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To keep or not to keep: What to do with Celtics

04.29.15 at 11:14 pm ET
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Celtics coach Brad Stevens and team president Danny Ainge aren’€™t going anywhere. That much we know. Everyone else on the roster is up for debate. Certainly, nobody is untradeable, so let’€™s attempt to project how these C’€™s players fit into Ainge’€™s puzzle this coming summer with a game of ‘€œto keep or not to keep.’€

BRANDON BASS (unrestricted free agent)

Through all the upheaval, Bass was the rock of the 2014-15 Boston Celtics. Built like a Chevy truck, the 6-foot-8, 240-pound big man appeared in all 82 games for the second straight season. (He’€™s missed just eight games since arriving in Boston four years ago.) Splitting his time between starting and reserve roles, Bass produced the best per-minute numbers of his career this past summer while averaging the fewest minutes of his Celtics tenure (23.5). He remains one of the league’€™s elite midrange shooters and double-handed dunked his way to a decent percentage around the rim, but concerns about him linger.

He’€™s neither an exceptional rebounder nor rim protector defensively — an issue that killed the Celtics against the Cavaliers — and does not fit Stevens’€™ floor-stretching mold offensively. There wasn’€™t much of a trade market for an undersized power forward who brings few of the skills required for such players in today’€™s NBA at $6.9 million, and his disappearance in the playoffs may have sealed his fate at any rate.

Verdict: Not to keep.

AVERY BRADLEY (signed through 2017-18 for $8.3 million per season)

Playing the most minutes of his career, Bradley took a slight step back from a stellar offensive season in 2013-14, when he shot 40 percent from 3-point range. Still one of the league’€™s best marksmen from midrange, his 3-point percentage dipped to 35 percent this year. Not a playmaker by any stretch, Bradley was asked to shoulder a less-than-ideal offensive load in the absence of capable scorers, and his efficiency would benefit from improved offensive talent easing the defensive pressure around him.

As for his own defense, Bradley returned to bulldog form, hounding Cleveland’€™s Kyrie Irving throughout the first round. Irving averaged 25.1 points per 100 possessions on 38 percent shooting opposite Bradley in the series and 41.2 points per 100 possessions on 58 percent shooting with him on the bench. That brand of on-ball defense, particularly when paired with Marcus Smart’€™s similar skill set, is invaluable.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Jared Sullinger

Kelly Olynyk suspended 1 game next season for arm bar on Kevin Love, J.R. Smith gets 2 games for hit on Jae Crowder

04.27.15 at 9:31 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 Sunday afternoon. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 Sunday afternoon. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The NBA didn’t waste much time handing out their discipline from Sunday’s Game 4 altercations between the Celtics and Cavaliers.

Rod Thorn, the league’s president of basketball operations, announced that Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk was suspended one game without pay at the start of the 2015-16 season for his “arm bar” that resulted in a dislocated left shoulder for Cavs star big man Kevin Love.

The Cavaliers announced Monday that Love would miss the entire second round series with a dislocated left shoulder from the incident.

Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith has been suspended two games without pay for his violent arm swing that resulted in flush contact with Jae Crowder’s jaw. Crowder was stunned and momentarily knocked out. As Crowder fell to the ground, his left knee buckled and bent underneath him, resulting a sprained ACL, as the Celtics announced on Monday. Smith will serve his suspension in Games 1 and 2 of the 2015 NBA Eastern Conference semifinals when the Cavaliers host the winner of the Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks series.

That incident resulted in Crowder leaving the game and not returning. Smith was assessed with a “Flagrant 2″ foul and immediately ejected with 10:24 left in the third quarter.

Additionally, Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins‘€™s second quarter “Flagrant 1″ foul on a screen set on Crowder has been upgraded to a “Flagrant 2″ and he has been fined $15,000.

Smith’€™s incident, during which he swung his arm and made contact with the head of Celtics forward Jae Crowder, resulted in a Flagrant Foul 2 and his ejection at the 10:24 mark of the third quarter of the game.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, J.R. Smith, Kelly Olynyk

Celtics diagnose Jae Crowder with left ACL sprain

04.27.15 at 12:24 pm ET
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Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder

The Celtics announced Monday that forward Jae Crowder has been diagnosed with a left ACL sprain after meeting with team physician Dr. Brian McKeon on Monday morning.

Crowder fell awkwardly on the knee after being struck in the face by Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith during Sunday’s series-ending game at TD Garden.

Smith was given a flagrant-2 foul and could face further discipline from the league as the Cavaliers prepare for the second round.

Crowder also had a run-in with Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins, who extended his arms and knocked Crowder to the floor on a pick. Perkins was given a flagrant-1 foul, and both players received technicals for the scuffle that followed the play.

Read More: Jaw Crowder,

Isaiah Thomas on being swept out by Cavs: ‘We feel like we deserve more’

04.26.15 at 11:56 pm ET
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Finishing the regular season with a six-game winning streak left a lot of Celtics fans hoping they would at least be able to steal a game from the Cavaliers in the first round.

Instead, those fans will have to settle for having made life difficult for four games on LeBron James and company.

