|03.02.17 at 12:44 am ET|
The Hoodie introduced himself to the King.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watched the Celtics beat the defending-champion Cavaliers in a wildly entertaining game at TD Garden on Wednesday from seats right under the basket near the Celtics bench. During a stoppage in play, Celtics star Isaiah Thomas sauntered over to shake his hand.
During the game, Belichick got an up-close-and-personal look at LeBron James, who landed in his lap during one sequence after sailing out of bounds. After the game, Belichick went one better, visiting the Cavaliers locker room, according to multiple reporters, and making an impression on King James.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 2, 2017
It’s enough to make you wonder how Belichick would use James if he could ever get him in pads. Perhaps an even more athletic version of Gronk?
It’s doubtful James gets starstruck around too many professional sports figures, but it looks like Belichick qualifies.
|03.01.17 at 11:42 pm ET|
Early Wednesday afternoon, Brad Stevens issued a plan of attack and that evening his team executed it and turned it into one of their most impressive wins of the season.
Wednesday night’s 103-99 win over the Cavaliers was a testament to how tough the Celtics can be in the fourth quarter.
Even with their best scorer not hitting shots (1-of-4), the Celtics rallied behind defensive stops by Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley instead of relying on Isaiah Thomas to keep them in the game.
Facing a two-point deficit, Smart drew back-to-back offensive fouls against the Cavaliers before Jae Crowder (17 points) drained a 3-pointer under two minutes to go. Then, it was Bradley’s turn as he rattled Kyrie Irving (28 points) and drained a 3-pointer on the other end to keep his team ahead.
Out of a Cavaliers timeout, Cleveland set up sharp shooter Kyle Korver for an open 3-pointer before Thomas drained his only field goal of the fourth quarter. Irving responded with a reverse layup to tie the game (99-99) before Thomas drew a shooting foul and drained a pair of free-throws to put the C’s ahead, 101-99.
LeBron James (28 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) passed up an opportunity to tie the game by passing the ball to Deron Williams, who missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer.
For a full box score and summary of Wednesday’s game vs. Cleveland, click here.
|03.01.17 at 8:14 pm ET|
While Avery Bradley will continue playing on a minutes restriction, Celtics coach Brad Stevens will continue to lean on his rookie for steady production in the second half.
After missing 18 straight games, Bradley returned to the starting lineup against the Hawks on Monday. He finished with six points on 2-of-4 shots in 15 first-half minutes.
Bradley will most likely have a similar outing against the Cavaliers, which will give Jaylen Brown another opportunity to play extended minutes, especially in the second half.
Brown, who has clocked in over 25 minutes in each of his last three games, has been very efficient for the Celtics. Since the All-Star break, Brown is averaging 13.6 points while shooting at a 59.2 percent clip.
“Jaylen has been playing well,” Brad Stevens said. “I think he’s made a strong case to stay in that rotation. We’ll just continue to play like that.”
Lately, Brown has also proven he isn’t afraid to take big shots towards the end of the fourth quarter. His go-ahead 3-pointer with 37 seconds left against the Pistons last Sunday gave the Celtics a two-point lead and they never looked back in the Celtics’ only win in the last four games.
According to Stevens, the 15-25 minutes restriction on Bradley will be lifted by next week but until then the Celtics will need more minutes for Bradley than the 15 he saw against the Hawks. Against an offensive powerhouse like the Cavaliers, Bradley can do a good job in slowing down All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.
The Cavaliers enter Wednesday night’s game averaging 111.1 points per game, third in the NBA behind the Rockets and Warriors. However, against the Celtics, the Cavs averaged 126 points in their last two outings, including LeBron James and Irving averaging a combined 54 points.
Stevens will look to get the most out of his best on-ball defender in Bradley in the first half before giving Brown meaningful minutes against the champion Cavaliers.
|02.28.17 at 8:51 pm ET|
In the end, Andrew Bogut ended up exactly where we expected him.
