|01.07.14 at 11:32 pm ET|
Tuesday night’s matchup with the Nuggets looked like an opportunity for the Celtics to snap their four-game losing streak and cease their recent struggles against Western Conference foes. Boston faced a sub-.500 Denver team just two games removed from an eight-game losing streak that recently faced some internal issues with the temporary dismissal of veteran guard Andre Miller.
That optimism seems silly in retrospect as Denver steamrolled Boston, 129-98, to hand the C’s their fifth straight defeat and eighth in nine games.
Randy Foye lit up the Celtics defense with 23 points and seven 3-pointers, while Ty Lawson (19 points, 13 assists) and Kenneth Faried (19 points, 13 rebounds) aided the easy victory with double-doubles. J.J. Hickson (17 points), Wilson Chandler (11 points) and Nate Robinson (10 points) also reached double figures.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS
West woes: Boston’s struggles when visiting Western Conference teams is bordering on comedic. With Tuesday’s loss, the Celtics have now dropped all six road games versus Western Conference teams this year, and the last 11 road games dating back to last season. Additionally, Boston is now 2-10 against Western Conference foes this season. It doesn’t get any easier for the Celtics as they wrap up their road trip vs. the Clippers (24-13), Warriors (24-13) and Trail Blazers (26-9).
Slow start: The Celtics put together quite possibly their ugliest half of basketball this season. They trailed 68-45 after 24 minutes of play, and the 68 first-half points allowed tied a season-worst for Boston and equaled a season-best for the Nuggets. Seven Denver players scored at least six points with Lawson (12 points, nine assists) and Foye (14 points, four 3-pointers) leading the way. The Nuggets nailed 10 3-pointers in the half. The Celtics’ offense matched the defense’s inferiority, as they shot 34.7 percent from the field, and committed 10 turnovers (eight in the first quarter).
|01.07.14 at 12:11 pm ET|
As part of the deal, the Celtics acquired Ryan Gomes from the Thunder and subsequently waived him. The remainder of Gomes’ $884,293 salary would have become guaranteed had the C’s not released him on Tuesday.
Bayless, 25, averaged 8.0 points (41.9 FG%, 35.3 3P%, 83.6 FT%), 2.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game in 30 appearances for the Grizzlies this season, but his $3.1 million contract is Danny Ainge‘s biggest acquisition. While Bayless becomes a free agent this summer, Lee is owed $11.1 million over the next two seasons on top of the remainder of this season’s $5.2 million salary.
We discussed the trade’s impact on the salary cap and how Ainge might exercise his newfound flexibility going forward here.
Bayless arrived in Denver on Monday and is expected to be available against the Nuggets, according to the Celtics public relations staff. He will wear No. 11, same as Lee.
“We’ve always like Jerryd,” Ainge told the Herald. ‘”He’s played really well against us, and we’re intrigued to see what he can do now. We like that he can play some point guard.”
As for Lee, Ainge added, “Courtney has played real well in a limited role for us this year. I also know he was not happy with his role. But I think he’s a good player for Memphis to acquire.”
|01.06.14 at 9:52 pm ET|
Gomes’ involvement in the deal appears to be a salary dump by Oklahoma City to help facilitate the trade and create a small amount of cap space, Stein reported. The Celtics are expected to waive the former Providence College star before the remainder of his $884,293 salary becomes guaranteed on Tuesday.
Gomes has appeared in just five games for the Thunder this season, scoring all of six points in 34 total minutes. The 31-year-old forward averaged 10.0 points and 5.3 rebounds over his first two NBA seasons in Boston after the Celtics selected him with their second-round draft pick in 2005. He was traded to the Timberwolves in 2007 as part of the Kevin Garnett deal.
Second-round picks may also be involved in the trade, Stein said.
|01.05.14 at 9:25 pm ET|
Jackson eviscerated the C’s defense with a career-best 27 points and handed the Celtics (13-21) their fourth straight loss and seventh in eight games.
The NBA’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant, played more of a facilitating role for Oklahoma City (27-7), allowing the point guard his moment in the limelight. Durant still went for 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Jackson erupts: Prior to the game, much of the defensive consternation revolved around the matchup between Green and Durant. How Boston’s top defender, Avery Bradley, would defend Oklahoma City’s raw point guard was not a hot topic. However, Jackson, filling in for an injured Russell Westbrook, surprisingly torched the usually stingy Bradley for a career-high 27 points. The Boston College product lit up Bradley in the first half. He scored 11 points in the first five minutes, and 19 over all in the half.
D on Durant: In one sense, the Celtics defense deserves plaudits for not allowing Durant to break out for 46 points like he did in the Thunder’s previous win. But Durant’s 21 points (in just 27 minutes) against Boston did not properly reveal the impact he had on the game. He dished out eight assists, and when Oklahoma City was comfortably ahead, Durant went out of his way to pad his teammates’ point totals. Durant also pulled down seven rebounds.
Front-court production: While Crawford and Bradley kept Boston’s head above water, the Celtics‘ starting big men did next to nothing to aid the guards offensively. Forwards Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger combined for 13 points compared to their combined season average of 25.5 points per game. Their sparse production was not a product of a dearth of opportunities; Sullinger finished 3-for-11 from the field and Bass 1-for-5. Sullinger fouled out in just 19 minutes.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Bogans’ christening: It took close to the entire first half of season, but Keith Bogans finally found the score sheet. The veteran guard acquired by the Celtics this offseason opened up the second quarter by burying a 3-pointer. Bogans last appeared in a game on Nov. 30 and had played in just 28 minutes over four games and attempted three shots. He saw playing time in lieu of backup shooting guard Courtney Lee, who was in the process of being traded Sunday.
