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Brad Stevens gets teaching moments for his team in win, Avery Bradley, Celtics ‘appreciate’ Amir Johnson

04.07.16 at 8:58 am ET
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The way the injuries had been piling up in the last four weeks, Brad Stevens was just happy he could make light about the elbow Marcus Smart took to the face in the final 90 seconds of Boston’s 104-97 win over the Pelicans on Wednesday night that result in four stitches above the right eye. 

“He had four stitches just above his eye,” Stevens said. “Everything is in place and everything is fine. He will not have to wear goggles on Friday. I know that’s the most important part of the question.” 

Stevens was referring to the constant questions he’s faced over the last several days about Evan Turner’s left eye and whether he might play on Friday and whether or not he’ll have to wear goggles to protect his left eye. As it turns out, Stevens said there is “a chance” Turner will be available against the Bucks.

Since mid-February, the Celtics have lost Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko and Evan Turner for stretches of time with various injuries. But after Wednesday’s ugly win, in which the Celtics blew a pair of double-digit leads in the second half to the Pelicans and had to pull away in the final 90 seconds, Stevens was just focused on his team playing hard and closing out games.

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Read More: Amir Johnson, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens,

Studs and Duds: Celtics outlast Pelicans, tie Hawks for 3rd seed

04.06.16 at 10:33 pm ET
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Apr 6, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) and guard Avery Bradley (0) celebrate during the final moments of the second half of the Boston Celtics 104-97 win over the New Orleans Pelicans at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Avery Bradley (right) celebrates with Isaiah Thomas in the final moments of the Celtics’ 104-97 win over the Pelicans. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Trap game or not, the Celtics needed to beat the undermanned Pelicans in order to stay afloat in the upper tier of the Eastern Conference, and even though they won, it sure wasn’t pretty.

In a game that went down to the wire, the Celtics held off the visiting Pelicans, 104-97. For the 17th time in a row, Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics in scoring, totaling 32 points and adding eight assists. Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley netted 14 and 13, respectively.

Toney Douglas’ 19 points led six Pelicans in double figures, while former Maine Red Claw Tim Frazier added 18 points and six assists. 

The Celtics took an early 15-6 lead and Thomas capped the first half with a driving layup in the final 1.5 second, but the C’s led by just eight at the break, despite forcing 14 first-half turnovers.

The Celtics again surged in the second half, grabbing a double-digit lead before an 8-0 Pelicans run cut the lead to 65-62. The two teams traded runs, and New Orleans tied the game at 91 with 3:16 remaining. The Celtics finished the game on an 11-4 run, including a monster Amir Johnson block and a clutch Avery Bradley 3-pointer to ice the victory.

With the win, the Celtics improved to 46-32 on the season and pulled even with the Hawks for third place in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta currently holds a 2-1 tiebreaker against the C’s with one head-to-head meeting remaining on Saturday.

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Celtics make very public case for Isaiah Thomas as All-NBA

04.06.16 at 8:50 pm ET
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The Celtics are making a case for Isaiah Thomas on the All-NBA team. (Boston Celtics)

The Celtics are making a case for Isaiah Thomas on the All-NBA team.

It’s an election year, and the Celtics are pushing their guy hard for a spot on the All-NBA team. 

Isaiah Thomas has exploded onto the scene this year for the Celtics, leading his team to stunning wins over the Cavaliers in Cleveland and the Warriors last Friday in Oakland. He earned his first All-Star spot in February, playing for the East in Toronto on Feb. 14. Perhaps most significant, with Thomas leading the way, the Celtics are 45-32 and in position to make a run for the No. 3 seed in the East for the playoffs. 

On Wednesday, the Celtics took the somewhat unusual move to take to social media and encourage those in the media with a vote to name the 24-year-old to the league’s all-NBA squad. 

“I think as you look at the All-NBA, you’re looking for 15 guys that most impact their team’s success. Hard to argue against him,” coach Brad Stevens said before Wednesday’s game. 

In making their case, the team pointed out that Thomas is: 

  • On track to become only the third player in Celtics history with 1,600 or more points and 500 or more assists in a season. He would join a pair of Hall of Famers in Larry Bird and John Havlicek.
  • One of six players in the NBA to average 22 points and six assists per game this season.
  • Only player in the league to average 22 points, six assists and commit fewer than three turnovers per game.
  • Eighth in the league in points per 100 possessions (32.2 PPG).

The team also points out that the Celtics are a plus-9.5 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court versus when he’s on the bench. 

