|10.28.15 at 7:09 pm ET|
Prior to Wednesday’s season opener against the hapless Philadelphia 76ers, Celtics coach Brad Stevens confirmed he would employ the same starting lineup he used to finish out the preseason: Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, David Lee and Tyler Zeller.
The two inactives for the C’s: R.J. Hunter (illness) and James Young, whose benching officially establishes him as the last guy on the 15-man roster. Rookie second-round pick Jordan Mickey earned the spot final spot over him. And if Young can’t crack the depth chart when Hunter is ill, then he likely won’t be seeing time in Boston soon, since they play the same position.
Meanwhile, the 76ers will start Boston area native Nerlens Noel and lottery pick Jahlil Okafor along with three guys you may have never heard of — Hollis Thompson, Jakarr Sampson and Isaiah Canaan. The league’s tanking experiment gone wrong for the past several seasons, Philadelphia offers a prime opportunity for the Celtics to start the season off with a win in front of their home crowd.
|10.25.15 at 9:02 pm ET|
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Flip Saunders. He was an outstanding coach who always got the most out of his teams. He was always a well-respected opponent. Flip dedicated so much of his life to basketball and the NBA. His life has impacted so many. May God bless his wife Debbie, their children, and extended family. He will be missed greatly by our small NBA community.”
Saunders served as an advisor for the Celtics at the end of the 2011-12 season, when the C’s made a run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, shortly before Saunders returned to Minnesota.
|10.25.15 at 2:50 pm ET|
The Celtics cut forward Perry Jones III and guard Corey Walden on Saturday, finalizing their roster at 15 players.
Walden hung around as a training camp invite to fill preseason gaps left by Marcus Smart’s illness and Isaiah Thomas‘ tendinitis, so Kelly Olynyk wouldn’t get stuck playing point guard again, as he did against the Nets on Monday.
Jones’ departure is a little more interesting from an operational standpoint. The Celtics acquired him and Detroit’s second-round pick from the Thunder for essentially nothing (a heavily protected second-round pick). Jones is guaranteed $2 million this season, at least a portion of which was offset by cash they acquired in that deal as well.
The Celtics raved about Jones’ production in Oklahoma City during the early going last season and the athleticism he brings to both the big small forward and small big forward positions. But chronic knee issues that arose again during the preseason may threaten the 24-year-old’s NBA career. Surely, team president Danny Ainge shopped Jones’ contract around the league in hopes of not having to eat his salary, but it doesn’t appear anybody was willing to take on that guaranteed $2 million. Whether he’ll receive a non-guaranteed minimum offer elsewhere remains to be seen.
Barring a trade in the next few days, the Celtics have locked in their 15-man roster for Wednesday’s opener.
- Ball-handlers: Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, Terry Rozier
- Wings: Avery Bradley, R.J. Hunter, James Young
- Swings: Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko
- Bigs: David Lee, Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Mickey
The only questions left now are who will start and how deep the rotation will go, and we probably won’t have definitive answers to either of those queries on opening night, because that’ probably change from night to night.
|10.24.15 at 9:14 am ET|
In a game where both teams combined for 40 turnovers, the Celtics outscored their opponent in the second half and closed out the preseason by beating the 76ers, 81-65. Marcus Smart’s 10 points and Jared Sullinger’s 14 rebounds led the charge, as the Celtics finished the preseason with a 6-1 record.
The Celtics held the lead throughout most of the game until the end of the second quarter, when Philly cut the lead to three heading into halftime. The Celtics then opened up a 12-point advantage in the third quarter and never looked back. 76ers rookie Jahlil Okafor notched 12 points and eight rebounds for Philadelphia.
For a complete box score, click here.
Stud of the night: Jared Sullinger
Sullinger finished the preseason on a high note, pulling down 14 rebounds and scoring eight points against the 76ers. He was also cheerful on the bench — on his feet, encouraging his teammates after every big play. The Celtics grabbed a lot of boards against Philadelphia last night. Amir Johnson snagged 13 and Kelly Olynyk had 12. But it was especially nice to see Sullinger active around the glass. After a lukewarm start to the preseason, Sullinger has momentum heading into the regular season.
Dud of the night: James Young
In 20 minutes, Young tried his best to find a groove offensively, but much like the entire preseason, he came up short. He finished with three points on 12 shots. There’s a good chance Young may be starting his regular season in Maine with the D-League affiliated Red Claws.
Philadelphia will get their shot at revenge when they head to the TD Garden on Wednesday for a season-opening matchup against the Celtics.
|10.23.15 at 9:01 am ET|
It’s the weighty question that hangs over the Celtics.
