|04.06.16 at 10:33 pm ET|
Trap game or not, the Celtics needed to beat the undermanned Pelicans in order to stay afloat in the upper tier of the Eastern Conference, and even though they won, it sure wasn’t pretty.
In a game that went down to the wire, the Celtics held off the visiting Pelicans, 104-97. For the 17th time in a row, Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics in scoring, totaling 32 points and adding eight assists. Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley netted 14 and 13, respectively.
Toney Douglas’ 19 points led six Pelicans in double figures, while former Maine Red Claw Tim Frazier added 18 points and six assists.
The Celtics took an early 15-6 lead and Thomas capped the first half with a driving layup in the final 1.5 second, but the C’s led by just eight at the break, despite forcing 14 first-half turnovers.
The Celtics again surged in the second half, grabbing a double-digit lead before an 8-0 Pelicans run cut the lead to 65-62. The two teams traded runs, and New Orleans tied the game at 91 with 3:16 remaining. The Celtics finished the game on an 11-4 run, including a monster Amir Johnson block and a clutch Avery Bradley 3-pointer to ice the victory.
With the win, the Celtics improved to 46-32 on the season and pulled even with the Hawks for third place in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta currently holds a 2-1 tiebreaker against the C’s with one head-to-head meeting remaining on Saturday.
|04.06.16 at 8:50 pm ET|
It’s an election year, and the Celtics are pushing their guy hard for a spot on the All-NBA team.
Isaiah Thomas has exploded onto the scene this year for the Celtics, leading his team to stunning wins over the Cavaliers in Cleveland and the Warriors last Friday in Oakland. He earned his first All-Star spot in February, playing for the East in Toronto on Feb. 14. Perhaps most significant, with Thomas leading the way, the Celtics are 45-32 and in position to make a run for the No. 3 seed in the East for the playoffs.
On Wednesday, the Celtics took the somewhat unusual move to take to social media and encourage those in the media with a vote to name the 24-year-old to the league’s all-NBA squad.
“I think as you look at the All-NBA, you’re looking for 15 guys that most impact their team’s success. Hard to argue against him,” coach Brad Stevens said before Wednesday’s game.
In making their case, the team pointed out that Thomas is:
- On track to become only the third player in Celtics history with 1,600 or more points and 500 or more assists in a season. He would join a pair of Hall of Famers in Larry Bird and John Havlicek.
- One of six players in the NBA to average 22 points and six assists per game this season.
- Only player in the league to average 22 points, six assists and commit fewer than three turnovers per game.
- Eighth in the league in points per 100 possessions (32.2 PPG).
The team also points out that the Celtics are a plus-9.5 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court versus when he’s on the bench.
|04.06.16 at 7:48 pm ET|
Evan Turner continues to make progress from the injury to his left eye suffered in Sunday’s win over the Lakers in Los Angeles.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens announced before Wednesday’s game with the Pelicans at TD Garden that the guard has been cleared to do some work in practice on Thursday, holding out hope that he might be available against the Bucks on Friday.
“Evan just saw the doctor again today,” Stevens said. “He’s set to do light non-contact shooting [Thursday] with a chance that he’d play on Friday.”
Stevens did not want to put a specific percentage on Turner’s availability for Friday or whether he might need protective goggles when he returns.
“To be determined. I don’t know the answer to that,” Stevens said. “I think it’s one of those situations where they’ll reassess on Friday and figure that out.”
Turner, in one of his trademark stylish camouflage sweaters, was in good spirits with the team on the bench during Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans, cheering and offering support. He was wearing his normal eye glasses, as he was on Monday when he posted a picture on Instagram.
|04.05.16 at 7:35 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Being a leader on a team can be difficult and demanding by itself.
Throw being a new sleep-deprived dad on top of it, and anyone would have their senses overwhelmed.
Bradley welcomed his second child into the world at the tail end of Boston’s five-game road swing through the West, explaining his absence from the team on Sunday night against the Lakers.
Without Bradley in the building Sunday, the Celtics guards of Evan Turner, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier allowed Kobe Bryant to score 34 points but held the retiring superstar to 11-of-28 from the field.
