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Win in Portland shows Celtics’ true grit as Marcus Smart and Gerald Green spark rally

02.10.17 at 1:21 am ET
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Feb 9, 2017; Portland, OR, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) shoots over Portland Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee (24) in the second half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas (4) shoots over Portland Trail Blazers center Mason Plumlee (24) in the second half at Moda Center. (Jaime Valdez/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics had one of their toughest and most satisfying wins of the season Thursday in Portland. 

Trailing by 17 points with under three minutes left in the second quarter, the Celtics went on a 23-4 run to get back in the game, and then held off a rally by the Blazers late in a 120-111 win at the Moda Center in Portland. 

Gerald Green hit a three with 11:25 left in the fourth quarter to give the Celtics the lead for good. Boston improves to 34-19 while Portland falls to 23-31. 

With Avery Bradley (Achilles) and Jae Crowder (family illness) unavailable, Marcus Smart and Gerald Green stepped up while Isaiah Thomas was his standard unstoppable self, scoring a game-high 34 points. 

Smart had 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals while Gerald Green was 5-of-6 off the bench with 11 points, including a spectacular put-back dunk with 7:06 left in the game that put Boston up, 94-91.

“That’s a heck of a win, considering we didn’t have Avery and Jae out there. That was a hard-nosed, tough win. Down big but stuck with it. End of the first half was outstanding,” head coach Brad Stevens told reporters afterward. 

Rookie Jaylen Brown also played a critical role in the win. He scored 14 points in the starting lineup, helping the Celtics avenge the 127-123 overtime loss to Portland on Jan. 21 at TD Garden. 

As for Smart?

“He was terrific. Marcus was good, he was really good,” Stevens said. “We were guarding at a much-better rate.”

The Celtics cut the 17-point hole down to six before half and continued their spurt to open the third quarter. Thomas was again remarkable in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 of the team’s 43 points in the final 12 minutes as the Celtics outscored the Blazers, 43-35. The 43 points was a season-high for the Celtics in any quarter. 

The Trail Blazers big took early advantage of the soft middle. 

One night after coming up empty late against a Kings team without DeMarcus Cousins and watching their seven-game win streak end, the Celtics again looked a step slow against one of the best tandem guards – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum  – in the league. Lillard finished with 28 while McCollum had 20. 

McCollum made a sick hesitation dribble on Kelly Olynyk with 34 seconds left in the first quarter. He drove to the basket and drew the foul. 

Then McCollum, on the next Blazers possession, made a spectacular pass across the lane to Al-Farouq Aminu, who was fouled. He made both free throws and the Blazers led, 32-22, after 12 minutes. 

It was Aminu, who finished with 26 points, who had the great bounce pass midway through the second quarter, finding Lillard to grow the Blazers’ lead to 43-28. 

Former Celtics sixth man stud Evan Turner missed the game as he’s out 5-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right hand. 

For a full recap and box score of Thursday’s win over the Blazers, click here

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Celtics Midseason Report

02.08.17 at 8:08 pm ET
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Feb 3, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) reacts on the bench during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics will look to finish out the regular season as a top-tier team in the East and make a deep run in the playoffs (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

With 51 games through the regular season, the Celtics (33-18) have the second-best record in the East and will look to finish strong and make a deep run in the playoffs.’s Josue Pavon and Logan Mullen recap the highs and lows of the 2016-17 season, and make predictions for how far the C’s will go and what needs to happen for them to get there in this Celtics midsesaon report.

Biggest surprise

(Josue) Isaiah Thomas averaging 30 points per game

When the Celtics signed Al Horford over the summer, guys like Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley were destined to see a bump in their scoring average. However, Thomas becoming the NBA’s second-best scorer (29.9) isn’t what I had in mind.

According to, he’s averaging 43.2 points per 100 possessions this season and his fourth-quarter scoring has made him an MVP candidate behind Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Thomas is averaging a league-leading 10.7 points in the fourth quarter and is easily the biggest surprise of the season for the Celtics. 

(Logan) Fourth-quarter Isaiah Thomas

Even the biggest flag-waving Isaiah Thomas supporter probably wouldn’t have guessed that he could do what he has in the fourth quarter. But it’s a good thing he did, having bailed the Celtics out of numerous potential losses.
While a big season was absolutely on the docket, his fourth quarter performances alone blast everything else out of the water.
Biggest disappointment
(Josue) Team defense

After finishing last season as one of the best defensive teams, the Celtics entered the 2016-17 season with lofty expectations. Adding big man Al Horford certainly had a lot to do with those assumptions, however, the slippage falls on the entire roster.

