|12.23.13 at 11:30 am ET|
As a five-day Christmas break between games offers Celtics fans time to reflect on a somewhat surprising 12-17 start while looking ahead to a brutal start to the January schedule, the question remains: When will Rajon Rondo return?
While Celtics coach Brad Stevens believed Rondo was on schedule to play his first NBA game within a year of tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament on Jan. 27, the C’s point guard backed off that timeline, suggesting instead to The Boston Globe he may not make his comeback until February.
“I have confidence in my knee,” Rondo told the Globe’s Gary Washburn after the C’s third straight defeat, a 106-79 loss to the Pacers. “I’m excited to be playing the game of basketball again, so it’s just a matter of me getting a lot of repetition, 5-on-5 basketball and just playing the game. It might be mid-January, late February; I’m going to come back when the time is right and I get my stamina.
‘”I don’t think I have to pass any more tests. I have to pass tests for myself. I know what I felt like before I hurt my knee. When I get back to feeling that type of feeling the way I play the game, then I’ll be back.”
Rondo participated in a five-on-five scrimmage Friday, but the Celtics don’t have another scheduled practice until Thursday. Meanwhile, the beginning of the new year offers little respite for practice. The C’s play a road-home back-to-back against the Bulls and Pelicans on Jan. 2-3 before heading on a brutal week-long West Coast road trip against the Thunder, Nuggets, Clippers, Warriors and Blazers from Jan. 5-11.
The Celtics have dropped out of the Atlantic Division lead and into the No. 8 playoff seed. Only a handful of games separate them from the league’s worst record.
|12.22.13 at 8:19 pm ET|
This was not the homecoming Brad Stevens had hoped for.
The Celtics head coach returned to the state in which he thrived as a college coach with Butler University only to watch the Pacers roll over Stevens’ club, 106-79, Sunday night in Indianapolis.
The Pacers, who improved to an Eastern Conference-best 22-5 with the commanding performance, held a 15-point halftime lead that the Celtics‘ were never able to recover from.
Indiana did nothing to hurt its reputation as the conference’s best defensive team, especially at home, limiting the Celtics to 38 percent shooting from the floor. The C’s only managed three players in double-figures, with Avery Bradley netting a team-high 13 points.
Indiana’s Paul George led all scorers with 24 points, while Roy Hibbert scored 15 on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. It was the Pacers’ second win over the Celtics this season in as many games.
|12.21.13 at 3:20 pm ET|
When the Celtics‘ Jeff Green drove to the basket and converted a layup with just over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, it appeared that Boston was prepared to coast to victory against the visiting Wizards. Green and the Celtics led 92-84, a lead they had maintained for almost the entire game.
But moments after Green electrified the crowd, the 18,169 fans packed into TD Garden watched in horror as the Wizards’ Trevor Ariza drilled a 3-pointer at the 2:24 mark to put Washington ahead by five points. In less than four minutes, Washington had turned an eight-point deficit into a comfortable lead, and the Wizards cruised the rest of the way to a 106-99 comeback win. The Wizards (12-13) outscored the Celtics 22-7 over the final six minutes, 13 seconds.
Ariza led the way with 27 points, including five 3-pointers, while speedy guard John Wall added 20 points.
Celtics guard Avery Bradley accounted for a team-high 26 points, and forwards Jared Sullinger (22 points, 11 rebounds) and Brandon Bass (11 points, 11 rebounds) each went for double-doubles. The loss drops Boston (12-16) into a tie for the Atlantic Division lead with Toronto.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Closing time: Despite leading almost the entire game, the Celtics were unable to close out Washington due in large part to poor shooting and sloppy handling of the basketball. At the 6:13 mark of the fourth quarter, Boston held a commanding 92-84 lead after a layup by Green. But the C’s promptly missed 10 of their 12 next shots and turned over the ball four times to spark a Wizards’ 22-7 run to end the game.
Bench blues: For the second straight game, all five Boston starters reached double-digits in points. But, unlike in the Celtics‘ recent 107-106 loss the Pistons, the bench did not support the starting cast. Only three C’s came off the bench to score, with Kris Humphries leading the way with eight points. The reserves combined to score 14 points, compared to the 32 in Boston’s last game.