According to the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the free-agent big man will sign with the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers this weekend. The 76ers acquired him from the Mavericks at the trade deadline and then bought him out on Monday. He is expected to clear waivers on Wednesday.
Bogut has been limited to 26 games this year by knee and hamstring injuries. He reportedly narrowed his choices down to the Cavs, Celtics, and Rockets before settling on LeBron James and Co.
The Celtics were interested in Bogut as a potential rebounder who could shore up the inside, where the C’s have taken a beating recently.
Bogut is averaging three points and 8.3 rebounds this year.
|02.28.17 at 12:18 am ET|
An ugly defeat to the Atlanta Hawks 114-98 wasn’t the only Celtics’ loss on Monday night.
Isaiah Thomas saw his 43 game streak of 20 or more points come to an end against the Hawks in a 19-point performance on a dreadful shooting night for the C’s. Boston shot just 39.1 percent on the night from the field.
Thomas, who had just two points in the fourth quarter, went 4-for-21 from the field. And the only reason he came within a point of extending his streak to 44 games was his 10-for-10 effort from the free throw line. He also went just 1-for-6 from beyond the 3-point arc. He still led the team in scoring.
“Tonight was just an off night for me,” said Thomas. “You have those, and we played Toronto and they showed two or three guys, I can’t run through the whole team.”
It was an all around frustrating night for the Celtics.
“We’re not gonna hit every shot every game,” said Jaylen Brown, who shot 6-for-10 to add 15 points. “But I do expect us to play a little bit better than what we did.”
Avery Bradley made his return to the lineup, playing 15 minutes in the first half. He didn’t see any floor time when the Celtics were outscored 63-51.
“I just feel like we didn’t play hard enough,” Bradley said. “In the second half they played harder than us. They punked us.”
The shooting was the obvious problem on Monday night, but it wasn’t the only focus for the Celtics to improve on.
“If there’s one thing I’d like us to get back to it’s taking care of the ball at the level we were before the break,” said head coach Brad Stevens.
Thomas scored only two points in the fourth quarter, uncharacteristic of his recent late game dramatics. This comes after struggling as well late in the loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.
“The whole world knows what time it is in the fourth quarter and they’re game-planning to stop me,” Thomas said.
Thomas also saw his rivalry with Hawks’ guard Dennis Schroder mellow on the court as Al Horford and Dwight Howard mixed things up in the third quarter, and Howard was eventually ejected.
Thomas wasn’t interested in talking about his rival guard after the game.
“You keep bringing him up,” he said. “I’m done talking about that guy. There’s nothing. He’ll probably say something over there, I don’t know.”
Stevens had more concerns than just Thomas in the loss.
“I’m not worried about Isaiah,” said Stevens. “I’m worried about how we’re playing”
Along with shooting issues, the Celtics rebounding woes continued to be prominent as Thomas was the team’s leading rebounder through three quarters while Horford struggled against his former team. Horford finished with six rebounds while Thomas led the team with seven.
With the 20-point run coming to an end on the same night Thomas was honored pre-game with the Eastern Conference player of the month award, the point guard isn’t upset about the streak being snapped.
“I’ll break it again,” Thomas said.
|02.28.17 at 12:07 am ET|
Don’t send Andrew Bogut to Cleveland just yet.
According to the Boston Globe, the free agent center has narrowed his list of preferred destinations to five or six teams, and the Celtics are one of them.
Bogut was waived by the 76ers on Monday after being acquired from the Mavericks at Thursday’s trade deadline. He’s averaging just 3 points and 8.3 rebounds in 26 games this year, and has been slowed by knee and hamstring injuries.
He’s also a proven rebounder and interior presence, and the Celtics desperately need some size and toughness. They were once again badly outrebounded (55-40) in Monday’s blowout loss to the Hawks.
Celtics hoops boss Danny Ainge told the Globe that he’s not ruling out a dive into the buyout market, but he’s not feeling any pressure, either.