Last year, the C’s were great defensively because it was a group effort and made the difference in narrow victories against last season’s top-notch teams. Although scoring is up across the league this year, it still doesn’t prove why there’s been such a dramatic drop off. It could be a combination of Amir Johnson having a down year compared to last season, Jae Crowder not being the same lock-down defender he was a season ago or the fact that the small-ball lineup – while it’s effective offensively – welcomes mismatches that favor their opponents.

One of the biggest differences between last season’s team and this year’s is their decline in forcing turnovers. The Celtics finished second in forced turnovers last season – averaging 16.3 per game. This year, they’ve dropped to 14th in that department.

(Logan) Marcus Smart’s offense 

The discussion has become an offseason staple: will Marcus Smart ever become an offensive threat? It has gotten better, but not much mind is required with the ball in Smart’s hands.
With defense as his calling card, it is not so much an issue that Smart struggles offensively, but his shot selection is what is most concerning. At times it seems he has trouble discerning whether he is hot or not, leading to wasted possessions with plenty of time on the shot clock. He’s shooting a rough 35.6 percent from the field on nine attempts.
He asserted constantly over the summer that he’s working on his offense, and while at times his playing validates that, on many occasions it hasn’t. He’s proven his value to the team countless times this season, but if only his offense could consistently stay at a high level he would be entering a whole new strata of NBA players.

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Isaiah Thomas named Eastern Conference Player of the Week

02.07.17 at 5:10 pm ET
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Feb 5, 2017; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) during the second half against the LA Clippers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

After winning January’s Player of the Month award, Isaiah Thomas wins the Player of the Week award for the second time this season  (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

Isaiah Thomas followed up his incredible month of scoring by earning the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award.

After winning Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for the month of January, Thomas led the Celtics to a 4-0 record, while averaging 37.8 points and 6.8 assists. In two of those four games, he scored 40-plus points against the Pistons (41) and Raptors (44). 

Thomas also averaged an astonishing 17.5 fourth-quarter points last week.

Since his 52-point performance on Dec. 30, the All-Star guard has been on an unbelievable tear — averaging 34.8 points and 6.6 assists in 16 games.

The Celtics (14-4) are tied with the Pacers (14-4) for the second-best record since Dec. 30. Warriors (15-3) have been the hottest team in the league throughout that span. 

The C’s (33-18) are currently in second place in the Eastern Conference and will look to stretch their winning streak to seven consecutive games on Wednesday when they kick off a four-game road trip in Sacramento against the Kings.

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Paul Pierce discusses “Rajon being Rajon,” relationship with members of “The Big 3”

02.06.17 at 7:01 pm ET
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Paul Pierce looks forward to the day he, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo will have a reunion for the first time since 2012 (Josue Pavon/

Before playing his final game in Boston, Paul Pierce answered an array of questions about his legacy, playing at TD Garden one last time and his role with the Clippers.

But when Pierce was asked about his relationship with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, he smiled. And talked about how he still keeps in touch with most of them.

Garnett is “having the time of his life,” said Pierce. He says Garnett’s show “Area 21,” a segment part of TNT’s weekly Thursday night broadcast along with being a consultant for the Clippers, has kept him busy throughout his first post-retirement season.

When he was asked about Rondo, Pierce said him and Rondo “talk all the time” and that Rondo’s rift with Bulls teammates Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler was simply, “Rajon being Rajon.”

“Just like Manny being Manny, he’s Rajon being Rajon,” Pierce jokingly said. “Man, you know what, I respect Rajon with some of the stuff he said, truthfully. I thought it was the truth. I didn’t have a problem with none of the stuff he said about Wade or Jimmy Butler because it was the honest truth. [If you] see the next game, Wade and Jimmy they got benched because what Rondo said was right.”

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Paul Pierce knocks down a farewell 3-pointer in Celtics win over Clippers

02.05.17 at 6:09 pm ET
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Feb 5, 2017; Boston, MA, USA;  LA Clippers forward Paul Pierce (34) kisses the parquet floor one last time during a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce kisses the parquet floor one last time in his final game at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: (Bob DeChiara/USA Today)

It was a perfect ending for Celtics fans.

Paul Pierce knocked in the final shot, and the Celtics won the game. 

Towards the end of a 107-102 Celtics win over the Clippers, fans spent the most of the second half chanting for Pierce to come back in the game. With 19.8 second left, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers finally reinserted Pierce — who had been on the bench since the first quarter — and TD Garden went nuts.

With the game out of reach, the Celtics legend took a deep 3-pointer in front of Isaiah Thomas, and drained it.

