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Studs and Duds: Jared Sullinger’s double-double lifts Celtics past Bulls

01.22.16 at 10:04 pm ET
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The Celtics ended their two-game losing streak with a 110-101 victory over the Bulls on Friday night.

In a dominant first half, the Celtics built up a 15-point lead while shooting 50 percent from the field. The Celtics defense did an excellent job getting their hands on the basketball, scoring 17 points off of 13 Bulls turnovers.

In the second half, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler helped the Bulls claw back in the game.  The duo picked apart the Celtics poor pick-and-roll defense in the third quarter, combining for 36 of their 55 points in the final 24 minutes.

Two Jimmy Butler foul shots cut the Celtics lead to 97-96 with 4:58 left to play in the game. The C’s, who have led a number of fourth-quarter leads slip away this season, did not relinquish their lead, only allowing five points during the rest of the game.

With the game on the line, the team turned to their potential All-Star Isaiah Thomas, who scored six of his team-high 22 points down the stretch.  Avery Bradley added 21 on 8-of-14 shooting.Jared Sullinger registered his 13th double-double of the season, finishing with 18 points, and 12 rebounds.

With the win, the Celtics improve to 23-21 on the season. Due to Winter Storm Jonas, their schedule game against the 76ers was postponed from Saturday to Sunday night.

For a complete box score, click here. Read the rest of this entry »

Stud and Duds: DeRozan’s 34 points leads Raptors past Celtics

01.20.16 at 10:30 pm ET
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DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan

After the Raptors opened up a 13-point lead in the first half, Celtics coach Brad Stevens turned to his bench, but it wasn’t enough to counter DeMar DeRozan who scored 22 second-half points en route to a 115-109 Rapors victory.

The Celtics closed the first half on a 10-2 run and took a 62-56 lead into halftime. Led by Kelly Olynyk’s 18 points, the Celtics bench combined for 47 points. Yet, DeRozan erupted for 18 third-quarter points and set the tone offensively for the Raptors as they outscored the Celtics 40-28 before heading into the fourth quarter.

In the final frame, the Raptors led by four points when Isaiah Thomas committed a costly turnover on an inbound play out of a timeout with 41 seconds left. The Celtics were able to regain possession but Avery Bradley‘s missed 3-pointer with 14.8 seconds left, sealed the Raptors win. It was the fifth missed 3-pointer of the quarter and further prevented the Celtics from having a chance to regain the lead that they saw slip away after halftime.

The Raptors did an excellent job of getting to the hoop while knocking down good looks from the perimeter — they outscored the Celtics 54-38 in the paint and shot 55.4 percent on 46-of-83 shooting. Although the Celtics shot 50.6 percent from the floor, it wasn’t enough to impede DeRozan’s second-half scoring outburst. The Raptors never led by more than six points in the fourth quarter but were able to pull away in the final minutes.

Isaiah Thomas‘ (21 points, 10 assists) double-double led the Celtics and Avery Bradley finished the night with 19 points. DeMar DeRozan (34 points) shot 52 percent on 13-25 shooting to lead the Raptors and Jonas Valanciunas (19 points, 12 rebounds) notched a double-double.

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


DeRozan gave the Celtics one of the best individual performances they’ve seen from an opponent this season and did it in a number of different ways. He drove the ball to the hoop, stroked it from the mid-range, got to the free-throw line (8-of-9) and lit up the C’s — scoring 30 points in three quarters. Who does that? Not a lot of players in the NBA do. DeMar was ridiculous. He finished the night with 34 points and six assists.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Jared Sullinger.

Sullinger had an ugly outing up in Toronto. He couldn’t find his offense and was bullied  in the paint by Jonas Valanciuas and Luis Scola. Sullinger went scoreless on 1-for-7 shooting, committed two turnovers and was a team-low minus-19 on the night.


WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Three-point shooting

The Raptors entered the game as one of the league’s worst teams in defending 3-pointers and it showed. Celtics shot 46.2 percent from deep on 12-of-26 shooting but needed a few more down the stretch when they counted most. The Celtics utilized their 3-point shooting throughout the game to keep themselves within striking distance but couldn’t hit the big ones at the end of the fourth. As the saying goes: “You live and die by the 3,” well the C’s lived by it for 36 minutes as the 3-ball certainly kept them close up until the last quarter where they went 1-for-6 and ultimately suffered their second straight loss.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 54 points in the paint

The Celtics have to do a better job at defending the post. In a game where Jared Sullinger only played 12 minutes, the Celtics had no other big men to count on for interior defense. Amir Johnson and Tyler Zeller struggled to keep up with Jonas Valanciunas (19) and Luis Scola (18 points) nor could they get stops against Toronto’s perimeter players as they were able to get to the hoop with little resistance. 


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Studs and Duds: Nowitzki, Mavericks beat Celtics in OT

01.19.16 at 12:16 am ET
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It was a game of two halves. And an overtime.

The Celtics overcame a 17-point deficit, hit clutch fourth-quarter shot and forced overtime — where the Mavericks knocked down four 3-pointers to defeat the Celtics in a 118-113 win in Dallas.

The Mavericks took a 29-16 lead into the second quarter and extended it to 17 points — their biggest lead of the night. Dallas shot 48.8 percent in the first half. The Celtics rallied in the third quarter, outscoring the Mavericks 33-18 and went into the fourth quarter up, 72-70. Isaiah Thomas, who scored two points in the first half, found his offense in the third quarter by scoring 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

In the fourth quarter, Dirk Nowitzki caught fire — he scored 14 of his 31 points and propelled the Mavericks to a five-point advantage after converting a four-point play with 1:27 left in the game (89-94). However, the Celtics didn’t quit. They went on a 6-4 run to set up a chance for them to tie the game, down by three (98-95). With 14 seconds left, Jae Crowder was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and converted all three free-throws to send the game into overtime.

The Mavericks needed four 3-pointers in the extra period to fend off the Celtics. Dallas shot 47 percent on 16-for-34 from distance.

Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart each scored 20 points to lead the Celtics, Avery Bradley added 19 points and eight rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki‘s 31 points led the the Mavericks. Deron Williams scored 20 and Zaza Pachulia grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds.

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

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Marcus Smart.

Smart did a little bit of everything. He scored (20 points), grabbed boards (eight rebounds) to help lead the fast break (31 fast break points) and finished the night with two steals. Smart also hit a big 3-pointer in overtime to pull the Celtics to within one point before Williams and Nowitzki hit back-to-back 3’s to extend the Mavericks lead up to four.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Amir Johnson.

In a game where Pachulia pulled down 19 rebounds, the Celtics could have used some help from their 6’9″ big. Johnson finished the night with just two rebounds and a turnover in 13 minutes. When the Celtics made their second-half comeback, coach Brad Stevens knew he wasn’t going to get much rebounding from Johnson so he kept him on the bench.

VINE OF THE NIGHT: Clutch Crowder

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Guarding Dirk 

After the Celtics grabbed their first lead in the third quarter, the Mavericks turned to Dirk Nowitzki and he delivered — he scored 21 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. When it came to defending Nowitzki, the Celtics often found themselves caught in a switch, which led to easy jumpers for Dirk. In the fourth quarter, Nowitzki, 7’0″, knocked down shots over Smart, Evan Turner and other undersized defenders, which led to easy shots or trips to the free-throw line — where he went 12-for-13 on the night. 

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 16-for-34

The Celtics couldn’t stop the Mavericks from knocking down 3-pointers, especially in the overtime period. Dallas drained a handful of contested 3-pointers (4) in the extra period but the Mavericks also made a lot of open 3’s throughout the night. The Celtics back court were caught behind screens and often late on defensive switches, which led to open looks for the Mavericks. Drik Nowitzki (3-for-5), Chandler Parsons (4-for-6), Wesley Matthews (3-for-8), Devin Harris (2-for-5) Deron Williams (2-for-5) and Raymond Felton (1-for-3) all took turns knocking down jumpers from downtown. 


