|01.21.17 at 5:57 pm ET|
While reminiscing on his time in Boston, former Celtic Evan Turner shared how much he misses the city and how him and Celtics coach Brad Stevens formed a strong friendship — one that he doesn’t take for granted.
Turner, who played two seasons in Boston before signing four-year, $70 million deal with the Trail Blazers last summer, says while Stevens was a great coach to him and his teammates throughout his tenure in Boston, he’s also responsible for re-energizing his career.
“Obviously as a coach, he’s a was a great coach,” Turner said. “He helped me figure out myself and a lot of guys in the locker room’s career, re-energized it. I just always thought he was a great, classy person. A sincere individual. Never thought he was too big and he does a lot of great things but I really appreciate the friendship I was able to form with him and get to know what type of guy he is. Very special person, special coach. It makes a lot of sense why he’s had so much success throughout his career because he’s a good individual and his mentality stuff has definitely helped me learn how to be a pro and how to see bigger picture, point of views.
“He put me in a position to be successful,” Turner explained.
After coming off a season where they finished fifth in the Western Conference and reached the Western Conference semi-finals, the Trail Blazers (18-27) have gotten off to a rough start this year. They’re currently on a four-game losing streak and will look to bounce back from their loss against the lowly 76ers in Philadelphia on Friday.
“Right now we’re struggling with consistency,” Turner explained. “Been in some close games, hasn’t been really going our way. Hopefully, it’ll change.”
Turner also recalled the chemistry he shared with his former teammates and how special it was to play for the Celtics — a storied franchise with a strong fan base.
“We had a great team, we had great chemistry among our team,” Turner said. “I think that’s what I really recognized. Not saying we don’t here just in the locker room, the locker room feel was kind of rare. I definitely appreciate that the most. You know, playing at the garden was dope. Putting on a jersey was definitely dope. You don’t take it for granted, this isn’t like a normal franchise. Sell-outs and all that stuff. You don’t take that for granted. I definitely miss that.”
|01.20.17 at 2:08 pm ET|
The Celtics will have to again find a way to win without their second-highest scorer, as Avery Bradley will miss Saturday’s game against the Trail Blazers, per reports.
Said coach Brad Stevens, “The Achilles is structurally fine, but he has a lot of soreness around it. That’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with.”
With Bradley’s absence on Saturday, he will have missed four out of five games with the injury. He was slated to play, and start, in Wednesday’s loss to the Knicks, but was a late scratch and missed the game.
He had played 33 minutes in Monday’s win over the Hornets, scoring five points. The 26-year-old is averaging 17.7 points per game in 34.9 minutes in 36 appearances, all starts.
Another pair of injured Celtics, Tyler Zeller (sinus infection) and James Young (ankle), both practiced on Friday.
|01.19.17 at 9:57 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas feeds off doubters, which means he won’t be going hungry this All-Star season.
Starters were announced for the NBA All-Star Game on Thursday, and Thomas wasn’t among them. The Celtics guard, who currently ranks fourth in the NBA in scoring, lost a tiebreaker to Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and will likely be a reserve when full rosters are announced.
In the voting of fans, players, and media, Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was the runaway winner. Thomas actually won the media vote, but DeRozan prevailed among fans and players, leaving the two deadlocked. Because the fan vote counts for 50 percent of the total, it was the first tiebreaker, and DeRozan outpaced Thomas there by just over 40,000 votes, 796,122-755,102 to claim the starting nod.
Regardless, it’s been a monster first half for the diminutive star, who’s averaging 28.7 points per game, including a league-best 10.1 in the fourth quarter.
Thomas wasn’t the only star snubbed. In the Western Conference, MVP candidate Russell Westbrook will be a reserve, despite averaging a triple-double thus far (30.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, 10.4 assists). The starting guard slots in the West went to Golden State’s Steph Curry and Houston’s James Harden.