“I like our team right now,” he told the paper, “and unless something really jumps out to us where I feel like we can get significantly better, I’d just assume keep our team intact.”
Bogut is expected to sign on Wednesday after clearing waivers, and a Globe source disputed reports that he’s signed, sealed and delivered to the Cavs, insisting that not only do the Celtics remain in play, but that Bogut hopes to speak to some Boston players to get a feel for the situation on Tuesday.
|02.27.17 at 9:54 pm ET|
The Celtics might be able to skate past the dregs of the Eastern Conference, as they barely did Sunday night in Detroit.
But if Monday proved anything, come springtime, the Celtics are going to have to play bigger and tougher in the paint if they have any aspirations of extending play into May.
Dennis Schroder outplayed Isaiah Thomas and the Atlanta Hawks blasted the Celtics after Dwight Howard’s ejection in a 114-98 rout of Boston Monday night at TD Garden. Thomas had just two points in the fourth quarter and finished with 19, ending his franchise streak of games with at least 20 points at 43 games.
The Celtics, who hosted a beardless Julian Edelman next to their bench, were abused in the paint in the first half, getting outscored 28-14 and out-rebounded 32-21. Brad Stevens has said all season that he’s fully aware that his team will not be winning any rebounding battles.
But there comes a time and a place where getting overpowered eventually wears you down. That was the case Monday. When Isaiah Thomas is your leading rebounder through three quarters, Marcus Smart is your best low post option and the other team has Dwight Howard, that’s an issue.
If there’s any truth to the report from the Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach that Andrew Bogut, officially bought out Monday by Philadelphia, is interested in coming to Boston, the Celtics should do everything in their power to make sure he doesn’t leave Tuesday’s meeting without signing on the dotted line.
Monday’s game was much more than just a team playing on the second night of a back-to-back. It was about a bigger, stronger team taking it to them physically. Al Horford is a lot of things. A true big man he is not. Down 17 with six minutes left in the game, Stevens rested Horford, presumably to save him for the defending world champs Wednesday night at TD Garden.
For a full box score and summary of Monday’s game vs. Atlanta, click here.
The Celtics raced out to a 15-7 lead as Avery Bradley returned, showing the same sharp-shooting form he showed before his Achilles injury of early January that forced him to miss 22 of his previous 23 games. Bradley hit the first shot he took, a wide-open 25-footer for three from the left wing. As a matter of fact, the Celtics connected on their first three attempts from beyond the arc as they built the early cushion.
But Atlanta responded with an 11-0 run midway through the first quarter, turning a seven-point Celtics lead into a four-point hole.
Dennis Schroder and Isaiah Thomas seemed to put their running – sometimes acrimonious – rivalry to the side. It was Schroder who accused Thomas of disparaging comments during a January game directed at Schroder’s mother. Thomas vehemently denied this charge. The two had a very animated but civil exchange in which both appeared to smile and joust with one another.
Then, following a Thomas drive to the basket midway through the second quarter, it was Schroder who helped Thomas back to his feet.
Things were more intense in the second half. After Dwight Howard grabbed a driving Isaiah Thomas from behind on a move to the basket, Howard escaped a flagrant foul after review. Then, less than a minute later, as Howard was fighting for a rebound under the Celtics basket, Al Horford fouled Howard hard. Howard responded with a shove to the chest of Horford and was given a technical foul.
New: According to a league source, Andrew Bogut has strong interest in joining the Celtics: https://t.co/oN9SsTZlO7
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) February 28, 2017
The Celtics then caught a huge break when Howard picked up up second technical of the game for hanging on the rim and flipping his head back on a dunk with 4:03 left in the third quarter. The dunk made it 74-65 Hawks.
Horford continues to do most of his offensive work on the perimeter. This paid dividends in the third quarter when he found a back-cutting Jaylen Brown for a crowd-energizing, alley oop dunk.
Without Howard, things only got worse for the Celtics as they trailed 84-71 after three. Boston fell behind by 17, 90-73, with just over nine minutes left.
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