|02.29.16 at 6:34 pm ET|
Brad Stevens has absolutely no hard feelings when it comes to David Lee. As a matter of fact, he’s very happy that the veteran big man has landed on his feet in Dallas.
Lee, who was bought out of his final season of his contract ($15 million) the day after the trading deadline, has contributed in a big way off the Mavericks’ bench almost immediately. He scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 22 minutes in a 128-101 win Sunday in Dallas. Two nights earlier, he had 14 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes in a 122-116 win over the Nuggets. Dallas is 32-28 and tied for sixth in the West.
“I just sent a text after I saw [Sunday]. I watched a little bit of the comeback against Denver,” Stevens said before Monday’s game against the Jazz. “It was a great game. It was a great win for them. Just saw [Sunday] night and they won looks like pretty handily. As much as you go through with everybody and guys play or don’t play, whatever the case may be, you want everybody that leaves here to do well. So, we’re rooting for him to do well and happy for how he’s started.”
Stevens still insists it was hard for him to wave goodbye to Lee, who didn’t play at all in his final 18 games in Boston.
“It was really hard, and it was really hard for him, It’s harder on him than anybody else,” Stevens said. “But we talked about it a lot. We didn’t have hardly any injuries with our bigs and we had a lot of bigs, especially at the end of games, we’re going to be in relatively the same position. It put a lot of guys on the bench, and it was different guys at different times. To his credit, when we eventually settled on playing others, he handled it really well, and kudos to him. I’m happy he’s doing well.”
Lee told reporters over the weekend that part of the reason for his resurgence is that he’s in better game shape than in Boston, where he didn’t play in 21 of his last 22 games.
“I don’t know if that’s semantics or how he meant to say it,” Stevens said. “I think the biggest thing that he was probably saying there was was that when you’re not playing you have to find other ways to stay ready. Maybe I’m wrong but I think he certainly took diet. He worked out hard. He worked out hard enough that if he would’ve played, he would’ve been gassed in the games. Sometimes, you can’t do that if you’re going to be playing 15 minutes a night. He was going two or three times hard a day during that stretch. So no, I wasn’t frustrated by it. In fact, I thought it set a pretty good example for the other guys who weren’t playing.”
|02.29.16 at 2:35 pm ET|
James Young is back in Boston.
The Celtics announced Monday afternoon prior to their home game against the Jazz at TD Garden that they have recalled the 20-year-old 6-foot-6 guard/forward from the D-League Maine Red Claws.
In the Red Claws’ 132-111 victory against the against the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Sunday, Young scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds, handed out two assists and recorded a block in 18 very active minutes. He has played in eight contests for Maine this season and is averaging 15.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 28.6 minutes per game.
The move could be insurance for Avery Bradley, who turned his ankle in the second half of Saturday’s win over the Heat. The Celtics still have one roster spot open, as they have not filled the void left by the buyout of center David Lee.
This marks Young’s eighth recall to Boston on the season.
In 22 games for the Celtics this season, he’s averaging 1.2 points and one rebound per contest. He hasn’t played since playing 96 seconds in the 121-101 win over the Nuggets on Feb. 21 in Denver. He hasn’t scored in a game since matching a season-high five points against Washington on Jan. 25 in a 25-point win.
|02.29.16 at 1:50 pm ET|
Low-key Brad Stevens has a wild side to him after all.
On Sunday, Celtics mascot “Lucky” (Kit Ackerman) posted a video on Instagram of the Celtics coach launching himself off a trampoline and dunking the ball at the team’s practice facility in Waltham. It’s not quite the somersault that Lucky performs during games but still to watch the Celtics coach going through the air is something.
He took a running start and jumped with both feet onto the trampoline and completed the one-handed dunk. A clearly concerned – and relieved – Brady Stevens went up and hugged his dad after the completion of the gravity-defying act.
Why the trampoline? Well, Stevens stands six feet tall and doesn’t have the hops to dunk on his own.
At Zionsville Community High School in Indiana, he became a star basketball player and wore No. 31 in high school in honor of Indiana Pacers guard Reggie Miller.
Stevens made his varsity team in high school as a freshman with sharp-shooting skills. By the time his high school career was complete, Stevens had set school records for career scoring, assists, steals, and three-point field goals. But he never threatened a rim at Zionsville or Depauw University, where he played college basketball.
