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Fast Break: Celtics bench shines but can’t overcome Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan in loss to Raptors

12.09.16 at 10:32 pm ET
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Dec 9, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) shoots against the Boston Celtics in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

DeMar DeRozan (10) shoots against the Celtics in the first quarter at TD Garden. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

It was clear in Friday night’s 101-94 loss to the Raptors that this Celtics team needs Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas was on the bench with a groin injury and watched his team lose a tough one at the Garden.  

The Celtics bench did look strong in the first half, scoring 21 points with a consistent shot distribution.

The team as a whole looked confident in this win. Al Horford also had a strong game, as he and Avery Bradley both led the team in scoring with 19 points. 

The Celtics led 50-42 at halftime before losing the lead late in the third quarter. The Raptors pulled ahead to lead 75-68 at the end of the quarter and outscored the Celtics 33-18. 

Boston fell apart and had trouble driving to the hoop in the second half, missing 13 of 18 shots in the third quarter. They made nine of those shots from beyond the arc and only sunk three of them. 

“It was hard for us to break their wall of defense,” coach Brad Stevens said after the game of the Raptors in the third quarter. “They were pushing into us, they were very, very athletic at a number of positions and they ratcheted it up. And it was hard for us to handle that pressure. And when we drove they collapsed and used their athleticism to affect us in the paint. They were very good. Their defense was fantastic in the third quarter.” 

For the full box score, click here.

The Raptors sat starting forward DeMarre Carroll to rest his knee so he wouldn’t play in back-to-back games. Norman Powell started in Carroll’s place and scored 20 points. The Raptors had three players score 20 or more points, as Kyle Lowry led the team with 34 while DeMar DeRozan scored 24. 

Stud of the night: The Celtics bench

The bench carried the first half for the Celtics, scoring a total of 32 points in the game with 21 in the first half. Terry Rozier alone scored 12 of those points and had three rebounds and three assists. 

Dud of the night: The third quarter

The third quarter flat-out stunk for the Celtics. This was where they lost all their steam and let the game slip away. They missed more than half of their shots and made only two their shots in the paint. 

When the game was lost: Also the third quarter

The Celtics cooled off considerably in the third quarter and never started their engines up again for the rest of the second half. 

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

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Friday pregame notes: Isaiah Thomas says ‘I want to play but they keep telling me no’

12.09.16 at 6:42 pm ET
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In the wake of his epic 61-39 win in NBA2K17 over a group of four lucky kids Friday night, Isaiah Thomas appeared to be in a good mood. 

Then the conversation turned to his sore groin. 

“I’m not that good because I can’t play,” Thomas said. “It’s getting better. It hasn’t gotten worse and I’m just work as hard as I can to get back on the court.”

Thomas said he wasn’t sure about his status for the upcoming two-game swing through Oklahoma City (Sunday) and San Antonio (Wednesday). 

“I want to play but they keep telling me no,” Thomas said later in the locker room. “They keep wanting to be very patient with this because they don’t want to re-injure it. It’s an injury that can get re-injured and be a problem the rest of the season.

“So I don’t want that. And on top of that it gives me time to heal all the other injuries I have.”

Brad Stevens said before the game that Thomas’ injury, one suffered Monday night in Houston, was one that the team expects to sideline Thomas 7-10 days. Thomas is trying to be more optimistic.

“I’m going to take it day-by-day. Hopefully, I can play in the next few games and we’ll see what happens,” Thomas said. “Today, I feel a lot better than I have since I gotten the injury so we’ll see maybe in next couple of days. I’m shooting for Wednesday.”

“When I talked to Ed [Lacerte] [Friday] morning, over the last probably 24 to 48 hours, they’ve said it’s usually about 10 days to two weeks for an injury like this,” coach Brad Stevens said. “But again we’ve talked about Isaiah being pretty ambitious in his return. And he’s been getting treatment around the clock, so we’ll see. He’ll be officially listed as day to day.”

Stevens added that he’s not worried about Thomas pressuring team staff into playing him.   

“No, our medical staff is great,” Stevens added. “He trusts them. But obviously we have to make sure that – but also nobody knows his body better than him. But yeah, they feel like he’s not looking long term. It’s not going to be a long-term thing, for sure. We have to make sure we don’t bring him back tonight or too soon so that it doesn’t become one.”

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Danny Ainge says Isaiah Thomas ‘probably’ out Friday vs. Toronto after PRP injection for groin

12.08.16 at 10:00 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas dives on the floor for a loose ball during Wednesday's win over the Nets. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas has again been playing all-out this season for the Celtics. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics are being very cautious with the sore groin of Isaiah Thomas. 

The star point guard will likely miss his second straight game with the injury suffered Monday night in Houston after receiving a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection on Wednesday. The 13-9 Celtics take on Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Friday night at TD Garden and stand just 1.5 games back of them for the No. 2 seed in the East. 

“It’s just day to day. He is a warrior. He loves to play,” Ainge said of Thomas on the team’s flagship station Thursday morning. “He’ll be back faster than most players would be back after an injury. But at the same time we really have to be careful with Isaiah for the long haul and make sure that he doesn’t come back and re-injure it. So I’m not sure about the answer.

