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James Young, Coty Clarke recalled from Maine, available in Phoenix

03.26.16 at 8:17 pm ET
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Coty Clarke meets with reporters on March 7 after signing a 10-day contract. (Mike Petraglia/

Coty Clarke meets with reporters on March 7 after signing his first 10-day contract. (Mike Petraglia/

The Celtics have reinforcements as their five-game Western swing begins. 

Coty Clarke and James Young were recalled Saturday from the Maine Red Claws. Both are expected to be with the team in Phoenix as the Celtics take on the Suns.  The reinforcements will help the team deal with the continued absence of Jae Crowder, who is expected to miss his seventh straight game with a high sprain of his right ankle. Crowder is with the team out West and Brad Stevens said he’s still hopeful Crowder could be back playing before the end of the trip. 

On Friday night, in the Red Claws’ 120-113 victory over the Austin Spurs, Clarke scored 21 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal in 32 minutes of action. Clarke, who signed his second 10-day contract on March 18, has played in 42 games for Maine this season and is averaging 16.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 26.0 minutes per game.

Also on Friday night, Young finished with nine points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal in 29 minutes against Austin on March 25. He has appeared in 12 contests for the Red Claws this season and is averaging 14.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 steal in 28.0 minutes per game.

Both also played Wednesday night in the first game of the two-game trek through Texas, a 137-111 loss to Rio Grande. Clarke had 22 points and seven rebounds while Young scored 21 points and six rebounds. 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Coty Clarke, James Young, Maine Red Claws

Introducing the official ‘Celtics are Wahlberg’ game

03.26.16 at 10:28 am ET
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Renaissance man Mark Wahlberg poses for a photo with Celtics fans during Wednesday's game. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Renaissance man Mark Wahlberg poses for a photo with Celtics fans during Wednesday’s game. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

When Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas found out Hollywood icon Mark Wahlberg was in the building on Wednesday night, he sent a message to the “Basketball Diaries” star at TD Garden.

“That was my first time ever seeing him,” said Thomas, “so once they showed him on the Jumbotron, I had to find out where he was. I hit the shot; I definitely had to point to him.”

Wahlberg pointed back.

“Yeah, he did,” added Thomas, “so we’ve got a little friendship brewing.”

Thus began the process of landing Thomas a role in “Patriots Day.”

“Something,” said Thomas. “I need something.”

Even better, the interaction between Boston’s best basketball player and the world’s greatest living actor gave birth to the “Celtics are Wahlberg” game on the WEEI Celtics Podcast, hosted by Sam Packard and Jared Weiss, featuring Ben Rohrbach (accepting five-star reviews now).

Basically, the gang broke down which Celtics player best matches various Wahlberg characters, and comedy ensued, including a potential “Truman Show 2” plot starring coach Brad Stevens.

Anyhow, you can now play along to “Celtics are Wahlberg” as you listen for the correct answers (and remember, please only vote for each Celtics player once throughout this important exercise):

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Marcus Smart ‘can’t buy a bucket’ in March

03.24.16 at 12:17 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

You can’t knock Marcus Smart for his effort. But when it comes to his shooting, it’s time to have a discussion.

Any Celtics fan knows that the defensive-minded guard plays all-out on every possession, and has through the entirety of his two-year career. Smart has not only maintained the aggressiveness he showed during his rookie season, he’s improved upon it.

“I’m more aggressive going to the rim, attacking, making plays,” Smart said of his improvements since he’s been in the NBA prior to Wednesday’s home victory over Toronto.

Fair self-evaluation, but everyone (including Smart) was hoping by now that the answer to that question would be a much-improved shooter.

Smart has shot over 50 percent from the field in just one game since the end of January (5-for-9 vs. Miami on Feb. 27), and is now experiencing his worst shooting month of the season. The former Oklahoma State product’s best month shooting the ball this season was actually January, but he was still only knocking down 37.4-percent of his field goals.

March has been far worse for Smart. Through the first 11 games he’s shooting a mere 28.6-percent, and that number has been trending downward of late. Subtract his two best shooting performances of the month (6-for-12 vs. Philly and 5-for-12 vs. Portland), and Smart has connected on a horrific 17-of-74 attempts from the field during nine other games so far in March.

Smart vows that he’s been working on his jumper, but the numbers just keep getting worse. In his last five games, Smart has shot 12.5-percent or worse three separate times — 1-for-10 vs. OKC, 1-for-11 vs Orlando, and then 1-for-8 in Wednesday’s showdown with the Raptors.

“I try to make sure I keep my body straight, my process straight up and down, and keeping my follow through,” Smart responded when asked about his shooting routine. “Just things like that, and practice those corner open shots because that’s a lot of the shots that I get. It’s weird because when I’m practicing those I’m knocking them down and in the game I can’t buy a bucket.”

