|11.22.13 at 9:43 pm ET|
The Celtics led the Eastern Conference’s best team by eight at the break, but a dreadful second half left the Celtics looking at a sixth straight loss and their 10th overall — this time 97-82 at the hand of the Pacers.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens grew up idolizing Reggie Miller and lamented the fact that Indiana has its best team of his lifetime before facing his former favorite team for the first time. And the Pacers lived up to that billing, holding the C’s to 12-of-30 shooting and forcing 16 Celtics turnovers in the second half.
Jordan Crawford led the C’s with 24 points. Jeff Green added 20 and Jared Sullinger 13.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Twisted: Kelly Olynyk got tied up with Indiana’s Luis Scola under the Pacers’ basket in the second quarter and immediately headed to the locker room with Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte and team Dr. Brian McKeon. The Celtics announced he would not return due to a right ankle sprain, calling the injury, “nothing serious.”
Give it way now: After staking themselves to a 25-22 lead and committing just two turnovers in the opening quarter, the Celtics committed four turnovers in their first eight possessions of the second quarter, allowing the Pacers to briefly regain the lead. Things only got worse in the third, when the C’s had more turnovers (11) than points (8) and the Pacers turned an eight-point halftime deficit into a nine-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
Thin line: The Celtics entered Friday’s game with 76 fewer free throw attempts than their opponents. Tommy no likey. And they attempted just one free throw in the first 30 minutes against the Pacers — on a defensive three-second call. Tommy really no likey. Of course, the lack of a point guard capable of penetrating doesn’t help.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
So much Steez: Crawford fittingly capped a ridiculous first half by banking a 30-footer to beat the buzzer and hand the Celtics a 50-42 halftime lead. He also drained a shot clock-busting triple as part of an 8-for-8, 19-point effort in the opening 24 minutes. He added three assists in that span and was not credited with a turnover.
Defending their life: Without a defense that forced 16 turnovers, this loss could have been even worse. Led by Green (yes, that guy) and Sullinger, the C’s D respectively kept Pacers stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert in check for most of the night (until George dropped 14 fourth-quarter points). They just had no answer for Indiana’s depth, as Lance Stephenson recorded the first triple-double of his career while Scola and David West added 17 apiece. West has to be smiling now about choosing the Pacers over the Celtics in 2011.
|11.22.13 at 9:55 am ET|
As most interviews with Rajon Rondo do, his live chat with fans hosted by NBA TV’s Jared Greenberg for American Express began with some hilariously dry responses from the Celtics point guard, as he talked fashion for roughly five minutes. But Rondo warmed to the questions over the course of 17:42. Here’s what we learned.
He’s still not rushing his rehab.
“I’m anxious to get back out there, but I want to take my time, make sure this knee is healed 100 percent. I don’t want to rush back and have any second surgeries or get anything drained out of my knee. … I’m participating in some contact drills here and there, and as of now I’ve had no swelling, and I’m feeling pretty good.”
He plans to enter the World Championships of Cornhole.
“I saw a cornhole tournament on ESPN the other day, about a month ago, and I think I’ll probably try to enter next year and win that. I’m pretty good at that as well.”
Connect 4 comes more naturally to him than basketball, and roller skating is a close third.
“Probably Connect 4 — the most naturally. Or I could say basketball. I’ve been playing basketball for a long time, but I just love sports in general. I’ve always had a knack for competing, whether it was football, baseball, track. Anything I did, I’ve always wanted to be the best at it, so that’s a trickle down as far as Connect 4 or even skating. I always put a lot of time and practice in when I first started to [roller] skate, because I wanted to be the best.”
He wanted to join the NFL a couple years back.
|11.21.13 at 1:04 pm ET|
One word said it all. When asked if he had more time to devote to his midrange game this summer — his first NBA offseason without injury issues — Celtics guard Avery Bradley said plainly, “Yes.”
For Bradley, it’s always been about confidence. After tumbling from nation’s No. 1 high school recruit in 2009 to No. 19 pick in the 2010 NBA draft and shooting 19.6 percent (9-46 FG) from anywhere outside the restricted zone as a rookie, he had none. Obviously, an ankle surgery that kept him from his first NBA training camp didn’t help matters, but slashing off the ball to the basket was the only offensive weapon in his arsenal that first year.
(NBA.com/stats key: Red = Below Average, Yellow = Average, Green = Above Average)
Bradley began his lockout-shortened sophomore season as most young players under Doc Rivers did — on the end of the bench — only earning significant playing time once Ray Allen‘s ankle issues flared in late January. After shooting just 1-for-12 from 3-point range through the first three months of the season, Bradley discovered another niche, adding a right-corner 3 to a quiver that still included all those backdoor cuts to the bucket.
|11.20.13 at 10:46 pm ET|
It wasn’t quite as bad as Tuesday’s loss to the Rockets, but the Celtics dropped their fifth straight, 104-93 to the Spurs.
