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Stud and Duds: Undefeated Knicks top Celtics, 101-95

10.17.15 at 12:40 am ET
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James Young

James Young

The Knicks frontcourt set the tone early and prevented the Celtics from settling into their comfort zone offensively.

New York defended the paint well and forced a number of second-half turnovers, holding the C’s to just under 40 percent shooting from the floor and preventing them from getting into an offensive rhythm in a 101-95 loss. The Celtics managed a fourth-quarter comeback, but came up short when the Knicks knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers.

Derrick Williams led the charge for New York with 19 points and five rebounds, as the Knicks improved to 4-0 during the preseason. The Celtics fell to 3-1. In an encouraging sign, second-year Celtics wing James Young scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. Seeing him score is always a good sign, and this was easily his best game of the preseason.

Stud of the night: Isaiah Thomas.

In only his second start in a Celtics uniform, Thomas scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers, and dished five assists in 24 minutes. The C’s offense was at its best in transition against the Knicks, and Thomas was a big part of that, doing most of his damage on the run. In the second half, when it came to driving to the hoop and interior scoring, the Knicks’ defense made stops and prevented the Celtics from scoring in the paint.

Dud of the night: Kelly Olynyk.

After a solid outing against the Nets, Olynyk struggled against the Knicks. New York contested his jumpers and forced Olynyk to take off-balanced attempts. He finished 1-for-7 with an underwhelming line of two points and three rebounds in 11:49. Olynyk has played well early in the preseason, but couldn’t find an offensive groove against New York’s Robin Lopez, Kyle O’Quinn and Lance Thomas — much like teammates Amir Johnson, David Lee and Jared Sullinger.

Vine of the night

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was handed just the second technical of his NBA career after a no-call in the second half, when Knicks guard Cleanthony Early undercut Tyler Zeller on a fast-break dunk. Stevens didn’t think twice when he stepped onto the court to plead his case. I agree coach, that was a foul. Always great to see Stevens riled up.

Whine of the night

In his best game of the preseason, so far, Jared Sullinger still only scored five points against the Knicks, although he pulled down 10 rebounds. O’Quinn may have given Sullinger the ounce of motivation he needed to grab 10 boards, tossing the Celtics forward around the paint and even making layup attempts difficult. O’Quinn also earned a flagrant foul after sending Sullinger to the floor in the third quarter. It’s a positive sign to see Sullinger grab 10 boards, but 1-for-8 from the floor and 3-for-6 from the free throw line isn’t going to fly for a guy who was considered one of the Celtics’ biggest scoring threats entering his fourth NBA season.

Stat of the night 

The Celtics amassed 18 turnovers, while the Knicks only had seven. When the Knicks opened up a double-digit lead in the second half, the Celtics responded with a run in the third quarter. But after things got chippy between the two teams (see: O’Quinn’s flagrant foul), the Celtics made bad passes and committed a number of turnovers that led to an 88-80 fourth-quarter lead by the Knicks.

@ of the night 

Avery Bradley continues to knock down jumpers throughout the preseason, but he cooled off a bit in New York. Bradley finished 3-for-7 from the field, including one 3-pointer. It would have been nice to see him take more shots in the third quarter, but it was great to see him fill up the stat sheet. He also pulled down eight rebounds and had three assists.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Isiah Thomas, Jared Sullinger

Studs and Duds: Amir Johnson, Celtics cut Nets wire to wire

10.14.15 at 10:23 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas received his first start in a Celtics uniform, albeit in a preseason game against the Nets, but the early returns are encouraging.

In the opening 9:38, Thomas scored seven points on two field goal attempts and dished three assists against zero turnovers, leaving the floor with a 25-16 lead the Celtics never relinquished in a 109-105 exhibition win in Brooklyn.

For a box score, click here. For the lowdown beyond the box, read on.

Stud of the night: Amir Johnson.

Johnson also earned the start against the Nets, and if he contributes the way he did in 24:28 of the preseason, he will be well worth his $12 million salary. Johnson finished with 19 points on 13 shots, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He knocked down a pair of 3’s offensively and protected the rim defensively, anchoring an impressive nine-block effort by the C’s.

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Read More: Amir Johnson, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, NBA

Rajon Rondo may or may not be serious about latest coach feud

10.14.15 at 11:45 am ET
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When you read the quote from Cowbell Kingdom, it doesn’t look good for Rajon Rondo.

Asked about his relationship with Kings coach George Karl during the preseason, Rondo said, “It’s not been going too well. We got into a couple arguments the last couple days, but hopefully we’ll continue to talk and get better.” OK, then, thanks for honesty, I guess?

Considering Rondo once threw a water bottle at former Celtics coach Doc Rivers and feuded during a game with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle before being benched for the playoffs, you can see how someone would interpret Rondo’s comments as the logical next progression.

Then again, if you ever watched a postgame interview with Rondo, you’d know he often deadpans complete nonsense just to toy with the media. Just about Q&A with him left me wondering, Wait, is he serious? It sounds like he’s joking, but it wasn’t funny, so …

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, NBA, Rajon Rondo

Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades: 4. Goodbye, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett

10.13.15 at 8:26 pm ET
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Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for preseason to play out.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 4 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

July 12, 2013: Goodbye, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

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Read More: 25 most consequential trades, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Kevin Garnett

What you need to know after Celtics defeat Real Madrid

10.08.15 at 6:03 pm ET
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New city, same results. On the second and final leg of their European tour, the Celtics improved to 2-0 in the preseason with a 111-96 victory against Real Madrid.