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Evan Turner gets pushed in back, doesn’t want to take it anymore

03.24.16 at 9:37 am ET
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Evan Turner is, for the most part, a pretty chill, laid-back guy on the Celtics. He can laugh, make a joke and have fun.

But on Wednesday, the Celtics swingman, who finished with 17 points in Boston’s 91-79 win over the Raptors, had a bad flashback to what can happen when you put yourself in a vulnerable position going up for a shot near the basket.

As the first quarter was winding down, he drove the lane and the Toronto defense collapsed on him in the form of big men Jason Thompson and Bismack Biyombo. He felt a push in the back near the basket and had a really bad flashback to his days at Ohio State.

In a game on Dec. 5, 2009, Turner went up for a dunk against Eastern Michigan and got nudged in the back as he was going up. He dunked the ball but lost his balance and fell on his upper back. He broke two vertebrae and sat out eight weeks.

What made Wednesday infuriating to Turner was that he told the referee crew, led by veteran Monty McCutcheon, and felt it fell on deaf ears.

“One, I got pushed in the back two or three times, and when I said it, I said it calmly. I’m the kind of guy I just kind of laughed about it. I made a move when I was going up [to the basket] when I was in college and I got pushed. I kind of got pushed the same way so when that occurred I was more worried about it. It was a crazy play.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Evan Turner, Monty McCutcheon, NBA

Mike Petraglia, Sam Packard on Isaiah Thomas, Mark Wahlberg, Celtics win

03.24.16 at 12:06 am ET
By   |   Comments’s Mike Petraglia and Sam Packard break down the third straight win for the Celtics, a 91-79 win over the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden. Isaiah Thomas hit a pair of key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and pointed to movie icon and Celtics fan Mark Wahlberg after the second. Thomas finished with 23 points in the win, which improves Boston to 42-30 and clinches the C’s first winning season under coach Brad Stevens. The Raptors were playing without Kyle Lowry (elbow) and Patrick Patterson (ankle).

Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Mark Wahlberg, Marky Mark

Brad Stevens on 1st winning season: ‘You don’t sign up to come to the Boston Celtics to win 42 games’

03.23.16 at 11:39 pm ET
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Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (C) reacts from the sidelines during the second half against the Toronto Raptors at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Celtics coach Brad Stevens reacts from the sidelines during the second half against the Raptors at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

For the man who has made a career out of playing it low key, Brad Stevens was in rare form Wednesday. 

After his team beat the shorthanded Raptors, 91-79, to lock up his first winning season in Boston and the first winning campaign of his NBA coaching career, Stevens brought some perspective to the table. 

“The one thing that I will say is, I’ve felt like — especially in the last year, 14 months, whatever it is — that we really — I feel like there’s real progress,” Stevens said. “And it’s been pretty consistent progress.  We’re certainly going to have our bad games and we’re certainly going to have games that are unique throughout an 82-game season, but there’s been good progress, there’s been good growth.  And that’s my biggest focus.” 

But then he repeated what he told Celtics TV reporter Abby Chin after the game. 

“It’s like I told Abby, you don’t sign up to come to the Boston Celtics to win 42 games. So we’ve got a long way to go.”

The Celtics have won three straight after a season-long four-game skid. They’re 42-30 and right in the mix for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and they beat a Raptors team that had their number in the first three games. 

“You’re focused on the next opponent, you’re trying to play your best against the next opponent, but certainly a team that’s beaten you three times, there’s a part of you that — a necessarily competitive side of you — that wants to play better. And our guys have some of that.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Toronto Raptors,

Studs and Duds: Isaiah Thomas, Celtics topple division-leading Toronto

03.23.16 at 10:42 pm ET
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Mar 23, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) shoots the ball past Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas gets around Raptors big man Bismack Biyombo during Boston’s 91-79 win. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Sure, the Raptors were without All-Star guard Kyle Lowry and a couple other key contributors, but a win’s a win, right?

Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 23 points, and the Celtics outscored the Toronto 45-33 in the second half to cruise to a third consecutive win, 91-79, on Wednesday at TD Garden.

Evan Turner added 17 points and seven assists, Avery Bradley netted 16 points and Amir Johnson notched his second straight double-double (11 points, 14 rebounds).

Both teams struggled to build a big lead in the first half, but the Celtics distanced themselves behind a 10-4 run to the start the third quarter. In that frame, Turner caught fire, scoring 13 of his 17 points and pushing the Celtics to a nine-point lead before Marcus Smart fouled DeMar DeRozan (21 points) on a 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds left in the quarter. 

Still, the Celtics kept their composure, closing Toronto out on a 12-5 run in the game’s final four minutes. The C’s also took care of the basketball, limiting themselves to just eight turnovers on the evening and outscoring the Raptors 48-36 in the paint.

The Celtics (42-30) remain tied with the Hawks for for fourth place in the East entering a five-game road trip out west.

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