|10.15.16 at 12:15 pm ET|
Prior to Thursday night’s game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens made an announcement that wasn’t so much surprising, rather thought-provoking.
“Ten (players) is what we usually play at the start of the season,” Stevens said. “It could be eight to ten, nine to ten.”
“Anytime you can get to a solid eight or nine in a rotation, that’s beneficial.”
That is conceivably going to leave a valuable asset out of the rotation. With his starting lineup of Al Horford, Amir Johnson, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas all but in ink, there would be two to four players vying for minutes.
Marcus Smart will also be a lock as the first man off the bench — as Stevens has often referred to him as a “sixth starter.” Once healthy, Kelly Olynyk will likely be in the same situation.
There is some fluidity after that, however.
Stevens did note that his rotation can, and likely will, change on a game-to-game basis.
“We have to have everybody ready to go,” said Stevens who added, “and some days it’ll be a solid eight plus 2 (players) but that plus 2 may change game to game depending on who we’re playing, how they played against them, how they played in practice, how they played the game before.”
With the summer league and preseason that Terry Rozier has had, reasonable minds can believe he would be in the rotation. However, ball handling and distribution are two things you could essentially get out of Smart, plus he would provide better defense. In an event where the Celtics are going to need to attempt to matchup in height with opposing teams, Rozier could see himself squeezed out of the rotation.
Then there’s Jaylen Brown. The rookie is a fascinating case because if he’s not going to be in the rotation, then he would be better suited playing in the D-League, which is not exactly the best PR move for a team’s No. 3 pick in the draft. That aside, however, he’s proven that his game has translated well to the NBA and the Celtics could definitely use his athleticism.
Jonas Jerebko is a perplexing case as well. Seemingly every time he appears to be falling out of Stevens’ good graces, he pops a 12-point performance off the bench, as he did Thursday (and lest we forget the 2016 postseason, as well). His problem, however, is that he’ll be more or less absent for stretches, and when his shot from 15-to 18-feet is off, he can render himself useless on the offensive end.
Bottom line, Stevens knows what he’s getting with Jerebko. He doesn’t have to worry about developing him, he’s a slightly above-average defender, who has a shot that can be lethal when it’s on. It’s hard to imagine him being phased out of the rotation — especially early on in the season — but it’s a legitimate possibility if he hits a cold streak.
Another veteran in a precarious position is Gerald Green. Green didn’t even see the floor until about five and a half minutes remained in the third quarter Thursday. There are too many enticing options at Stevens’ disposal to allow Green to get meaningful minutes. Conversely, he posesses one of the biggest tools the Celtics as a whole lack: a shot. However, he’s yet to exhibit any reliability as a shooter in his two preseason appearances, going a combined 0-for-4 from deep. He’s otherwise 9-from-20 from the field. He is the type of player destined to be the first man out, especially when his shot is cold.
Tyler Zeller hasn’t exactly had a camp to remember thus far. And with his history of fluctuating minutes, it already looks as if he’s destined for the same scenario as 2015-16, where he could be playing three minutes one night, but 18 the other.
One player that is making more of a case for himself is Jordan Mickey. A big leader in the late surge that pushed the Celtics bench past the Nets on Thursday, Mickey has started to look much more acclimated to the NBA than last year, even after tearing up the D-League. He may be an afterthought to start the season, but the amount of meaningful minutes he may get could certainly increase.
It should all come down to matchups. Stevens isn’t afraid to play small, and there is enough diversity in skill amongst bench players to where he has a quality arsenal to work with. As camp continues and more players begin to establish — or hurt — their value, the rotation should begin to take more of a shape, with some understandable flexibility taking place as well.
|10.13.16 at 10:05 pm ET|
The Celtics are set to become quite familiar with the Nets, with three matchups against Brooklyn in the next two weeks, one of which is the season opener on Oct. 26.
In the first of those three matchups Thursday in Brooklyn, a late surge sent the Celtics to victory, 100-97. Led by the unassuming five of Gerald Green, Jordan Mickey, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and R.J. Hunter, the C’s finagled a 6-0 run at the end of the game to grind out the victory.
Al Horford nearly had a double-double, finishing with nine rebounds to accompany his 13 points. Isaiah Thomas and Jonas Jerebko turned in 12-point performances.
For a full box score, click here.
The game had a more regular-season feel to it for a number of reasons. In his pregame press conference, coach Brad Stevens discussed that his rotation come the start of the season would be an “eight-plus-two” scenario, making time off the bench all the more difficult to grab.
As it turned out, just 10 players took the floor for the Celtics for the first 30-plus minutes of the game, with Green being one of the noticeable omissions up until that point.