The other Eastern Conference starters are Cleveland’s LeBron James, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. In the West, Curry and Harden will be joined by San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, Golden State’s Kevin Durant and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis.
|01.18.17 at 11:19 pm ET|
The Celtics didn’t bring Al Horford to Boston so he could blow everyone away with his perimeter shooting. But he’s proven at times to be more than adept with a jump shot.
Wednesday just wasn’t his night.
In the Celtics’ 117-106 loss to the Knicks at TD Garden, Horford looked lost from the perimeter, missing wide open looks. When he clanked a 3-point attempt with 4:31 left in the game and the Celtics down by 10, the Garden was not afraid to hammer him with some boos.
Horford can’t remember ever having a night this bad offensively — especially in a Celtics uniform.
“I struggled bad offensively,” Horford said. “I tried to do everything I could to help us, but it just wasn’t going for me.”
The bigman ultimately went 1-for-8 on the night from distance, 2-for-14 overall from the field.
“It was just bad, and I have to be better,” he lamented after the game.
Horford was aware of how bad his perimeter shooting was getting. Later in the game, he started to try and help more in the post and with both on- and off-ball screens.
The problem was, the looks he was getting were just too good to pass up.
“One thing I noticed was I kept missing short,” Horford said. “And I try to remind myself that it was at the point that I didn’t have it, and that was tough. So I try to impact the game in other ways, whether it was setting screens, giving people shots, stuff like that. But that was definitely tough for me because they were good looks, I even felt good about a few of them, they just didn’t go in.
Horford has always been equipped with a short memory. He acknowledged that it wasn’t a permanent flaw, rather just a bad showing. He’s bought into Brad Stevens’ system since day one, and knows that when the TrailBlazers come to town on Saturday, it will be a clean slate.
“I think we just need to keep trusting and running our offense, making sure that we play with a little more energy and refocus,” Horford said. We have a big one on Saturday here at home and we’ll have a chance to redeem ourselves and be better.
“I’ll come in tomorrow, do some work. I’ll look at the film, see which way I can get better. It’s just one game, I’ll be fine.”
|01.18.17 at 11:09 pm ET|
It was his time to shine.
Down 88-84 entering the fourth quarter, it was the prime moment for Isaiah Thomas to again take control and carry the Celtics to a victory over the lowly Knicks.
The problem was, he didn’t. It’s not his fault, it was simply human nature, he couldn’t save the Celtics seemingly every game. And while there was anxious anticipation that someone would step up and pick up the slack, no one did. Instead of taking control and ending the game with a bang, it ended quietly, with the Knicks running out the clock as players shook hands with time still remaining. The Celtics had dug themselves an an 11-point hole and never climbed out of it.
While not a great effort, the Celtics aren’t ready to believe it is because they rely purely on Thomas to take care of things late in the game.
“I don’t know, I didn’t get that impression necessarily,” said head coach Brad Stevens. “But I think that we didn’t play at a level of flying around that we need to for the first three or the fourth, maybe there was some of that. I don’t know.”
Thomas finished with eight points in the quarter, 39 on the night. A far cry from a poor performance by any measure.
From big man Al Horford’s perspective, there seemed to come a point where things ultimately became more chaotic than structured.
“I don’t know if [we were] necessarily discouraged, but towards the end, yeah. Like two or three minutes to go it was hard,” said Horford. “But I think that we, I guess we kind of steer away from our stuff and executing and we kind of start doing our own stuff a little bit. That’s a little normal sometimes, when adversity hits everybody wants to pick it up and do their part, and I think that could’ve been the case tonight.”
Thomas, not one to run from blame, acknowledged his shortcomings. After a mesmerizing first three periods in which he seemed to never be able to miss what looked like impossible layups, he eventually went quiet.
He went 2-for-9 in the fourth quarter, never finding the rhythm that led him to such success early on.
“It happens,” Thomas said. “I can’t make every shot, [but] I’m going to keep being aggressive, that’s what my team needs. I missed a few shots I usually make.”
|01.18.17 at 10:55 pm ET|
Mere minutes prior to tipoff in the Celtics’ 117-106 loss to the Knicks on Wednesday, they discovered they would be without guard Avery Bradley.