File under: White men can jump… off a trampoline.
|02.27.16 at 6:43 pm ET|
Brad Stevens knows sometimes the best wins are the ugly ones.
When he team started out making just seven of 24 shots and falling behind 12 points to the Heat, Saturday’s game felt like it could be an ugly loss. But the Celtics didn’t panic and began to chip away, thanks in large part to Miami’s equally inept ability to take care of the ball. Thirteen Miami turnovers in the first half kept the Celtics in it, as Boston trailed just 49-46.
Trailing 52-46, the Celtics went on an 11-0 run and led 72-70 after three. They hit the glass in the fourth quarter and rolled to a 101-89 win over the Heat, taking a two-game lead on Miami for third in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics won the game despite making just 39-of-96 shots (40.6 percent), including 7-for-25 from the starting backcourt of Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas.
“Hard game to win, hard team to play against, especially when you start out shooting the ball the way we did. But we were pretty locked in defensively most of the [game],” Stevens said after his team’s 35th win of the season. Thomas missed all eight shots he took in the first half and finished just 4-for-17. Bradley wasn’t much better early but did finished 3-for-8.
“You look at it and two of our leading scorers, Isaiah and Avery, combined for four [points] and our starters were 5-for-26 in the first half,” Stevens said. “So, you’re down three and you feel like you’re lucky as heck to be down three. But again, that’s kind of what this team has been doing. To their credit, it’s easy to let a game, when you’re not playing well, affect you. To their credit, they just kind of stuck with it and stayed the course. All of them made huge plays in the second half, particularly Isaiah making those plays driving to the basket. Jae Crowder made some big plays and I thought Sully was great on the glass. In the last five minutes of the game, I felt like he got every rebound there was.
“I felt like everybody played really hard through that stretch. I felt like Jonas and Tyler held down the fort with a couple of vertical plays in the paint. Jared, it seemed, got every rebound late. I just thought he was really active, finished plays on offense. Multiple times today he caught it at the rim, he recognized that Whiteside was there and he made a play for somebody else. That play at the end of the half, he kicked it out, extra pass to Avery. That was a heck of a play and a huge play for us. He’s got a good awareness and he’s a smart guy and he’s a heck of a rebounder.”
|02.27.16 at 5:50 pm ET|
Despite what Brad Stevens might tell you, the standings matter.
Sitting only one-game ahead of Miami in the Eastern Conference heading into the day, the Celtics defeated the Heat 101-89 Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden. It was Boston’s 10th straight home win.
With All-Star Isaiah Thomas and the rest of the starters struggling to make shots early, the bench took the brunt of the scoring responsibilities. Marcus Smart led the team with 15 points, while Evan Turner (14) and Tyler Zeller (12) also finished in double figures.
After a close and relatively sloppy game, the Celtics outscored the Heat 29-19 in the fourth quarter. Goran Tragic did his best to keep the Heat in the game in the third quarter, scoring 11 of his 21 points in the frame, but was scoreless in the fourth.
Hassan Whiteside had flirted with a triple-double, scoring 13 points, pulling down 15 rebounds, and recording 8 blocks. Although it was a very impressive individual statistical performance, the Heat were a -17 in Whiteside’s 34 minutes on the floor.
Despite Whiteside’s dominance, the Celtics outscored the Heat 58-44 in the paint and 22-16 in second chance points. Jared Sullinger pulled down a number of key rebounds in the fourth quarter and finished with a double-double (12 pts, 12 rebs).
With the win the (35-25) Celtics are now two games ahead of Miami (32-26) for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics will play the Utah Jazz on the third game of their five-game home stand on Monday night.
|02.27.16 at 3:18 pm ET|
When Brad Stevens talks about Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, you can sense a great deal of respect and admiration. You can also sense that he wouldn’t mind having his track record some day. When Spoelstra took over for Pat Riley in 2008, he was just 37, the same age Stevens was when he took over the Celtics in 2013.
In his eighth season in Miami, Spoelstra has been to the NBA Finals four times, winning twice with LeBron James. After going just 37-45 last season, and missing the playoffs for the first time, Spoelstra has bounced back strong this year. His team is 32-25 and what’s more impressive is that he’s doing it short-handed.
“I don’t know him all that well,” Stevens said. “I’ve obviously met him in a couple of the coaches’ meetings and seen him at the summer leagues and those types of things real briefly but I haven’t spent a lot of time with him. I’m really impressed by him and have been since I got a chance to first watch his teams play. I didn’t know him when he was a video guy or an assistant in his earlier years either.”