“I know it was Kobe. I’m just happy the way our team performed,” Bradley said of the 107-100 win. “We try to play great team defense, and he was hitting tough shots. I’m just happy we were able to get the win.”
|04.05.16 at 3:14 pm ET|
WALTHAM — As epic as Villanova’s title-winning shot was from Kris Jenkins, there was one man who didn’t mind missing out on the second half.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens watched the first half of the Villanova-North Carolina game Monday night before turning in after a very long 24 hours. After a red-eye flight back from Los Angeles, getting into Boston at 7 a.m. and getting medical (Evan Turner) and paternal (Avery Bradley, Jonas Jerebko) updates on his players, Stevens felt comfortable turning in.
The college basketball game of the century ended when Jenkins sank a 25-footer at the buzzer, giving Villanova a 77-74 win and its first national title since 1985.
“I watched the first half and then saw the highlights this morning,” Stevens said.
Then he was reminded of the painfully obvious. As Butler’s coach, he was on the sideline in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium in April 2010 when Gordon Hayward’s shot at the buzzer against Duke nearly accomplished what Jenkins did Monday night in Houston. Still, he was asked what he thought when he saw the highlight of Jenkins’ shot that came just moments after Marcus Paige’s bicycle-kicking 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds to go that tied the game at 74.
“I think I’m probably the wrong person to ask. I think it’s obviously cool to see those kids perform on that stage and get those opportunities and I’m happy for all of them that they got that,” Stevens said. “To make shots in that moment and to ultimately win it, and the way that both teams handled it I thought was really impressive.”
|04.05.16 at 2:41 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Brad Stevens feels the Celtics and Evan Turner might have caught a big break.
The eye poke to the guard’s left eye Sunday night in Los Angeles resulted in just an abrasion, and Turner might be able to return Friday night against the Bucks at TD Garden.
Still, after a long red-eye flight back on Sunday night after the 107-100 win over the Lakers, the Celtics told Turner to stay home from Tuesday’s practice, get rest and let the healing continue.
“Evan is good. He’s at home,” Stevens said before practice. “He’s not going to be here today, not going to practice today. He’s not going to play [Wednesday]. But he should be day-to-day after that. The ophthalmologist saw him [Monday] and obviously, if he were to play [Wednesday], he would probably be a day ahead of schedule and force him to wear goggles, whatever the case may be.
“We’re hopeful that he can be feeling pretty good by Friday. So, I think giving him that extra two days is a probably a good thing anyway.”
|04.04.16 at 6:04 pm ET|
Add one name to the list of potential Celtics in the upcoming NBA draft — Duke scorer Brandon Ingram.
The 6-foot-9 freshman made it official on Monday in a story on the Players’ Tribune website, declaring for the draft to fulfill a dream of playing in the NBA.
“My time is almost over here in Durham,” Ingram wrote. “Today as I declare for the NBA Draft, I’m both excited and sad about this moment.
“On one hand, one year at Duke isn’t a very long time. I know that. But I’ve done a lot of growing, and growing up, in that time. I know by leaving I’ll miss out on a lot of friendships and opportunities. I’ll really miss all the students who showed me so much love. One of my favorite parts of the Duke basketball tradition is the high-five line at the end of home games. The students who camp out for seats for up to a week before a game — and get in their seats two hours early — are always still there after the final buzzer. Win or lose. You guys gave me the energy and support that I needed. I’ll never forget you all.”
Ingram averaged 17.3 points a game on 44.2 percent shooting, including .410 from 3-point land. Listed at just 190 pounds, the reed-thin Ingram will need to add bulk to excel in the NBA, where his body type and shooting ability have earned him comparisons to a poor man’s Kevin Durant.
Following a disappointing season from LSU freshman Ben Simmons, Ingram has zoomed to the top of some draft boards. He’s expected to be no worse than the No. 2 overall pick.
The Celtics own the Nets’ pick in the first round. Brooklyn current owns a record of 21-56, the fourth-worst in the NBA, but it’s only a game behind the Suns for the third-worst record and a 15.6 percent chance at the first overall pick.
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