Studs and Duds: Crowder’s go-ahead layup lifts Celtics past Wizards

01.17.16 at 8:54 pm ET
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Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder

The Celtics began their three-game road trip on a positive note by beating the Wizards 119-117 in Washington D.C. on Saturday.

The Celtics outscored the Wizards 65-56 in the second half, erasing an 11-point deficit and grabbed a four-point lead (114-110) with 30 seconds left in the game. With 22 seconds left, John Wall was fouled shooting a 3-pointer. After missing his first attempt, NBA official Tony Brothers handed Jae Crowder a technical foul for yelling towards the Wizards bench. Wizards guard Gary Neal converted the technical foul shot and Wall made 2-of-3 to pull the Wizards to within one point.

After Amir Johnson split a pair from the foul line with 15 seconds left, Garrett Temple converted a pair of freebees to tie the game at 117. Out of a timeout, Celtics executed a back door cut play to Crowder for the go-ahead layup. Wall only needed 3.9 seconds to go coast-to-coast, but he missed an uncontested layup that would have sent the game into overtime.

After the game, Crowder told CSNNE that it was Wizards coach Randy Whittman who initiated the exchange of words that resulted in him getting the technical foul. Whittman did not comment on the incident.

Isaiah Thomas (36 points) and Jae Crowder (22 points) combined for 54 points to lead the Celtics. John Wall scored a game-high 36 points and Marcin Gortat (18 points, 11 rebounds) had a double-double for the Wizards.

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


Crowder has been playing at a very high level lately and Saturday night was no different. Crowder scored 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including 2-for-5 from deep to go with his eight rebounds and six assists. In his last four games, he’s averaging 21.2 points, six rebounds and shooting 55.2 percent from the floor.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Avery Bradley.

Despite knocking down the clutch 3-pointer that gave the Celtics a four-point lead with 30 seconds left, Bradley struggled to find his shot throughout the night. He finished the night with nine points on 4-for-13 shooting, including 1-for-6 from distance.

VINE OF THE NIGHT: Clutch Crowder

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Tony Brothers.

Crowder’s late-game technical foul could have ultimately costed the Celtics the game. Although Crowder made the mistake of talking back to Wizards coach Randy Whittman, NBA official Tony Brothers’ call was a bit extreme. Crowder never received a warning from the veteran official, and the controversial call led to the Wizards eventually tying the game before Crowder’s go-ahead layup put the Celtics up for good.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 32-for-36.

The Celtics were constantly making trips to the free throw line and it paid dividends. They shot 11-for-12 in the fourth quarter — 32-of-36 on the night (89 percent), including 3-for-4 in the final minute. If the Celtics can reach this plateau more often, it will better their chances of edging out wins in close games. The C’s shoot 77 percent from the line on 22.7 attempts this season.


Studs and Duds: No man bun, no problem for Kelly Olynyk, who powers Celtics past Suns

01.15.16 at 9:57 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

The Celtics dominated the Phoenix Suns en route to a 117-103 win, Friday Night at the Boston Garden.

The Suns, who entered the game with the league’s worst rated defense, were both unwilling and unable to stop the Celtics from scoring the basketball. The Celtics capitalized on the Suns sloppy play and frequently found themselves with wide open shots.

After a relatively close first quarter, the Celtics blew the game open at the end of the second. Led by an outstanding shooting performance by Olynyk, the C’s outscored the Suns 22-5 in the final 5:28.

In the second half, the Suns were unable to cut the deficit to lower than 15.

Kelly Olynyk scored a game-high 21 points. Isaiah Thomas added 19, while Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder both scored 17.  Coming off the bench, Marcus Smart recorded a nice garbage-time triple-double with 11 rebounds, 11 assists, and 10 points. The last Celtic to record a triple-double coming off the bench was Art “Hambone” Williams, who did it on January 6th, 1971.

After losing four straight, the (21-19) Celtics have now won two in a row. The team will attempt to extend the streak, when they travel to Washington to play John Wall and the Wizards on Saturday night.

