|11.03.16 at 12:31 am ET|
In his season debut, Marcus Smart reminded everyone why he’s so important to the Celtics.
While his offensive touch might have been off, his defensive prowess shined against the Bulls and their brightest stars.
Smart rattled the Bulls’ one-two punch of Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. He forced them to take awkward shots from the perimeter, pressured them in the back court and was physical with both All-Stars when they penetrated the paint.
In other words, Smart being Smart.
Butler, who finished with 23 points on 8-of-21 shots, had trouble finding his rhythm offensively. The same could be said for Wade. The star who finished off the Celtics just a week earlier with a late 3-pointer, finished with 15 points on the night, on 5-of-13 shooting from the field. Both Bulls go-to scorers shot below 40-percent and Smart, who didn’t play in the Celtics’ only loss this season in Chicago, was a big key in slowing them down.
His defensive play earned him nearly 34 minutes of playing time off the bench, and was a big reason why he was still in the game at the end of the fourth quarter. Smart finished with seven points, including a game-changing running hook shot out of a timeout called by Brad Stevens with 25.2 seconds left that made it a two-possession game (105-100).
“It kind of just happened,” Smart said. “I was supposed to get a ball right to Isaiah [Thomas], but he was getting double-played so I just made a play.”
How often does Smart practice hook shots?
“I actually work on those, work on getting it high off the glass,” Smart said. “I just figured if I could get to the spot and put it up there it’d be a good shot to go in.”
|11.02.16 at 10:38 pm ET|
While one Chicago team was in pursuit of ending a 108-year championship drought, another was giving the Celtics a heart attack in the C’s 107-100 win over the Bulls.
Leading by 16 points in the fourth quarter, the Celtics squandered yet another lead at home, letting the Bulls tie the game with less than two minutes left in the fourth. Despite the late surge, the Celtics fended off the Bulls, scoring five unanswered points after the Bulls evened the game.
“We’ve got to play better in that situation,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I thought our offense was good and executed well, but we’ve got to be more sound defensively in that time.”
Amir Johnson had arguably his most memorable game in green, dropping 23 points on the Bulls, including four 3-pointers on as many attempts. He had three assists and five rebounds as well.
“I was just feeling good,” Johnson said. “I’m always able to shoot, guys can shoot in the league, it’s just in our offense I’ve always played team ball and been a very unselfish player, [tonight] I was just able to find open shots and knock down shots.”
Isaiah Thomas turned in a double-double performance, scoring 23 points while dishing out 10 assists.
In his season debut, guard Marcus Smart was quiet offensively, turning the ball over six times in his 33 minutes of work, but was solid on the defensive end. He managed to grab five boards with one steal.
With legitimate concern surrounding the Celtics frontcourt with the absence of Al Horford, the C’s were more than adept on the glass against a Bulls team that dominated them in rebounding during their last meeting less than a week ago. While the C’s were outrebounded 49-39 Wednesday, it was an improvement compared to them getting worked over 55-36 on the glass on Thursday.
“[Tyler Zeller and Amir Johnson] did a really good job. Both those guys are good players,” Stevens said. “We talked about Tyler’s reliability off the bench, and you know one thing about Al: When he plays with Al, a lot of times he’s the roller and Al’s the guy that plays on the perimeter. And tonight Tyler was is the roller and [Johnson] is on the perimeter more.”
|11.02.16 at 6:46 pm ET|
For the first time this season, the Celtics starting lineup will not include Al Horford — and it will be that way for a at least two games.
The Celtics center will miss Wednesday’s game against the Bulls as part of the NBA concussion protocol, being replaced by Tyler Zeller. Horford suffered the injury on Monday in practice when a teammate swiped for a ball and got Horford in the head. After feeling fine Monday night and into Tuesday morning, Horford was too nauseous to complete Tuesday’s practice.
He won’t travel with the team either for Thursday’s game against the Cavs.
According to head coach Brad Stevens, “He felt better today but still had some symptoms, and you have to be 24 hours symptom-free before resuming activity, and if any symptoms come up after that 24 hours once you resume activity it restarts itself. So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but he will not be on the trip, he will not play [Wednesday or Thursday].”
With Horford’s absence clearing the way for Zeller to get a start, it is another testament to the 7-footers flexibility in minutes.
After spending most of last season deep in the bench, he’s averaged 16.3 minutes so far this season, including 20 minutes, 18 seconds when the Celtics played the Bulls last Thursday.