The C’s actually played San Antonio to a standstill in the first half, but the defending Western Conference champions outscored Boston by 10 in the third quarter and never looked back.
Jared Sullinger totaled 19 points and 17 rebounds in his first start of the season. Avery Bradley and Jeff Green also chipped in with 19 points apiece, but the C’s fell to 4-9 on the season.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Giving it up: The Celtics committed 17 turnovers, and that’s not even the bad news. The Spurs were outscoring the C’s 25-0 on points off turnovers at one point. You’re not winning many games with that kind of discrepancy.
Bass low: Coming off the bench for the first time this season, Brandon Bass finished with a minus-21 plus/minus rating in 19 minutes. His six points tied a season-low and his one rebound was his lowest output since Jan. 2.
Interior defense: The biggest problem for the C’s this season has been the lack of an interior presence. The Spurs found Boris Diaw time and again wide open under the basket, and San Antonio finished with 48 points in the paint as a team. Starting bigs Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter combined for 24 points and 19 rebounds.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Jelly Sullynyk: Celtics coach Brad Stevens tried his fifth different lineup in his first 13 games, finally teaming the complementary Sullinger and Olynyk combination to open the first quarter. Sullinger responded with his first double-double of the season, and Olynyk added eight points and eight boards.
Bradley buckets: Starting 7-of-11 from midrange, Bradley improved to 47.6 percent (40-84 FG) from that range — a clip that ranks second among guards who play 20 minutes a night, trailing only Mo Williams. Bradley made a concerted effort to improve his jumper this summer — his first without an injury — and it’s paid off big time.
Green machine: After scoring just six points combined in his last two games, Green bounced back to score 19 points on 14 shots, adding five rebounds and three assists.
|11.20.13 at 6:22 pm ET|
The NBA levied a $10,000 fine against Celtics forward Gerald Wallace for his postgame comments during a locker room interview after Tuesday’s dreadful 109-85 loss to the Rockets. “I don’t know what the [expletive] tonight was, just to be honest with you,” Wallace told the media. “I don’t really know what was going on.”
Wallace has been extremely vocal after Celtics losses, regularly criticizing his teammates for their effort, but the NBA is walking a dangerous line by establishing a precedent for fining a player who used vulgar language during a locker room interview. After all, Kevin Garnett wasn’t exactly Mary Poppins.
Meanwhile, the NBA also issued a warning against Celtics forward Jared Sullinger for flopping while boxing out Houston center Dwight Howard. Of course, the game was already over at that point. A second offense would result in a $5,000 fine for Sullinger. In other words, swearing after a loss is twice as bad as flopping during one.
|11.19.13 at 10:28 pm ET|
The Celtics have been slapped with a big ol’ dose of NBA reality.
Brad Stevens’ team was blown out for a second straight road game, this time dropping a 109-85 decision to the Rockets in Houston. It was the Celtics’ fourth straight loss after having won four in a row.
The C’s continued to struggle offensively, having now scored under 90 points in six of their eight losses. This time the Celts’ woes came against a Houston team that came into the game having allowed the second-most points per game of any NBA team.
Not helping matters was the Celtics’ porous defense, with the Rockets shooting 57 percent. Houston managed the rout despite Dwight Howard totaling just 10 points. The hosts’ primary weapon was Terrence Jones, who scored a career-high 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field in just 27 minutes.
The game was never close, with the Rockets holding a 40-18 lead after the first quarter (going 16-of-20 from the field), and 68-44 advantage at halftime.
Courtney Lee led all Celtics scorers with 17 points, while Avery Bradley chipped in with 11 (although he only made five of his 22 shots from the floor). The C’s shot just 32 percent from the field.
|11.18.13 at 7:24 am ET|
According to a report from Frank Isola in the New York Daily News, the Knicks have been trying to entice the Celtics with a package of players in a deal for point guard Rajon Rondo. The Knicks are said to be looking to move guards Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton along with forward Amar’e Stoudemire. However, the report notes, the Celtics have yet to show much interest.
Isola also reported that Shumpert, who last week was rumored to be headed to the Nuggets for forward Kenneth Faried, had a second left knee operation over the summer — a procedure the Knicks did not make public. Isola reported in September that Stoudemire, who only played 29 games last season, also had knee surgery in the summer.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported that the Celtics would be willing to take on Stoudemire, but not for Rondo. Rather, the Celtics would be looking to deal Gerald Wallace and Courtney Lee.
Broussard writes that the Celtics “have every intention of keeping Rondo and seeing if they can build around him.”
Shumpert, the 17th overall pick in the 2011 draft, is averaging 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in nine games this season. The 29-year-old Felton, who has been battling a hamstring problem, is averaging 11.1 points and 5.2 assists in nine games. The 31-year-old Stoudemire, playing just 10.5 minutes per game over six contests, averages 3.2 points.
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