Ariza arrives: With so much attention placed on limiting the production of Bradley Beal and Wall, Washington’s top two scorers, Boston seemingly forgot about the team’s third leading scorer, Ariza. The veteran scored a game-high 27 points and knocked down a vital 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter, one of five treys for the small forward. Ariza also snagged eight rebounds.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Hot start: For the fifth straight game, Boston charged out to a lead in the first quarter as Sullinger and point guard Jordan Crawford anchored the Celtics‘ 30-14 advantage. Sullinger tossed in 10 points and four rebounds, while Crawford played the role of facilitator and scorer, chipping in seven points and four assists. The C’s shot a scorching 60 percent from the field, while forcing the Wizards into 25 percent shooting from the field. In Boston’s last five first quarters, the team has outscored its opponents by a combined 49 points.
Unconscious Avery: The Celtics received a superb performance from Bradley. He led the team in scoring with 26 points and experienced a stretch that began in the third quarter and extended into the beginning of the fourth quarter when he could hardly miss. From the 4:01 mark of the third quarter to the 7:58 mark of the fourth quarter Bradley scored 18 points, and shot 9-for-10 from the field. Eight of his 10 baskets were mid-range jump shots.
Sully: The 6-foot-9 forward continued his impressive scoring stretch, as he amassed 22 points to go along with 11 rebounds. A late scoring burst by Bradley ended the possibility of Sullinger leading the team in scoring for the fourth straight game. He collected his 22 points in a variety of ways: banging with bigs such as Marcin Gortat and Nene right under the rim, luring the behemoths outside of the paint just to blow by them off the dribble, and displaying his mid-range game and even 3-point prowess.
|12.20.13 at 1:59 pm ET|
The recent trade rumors surrounding the Celtics aren’t going away any time soon, so for the purposes of any trade discussion between now and the Feb. 20 deadline — real or imaginary — let’s rank all the assets available to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge in order of value (highest to lowest). Here goes.
RAJON RONDO: Albeit completely unfounded, the mere fact people debated whether a Kings package of Ben McLemore (2013 No. 7 overall pick), Isaiah Thomas (18.9 ppg, 5.5 apg, 59.5 TS%, 22.8 PER, 730 minutes), Jason Thompson (10.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg over six NBA seasons), Marcus Thornton (18.7 ppg in 2011-12) and two first-round picks was enough for Rondo should tell you all you need to know about the Celtics point guard’s value.
2014 CELTICS FIRST-ROUND PICK: Whether this was the stumbling block in an Omer Asik deal or not, Ainge should rightfully think thrice before dealing either first-rounder in this coming June’s loaded draft. While the Celtics still own a one-game lead atop the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference’s No. 4 seed, they’re only 1.5 games out of the lottery, and most GMs would be willing to gamble against the C’s making the playoffs.
JARED SULLINGER: If the 2012 NBA draft took place tomorrow, how many players would be selected over Sullinger? Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and Andre Drummond are likely the only four you’d definitely take over the Celtics sophomore since he’s returned from back surgery. Under control at least through 2015-16 for a grand total of $5.1 million, Sully has arguably been the C’s most important player this season.
|12.19.13 at 1:19 pm ET|
The Rockets plan to keep Omer Asik after all, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowksi.
Houston has ended talks on an Omer Asik trade and plan to keep him for now, league source tells Yahoo Sports.
‘ Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) December 19, 2013
The Celtics appeared to be the leading contenders for Asik’s services, and Houston reportedly would have received Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a first-round pick in return, but the two teams haggled over which of the C’s nine first-round picks over the next five years would be included. Surely, Celtics president Danny Ainge balked at the inclusion of either of his 2014 first-rounders or any future pick that may end up in the lottery.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey set a self-imposed deadline of Thursday to deal Asik, although the league alerted Morey that he had until Friday to make a trade and still deal the newly acquired players by the deadline.