“Tyler has been there, done that here and we talked about Tyler’s value extending beyond just a typical role when fully healthy is that he’s been a guy that’s started games for us, started big games for us and has played really well and is able to both. He’s able to come off the bench or start,” Stevens said.
“With his size, with their rebounding, we’re going to need guys to get them off the glass. It doesn’t mean that he’ll get every rebound, we’ll need our guards to rebound as our bigs are blocking out a lot.”
Other Celtics Notes: — Marcus Smart will make his season debut after missing the first three games with a left ankle sprain. Avery Bradley will be available as well, after receiving a cortisone shot Tuesday. Stevens indicated both will be free of any minutes restrictions.
|11.02.16 at 12:26 pm ET|
The Celtics will be without Al Horford for Wednesday night’s game at TD Garden against the Bulls, as the center was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol program.
According to the team, Horford was hit in the head during Monday’s practice, although he did not show any concussion symptoms on Monday night or Tuesday morning. During Tuesday’s practice, Horford started to show symptoms, so he was removed from the court and examined by team physicians. He was placed in the concussion protocol program Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Avery Bradley missed Tuesday’s practice with a sore right shoulder — an issue he’s been dealing with since training camp. Coach Brad Stevens said the team’s medical staff will determine the guard’s availability for Wednesday. Bradley had two shoulder surgeries (both sides) after the 2011-12 season.
Bradley, 25, is coming off a tremendous performance in a win over the Hornets on Saturday night, as he amassed 31 points, 11 rebounds and eight 3-pointers. Through three games he is averaging 21.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
On the positive side for Boston, guard Marcus Smart will make his season debut Wednesday after being sidelined with a sprained ankle.
|11.01.16 at 1:07 pm ET|
Ray Allen is finally retiring.
The two-time champion and former Celtics great, who hasn’t played since the Heat lost the 2014 Finals to the Spurs, announced his retirement in a letter to his 13-year-old self on the Players’ Tribune website.
“I write this to you today as a 41-year-old man who is retiring from the game,” Allen wrote. “I write to you as a man who is completely at peace with himself.”
Allen had entertained the notion of returning to the NBA over the last year-plus, with old teammate LeBron James trying to convince him to join the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Allen declined, and made his retirement official on Tuesday.
Allen won a title with the Celtics in 2008, joining Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the team’s new Big Three. Garnett retired this winter, and Pierce has announced that this season, with the Clippers, will be his last.
Allen retires as the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made (2,973) and attempted (7,429). He shot .400 from beyond the arc and scored over 24,000 points, good for 22nd on the all-time list.
Allen spent five years in Boston, where he averaged 16.7 points a game and made three All-Star teams.
|10.31.16 at 5:11 pm ET|
Marcus Smart already was in a good mood Monday, as he practiced with the team and then said he is ready to return to game action. He had to be feeling even better later in the day, as the team announced that it was exercising his contract for next season, keeping him in Boston for a fourth year.
The C’s also announced they were exercising the third-year option for fellow guard Terry Rozier, who is averaging 6.0 points, 3.0 assists and 3.3 rebounds in three games this season.
Smart will earn $4.5 million next season, while Rozier is set to make $1.9 million.
While both of those moves were expected — the players are key parts of Boston’s rotation — the team has not made clear its plans for shooting guard James Young leading up to Monday’s midnight deadline. The 21-year-old beat out R.J. Hunter for the team’s final roster spot earlier this month, but it would not be a surprise for the Celtics to allow him to become a free agent in the offseason, as he has yet to impress with any consistency.
|10.31.16 at 2:31 pm ET|
The Celtics bench, which has struggled at times in the early portion of this season, is about to get a boost.
Point guard Marcus Smart, who has missed the season’s first three games with a sprained left ankle, said he’ll be back in uniform for Wednesday’s rematch with the Bulls at TD Garden.
“I will return Wednesday,” he stated after practicing with the team Monday.
Coach Brad Stevens was a little less definitive but also optimistic that Smart will get his season started this week.
“He’s one of our returning most-contributive players, so that’s a big addition to our team,” Stevens said. “He looked good today. We’ll see how he feels in the next couple of days. But every indication is that he’ll be available.”
Stevens said he’ll consult with trainers to determine if he should limit Smart’s minutes, but Smart said he won’t make any adjustments in an attempt to ease his way back.
“You go right back to what you know,” Smart said. “You can’t try to baby it.”
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