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Fast Break: Isaiah Thomas, James Young lead way as Celtics knock off Pacers

11.12.16 at 9:40 pm ET
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Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas reaches around Jeff Teague to make a pass during Saturday's win over the Pacers. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas reaches around Jeff Teague to make a pass during Saturday’s win over the Pacers. (Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports)

Earlier this week, following back-to-back blowout losses, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas lamented the fact that the C’s had lost their “swag.” He put it on himself to find away to help the team regain its identity.

Mission accomplished.

Thomas overcame an off shooting night by hitting some big baskets in the fourth quarter as the Celtics put together a strong performance for a second straight night, leading to a 105-99 victory over the Pacers in Indiana, Boston’s first road win of the season.

Thomas shot just 4-for-13, but he hit 14-of-15 free throws to finish with 23 points. He joins Sam Jones (1965-66) and Kevin McHale (1986-87) as the only Celtics to score 20 or more points in each of the team’s first nine games of the season.

It was 99-94 with just over a minute left after Thomas hit two free throws. At the other end, Bradley snuck up on center Myles Turner at the 3-point line and stole the ball, then passed it to Smart in the middle of the court as he was falling out of bounds. Smart caught it in the air and, without coming down, fired it ahead to Thomas for a reverse layup under pressure that put the C’s ahead by seven with exactly a minute to play. Indiana never threatened thereafter.

For the second straight game, Brad Stevens elected to start Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart as Boston looked to avoid the disastrous starts that previously were a problem in embarrassing losses to the Nuggets and Wizards. The C’s did give up a lot of points in the opening nine minutes to the Pacers and trailed by seven after one period, but they led by three at halftime (48-45) and maintained that margin after three quarters.

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Fast Break: Isaiah Thomas, Celtics blow out Knicks

11.11.16 at 10:03 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics were very hungry for a win. 

After two consecutive lopsided defeats, the Celtics reverted to their old ways and put together their strongest defensive performance of the season in a 115-87 win at TD Garden. 

Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 29 points, Kelly Olynyk added 19 points and seven rebounds in his first start of the season and Avery Bradley finished with a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds). Seven Celtics scored in double figures. 

From the tip, the Celtics were aggressive in the opening minutes — grabbing a 19-8 lead. But New York came back when Carmelo Anthony caught fire and scored 12 first-quarter points to help push his team to within four points (31-27) after the game’s first 12 minutes.

However, the Knicks never held a lead throughout the second quarter but their rebounding certainly kept things close. New York dominated the Celtics on the glass — giving them plenty of chances but the Knicks only scored five second-chance points off of 12 offensive rebounds. 

With 4:44 left in the first half, the Celtics caught a break when Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony refuted a loose ball foul called by NBA official Tony Brothers. After he was handed an initial technical foul, Anthony continued to plead his case with Brothers which resulted in a second technical foul and was ejected from the game. Anthony finished the night with 12 points and two rebounds in 12 minutes. 

Following the ejection, the Celtics topped off an 11-3 run and finished the half with a 10-point lead (61-51). It was the first time the Celtics have allowed fewer than 54 first-half points in their last three games.

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Celtics pregame notes: Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk will start against Knicks

11.11.16 at 7:12 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

For the first time this season, Brad Stevens will start Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk in place of Jae Crowder (left ankle) and Al Horford (concussion) against the Knicks on Friday. 

Stevens emphasized the importance of getting off to a strong start against New York and said that defense played a major part in his decision to start Smart and Olynyk.

“I thought we started pretty well in Cleveland but we haven’t started well the last two games,” Stevens said. “I think Tyler [Zeller] has actually done some really good things — I think he’ll be able to play off the bench well. I think that Jaylen [Brown] obviously has done some good things, he’ll be able to play off the bench well. But I know that with Marcus and Kelly I think that from my evaluation the other night they were probably our two best defenders in the game the other night so I’d like to start off with that mindset right out of the gate.”

The Celtics are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and have gotten out to horrendous starts. They’ve allowed 76 points combined in the last two opening quarters and surrendered their biggest loss of the young season on Wednesday — a 118-93 blowout against the Wizards. Although it’s still very early in the regular season, Stevens understands his team’s performance the past two games were unacceptable.

“I think I have to be able to take a step back and say there’s a lot of games to be played, we haven’t played very well the last couple,” Stevens explained. “We’re far from a finished product and we’re far from a full team. But at the same time these games come at you a million miles an hour and you only get one chance to play each of them. So you gotta put your best foot forward and we need to play better. May not ever guarantee the result you want but we need to play better basketball than we played the last few nights.”

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Read More: Al Horford, Brad Stevens, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart

Celtics notes: Brad Stevens gives ‘thought’ to lineup change, Al Horford cleared for non-contact, doubtful Friday

11.10.16 at 3:55 pm ET
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WALTHAM – The Celtics have been without Al Horford for four games now. The likelihood that streak goes to five is very high as Brad Stevens said it’s doubtful that the big man still in concussion protocol will be able to take the court against the Knicks Friday at TD Garden. 