Avery Bradley led the team with 17 points, while Isaiah Thomas (15 points), Terry Rozier (14), and David Lee (13) also finished in double figures. Former Georgia Bulldog, Trey Thompkins, led all scorers, notching 24 points for Real Madrid.

For a complete box score, click here. But here’s what you really need to know.

David Lee, Double-Double Machine

Celtics fans should get used to seeing the following sentence: Lee finished the game with a double-double. He quietly pulled down a game-high 11 boards, good for five more than anyone else on the team. Lee was again impressive on offense, making a number of nice passes while continuing to be aggressive when rolling to the rim. If you put your ear to the ground, you can hear the faint sound of the David Lee HypeTrain leaving the station.

Nobody Puts Bradley in the Corner

For the majority of last year and a number of times this offseason, I loudly criticized Bradley’s shot selection, specifically his propensity to take long 2-pointers. On media day, Bradley noted this was something he was working on, saying “long 2’s don’t make as much sense as a 3-pointer.” During the first two games of the preseason, Bradley made 7-of-8 3-pointers, all of which came from the corner. One play perfectly displayed Bradley’s new approach. After receiving a pass in the right corner, Bradley pump-faked, then sidestepped before hitting the 3. Last year, he would have taken two dribbles to take a pull-up jumper. Thursday, he only took one long 2, and I can’t even fault him for it because he was wide open.

Kelly YOOOOlynk

Although he did not turn in the most impressive stat line (6 points, 3 rebounds), Kelly Olynyk did do this while rocking a man bun/ponytail. (h/t to Jay King for the Vine and nickname)

Rozier, Rozier 

The Celtics‘ first-round pick turned in a another solid performance running the third-team offense. Already an elite athlete, Rozier is attacking the paint well,  running pick and rolls and knocking down open shots. He finished 6-of-8 from the field and 2-of-3 from distance in Spain. While many expect him to spend a lot of time this season with the Red Claws, I wouldn’t be surprised if he stuck with the big-league club, playing a similar role to Phil Pressey the past couple of seasons.

Bae Shares the Rock

Jae Crowder is not known for his ability as a passer, but Thursday he lead the team with six assists. It is entirely too early to try predict the starting lineup, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up being the starting small forward.

Paging Dr. Young, Dr. James Young

WHERE ARE YOU?

Doncic Wish Your Girlfriend was Hot Like Me

This may be the only chance I get to reference a Pussy Cat Dolls song during a game recap, so I had to take the opportunity. Slovenian Luka Doncic played 15 minutes for Real Madrid, scoring only one point. Normally this wouldn’t be impressive, except for the fact that Doncic is 16 YEARS OLD! He was born in 1999! He grew up in a world never knowing the intense fear associated with Y2K, and tonight he got paid to play basketball against the Boston Celtics. Thats really wild stuff.

The Celtics will return home Friday and play their first NBA exhibition on Tuesday, when they take on the Nets in Brooklyn.

Follow Sam Packard on Twitter @WEEICeltics.

Celtics destroy Olimpia Milano to open the preseason

10.06.15 at 5:12 pm ET
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It wasn’t exactly NBA competition, but the Celtics got themselves a win in their preseason debut, defeating European host Olimpia Milano, 124-91.

Isaiah Thomas led the C’s scoring effort with 18 points off the bench, while Avery Bradley (14 points), Jared Sullinger (14 points), David Lee (13 points, 7 rebounds) and Marcus Smart (11 points, 6 assists) were also in double figures.

For the complete box score,click here. But here’s what you really need to know.

NEVER IN DOUBT

The win was never in question, and at no point was the game close to competitive. The fact former Purdue standout Robbie Hummel, who played wing in the NBA, was a center for Olimpia Milano, should give you an indication of the talent level of the Italian Club. Despite this being a meaningless game against an inferior team, the Celtics looked sharp, especially on defense.

DAVID IS GOLIATH

Lee looked great attacking the basket in the pick-and-roll. Lee gives the Celtics something they severely lacked last season — offensive talent. As the team’s starting power forward alongside Tyler Zeller in the frontcourt, Lee finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes.

ROTATION WEIRDNESS

Sullinger was not one of the top four big men to play and didn’€™t enter the game until the second quarter. This caused a brief moment of  pandemonium on Celtics Twitter.

Once Sullinger eventually checked in, he was effective, scoring 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting.

VEAL SCALABRINE

Brian “White Mamba”€ Scalabrine is a broadcasting gem, and not just because he ruthlessly swatted the shots of young Italians. He combines a fun personality with astute analysis, and he’ll be a nice addition alongside Mike Gorman in Tommy Heinsohn’s absence on the road for the Comcast team this season.

REAL TALK

Spanish squad Real Madrid is expected to be a tougher test on Thursday at 3 p.m.

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, Olimpia Milano,

Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades: 5. Goodbye, Kendrick Perkins

10.05.15 at 2:27 pm ET
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Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for preseason to play out.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 5 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Feb. 24, 2011: Goodbye, Kendrick Perkins.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 25 most consequential trades, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Jeff Green
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