While both were wunderkinds when hired for their first NBA head coaching gigs, Spoelstra and Stevens are from very different backgrounds.
Spoelstra was hired by then-Heat GM Dave Wohl and personnel director Roya Vaziri in 1995 as a video coordinator at the age of 25. He worked his way up, eventually impressing Riley with his work ethic as a video coordinator and eventually a scouting director in 2001. He’s been a Heat lifer. As for Stevens, everyone knows the story how he wowed the basketball world by taking Butler to the NCAA finals in 2010 and ’11, in the process becoming the youngest coach ever (34 years old) to reach the Final Four twice. Stevens didn’t shoot out of the gate and make the playoffs in his first season like Spoelstra but he is commanding the respect of stars young and old around the league. Even Rajon Rondo was impressed with Stevens the first time they met.
But what impresses someone like Stevens is how even-tempered someone like Spoelstra can be, even when things seem to be falling apart around him.
Last week, the Heat’s leading scorer, Chris Bosh, was sidelined with a blood clot in his calf. That was just the latest in a long line of injuries to significant players. Beno Udrih had surgery Friday on his foot and is out three months. Tyler Johnson is out with a shoulder injury. Udonis Haslem had an allergic reaction this week but made the trip to Boston for his short-handed teammates.
|02.27.16 at 1:57 pm ET|
Before the Celtics took the court for Saturday’s matinee against a team hot on their heels for third place in the East, Brad Stevens gave some respect the Dwyane Wade, a player who’s been in Miami for his entire 13-year career.
“I think the biggest thing is he’s got a lot on his plate, as far as he’s trying to make plays in pick-and-roll,” Stevens said. “He’s been very aggressive in that. He’s been shooting it well in the games I’ve watched. Obviously, he can post up smaller guys and is one of the better back-to-the-basket players in the whole NBA.
“He’s not scared of big moments, and that comes through loud and clear in every game you watch. Obviously, he has had one of the better careers in the NBA of the active players that are playing now. He’s a handful. Wade is playing as well as I’ve seen him in the two and a half years I’ve been in the league.”
With Chris Bosh and his 19.1 points per game sidelined with a blood clot in his calf, the 34-year-old Wade entered Saturday’s game leading all active scorers on the Heat at 18.9 points per contest.
“I just think they’re playing extremely, extremely hard,” Stevens said after Friday’s practice. “Dwyane Wade is being himself of late. [Goran] Dragic is coming into his own. He’s scoring the ball and dishing the ball better. They defend as well, with [Hassan] Whiteside coming off the bench and doing what he does and Justise Winslow and Gerald Green. It’s almost like us of last year. It’s always been next man up. They’re playing really, really hard, and we’ve got to be ready for that.”
“Every game right now is like that, especially with how tight the standings are, especially in the East,” Stevens said. “We understand it’s one game at a time. Every game matters, every game matter. We can’t let our foot off the gas pedal.”
Part of that is because the Celtics enter play Saturday closer to the eighth and final spot in the Eastern playoff picture than they are to the second-seeded Raptors. At 34-25, they’re six games behind the Raptors and just three games clear of the eighth-place Bulls and Hornets.
“I think there are so many games left that all of that stuff will iron itself out,” Stevens said Saturday. “I think you have to focus on playing good basketball. Certainly, our guys are well aware that we’re not just playing a good basketball, we’re playing a group that has always played hard and are well-coached. They’ve got a good culture about them. They’ve got a good way about them. We’re going to have to play well, regardless of whether this late in the season or November, against these guys, and they’ve come in here the last two times last year and handled us pretty good.
I think we’re all aware. I think it’s not relevant to playing the next possession. I don’t really do a lot of talking about that. Obviously, we want to play well against everybody, and certainly your senses are heightened against the better teams around but every team in this league is capable of beating the other badly on a given night. That’s why you just always have to be good. You always have to play well. So it’s really, to me, about the next possession. If you get too far out of that, then you’re always looking for the next thing to motivate on instead of just doing your job as well as you can.”
The Celtics will have the services of Jonas Jerebko off the bench against the Heat. Jerebko sat out the last 15 minutes of practice on Friday with a sore ankle but Stevens indicated he was ready to go before Saturday’s game.
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