For a complete box score, click here.

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Studs and Duds: Celtics steal win behind Amir Johnson’s double-double

01.13.16 at 10:59 pm ET
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Amir Johnson

Amir Johnson

All they had to do was go small.

In the final five minutes, with Jae Crowder playing power forward, the Celtics dominated the Pacers en route to a 103-94 victory. During that final stretch, the C’s small-ball lineup outscored the Pacers 17-4, including six points on three consecutive steals to retake the lead for good.

After the Pacers scored the game’s first eight points, the Celtics completely outplayed the Pacers, responding with a 26-6 run of their own. Crowder scored 19 of his 25 points in the first half while holding Pacers star Paul George to four points in the game’s opening 24 minutes.

George’s struggles didn’t continue for long, as he scored 17 of his 23 points in the third quarter. As the Pacers clawed their way back into the game, the C’s offense faltered. Over a 12-minute stretch spanning from midway through the third quarter to five minutes left in the fourth, the C’s scored only 11 points.

With 5:08 to play and the Pacers leading 90-86, Brad Stevens turned to his small-ball line up of Crowder, Amir Johnson (14 points, 18 rebounds), Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas (28 points). The Pacers scored just four more points, turning the ball over six times. The win was just the C’s (20-19) second in the calendar year and snapped a four-game losing streak. They carry that momentum into Friday’s home game against the struggling Suns.

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

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Evan Turner talks small ball, Biggie and Tupac, and the nature of art

01.13.16 at 8:04 pm ET
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“Spread love it’s the Brooklyn way…”

A photo posted by evan turner (@slumdog_mi11ionaire) on

Before Wednesday’s night game against the Indiana Pacers, I asked Celtics forward Evan Turner a couple of questions about the Celtics loss to the New York Knicks. Turner, who is known for delivering some hilarious responses, instead responded with some generic athlete-speak, so I decided to ask him some questions rap related that had been on my mind ever since he donned a COOGI sweater after the C’s game in Brooklyn. Below are his responses.

On the advantages of smaller line-up:

‘€œIt makes us hard to guard. Obviously we can get out and run. We can switch more, teams see us switching and it throws them off a little bit.  With Jae playing the 4, theres so much pick-and-roll for the guard, making the big man switch, you get Isaiah on somebody on a mismatch, which is key.”

On Marcus Smart defending Kristaps Porzingis

‘€œThere were a few calls that weren’€™t fouls. Usually the aggressor doesn’€™t really get called, but yesterday Marcus did a great job on Porzingis. He got three fouls right away of being aggressive and being the more physical individual.’€

On Bigge and Tupac

“My dad was a Tupac fan and my brother was a big Biggie fan. I always just liked the music. Getting older and understanding it even more. I like Biggie, Biggie’€™s flow is obviously crazy. You can still play that music right now, its crazy. Pac was more of an icon with regards to his lyrics and rapping about the people, he was more of an activist. With whats going now, nowadays in life you need a voice like that.’€

*Editors note: I am kicking myself for not asking Turner a follow up question about the need for more political activism. Rather, as an noted Biggie stan, I quickly retorted that at the same time Pac was making socially conscious songs like “Brenda’s Got a Baby” he was also releasing violent diss tracks like “Hit ‘Em Up.” Turner used this as an opportunity to reflect on the nature of art.

On Art

“Music is a reflection self and reflection of your mood. You might blog about something or tweet or whatever else and you might feel way different ten minutes from now. It’s an art and people are going to say how they feel. I am sure Picasso had 100 different ways of painting or moods and stuff like that, and this is how it goes. To a certain extent you can never really take it too literal.”

I concluded by asking Turner his five favorite rappers of all-time. His response: Eminem, Jay-Z, Drake, Biggie and Tupac. The Logo didn’t stop there, explaining that he would also give five that most others wouldn’t say. He then proceeded to name five of the most popular rappers ever, most of which happen to hail from his hometown of Chicago. His non-traditional list: Lupe, Common Sense, Yeezy, Nas and J. Cole.

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