his right ankle and Avery Bradley missed a game for paternal leave.

Before being placed in the starting lineup for stretch of two weeks, it was Turner and Marcus Smart who teamed to become one of the better 1-2 guard tandems off the bench in the East.

Celtics owned the award in the early years of the award, which was first handed out to Bobby Jones following Philadelphia’s world championship season in 1982-83. Kevin McHale won the next two years and then Bill Walton won it in the epic 1986 season.

Monday’s public relations push for Turner is Boston’s third of the week. They began with a flier last Wednesday for Isaiah Thomas as a member of the All-NBA team. They followed that up on Friday with a campaign for Jae Crowder for “Comeback Player of the Year.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Evan Turner, Sixth Man,

Celtics sign former Boston University star John Holland

04.11.16 at 6:52 pm ET
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John Holland (Boston University)

John Holland (Boston University)

John Holland can come home again, at least to where he played his college basketball. 

The former standout guard from Boston University signed a contract Monday with the Celtics after appearing in 37 regular season contests for the D-League Canton Charge this year.

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 16.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals in 30.2 minutes per game. He shot 52.0 percent from the floor, 36.9 percent from beyond the arc and 85.2 percent from the free-throw line during the regular season.

During the 2015-16 D-League Playoffs, Holland has averaged 28.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and shot 62.5 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from the three-point line.

“Obviously John has had a good D-League year,” Brad Stevens said before Monday’s game. “He’s played overseas since he left Boston U. Obviously, he had a great career at Boston U. He played really well against us in the D-League and the D-League tournament in the first round of the playoffs. 

“He’s a good player. He brings shooting. He brings pretty good size for a perimeter player. He brings the ability to switch. And he’s another person that we can add as depth, should we need some perimeter depth.”

Holland, the 40th Gatorade D-League call-up this season, was named the America East Conference Player of the Year as a Boston University senior when he led the Terriers to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. He finished his collegiate career as just the second player in America East history with at least 2,000 points, 700 rebounds and 200 steals. 

A native of the Bronx, N.Y., Holland has played professionally in France, Spain and Turkey, and was in training camp with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Boston University, Brad Stevens, John Holland

Brad Stevens isn’t worried about playoff seeding: ‘We literally never talk about it’

04.11.16 at 6:42 pm ET
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It would be natural for fans to think Brad Stevens and his fans are thinking about all the different possibilities for the playoffs with two home games left on the schedule. 

But thinking about it and talking about it are two completely different concepts in the mind of the Celtics coach. 

The Celtics, following Saturday’s loss in Atlanta, enter Monday with a 47-33 record, tied with Miami for fourth in the East, one game behind the Hawks. They are also one game ahead of sixth-place Charlotte. 

The Celtics could wind up playing the Hawks, Heat or Hornets in the first round, and could have home court or not. 

All Stevens can do with his team is to tell them to play the situation immediately in front of them and not look at the scoreboard.

“Completely. Today is all about Charlotte,” Stevens said before Monday’s game. “We didn’t mention anything else. We got together. We did our typical film. We did our typical walkthrough. We went through what we didn’t do well against Atlanta. We went through what we did do well. We went through what want to bottle up and play in a certain way against Charlotte and get ready for tonight’s game.

“Again, I’m sure that our guys are talking about it. I’m sure if you ask them, they’ll talk about it. We literally never talk about it. And it’s not something that’s relevant to winning tonight. We just have to focus on the things that we can control.

“So, our deal is just to continue to play and continue to focus on the things we can control and play well,” Stevens said. “I thought we did some really good things against Atlanta. I thought we did even better things against Milwaukee. With this being obviously, a lot yet to be determined, these are games that are important to play well in.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Charlotte Hornets,

Studs and Duds: Paul Millsap, Hawks crush Celtics, take control of third place

04.09.16 at 10:19 pm ET
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Apr 9, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) passes out of the defense of Atlanta Hawks forward Kent Bazemore (24) and center Al Horford (15) in the first quarter of their game at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks’ defense swarms Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas. (Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports)

In an intense playoff-like atmosphere, the Hawks defeated the Celtics 118-107 on Saturday night in Atlanta. 

Hawks forward Paul Millsap was dominant, finishing with 31 points and 16 rebounds, while knocking down 5-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc. Jeff Teague and Kent Bazemore added 24 and 21 respectively, as the Hawks shot an outstanding 51 percent (17-33) from the 3-point line. 

Isaiah Thomas, who had his 18-game streak of scoring more than 20 points snapped on Friday, turned in one of his worst performances in recent memories. Thomas finished with 16 points on 6-of-19 shooting.

Marcus Smart, who has been struggling for two months with his outside shot, knocked down four of his six attempts from beyond the arc and finished with a team-high 19 points. Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner also finished in double figures. 

In a wild and fast-paced first half that featured six ties and nine lead changes, the Celtics and Hawks engaged in a shootout. The C’s were initially able to pick up the slack for Thomas, scoring 71 first-half points by making 10 3-pointers and shooting over 55 percent from the field. The Hawks stayed with the Celtics, making 10 3’s of their own, while also shooting better than 55 percent. 

To start the second half, Brad Stevens went small, substituting Smart for Jared Sullinger. The small-ball lineup seemed to work, as the Celtics quickly jumped out to a 12-point lead. Crowder did an excellent job defending the much larger Al Horford in the post during this stretch. With Crowder containing Horford, the Hawks turned to Millsap, who scored 13 of his 31 points in the quarter. To end the third quarter, the Hawks went on two separate 8-0 runs to retake a 93-91 lead entering the final frame. The Celtics only shot 30 percent from the field in the quarter, scoring only 20 points.

In the fourth quarter, the Hawks pulled away, as Thomas’ shooting woes continued. The All-Star guard missed all four of his attempts down the stretch, and the Celtics only scored 16 points.

The win almost guarantees the Hawks will be the third seed in the Eastern Conference. In addition to now being a game ahead of the Celtics in the standings, the Hawks hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the C’s.

With the loss, the Celtics (47-33) are now engaged in a battle with the Hornets and Heat for fourth place in the East. The Celtics are a game ahead of both teams in the standings with two games remaining in the season. The Celtics can control the fourth seed, as they will host the Hornets on Monday before playing the Heat in the season finale. 

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on. Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Petraglia, Sam Packard on Celtics beating Bucks to close in on No. 3 seed

04.08.16 at 11:32 pm ET
By   |   Comments’s Mike Petraglia and Sam Packard explain how the Celtics were eventually able to get their engines going and blow out the short-handed Bucks, 124-109, Friday night at TD Garden. As a result, the Celtics won their fourth straight and improved to 47-32 on the season, tying the Hawks for third in the East heading into their Saturday night showdown in Atlanta.

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Mike Petraglia, Milwaukee Bucks
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