Those who did see time, however, played with regular-season intensity.
The ball oftentimes was on the floor, with bodies in both green and white jerseys sprawled across the hardwood in attempt to maintain possession. Passing was in midseason form, as it was by and large crisp, quick and accurate.
|10.13.16 at 11:11 am ET|
Expect to see Amir Johnson changing things up this season.
When the Celtics went out and signed Al Horford, the laundry list of things he brought to the table were apparent, but one thing that flew under the radar was how he can help other players. And just over two weeks into camp, he’s already found a way to make fellow starter and big man Amir Johnson better.
“Chemistry is great, you know, it’s just me working around Al, Al working around me and we’re just putting it together,” the 29-year-old Johnson said.
The now-12-year pro noted that one dimension of his game that he is looking to improve is his 3-point shot. Last season, Johnson pulled from deep 43 times, executing on just 10 occasions for a 23.3 percent 3-point percentage, well below his career average of 31.5 percent from deep.
But with the addition of Horford, who can already do it all, it provides Johnson the flexibility to test his shot.
“Guys are starting to step out to that 3-pointer, and guys are definitely guarding outside the 3-point line, so it definitely changes in that aspect there,” Johnson said. “Every big man wants to step out and shoot the 3 and handle the ball, but now guys are working on it.”
With a player like Johnson implementing a 3-point shot more into his game, it can also have a less clear benefit. Regardless of if the shot gets knocked down, if Johnson is able to lure an equally-tall defender out to the perimeter, it gives a natural rim-protector like Horford a chance to isolate and grab the offensive board.
But whether Johnson is shooting or not, Horford’s versatility makes his life a lot easier.
“Al’s definitely one of those versatile bigs, able to pass the ball, step out and shoot the shot. For me it just kind of makes it easier just to work around him because you know he can the pass, you know he can make the shot,” Johnson said.
The synergy between the two is helping Johnson on the other end of the court as well.
|10.12.16 at 4:29 pm ET|
The speculation has circulated for a while, but now it can be booked: Paul Pierce is going to retire as a member of the Celtics.
The 38-year old, who will turn 39 on Thursday, had announced on The Players’ Tribune on Sept. 26 that he would retire after one more season with the Clippers in 2016-17. Speaking on Sirius XM NBA, Pierce announced that he would sign a one-day contract with the C’s at the conclusion of this season and retire as a member of the Celtics.
Pierce said that he owes it to himself and the fans.
Paul Pierce confirmed to us on @SiriusXMNBA that he’ll retire as a Celtic after the season… Said he owes it to himself and the fans.
— Justin Termine (@TermineRadio) October 12, 2016
After being drafted 10th overall to the Celtics in 1998, The Truth went on to an extensive and prolific 15-year career in Boston that saw him win a ring in 2008 — in which he was the finals MVP — before getting traded to the Nets in 2013.
The writing has been on the wall for Pierce to make such a move, all it was missing, however, was his affirmation. His current coach with the Clippers as well as his longtime boss with the Celtics Doc Rivers noted just weeks before Pierce’s announcement that the forward’s “got to retire a Celtic.”
The Clippers will visit the Celtics at the Garden on Feb. 5.
|10.08.16 at 6:26 pm ET|
UNCASVILLE, CT — In a game where Brad Stevens rested four of his five starters and had to do without backup guard Terry Rozier in the second half, the Celtics defeated the Hornets in their second consecutive preseason match up, 104-86.
Jae Crowder was the lone member of the starting unit who played in this one. He started at the power forward position in a small-ball lineup that included Tyler Zeller at center, rookie Jaylen Brown at small forward, Marcus Smart at the point and Gerald Green — who made his preseason debut.
Isaiah Thomas (left wrist), Avery Bradley, Al Horford and Amir Johnson sat out as their younger teammates took care of business against Charlotte.
Both teams got off to a sloppy start and finished the game’s first 12 minutes tied at 18. Although the Celtics forced five turnovers in the first quarter — including four in the opening minutes — they struggled in transition on offense and committed six turnovers.
Making matters worse, Rozier (4 points, 2 rebounds) left the game early in the second quarter when he was elbowed in the face while attempting to take a charge against Hornets center Christian Wood. He received seven stitches and never returned.
The Celtics’ offense found its rhythm against the Hornets in the second quarter as they took a 49-38 lead into halftime. Zeller scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half — he finished 5-of-7 from the floor, including 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. He did a stellar job of knocking down open mid-range jump shots and finishing strong in the paint.
|10.06.16 at 9:50 pm ET|
After beating the Hornets Thursday night in a preseason contest, the Celtics will now hold their breath on their star point guard.