Read More: All-NBA, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas,

Evan Turner cleared for ‘light non-contact’ Thursday, ‘chance’ of playing Friday

04.06.16 at 7:48 pm ET
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Evan Turner

Evan Turner

Evan Turner continues to make progress from the injury to his left eye suffered in Sunday’s win over the Lakers in Los Angeles.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens announced before Wednesday’s game with the Pelicans at TD Garden that the guard has been cleared to do some work in practice on Thursday, holding out hope that he might be available against the Bucks on Friday.

“Evan just saw the doctor again today,” Stevens said. “He’s set to do light non-contact shooting [Thursday] with a chance that he’d play on Friday.”

Stevens did not want to put a specific percentage on Turner’s availability for Friday or whether he might need protective goggles when he returns.

“To be determined. I don’t know the answer to that,” Stevens said. “I think it’s one of those situations where they’ll reassess on Friday and figure that out.”

Turner, in one of his trademark stylish camouflage sweaters, was in good spirits with the team on the bench during Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans, cheering and offering support. He was wearing his normal eye glasses, as he was on Monday when he posted a picture on Instagram.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Evan Turner, Isaiah Thomas

Sleep-deprived Avery Bradley returns from daddy duties to help Celtics tune up for playoffs

04.05.16 at 7:35 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Being a leader on a team can be difficult and demanding by itself.

Throw being a new sleep-deprived dad on top of it, and anyone would have their senses overwhelmed.

Bradley welcomed his second child into the world at the tail end of Boston’s five-game road swing through the West, explaining his absence from the team on Sunday night against the Lakers. 

Without Bradley in the building Sunday, the Celtics guards of Evan Turner, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier allowed Kobe Bryant to score 34 points but held the retiring superstar to 11-of-28 from the field.

“I know it was Kobe. I’m just happy the way our team performed,” Bradley said of the 107-100 win. “We try to play great team defense, and he was hitting tough shots. I’m just happy we were able to get the win.”

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart

Brad Stevens doesn’t watch Villanova title-winner, and who can blame him?

04.05.16 at 3:14 pm ET
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Villanova Wildcats forward Kris Jenkins (2) celebrates his game winning shot with teammates defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four at NRG Stadium. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) celebrates his game-winning shot with teammates after defeating North Carolina in the NCAA championship game. (Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM — As epic as Villanova’s title-winning shot was from Kris Jenkins, there was one man who didn’t mind missing out on the second half.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens watched the first half of the Villanova-North Carolina game Monday night before turning in after a very long 24 hours. After a red-eye flight back from Los Angeles, getting into Boston at 7 a.m. and getting medical (Evan Turner) and paternal (Avery Bradley, Jonas Jerebko) updates on his players, Stevens felt comfortable turning in.

The college basketball game of the century ended when Jenkins sank a 25-footer at the buzzer, giving Villanova a 77-74 win and its first national title since 1985.

“I watched the first half and then saw the highlights this morning,” Stevens said. 

Then he was reminded of the painfully obvious. As Butler’s coach, he was on the sideline in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium in April 2010 when Gordon Hayward’s shot at the buzzer against Duke nearly accomplished what Jenkins did Monday night in Houston. Still, he was asked what he thought when he saw the highlight of Jenkins’ shot that came just moments after Marcus Paige’s bicycle-kicking 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds to go that tied the game at 74. 

“I think I’m probably the wrong person to ask. I think it’s obviously cool to see those kids perform on that stage and get those opportunities and I’m happy for all of them that they got that,” Stevens said. “To make shots in that moment and to ultimately win it, and the way that both teams handled it I thought was really impressive.”

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Read More: 2010 Final Four, 2016 Final Four, Brad Stevens, Butler Bulldogs

Brad Stevens rules out Evan Turner (eye abrasion) for Wednesday, hopeful for Friday

04.05.16 at 2:41 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Brad Stevens feels the Celtics and Evan Turner might have caught a big break. 

The eye poke to the guard’s left eye Sunday night in Los Angeles resulted in just an abrasion, and Turner might be able to return Friday night against the Bucks at TD Garden. 

Still, after a long red-eye flight back on Sunday night after the 107-100 win over the Lakers, the Celtics told Turner to stay home from Tuesday’s practice, get rest and let the healing continue. 

“Evan is good. He’s at home,” Stevens said before practice. “He’s not going to be here today, not going to practice today. He’s not going to play [Wednesday]. But he should be day-to-day after that. The ophthalmologist saw him [Monday] and obviously, if he were to play [Wednesday], he would probably be a day ahead of schedule and force him to wear goggles, whatever the case may be. 

“We’re hopeful that he can be feeling pretty good by Friday. So, I think giving him that extra two days is a probably a good thing anyway.”

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Evan Turner, Jonas Jerebko
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