|03.08.17 at 3:47 pm ET|
Everything seems to be cool between Isaiah Thomas and Brad Stevens –– for now.
In a meeting with reporters Wednesday, Thomas said he didn’t mean to disparage Stevens following the Celtics’ loss to the Clippers Monday. The All-Star point guard also admitted he must do a better job of keeping his emotions in check.
“I didn’t mean to throw anybody under the bus. That’s not me,” Thomas said, via ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “I just said how I felt at that time. My job is just to move on and do my job and don’t make it a distraction, because it’s not.”
The Celtics were in control of the Clippers throughout the first half Monday, but unraveled after halftime. At one point, Los Angeles went on a 41-14 run, which carried into the fourth quarter. With Al Horford (elbow strain) and Jonas Jerebko (flu) out of the lineup, the Celtics were forced to go with a smaller rotation. At the end of the third period, their lineup featured James Young at one of the forward spots and Jordan Mickey at center. Thomas expressed frustration at the configuration, saying it’s too late in the season to be experimenting.
While Thomas didn’t back off his words Wednesday, he said he regrets creating a stir.
“I gotta do a better job of calming down after tough games, tough loses,” he said. “I’m always going to be me. And that’s the only way I know how. Like I said to Brad, I’m not here to throw anybody under the bus, because I wouldn’t want anybody to do that to me. That’s just how I felt at that time. Yes, I have to do a better job of it and I know that. I’m here to be Isaiah Thomas and lead and win games. And I know if we win that wouldn’t have even been a problem.”
Stevens, for his part, appeared to take Thomas’ outburst in stride.
“At the end of the day, I didn’t put much thought into it until it became a deal that everybody was talking about,” he said. “And at that point in time, I heard from Isaiah pretty quickly. So again, I don’t put a lot of stock. I understand the emotions and how high they run at the end of games, win or lose.”
After two consecutive loses, including a brutal last-second defeat to the Suns after Thomas missed a free throw and fumbled an inbound pass in the game’s final moments, the Celtics will look to get back on track against the Warriors Wednesday. That, of course, is easier said than done. Golden State is sitting atop the Western Conference with a 52-11 record.
|03.07.17 at 7:58 am ET|
The Celtics led by 13 points late in the third quarter Monday night against the Clippers and appeared well on their way to avenging their last-second loss to the Suns the day before.
But, the Clippers then went on a 43-14 run and the Celtics ended up by losing the game, 116-102.
It was their second straight loss.
After the game, Isaiah Thomas appeared very upset and frustrated.
“We should have won this game,” Thomas told reporters. “We should have won [Sunday] night [in Phoenix]. We can’t be experimenting in Game 63.”
Thomas is likely referring to the lineup the Celtics rolled out late in the third quarter of Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, James Young and Jordan Mickey. These players hadn’t played together much, if at all this season.
“It’s just the way we lost tonight was unacceptable,” Thomas said. “We lost the game in the last 15 minutes of the game. We played a really good game up until the last 15 minutes. And that’s the players’ fault, the coaches’ fault, that’s everybody in this locker room’s fault. We could have done a lot better.”
Tuesday is an off day with the team then taking on the Warriors Wednesday night.
|03.05.17 at 9:08 pm ET|
It was shaping up to be another example of the resilience of these gritty, gutty Celtics.
Without two of their top three scorers, Al Horford (right elbow strain) and Avery Bradley (right hamstring strain), the Celts were on their way to overcoming the absences and a 15-point, third-quarter deficit against the Suns Sunday night.
But then came the last 11.9 seconds.
After Isaiah Thomas put the Celtics up by two with just under 12 seconds left, the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe went right by Jae Crowder for a game-tying lay-up with four ticks remaining. Then, in a haste to get the ball up the court, Crowder’s inbound pass to Thomas was knocked away by Marquese Chriss, into the hands of rookie Tyler Ulis.
Ulis grabbled the loose ball, and, falling away, sank the game-winning 3-pointer as the clock expired, handing the Celtics their 109-106 loss. (For a complete recap, click here.)
What. An. Ending!!! pic.twitter.com/LRnmGGOlUq
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 6, 2017
Making the loss even more painful for the Celtics, who will have to play the Clippers in Los Angeles Monday night, was that it allowed Washington to gain a game in the Eastern Conference standings, now sitting two in back of the C’s.
Isaiah Thomas explains what happened on late-game turnover that led to Tyler Ulis winner in Phoenix: pic.twitter.com/nf83IYLjTP
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) March 6, 2017
|03.03.17 at 3:28 pm ET|
The Lakers’ decision to hire Magic Johnson as their director of basketball operations was met with mixed reviews, largely because of his lack of NBA front office experience. But count Isaiah Thomas among those who think Johnson will excel in the role.
In a scrum with reporters in Los Angeles Friday, Thomas said he thinks Johnson will bring mystique back to the Lakers franchise. The Celtics will take on the Lakers Friday night.