The Garden erupted.

It was a fitting moment by Pierce to knock down the final shot, just like he’s done dozens of times throughout his 15 years with the Celtics.

“It’s a tough situation, been sitting for like the last two hours, then had to come in there and get a shot,” Pierce said with a smile on his face. “But I’m glad I ended it that way, [glad] I was able to. You know, you want to come in and get a win but it was a tough day, not only for me but for my teammates, it was a lot of emotion running through; my teammates kind of felt it too. I’m glad I was able to cap it off, my last game in the Garden, at least I can just say I put one last bucket in at the end of the game. 

TD Garden wasted little time in showering Paul Pierce with a tribute video. During the first timeout of the first quarter — which was called at the 8:13 mark — a montage of some of Pierce’s greatest moments on the court played on the jumbotron to commemorate his final game. After Celtics fans gave a thunderous standing ovation for Pierce, one that continued as the game resumed, fans began chanting a “Thank you, Paul Pierce” chant.

“It was tough, man,” Pierce said on having to sit throughout most of the game. “The fans are awesome. These are the best fans in the world. I never felt anything like this. I truly appreciate my time here. I truly appreciate tonight. The fans showered me with a lot of love.” 

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Boston says farewell to Paul Pierce, the purest scorer in Celtics history

02.04.17 at 11:30 pm ET
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May 3, 2013; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics small forward Paul Pierce (34) during the second quarter in game six of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the New York Knicks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce will play his final game in a building he called home while creating countless memories for 15 years (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today)

History won’t only take place in Houston’s NRG Stadium on Sunday.

Nearly 2,000 miles away from Super Bowl LI, the purest scorer in Celtics history will play his last game in Boston. 

Paul Pierce, who plans to retire after this season, will give Celtics fans one final performance on his beloved parquet when the Clippers visit TD Garden in a pre-Super Bowl matinee at 2 p.m.

Although it’s been nearly four years since Pierce donned a Celtics uniform, his contributions to the city and organization feel fresh. Fifteen years and one unforgettable title ensure him of immortality.

Celtics legends Larry Bird and John Havlicek often headline discussions of the franchise’s best pure scorer, but was there a more dynamic offensive force than Pierce? He could score at a high rate in every way imaginable.

Pierce could take his defender to the rim, score from the mid-range, hit 3’s, and make shots with victory on the line, as his dozen-plus game-winners prove. The 10-time All-Star was an offensive assassin. And his career numbers back it up. 

Not only does he lead the Celtics in most 3-pointers and free-throws made but in both statistical categories, he’s top-10 in NBA history. Only three NBA players have drained more 3-pointers than Pierce (2,137) and he’s eighth in free-throws made (6,916).

He enters Sunday’s game as the 16th leading scorer in league history with 26,361 career points, fittingly, right behind Celtics legend Havlicek (26,395), who is 15th on the list. 

Pierce is not only the best pure scorer in Celtics history, he’s also one of the most gifted offensive talents in league history. Despite being overshadowed by great scorers throughout his prime, starting with Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant in the early 2000s and ending with LeBron James today, Pierce eventually earned his place in their company.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Isaiah Thomas reacts to Paul Pierce calling him a ‘Championship-type player”

02.04.17 at 4:25 pm ET
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Feb 10, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce (34) shoots against Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) in the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce acknowledges Isaiah Thomas as one of the league’s great scorers (David Butler II/USA Today)

Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas found out on Friday that a future Hall of Famer thinks the 5-foot-9 guard has what it takes to win an NBA title.

In a recent one-on-one interview with Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Paul Pierce commented on this season’s Celtics team and called Thomas a “championship-type player.” The former Celtics captain said that he believes that Thomas, along with the intelligence and guidance of head coach Brad Stevens, have a chance to compete for a championship one day. 

A smile stretched across Thomas’ face when he found out what the Celtics legend had to say about him. 

“I didn’t know that,” Thomas said. “That means everything. From a first-ballot Hall of Famer, a Celtics legend, to say that about me, that means a lot. Like I always say, I don’t care what anybody says but my peers and the people who did it before me. For a guy like that to say that, that’s crazy.”

In light of Pierce playing his final game at TD Garden on Sunday, Thomas added: 

“I’m going to try to find his jersey, so I can get it signed.”

After a 38-point performance in Friday’s win over the Lakers, Thomas is now averaging 29.9 points per game, less than one point away from Russell Westbrook’s league-leading 30.8 point average. 

The last Celtics player to finish a season averaging 29.9 points per game was Larry Bird back in the 1987-88 season. 

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