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Studs and Duds: No man bun, no problem for Kelly Olynyk, who powers Celtics past Suns

01.15.16 at 9:57 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

The Celtics dominated the Phoenix Suns en route to a 117-103 win, Friday Night at the Boston Garden.

The Suns, who entered the game with the league’s worst rated defense, were both unwilling and unable to stop the Celtics from scoring the basketball. The Celtics capitalized on the Suns sloppy play and frequently found themselves with wide open shots.

After a relatively close first quarter, the Celtics blew the game open at the end of the second. Led by an outstanding shooting performance by Olynyk, the C’s outscored the Suns 22-5 in the final 5:28.

In the second half, the Suns were unable to cut the deficit to lower than 15.

Kelly Olynyk scored a game-high 21 points. Isaiah Thomas added 19, while Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder both scored 17.  Coming off the bench, Marcus Smart recorded a nice garbage-time triple-double with 11 rebounds, 11 assists, and 10 points. The last Celtic to record a triple-double coming off the bench was Art “Hambone” Williams, who did it on January 6th, 1971.

After losing four straight, the (21-19) Celtics have now won two in a row. The team will attempt to extend the streak, when they travel to Washington to play John Wall and the Wizards on Saturday night.

For a complete box score, click here.

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Studs and Duds: Celtics steal win behind Amir Johnson’s double-double

01.13.16 at 10:59 pm ET
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Amir Johnson

Amir Johnson

All they had to do was go small.

In the final five minutes, with Jae Crowder playing power forward, the Celtics dominated the Pacers en route to a 103-94 victory. During that final stretch, the C’s small-ball lineup outscored the Pacers 17-4, including six points on three consecutive steals to retake the lead for good.

After the Pacers scored the game’s first eight points, the Celtics completely outplayed the Pacers, responding with a 26-6 run of their own. Crowder scored 19 of his 25 points in the first half while holding Pacers star Paul George to four points in the game’s opening 24 minutes.

George’s struggles didn’t continue for long, as he scored 17 of his 23 points in the third quarter. As the Pacers clawed their way back into the game, the C’s offense faltered. Over a 12-minute stretch spanning from midway through the third quarter to five minutes left in the fourth, the C’s scored only 11 points.

With 5:08 to play and the Pacers leading 90-86, Brad Stevens turned to his small-ball line up of Crowder, Amir Johnson (14 points, 18 rebounds), Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas (28 points). The Pacers scored just four more points, turning the ball over six times. The win was just the C’s (20-19) second in the calendar year and snapped a four-game losing streak. They carry that momentum into Friday’s home game against the struggling Suns.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Evan Turner talks small ball, Biggie and Tupac, and the nature of art

01.13.16 at 8:04 pm ET
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“Spread love it’s the Brooklyn way…”

A photo posted by evan turner (@slumdog_mi11ionaire) on

Before Wednesday’s night game against the Indiana Pacers, I asked Celtics forward Evan Turner a couple of questions about the Celtics loss to the New York Knicks. Turner, who is known for delivering some hilarious responses, instead responded with some generic athlete-speak, so I decided to ask him some questions rap related that had been on my mind ever since he donned a COOGI sweater after the C’s game in Brooklyn. Below are his responses.

On the advantages of smaller line-up:

‘€œIt makes us hard to guard. Obviously we can get out and run. We can switch more, teams see us switching and it throws them off a little bit.  With Jae playing the 4, theres so much pick-and-roll for the guard, making the big man switch, you get Isaiah on somebody on a mismatch, which is key.”

On Marcus Smart defending Kristaps Porzingis

‘€œThere were a few calls that weren’€™t fouls. Usually the aggressor doesn’€™t really get called, but yesterday Marcus did a great job on Porzingis. He got three fouls right away of being aggressive and being the more physical individual.’€

On Bigge and Tupac

“My dad was a Tupac fan and my brother was a big Biggie fan. I always just liked the music. Getting older and understanding it even more. I like Biggie, Biggie’€™s flow is obviously crazy. You can still play that music right now, its crazy. Pac was more of an icon with regards to his lyrics and rapping about the people, he was more of an activist. With whats going now, nowadays in life you need a voice like that.’€

*Editors note: I am kicking myself for not asking Turner a follow up question about the need for more political activism. Rather, as an noted Biggie stan, I quickly retorted that at the same time Pac was making socially conscious songs like “Brenda’s Got a Baby” he was also releasing violent diss tracks like “Hit ‘Em Up.” Turner used this as an opportunity to reflect on the nature of art.

On Art

“Music is a reflection self and reflection of your mood. You might blog about something or tweet or whatever else and you might feel way different ten minutes from now. It’s an art and people are going to say how they feel. I am sure Picasso had 100 different ways of painting or moods and stuff like that, and this is how it goes. To a certain extent you can never really take it too literal.”

I concluded by asking Turner his five favorite rappers of all-time. His response: Eminem, Jay-Z, Drake, Biggie and Tupac. The Logo didn’t stop there, explaining that he would also give five that most others wouldn’t say. He then proceeded to name five of the most popular rappers ever, most of which happen to hail from his hometown of Chicago. His non-traditional list: Lupe, Common Sense, Yeezy, Nas and J. Cole.

Studs and Duds: Celtics lose 4th straight, fall to Knicks with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis on bench

01.12.16 at 10:53 pm ET
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The Knicks handed the Celtics their fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games with a 120-114 decision at Madison Square Garden. The C’s (19-19) fell to .500 for the first time since Nov. 24 and remain in ninth place, now tied with New York (20-20), in the jam-packed Eastern Conference.