How much will Jared Sullinger contribute at the start of the season?
There are subsets to that question, as well. Like how much will he be able to contribute, what will his role be and perhaps most of all, what does head coach Brad Stevens envision as a realistic starting point when the season opens Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 6-foot-9 power forward listed at 260 pounds played three stints Thursday in a 99-85 preseason win over the Knicks at TD Garden. His final line: 19 minutes, 6-of-10 from the field, eight rebounds and a team-high 16 points.
“I think he played at the end of the game because we wanted to throw the ball at the post and score,” Stevens said. “So obviously, there were other guys in the game that hadn’t played up to that point, but he had played three stints, [and] that was his third stint.”
At the start of camp, Sullinger acknowledged that his family and former NBA star John Lucas all but had an intervention to help him with his weight approaching 300 pounds and his conditioning. Sullinger can look out on the floor and see a long list of names that are fighting with him for significant playing time, names like Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko and David Lee. Games like Thursday seem to be an indication that he’s at least headed in the right direction as he builds his stamina off the bench.
“You know, time will tell how it all works itself out with minutes but I thought he did a lot of good things,” Stevens said. “As the season goes on, we’re always going to factor in good play. So that’s a good thing.”
|10.22.15 at 10:26 pm ET|
After losing to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden last Friday night, the Celtics avenged their defeat by beating New York, 99-85. The C’s took control early in the first half by being aggressive offensively and never allowing the Knicks to settle into their halfcourt defense.
Tyler Zeller had the kind of offensive production that earned him a starting job last season, scoring 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and pulling down five rebounds. His great hands caught nearly every pass thrown his way, allowing him to finish around the hoop for easy buckets.
Jose Calderon (17 points, 8 rebounds) led the way for the Knicks, but the Knicks struggled offensively and couldn’t get All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony going.
For a complete box score, click here. For a breakdown beyond the box, read on.
Stud of the night: Jared Sullinger
Sullinger had a stellar night, filling the stat sheet with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He fought for most of his points in the paint, where he also grabbed rebounds and played solid defense against the Knicks. When he battled inside more often, he was able to make his layups or draw contact and earn trips to the foul line. Sullinger just has to do a better job at making those free throws. He went 4-for-10 from the charity stripe, but that was the only part of his game that prevented him from having a spectacular night.
Dud of the night: Carmelo Anthony
It was Jae Crowder versus Anthony, and Crowder reigned victorious in this bout. Crowder not only put together a solid statistical game (13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists), but also pestered Anthony all night. The Knicks star scored eight points on 18 shots — all when Crowder wasn’t defending him — and never got into a rhythm. It was a great battle for Crowder.
After the game, Anthony had this to say about Crowder:
“I like Jae Crowder, he’s a pest,” said Anthony. “He likes to play physical, likes to get up in the passing lane. I like him, I’m a fan of Jae.”
Crowder on guarding Anthony:
“He’s very tough, very physical,” said Crowder. “Great jump shooter, as we all know, so I just tried to make it harder for him and wear him down on both ends of the court. Just try to make him guard on his defensive and just try to stay on him on the offensive end. I want to be physical with him and he’s going to be physical back so I just want the game to be called fair.”
Isaiah Thomas (tendinitis) and Kelly Olynyk (rest) did not play. No word yet if either will make the trip up to Manchester, N.H., where the Celtics will take on the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night in their preseason finale.
|10.19.15 at 10:09 pm ET|
All aboard. Last week, Celtics fans fawned over the impressive play of rookie R.J. Hunter. Monday, it was Terry Rozier’s turn to ride the rookie hype train.
In a 111-105 preseason win over the Nets, Rozier dazzled the TD Garden crowd with a number of explosive plays that showcased why Danny Ainge selected him with the 16th pick in last year’s draft. He led the team with 16 points.
For a full box score click here.
Stud of the night: Terry Rozier.
Before the game, coach Brad Stevens noted it’s an especially important week for Rozier, having not played last week. He’ll see a lot of time over the next five days. In Monday’s win, Rozier’s elite speed and quickness was on display, as he was explosive in transition, attacking the basket with reckless abandon. Heck, even two of his misses were exciting. The Celtics‘ first-round pick finished with 16 points, knocking down all three of his attempts from 3-point range. Rozier also shot 5-for-8 from the charity stripe, something that will serve him well if he continues to get into the paint. With both he and Hunter playing well this preseason, it will be very interesting to see how Stevens balances their playing time in an already guard-heavy rotation.
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