“Some superstar is going to come here. It’s good,” Thomas said, via ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “Magic Johnson is arguably the best Laker ever, so to have him ahead of all that and making decisions, it’s a step in the right direction. Everybody respects him. I mean, the Lakers are not going to be, I guess, what they are now forever. He’ll bring some people here.”
The 19-42 Lakers are currently 15th in the Western Conference, limping their way towards a fourth consecutive losing season. In a radical shakeup last month, team president Jeanie Buss fired general manager Mitch Kupchak and stripped her brother, Jim, of all his basketball power. In addition to Johnson, the club brought aboard former agent Rob Pelinka to serve as its GM.
Johnson returns to the Lakers with a mixed post-career resume. Since officially retiring from the NBA in 1996, he’s taken taken part in a number of successful business ventures. His entertainment company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, has a net worth of $700 million. Johnson is also a part of the Dodgers’ ownership group.
But his endeavors in basketball have been less fruitful. Johnson coached the Lakers at the end of the 1993-94 season, finishing with a 5-11 record. Apparently, though, Thomas is willing to discard that –– perhaps because of his lifelong affinity for the franchise.
“I was brainwashed to be a Laker fan when I was younger, so I always wanted to be a Laker. But I love being a Celtic,” he said.
Thomas will be a free agent after the 2017-18 season.
|03.02.17 at 12:44 am ET|
The Hoodie introduced himself to the King.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watched the Celtics beat the defending-champion Cavaliers in a wildly entertaining game at TD Garden on Wednesday from seats right under the basket near the Celtics bench. During a stoppage in play, Celtics star Isaiah Thomas sauntered over to shake his hand.
During the game, Belichick got an up-close-and-personal look at LeBron James, who landed in his lap during one sequence after sailing out of bounds. After the game, Belichick went one better, visiting the Cavaliers locker room, according to multiple reporters, and making an impression on King James.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 2, 2017
It’s enough to make you wonder how Belichick would use James if he could ever get him in pads. Perhaps an even more athletic version of Gronk?
It’s doubtful James gets starstruck around too many professional sports figures, but it looks like Belichick qualifies.
|03.01.17 at 11:42 pm ET|
Early Wednesday afternoon, Brad Stevens issued a plan of attack and that evening his team executed it and turned it into one of their most impressive wins of the season.
Wednesday night’s 103-99 win over the Cavaliers was a testament to how tough the Celtics can be in the fourth quarter.
Even with their best scorer not hitting shots (1-of-4), the Celtics rallied behind defensive stops by Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley instead of relying on Isaiah Thomas to keep them in the game.
Facing a two-point deficit, Smart drew back-to-back offensive fouls against the Cavaliers before Jae Crowder (17 points) drained a 3-pointer under two minutes to go. Then, it was Bradley’s turn as he rattled Kyrie Irving (28 points) and drained a 3-pointer on the other end to keep his team ahead.
Out of a Cavaliers timeout, Cleveland set up sharp shooter Kyle Korver for an open 3-pointer before Thomas drained his only field goal of the fourth quarter. Irving responded with a reverse layup to tie the game (99-99) before Thomas drew a shooting foul and drained a pair of free-throws to put the C’s ahead, 101-99.
LeBron James (28 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) passed up an opportunity to tie the game by passing the ball to Deron Williams, who missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer.
For a full box score and summary of Wednesday’s game vs. Cleveland, click here.
|03.01.17 at 8:14 pm ET|
While Avery Bradley will continue playing on a minutes restriction, Celtics coach Brad Stevens will continue to lean on his rookie for steady production in the second half.
After missing 18 straight games, Bradley returned to the starting lineup against the Hawks on Monday. He finished with six points on 2-of-4 shots in 15 first-half minutes.
Bradley will most likely have a similar outing against the Cavaliers, which will give Jaylen Brown another opportunity to play extended minutes, especially in the second half.
Brown, who has clocked in over 25 minutes in each of his last three games, has been very efficient for the Celtics. Since the All-Star break, Brown is averaging 13.6 points while shooting at a 59.2 percent clip.
“Jaylen has been playing well,” Brad Stevens said. “I think he’s made a strong case to stay in that rotation. We’ll just continue to play like that.”
Lately, Brown has also proven he isn’t afraid to take big shots towards the end of the fourth quarter. His go-ahead 3-pointer with 37 seconds left against the Pistons last Sunday gave the Celtics a two-point lead and they never looked back in the Celtics’ only win in the last four games.
According to Stevens, the 15-25 minutes restriction on Bradley will be lifted by next week but until then the Celtics will need more minutes for Bradley than the 15 he saw against the Hawks. Against an offensive powerhouse like the Cavaliers, Bradley can do a good job in slowing down All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.
The Cavaliers enter Wednesday night’s game averaging 111.1 points per game, third in the NBA behind the Rockets and Warriors. However, against the Celtics, the Cavs averaged 126 points in their last two outings, including LeBron James and Irving averaging a combined 54 points.
Stevens will look to get the most out of his best on-ball defender in Bradley in the first half before giving Brown meaningful minutes against the champion Cavaliers.
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