“I don’t know if he’ll play Friday. Probably not. We’ll just try to get him as much rest as we can and get him back on the court when he’s ready.”

Head coach Brad Stevens told reporters before Wednesday’s game that the team will be cautious with its All-Star point guard due to the nature of the injury. 

The Celtics didn’t need Thomas Wednesday night as they blew out Orlando, 117-87, outscoring the Magic, 68-37, in the second half. 

Thomas is again leading the Celtics in scoring this year, averaging 26 points and 6.2 assists in 21 games. Wednesday’s game was the first Thomas missed this season. 

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

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Fast Break: Avery Bradley, balanced attack fuels C’s rout of Magic

12.07.16 at 9:33 pm ET
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Al Horford drives on Evan Fournier during Wednesday's game. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Al Horford drives on Evan Fournier during Wednesday’s game. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

With Isaiah Thomas back in Boston receiving treatment on his strained groin, the question for the Celtics was who would replace the production of their leading scorer Wednesday night. The answer: everyone.

Seven Celtics scored in double figures (and Kelly Olynyk was one point short of being the eighth) as the C’s dominated the Magic in the second half en route to an impressive 117-87 victory.

Avery Bradley led the offensive onslaught with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 6-of-7 free throws. Terry Rozier came off the bench to pour in 16 points, Jae Crowder had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Marcus Smart, Amir Johnson and Jaylen Brown — who had a highlight-reel dunk early in the second quarter, driving from the 3-point line and hammering down a one-hander over Magic 7-footer Nikola Vucevic — each netted 13. Al Horford amassed 10 points, eight assists and six boards — and was a plus-31.

And before you dismiss the Magic, consider that Orlando was coming off a road trip in which it won four out of five, including an eye-catching win over the Spurs.

The C’s outscored Orlando 68-37 in the second half. They opened the half on a 10-2 run, playing fierce defense and unselfish offense. On one sequence Bradley hounded Evan Fournier and eventually blocked his runner out of bounds. The C’s continued to pour it on at both ends — the run went to 18-2 — and pushed their newfound lead up to 18 points at 78-60 late in the period after a three-point play by Brown. At that point the C’s had hit 11 of their 13 shots in the period, and assists were credited on 10 of the 11 baskets.

But it was at the defensive end where Bradley said the C’s were focused.

“Every possession counts, and we showed that,” Bradley told CSNNE’s Abby Chin. “We got together at halftime and we told each other, ‘We’ve got to come out and player harder. We’ve got to get consistent stops. We can’t worry about the offensive end.’ And it showed in the second half.”

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Celtics podcast: Mike Petraglia, Ben Kichen talk end-of-game woes, Al Horford and DeMarcus Cousins

12.07.16 at 7:18 pm ET
By   |   Comments’s Mike Petraglia and Ben Kichen of ‘The Dale and Holley Show’ talk about last night’s disappointing finish against the Rockets and they talk about their love for DeMarcus Cousins.

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

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Marcus Smart receives warning from NBA for flopping

12.07.16 at 3:40 pm ET
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Marcus Smart may only be 22, but he’s starting to develop a reputation around the NBA — and it’s not just for his sound defensive abilities.

Smart has become renowned across the league for his seemingly incessant flopping, and the NBA is trying to put a stop to it, giving him a warning for violating the league’s anti-flopping rule.

The flop came on the final play of Monday night’s loss to the Rockets. As Al Horford drove to the basket and missed a would-be game-winning layup, Smart flailed onto the baseline from under the basket as if he had been forcefully shoved by either Trevor Ariza or James Harden.

The move drew the ire of many, and for good reason.

The rebound off the missed finger roll was grabbed by 6-foot-5 James Harden. Smart, standing at 6-foot-4, could have conceivably grabbed a put-back had he not flopped.

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Isaiah Thomas sent back to Boston to begin treatment on pulled groin

12.07.16 at 2:59 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

The injury bug continues to bite Celtics starters.

Starting point guard and offensive catalyst Isaiah Thomas was ruled out for Wednesday night’s tilt against the Magic in Orlando with a pulled groin, with the team taking it a step further and sent the 27-year-old back to Boston Tuesday night to get begin treatment on the injury.

According to coach Brad Stevens, Thomas was “very sore” on Tuesday. He sat out practice on Tuesday, but did get up and do a little shooting afterward.

Stevens told reporters after Wednesday morning’s shootaround, “Like Isaiah is, he had convinced himself he wanted to play, and he really wants to play. Obviously, it’s an injury you’re wary of because it can hamper you … if it continues to exist.”

The injury happened in the second quarter of Monday’s one-point loss to the Rockets. 

The point guard has been an essential part of the Celtics’ offense, averaging 26 points per game — good for second in the east behind the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan. The additional benefit of Thomas that is now lost is his late-game ability. For a team that tends to struggle in the fourth quarter like the Celtics have periodically this season, Thomas has bailed the Celtics out multiple times with their backs against the wall.

There is no definite timetable as to when Thomas will be back, but given his status from Wednesday and the Celtics set to return home anyways for Friday’s game against the Raptors, it made sense to give him a head start in treatment.

“You put him on the plane so you can get him back to get treatment around the clock in our training room, see our doctors, and everything else,” Stevens said.

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