Carmelo Anthony and rookie Kristaps Porzingis dominated the first half, combining for 28 points in the first quarter. The 7-foot Porzingis hit three of his first four attempts from distance, including one from Stephen Curry range of 25 feet. Meanwhile, Anthony played well off the ball, knocking down five of his first six shots. The pair finished the half with 37 of their 43 combined points on an extremely efficient 64 percent shooting.

Surprisingly, neither Anthony nor Porzingis had much impact on the second half. Anthony sprained his ankle while running into a referee in the second quarter and pulled himself out of the game after only 19 seconds of the third quarter.

To start the second half, Celtics coach Brad Stevens played small ball, subbing Marcus Smart in for the struggling Kelly Olynyk. Despite giving up nearly a foot to Porzingis, Smart played physical defense against the big man. Porzingis played only eight more minutes after picking up two early fouls to begin the third quarter.

The small lineup of Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson slowly pulled the Celtics back into the game. Thomas took advantage of the extra space on the floor, repeatedly attacking the paint and getting to rim to score 16 of his game-high 34 points in the third quarter.

Sans Anthony and Porzingis, Aaron Afflalo carried the Knicks in the second half, scoring 10 points in each of the third and fourth quarters, while Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez also scored in double figures.

Perhaps due to the aggressive defense of the small-ball lineup, the Celtics also found themselves in foul trouble late in the game. Smart finished with five fouls, as the Knicks shot 27 of 30 from the free throw line.

The Celtics host the Paul George and the Pacers (22-16) in front of a national audience on ESPN on Wednesday night.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Former Butler player Andrew Smith, visited recently by Celtics coach Brad Stevens, dies at 25 of cancer

01.12.16 at 6:51 pm ET
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Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith

Former Butler University basketball player Andrew Smith, who was visited recently by Celtics coach Brad Stevens, died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer.

The news was broken by Smith’s wife, Samantha, who tweeted: “Andrew peacefully passed away in his sleep and in my arms as I told him I loved him this morning. Love you always, Smith.”

Smith had battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia over the last two years. Stevens, his former coach at Butler, missed the Celtics game on Jan. 8 in Chicago to pay Smith what turned out to be a final visit. He had previously checked in with him in November when the Celtics visited the Pacers, and Smith was hopeful a bone marrow transplant would help him beat the disease.

Stevens tweeted his condolences on Tuesday.

“To the toughest guy I ever met – Thank you, Andrew,” Stevens wrote. “We love you and will always be inspired by you.”

Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel noted in a separate post that, according to Samantha, Stevens called or texted Andrew Smith more than anyone outside of his family.

The 6-foot-11 Smith played on both of Butler’s national runners-up teams, in 2010 and 2011. He was a freshman reserve in 2010 when the Bulldogs lost a classic final to Duke, and he averaged 8.5 points a game for the club that lost to UConn. He played professionally in Lithuania for two years. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January of 2014.

Smith’s father Curt issued the following statement:

“Andrew packed more living into his 25 years than most of us will enjoy in a full 75 years. He lived his faith, relished his family, selflessly served his wife, and pursued his passion of basketball at the highest levels.”

Read More: Andrew Smith, Brad Stevens, Butler, Celtics

Marcus Smart addresses on-court argument with Jae Crowder: ‘Me and Jae are good’

01.11.16 at 10:32 am ET
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In the Celtics‘ 101-98 loss against Memphis on Sunday, there was a play that drew the attention of most of the Celtics team.

With the Celtics down 93-92 and a 17-second difference between the shot clock and game clock, the plan appeared to be to play the possession out and get a stop, but Marcus Smart pressed up on Greg Chalmers fouled him, which seemed to upset many of his teammates, including Jae Crowder who ran at him stomping his feet.

After the game, Smart accepted responsibility for the bad play and said there’s no hard feelings between he and Crowder.

“He was just telling me we didn’t need to foul there,” Smart said to reporters. “It was heat of the moment, two players, competitors going at it, both mad at each other. I’m mad at myself. He’s mad at me because I made a play. But me and Jae are good. That’s supposed to happen. I made a bad play.”

The Celtics have now lost three straight and five of their last six.

Read More: Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart,

Studs and Duds: Celtics blow 21-point lead, fall to Grizzlies

01.10.16 at 8:58 pm ET
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The Grizzlies overcame a 21-point deficit to beat Celtics 101-98 on Sunday night in Memphis.

After a Tony Allen 3-pointer opened the game, the C’s took the lead on a 19-1 run. The starting unit moved the basketball from side to side with great success and finished the quarter with a 34-16 lead. In what is becoming a disturbing pattern, the Celtics took their foot off the gas in the second half and allowed Memphis to creep into the game. The C’s ball movement from the first quarter disappeared, as they settled for contested jumper after contested jumper.

The Grizzlies took advantage of the Celtics‘ lack of size, dominating in the paint and on the offensivee glass. Zach Randolph led Memphis with 25 points and 13 rebounds off the bench, while Marc Gasol finished with 11 boards and 11 points, nine of which came in the second half.

The loss marks the third straight — and fifth in the last six games — for the Celtics (19-18). The C’s will attempt to halt their losing streak when they travel to New York to play the Knicks on Tuesday.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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