And as we’ve learned in recent years, so-called dead trade talks have been resurrected, and the two teams could still strike a deal before the NBA’s trade deadline of Feb. 20.
|12.19.13 at 12:18 pm ET|
Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck‘s Causeway Media Partners — a company formed by a group of parties with ownership stakes in the team — is investing $21 million in Formula E, a new electric-car racing circuit that is set to debut in September.
The Formula E series is scheduled to start with a race in Beijing and continue with 10 races around the world in a Fomula One-style championship.
“We aim to help make Formula E a worldwide sensation,” Grousbeck told The Associated Press. “With our upcoming races in the centers of Los Angeles and Miami, we will help showcase the power and promise of sustainable vehicle technology.”
Causeway Media Partners was formed in May to invest in sports media and entertainments properties. Formula E is its first venture.
“We know the power of competition and entertainment, and will bring our knowledge to the development of the market for electric vehicles,” Grousbeck said. “Causeway’s mission is to find investment opportunities that benefit from our deep network of NBA and NFL team owners, media executives and professional investors. Formula E is a perfect match.”
Grousbeck will serve on the board of Formula E Holdings, and he said he expects that the series will help bring technological advancements that will translate to consumer electric vehicles.
“The ultimate goal is to become a preferred channel for promoting and increasing electric vehicle sales to consumers,” Causeway Media Partners said in a release. “If this goal is achieved, the holding company that owns the sport should become highly profitable.”
|12.18.13 at 10:01 pm ET|
Brandon Jennings scored 28 and dished 14 assists while Andre Drummond added 14 points and 16 rebounds as the Pistons wiped out a 21-point Celtics lead in the first half and beat Boston, 107-106, Wednesday night at TD Garden. Jeff Green missed a runner just before the final buzzer that would have won the game for Boston. Jared Sullinger. with 19 points, led all five starters – and seven Celtics overall – in double figures.
After shooting out to a 42-23 lead after one quarter, the Celtics were outscored in the final three quarters as the Pistons drew to within one game of .500 at 13-14.
“We got outplayed for 36 minutes and that’s usually not a good sign,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.
The game was played in the midst of rumors that the Celtics are be in serious talks with the Houston Rockets for big man Omer Asik. The Rockets, coached by Kevin McHale, are said to be looking for Courtney Lee, Brandon Bass and a first-round pick in return for the Rockets center.
Early on, the Celtics and Bass didn’t appear distracted in the least. Bass had six points on three field goals in the opening three minutes as the Celtics built a massive 42-23 lead after the opening 12 minutes. The quarter ended with the play of the game and season so far. With 0.2 seconds left, Gerald Wallace inbounded from mid-court near the Celtics bench and threw the ball to Jared Sullinger, who tipped the ball with his right hand, banked it off the glass and into the basket.
The second quarter featured more of the same as Boston built the lead up to 21. But the Pistons began to chip away and outscored Boston, 29-21, to cut Boston’s halftime lead to 63-52.
The Celtics appeared to be in control, leading 69-57 when the Pistons went on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to one. The Celtics held a one-point lead, 81-80, heading into the final quarter.
The Pistons opened the fourth quarter with momentum as Jennings took charge. Detroit took a 104-97 lead before Jared Sullinger drilled a 3-pointer with 61 seconds left to cap an 8-0 run and give Boston a short-lived 105-104 lead. Courtney Lee scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter as he played a big role in getting Boston back in the game in the final minutes.
Jennings came right down the court and replied with a three of his own with 46.7 seconds left, putting Detroit up, 107-105. It would prove to be the game-winning basket. Sullinger made just one of two free throws after being fouled on the ensuing possession, allowing the Pistons to cling to a 107-106 lead.
Avery Bradley forced Jennings into a difficult shot with 20 seconds remaining and Sullinger grabbed the rebound. With 17.7 seconds left the Celtics called timeout and had a chance to win the game. Brandon Bass dribbled into the lane and appeared to lose control but the Celtics called their final timeout with 5.0 seconds left. Green got the ball on the inbound and drove to his right but Josh Smith defended cleanly and Green missed the shot as time expired, dropping the Celtics to 12-15 on the season.
After taking much better care of the ball in the last two weeks, the Celtics were sloppy Wednesday night, allowing 30 points off 18 turnovers.
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