That, however, is not enough to satisfy players or coaches, as they admitted after Sunday’s 101-93 season-ending loss in Game 4 at TD Garden.

“We feel like we deserve more,” Isaiah Thomas said. “We’€™re proud, but we’€™re not satisfied. We see that this team has a lot of potential, we work hard, we like playing with each other, we play extremely hard and those are the keys to success. Its frustrating to see the season end like it did, but we got to try to build from this and come back next year ready for war.”

“It’s not about individuals, we are going home, so we could care less how we played at the end of the game,” Jared Sullinger said in referencing the several second half charges the Celtics put on only to come up short. “The fact of the matter is, we didn’€™t get any wins, and it was a good way to, I guess, end the season but at the same time our main focus and objective was to get a win tonight and we failed.”

Now, the mission for the players who return to Boston next season is to use the experience and build for next season, as Brad Stevens suggested after the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Evan Turner, Isaiah Thomas

LeBron James says Brad Stevens ‘put [Celtics] in position to win’

04.26.15 at 11:38 pm ET
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For all the harsh words between the players Sunday after Cleveland ended Boston’s season with a 101-93 win in Game 4, LeBron James had nothing but respect for the job coach Brad Stevens did in getting his team to play hard to the final buzzer.

After losing by 13 in the first game, the Celtics lost three straight, all by eight points. In each game, the Celtics made a late run to keep things interesting before succumbing to the better team.

“I highly respect their coaching staff and especially their head coach,” James said. “[They’re] a very well-coached team. He put those guys out there every night and put them in position to win the game and I think Brad Stevens is a very good young coach in our league.”

For a team that finished 40-42, the Celtics gave the Cavaliers about as much of a fight as could’ve been expected.

Then James spoke to what it means to have finally beaten the Celtics in the playoffs with Cleveland, after losses in 2008 and 2010.

“This franchise is one of the most winning franchises in NBA history, [along] with the Lakers,” James said. “So, everyone knows the history between the Lakers and the Celtics and what they’€™ve done for this league. So for me, to have a chapter in my career, multiple chapters, of playing against the Celtics, I think it’€™s great for the story that [the media can] tell.”

This is the second time James has sent the Celtics packing, beating them in seven games in the Eastern finals in 2012. That year, the Heat went on to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, giving LeBron his first NBA title. James is now eight wins away from his fifth straight trip to the NBA finals, a goal that is clearly again on his radar.

“Our long term goal is obviously to win the championship but right now we have short term goals and that’€™s to prepare ourselves for the next round and get ready for the challenge that presents itself,” James said. “It was a great first test for our team. We’€™re a young team, we have some vets but we’€™re a young team together. The Celtics gave us the test that we needed. Some things that we haven’€™t seen in the regular season, and it will prepare us for the second round, which will be much tougher, we know that.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James

Celtics, Cavs view dirty plays very differently

04.26.15 at 6:25 pm ET
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Sunday afternoon was a wild one at TD Garden.

In the end, the mighty Cavaliers swept the youthful Celtics out of the playoffs. But there were plenty of other story lines throughout the game. They just weren’t very positive ones.

It started in the first quarter when Kelly Olynyk and Kevin Love got tangled going ofter a loose ball. Olynyk dislocated Love’s shoulder in the process and Love was obviously out for the rest of the game — and likely the foreseeable future.

Then, in the second quarter, old friend Kendrick Perkins set a hard pick that knocked Jae Crowder to the floor. This was followed by a near brawl in which Perkins slapped Crowder across the face.

Just as it seemed things were starting to calm down early in the second half, J.R. Smith made a dirty play, swinging his arm back at Crowder and connecting with his chin, sending the Celtics forward to the ground. Smith was ejected for a flagrant-2 foul, while Crowder left the game with a sprained knee and will have more tests done soon. Read the rest of this entry »

Jae Crowder suffered left knee sprain, will undergo MRI

04.26.15 at 5:28 pm ET
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Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder

As Celtics forward Jae Crowder battled for a rebound with Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith early in the third quarter, the latter swung his arm into the former’s face, sending Crowder to the ground as his leg buckled beneath him.

Crowder did not return to the game, and neither did Smith, who earned a “Flagrant 2″ foul, an ejection and possibly a suspension for his actions. For his part, Smith said, “There was nothing malicious about it. I didn’€™t try to do anything to hurt him or anybody else. That’€™s not the way I play the game.”

The initial diagnosis from doctors who examined Crowder is a left knee sprain, but the soon-to-be restricted free agent will undergo an MRI either on Sunday night or Monday morning to confirm there is no structural damage.

“I haven’t seen it, but we don’t know exactly what the deal is yet,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Smith’s foul. “He had a lower leg potential injury as he fell, but he’s going to go get an MRI and everything else. I guess he got elbowed to the head, and that’s how he fell. I shouldn’t be saying that, because I couldn’t see the play from my vantage point, but that’s what I was told. It’s what I know.”

Following a successful run with the organization since coming to Boston in return for Rajon Rondo this past December, Crowder’s re-signing is expected to be among the C’s highest priorities this summer.

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