But the Celtics did get good news on the Horford front. Horford, who did not travel to Washington for Wednesday’s blowout loss, did return to the court with the team for practice Thursday. 

But the practice was not one of high intensity and he has not been cleared for contact or physical work. 

“He did some light stuff with us, so he was cleared to go through some of it,” Stevens said. “We didn’t do anything contact, physical, competitive, so I don’t know where that puts him in the protocol. I haven’t gotten the update of what’s next. But he is progressing, He’s feeling a lot better.”

Stevens and Horford spent about 15 minutes talking after practice Thursday. 

As for his chances of playing Friday?

“I don’t know, but I would say that would doubt it,” Stevens answered. “But I don’t know what the official diagnosis is, as far as I don’t know the official next step.”

 Jae Crowder has missed three games with a sprained left ankle. Crowder was not with the team at practice on Thursday. 

“I would doubt we see him until maybe next week when we get back home,” Stevens said. “That’s not for sure either, but that’s roughly the time line we’re looking at, best case scenario.”

It’s no secret the Celtics have been getting their collective doors blown off in the last two first quarters of their last two defenseless losses to the Nuggets and Wizards. Against Denver they allowed 24 first-quarter points to Emmanuel Mudiay and fell behind 42-23. Wednesday in Washington was even worse. They were blown out 34-8 and lost, 118-93. 

What are the chances Stevens breaks up the lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson and Tyler Zeller?

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Read More: Al Horford, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens,

Mike Petraglia, Ben Kichen wonder what’s with horrid Celtics D and whether Demarcus Cousins is answer

11.10.16 at 11:52 am ET
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Trags and Ben talk about the defensive issues plaguing the Celtics right now, how the team needs to adjust, and whether the they are desperate enough to bring in 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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Brad Stevens on Donald Trump’s victory: ‘It wasn’t my vote’

11.10.16 at 8:28 am ET
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Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, while saying he is hesitant to discuss politics, felt strongly enough about the results of the Tuesday’s presidential election to reveal his view of Donald Trump.

“It wasn’t my vote,” he told reporters Wednesday in Washington, where his team was preparing to be routed by the Wizards. “Let’s put it that way.”

The Celtics learned of Trump’s upset victory while in the nation’s capital, and Stevens said he had to address it in an attempt to refocus his team.

“I think you have to be able to compartmentalize,” Stevens said (via “We talked about that this morning, and that’s a hard thing. Everybody is — because it’s such a passionate topic right now, every team’s going to be feeling that this morning. It’s not going to be one team and not another.”

“I think the whole world’s talking about it and has been talking about it for quite some time,” Stevens added. “I read somewhere last week that the campaigning is double what it used to be. The coverage is probably 10 times what it used to be. The predictions are probably worse than they used to be. So I think that there’s a lot of discussion about it, there’s a lot of talk about it, there’s a lot of empty space, empty minutes of your day, that you’re turning on whatever and it’s constantly being discussed. So everybody was talking about it. I don’t think that was just our locker room or just anywhere else.”

All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas also tried to keep his comments to a minimum, although he previously had made it clear via Twitter that he opposed Trump.

“It was a rough night,” Thomas said of watching the election results. “But hopefully he’s good. That’s all I’m going to say.”

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.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Donald Trump,

Isaiah Thomas laments Celtics’ lack of effort: ‘We’re in a bad funk right now’

11.09.16 at 10:22 pm ET
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The Celtics’ latest embarrassment, a 118-93 rout at the hands of the previously struggling Wizards on Wednesday night, has left the team searching for answers.

Guard Isaiah Thomas said the bottom line is the C’s need to play harder.

“It’s tough. We’re in a bad funk right now. But we can’t hold our heads,” he told reporters in Washington. “One thing I think is, we’re not the hardest-playing team no more. I think that’s what made us special, that’s what made us good, is us playing harder than the other team, being more scrappier, getting all the loose balls. Rebounds don’t come to us no more because we’re not playing hard.

“I’ve got to watch the film, I’ve got to see what I’ve got to do better, see what we can do better. But that’s just the feeling I have right now, that we’re not the hardest-playing team. And that’s what made us special, what made us win 48 games last year and made teams not really want to play against us. We don’t have that swagger no more.”

The C’s biggest issues are with defensive and rebounding — they were beaten 54-31 on the boards Wednesday.

“It’s playing hard, leaving it all out there on the floor,” Thomas said. “That’s who we were. That’s what made us one of the best defensive teams in the league. That’s what made us win 48 games last year. We have to find that swag. We’ve got to find that … that. We’ve got to get that back. Because if we don’t, it seems like we’re going off talent, which we really don’t have that much talent, including myself. I think if we get that hard hat back where we’re the hardest-playing team, we’re going to be in every game. Last year we didn’t get blown out like this. Even though it’s early, it’s been two really bad games for us. But we didn’t have these types of games last year. Just half the battle was us playing that hard, which we were in most of the games.”

Read More: Isaiah Thomas,
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