Isaiah Thomas injured his left wrist early in the third quarter when he fought his way through a Roy Hibbert screen and came out of the game.
He did not return with what the team termed a “slightly sprained” left wrist. It is the same wrist that he had arthroscopic surgery on in Aug. 2014. Jaylen Brown subbed in for Thomas with 7:07 left in the third quarter.
As for the game, the Celtics (1-1) scored 40 points in the third quarter and rolled to a 107-92 win in a preseason game Thursday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Before coming out, Thomas led the Celtics with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting in 20 minutes. Al Horford scored nine of his 13 points in the third quarter. He also grabbed eight rebounds in his 19 minutes of playing time.
For a full box score, click here.
For a second straight game, head coach Brad Stevens started a lineup of Thomas, Avery Bradley, Horford, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson.
The Celtics raced out to a 22-14 lead in the first quarter, thanks to more sharp-shooting from Avery Bradley. The guard was 3-for-5 from the field, including 1-of-2 from beyond the arc.
But the Celtics bench struggled again, missing their last six shots as the Hornets scored the last nine points to take a 23-22 lead after one. The Celtics, who started off red-hot Tuesday night, made just 8-of-22 from the field in the opening quarter.
The learning curve continued for Jaylen Brown. He committed a mental error when he lost track of the shot clock at the end of the first quarter and passed the ball on the perimeter as the clock expired. He also failed to finish on a pair of drives to the basket.
Stevens used the second quarter of the second preseason game to mix and match with the starters, going with a lineup of Bradley, Thomas, Terry Rozier, Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko. The Celtics trailed 51-44 at the half, throwing up 17 threes (making seven). Overall, the Celtics shot just 17-of-44 (38.6 percent) in the opening 24 minutes. Thomas was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc and had 11 in the first half to lead the Celtics.
Unlike Tuesday, the Celtics starters opened the second half and it paid immediate dividends. The Celtics scored the first nine points of the third quarter for a 53-52 lead. One of the big highlights was two-handed monster slam from Horford on an inbounds pass from Crowder. Horford was fouled and hit the free throw for a three-point play. The Celtics were in complete control the rest of the quarter, outscoring the Hornets, 40-19, in the period.
The Celtics built their lead to as many as 21 in the fourth quarter, cruising to their first win of the preseason.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 7, 2016
|10.06.16 at 11:45 am ET|
Terry Rozier has been saying it for a while: Jaylen Brown is eventually going to be a nightmare for the rest of the NBA.
How bad of a dream is up to the rookie out of Cal.
On Tuesday night, in 20 minutes, Brown was 4-of-9 from the field for eight points and four rebounds.
It wasn’t pretty at the start. He had a one-handed dunk attempt partially blocked by Hollis Thompson with eight minutes left in the second quarter.
He had one turnover and was a minus-9.
In the second half, he was moved to the ‘4’ on the post from the swing spot. It worked. He found his rhythm, finishing 3-for-6 with three rebounds. In short, he found a comfort level.
“Yeah, I’m comfortable at the 4, wherever coach needs me to play,” Brown said. “That’s just part of being versatile; part of versatility is just being ready when somebody calls your name. You’re a rookie, so you can’t really have any excuses. If he wants to play me at the ‘4’ I’m down [with that].
“You can’t be surprised. You’ve just got to be ready at all times. Whenever somebody calls my name, I’m ready, focused, locked in. Rookies can’t be surprised.”
The highlight of the game came when the still 19-year-old Brown threw down a Tomahawk one-handed dunk with four minutes left, bringing the Celtics within three points. Terry Rozier was in Brown’s shoes last season, a first-round pick trying to show he was worth the pick.
“He had the crowd going, going crazy, had our bench going crazy,” Terry Rozier said. “That’s something he’s going to be good for doing, jump out of the gym. He’s going to see a lot of minutes this year. Once the game really slows down for him, it’s going to be scary for a lot of people. I’ve been telling him this since summer league.”
Truth of the matter is that Brown, as a third overall pick, is under the microscope much more than Rozier, who was a 16th overall pick. And there are bigger expectations. Brown has just begun to fulfill those expectations.
“It felt really good,” Brown said. “The floor opened up, felt like I could close out and it was just like the lane was wide open. I like to attack, close out and be aggressive, and if somebody had collapsed, I would’ve just kicked it to the corner for the open shot.
“It’s like a blur. This is all happening at once. It helped a little bit. Just getting up and down and getting to the basket. Just touching the ball when you’re getting up and down the floor is a great feeling, and nothing beats that. That feeling when you first walk in the arena. Nothing beats that feeling. When I got on floor, everything else just goes on the way.”
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