Three-point barrage: A usually docile Celtics 3-point game erupted as Boston canned 11 3-pointers, the most since Dec. 10. The C’s defied a recent trend of poor 3-point shooting, particularly over the past three games. Boston shot a horrendous 14-61 (23 percent) in recent losses to the Hawks, Bulls and Pelicans. Crawford and Green authored the outburst with three 3-pointers apiece. Boston shot a nifty 8-13 from downtown in the first half to stay within 10 points.
Humphries: Kris Humphries again logged solid minutes off the bench, collecting 14 points along with three blocks and rebounds and two assists. In the last three weeks, Humphries has proved himself the most reliable Celtic off the bench. In his last 10 games, Humphries has averaged 9.8 points per game on 56 percent shooting, and 6.9 rebounds.
|01.05.14 at 7:10 pm ET|
Lee addressed the trade on his Instagram account.
“Would like to thank every1 in the celtics organization for the opportunity to be a celtic, I enjoyed my time in Boston and am grateful. Would also like to thank @celtics for showcasing my desire to give back to the community and also making me look good in the pictures lol. Would also like to thank the fans for the amazing year and a half journey, we started off a little rocky but I got my game back right so thanks for the extra motivation. #allgoodthingscometoaend!!!”
As a result of the deal, the Celtics save $2.1 million this season and shed the $11.1 million owed Lee over the next two seasons, since Bayless is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Of course, the C’s also acquire a 25-year-old point guard who has averaged highs of 11.4 points, 4.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds with a 52.2 true shooting percentage and 13.5 Player Efficiency Rating for five teams in his six NBA seasons. Bayless averaged 8.0 points (46.8 TS%), 2.0 assists and 1.9 boards while producing an 11.2 PER in 20.8 minutes over 30 games for the Grizzlies this season. He has totaled 57 points in his last three games against the Celtics.
The trade effectively ends a disappointing Boston tenure for Lee. While the 28-year-old has scored 7.4 points on 57.3 true shooting (49.2 FG%, 44.2 3P%) in 30 games for the Celtics this season, he never quite lived up to the four-year, $21.5 million deal he signed in 2012.
Most importantly, the Celtics cut their guaranteed payroll to just $42.5 million next season — well below the projected salary cap of $62.1 million — offering Celtics president Danny Ainge even more flexibility to re-sign Avery Bradley, acquire anyone on the free-agent market and/or make any trade under the sun. The Celtics now also have some wiggle room to add another player this season to fill the roster at 15.
|01.03.14 at 10:10 pm ET|
In an ugly but entertaining game, Avery Bradley‘s contested go-ahead layup attempt ricocheted off the rim in the final seconds against the Pelicans, and — after a pair of Brian Roberts free throws — Jared Sullinger‘s game-tying 3-piont attempt sailed wide, as the Celtics fell short against New Orleans at home, 95-92.
The Celtics (13-20) lost their second game in as many nights and third straight — a killer for a team headed on a five-game-in-seven-nights West Coast trip against the Thunder, Nuggets, Clippers, Warriors and Nuggets on Sunday.
Bradley (22 points) led the Celtics in scoring while Sullinger (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Brandon Bass (16 points, 11 rebounds) each notched double-doubles. Jeff Green (16 points) also reached double figures.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Cold start: Whether it was the frigid temperatures, the same-day trip from Chicago or just plain stagnant offense, the Celtics scored just 13 points in the first 10 minutes against a team that allowed 108.9 points per 100 possessions entering the game. Bradley scored seven points (3-5 FG) in that stretch, but his Celtics teammates scored only six (3-11 FG) — including a zero-point, zero-rebound start for the ailing Sullinger.
The Stiemer: Battling a knee injury, old friend Greg Stiemsma hadn’t scored in double figures all season — until his glorious return to Boston. No Stiemboat whistle sounded in his honor, but the 7-footer who found his way back into the NBA under Kevin Garnett‘s tutelage scored 12 points on seven shots in 19 big minutes off the bench.
Ryan Anderson: In a scary moment that deserves mention, the Garden crowd sat in silence despite a 75-73 C’s lead early in the fourth, as Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson lay motionless on the floor following a head-to-head collision with Gerald Wallace. Considering all that Anderson’s been through already this season, it’s no wonder every player on both sides of the ball stood in support as paramedics carted him off in a neck brace on a stretcher. He was taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a cervical stinger.
|01.02.14 at 10:34 pm ET|
The Celtics‘ swoon continued on Thursday night in Chicago, as Boston fell to the Bulls, 94-82, on the road for the team’s fifth loss in six games.
The C’s (13-19) struggles come at an inopportune time as they now face six straight Western Conference teams including four red-hot teams in the Trailblazers, Warriors, Thunder and Clippers.
Chicago was led by Joakim Noah, who nearly recorded a triple-double with a team-high 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Carlos Boozer (16 points) led five other Bulls in double digits.
Jordan Crawford paced Boston with 22 points and seven assists. Jared Sullinger produced a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE CELTICS
Sloppy start: The Celtics committed six turnovers in the first quarter. This sloppiness led to a 24-21 deficit for the team in the first 12 minutes, and marked only the second time in the last eight games that Boston trailed after one quarter. All six giveaways were credited to the Celtics‘ starters, as every member of the starting lineup was credited with at least one turnover. Boston’s sloppiness with the basketball was not necessarily isolated to the first quarter as it committed 19 turnovers. Read the rest of this entry »