Bradley, initially scheduled to start, was scratched after some soreness in his right achilles tendon. He missed four games leading up to Monday’s matchup against the Hornets with the injury, but played 33 minutes in that game and five points in the win. However warmups on Wednesday proved to be too much.
“He was really sore, went through our walk-through and then came out to the court and did some stuff, and was more sore today than he has been,” said head coach Brad Stevens, noting that Bradley did treatment the whole game.
In the interest of caution, Wednesday may not be the only time Bradley misses.
“I can see him missing a little bit more time. I think maybe he came back a little too early, whatever the case may be. But he was more sore today. But nothing structurally bad. Just still a pulled achilles,” said Stevens.
It was also a surprise for teammates, as Al Horford didn’t even notice Bradley’s absence until warmups.
Said Horford, “Literally when we were out there in warmups I didn’t see Avery. I didn’t realize he wasn’t going to play.”
|01.18.17 at 9:53 pm ET|
When Phil Jackson divulged over the summer that his biggest regret as president of the Knicks was not taking Jae Crowder when he had the opportunity to do so, it was as intriguing as it was dumbfounding.
With the Knicks now 43 games into their season — 19-24 after their 117-106 win against the Celtics on Wednesday — it’s become more clear why.
Part of the concern, a legitimate one at that, was his reluctance to make a move for Crowder because he would sit behind Carmelo Anthony. He instead took a second-round pick the Mavs owed the Celtics and turned it into Cleanthony Early, a decision in hindsight that would make even the biggest optimist cringe.
Despite the Celtics losing, Wednesday night proved a clear indication as to why the indecision was not only so frustrating for Jackson, but also why Crowder is so valuable to the Celtics.
Anthony, currently knee-deep in conflict with Jackson, put together 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting on Wednesday. He added four rebounds and three assists. Crowder, on the other hand dropped 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting with five rebounds and an assist.
And while it’s nonsense to look at one game as a basis comparison, the differences amongst the two has been lurking all season.
As Crowder helped take control of the game, the difference between him and Anthony became borderline palpable as they guarded one another. Crowder, ever intense, yet composed, guarded Anthony, who looked apathetic and nonexistent on the floor, hardly ever running more than a few steps at a time. A hard fall from the presence he used to own on the floor.
The 32-year-old Anthony, once a top player in the league, was essentially nonexistent on both sides of the ball, and has been visibly on the decline for the majority of the season. And while his supporting cast hasn’t exactly been shining around him, a team that boasts Anthony, Joakim Noah, Derek Rose and Kristaps Porzingis is vastly underperforming from where they should be.
This is where Crowder comes back into play. New York Post writer Marc Berman toyed with the idea of a Melo to Boston trade. Melo and $3 million to the Celtics, with the Knicks getting Crowder, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko and the Celtics’ 2018 first round pick.
The idea of such a deal nestled the line of lunacy before the Knicks even took the TD Garden floor. But Wednesday was as much validation as necessary for the 26-year-old Crowder to stay around. While there is no such thing as untouchable, Crowder, along with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford are about as untouchable as they get — especially with the core they’ve established.
The Celtics may be one more piece or “star” away from being true contenders, but Melo isn’t that piece. Especially not at the expense of Crowder.
As frequent of a target as Anthony has been to the Celtics every time he was being shopped around or an impending free agent, it’s tough to resist the idea of him in green. But given his current on and off the court state, it’s become clear as ever that wherever he ends up, it shouldn’t be Boston.
Crowder is probably the biggest noisemaker off the court, but a tweet chastising fans for cheering an opposing player pales in comparison to locker room tirades.
The Celtics have made their calling card this season a blue collar and chemistry-heavy type of play. They aren’t going to match up with the top teams in the East from a skills perspective, but the way they can grind has kept them in the conversation as one of the East’s toughest teams. The addition of Anthony or subtraction of Crowder — or both — would ruin that.
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