|Celtics roundtable: Previewing remainder of season||02.20.15 at 10:58 am ET|
With the Celtics starting the second half of their season Friday night in Sacramento, the Green Street bloggers, Julian Edlow @julianedlow, Ben Rohrbach @brohrbach and Sam Packard @SPacShakur answer some key questions to preview the rest of the season.
SHOULD THE CELTICS TRY TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS — AND CAN THEY?
Edlow: “As of Thursday morning the short answer was yes, in the lowly Eastern Conference the Celtics have a chance. Then mayhem broke loose at the trade deadline. Isaiah Thomas is a nice add for the C’s with his skill set and contract for the long term. But factoring in Miami adding Goran Dragic, Detriot adding Reggie Jackson, and news that Jared Sullinger is going to be sidelined with a stress reaction in his left foot, things have changed. It’s going to be another lottery season.”
Rohrbach: “I’ve been bouncing back and forth on this one, just as the Celtics front office likely has in recent weeks, but I’m coming around on the idea of making a playoff push. Danny Ainge was more of a buyer than a seller at the deadline, and Brad Stevens will continue working with whatever pieces are at his disposal to win enough games that their odds of receiving a top-three pick in the lottery would be miniscule. The confidence that Stevens — and whichever players remain next season and beyond — would gain in knowing how his system works is just as valuable as the difference between the No. 12 and 17 picks.
“As for whether the C’s can make the playoffs, after writing them off two weeks ago, I’m on board, so long as Jared Sullinger’s toe injury doesn’t keep him out too long. Their recent string of four wins in five games — including a stunning upset of the first-place Hawks — combined with the mess that has become of the Nets and the injury to Hornets point guard Kemba Walker leaves the C’s and Pistons with the best chance of finishing eighth behind the Heat. The Celtics have a lighter schedule and two fewer losses than the Pacers and somewhat control their own destiny with the most head-to-head meetings against the five aforementioned teams.”
Packard: “There are already 10 teams with worse records than the Celtics, and with the addition of Isaiah Thomas the roster is too talented to lose the requisite number of games for a top-five pick. Tanking is not a realistic option, so why not try something new and fun like winning as many games as possible?
“The Heat locked up the seventh seed by adding Dragic, but I do think the Celtics have a puncher’s chance at the eight. Their fate rests entirely on the health of Sullinger, who has been the team’s best player in the first half of the season. If he is out for an extended period of time, the Celtics will not have enough muscle on the front line to beat good teams late in games. Also, their biggest competition for the final playoff spot in the east, the Pistons, just got better by adding Reggie Jackson to replace the injured Brandon Jennings.”
WHICH PLAYER NEEDS TO PLAY BETTER?
Edlow: “Avery Bradley is the easy answer. He is in the first year of a contract that is due to pay him $32 million over four seasons and Boston isn’t seeing near the production it should be for the price it paid. For comparison, the newly acquired Thomas just signed a cheaper contract (four years for $28 million), however, Thomas’ 19.7 player efficiency rating nearly doubles Bradley’s (10.8).”
Rohrbach: “When motivated, Jared Sullinger is undoubtedly the best player on the Celtics, but he’s not always motivated, as evidenced by his two recent benchings and the fact he’s never really gotten himself into proper shape. Yet he outplayed Paul Millsap in the C’s recent victory against the Hawks. While his conditioning may not make great strides over the final two months, particularly with the toe injury keeping him sidelined for the foreseeable future, he can begin his improvement by stepping inside the 3-point line, where he owns one of the league’s worst percentages among players who attempt three per game, and planting his considerable backside in the post, where he’s shooting close to 60 percent and grabbing 10 percent of available offensive rebounds.”
Packard: “Kelly Olynyk. This is probably an unfair answer, because Olynyk has done a very good job coming off the bench; but with Sullinger on the sidelines for the foreseeable future, Olynyk is going to get meaningful minutes. He needs to improve drastically on defense, where he has been a liability. On offense, Olynyk should continue to be aggressive by attacking the basket and taking the open 3 when its available.”
|Celtics acquire Isaiah Thomas in exchange for Marcus Thornton, 2016 first-round pick||02.19.15 at 3:25 pm ET|
The Celtics did in fact make a trade at the NBA’s trade deadline Thursday.
The team acquired point guard Isaiah Thomas from the Suns. The Celtics will send Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first-round pick via Cleveland to Phoenix. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the deal.
“Isaiah is a dynamic offensive player whose scoring and playmaking abilities add to an already well-rounded backcourt with Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley,” C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a press release. ‘We are excited to welcome Isaiah to the Celtics family.’
Thomas has averaged 15.2 points per game in 46 games this season. He was a 2011 second-round pick by the Kings.
For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.
For Isaiah Thomas, Boston will send Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first-round pick via Cleveland to Phoenix, league source tells Yahoo Sports.
‘ Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 19, 2015
|Knicks help Celtics snap 3-game losing streak||02.03.15 at 9:58 pm ET|
Nothing like a game against the Knicks to bust out of a slump.
Led by Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger, who each played their best game in weeks, the Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak with a 108-97 victory in New York. Despite the last-place Knicks (10-39) making it a two-possession game midway through the fourth quarter, the C’s (17-30) led wire to wire, staying within four wins of the Hornets and Heat for the final two playoff spots in the East.
Bradley led all scorers with 26 points in a remarkable 11-of-14 shooting performance to go along with four assists. Sullinger busted out of a slump of his own, collecting 22 points (11-19 FG), nine rebounds and six assists. Marcus Smart started in place of Jae Crowder, and they netted 13 points apiece in their new roles. Brandon Bass added 12 points as the only other Celtics player in double figures. The C’s shot 54.5 percent as a team.
Evan Turner (5 points, 5 assists, 8 rebounds) helped hold Carmelo Anthony to 21 points on 23 shots. For a complete box score, click here.
|Pau Gasol, Bulls outlast Celtics in overtime||01.04.15 at 12:43 pm ET|
Another good effort, another road loss for the Celtics.
Jared Sullinger forced overtime with less than three seconds left in regulation but the Celtics were outscored 10-5 in overtime for their fourth straight road loss.
“The last couple years, I had issues with my knees. I couldn’t really jump as much as I’m jumping now,” said the 34-year-old Gasol, who was coming off a career best nine blocks in Chicago’s previous game. “Not that I’m jumping super high, maybe an inch more.”
Sullinger added 16 points for Boston, which returns home to play Charlotte Monday night at TD Garden.
Aaron Brooks added 19 points for the Bulls (24-10), who won for the ninth time in 10 games. Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose had 12 points apiece.
“They do what they need to do to win, obviously, even when they’re not playing well,” Turner said.
Saturday was Boston’s first game since the Rajon Rondo return with the Mavericks on Friday in Boston, a 119-101 loss to Dallas. The Celtics did not show serious hangover effects and played hard against a Bulls team missing starters Jimmy Butler (bereavement leave) and Mike Dunleavy (right ankle). Read the rest of this entry »
|Report: Julius Randle’s exclusion stalled Rondo-to-Lakers talks||12.23.14 at 3:46 pm ET|
In his weekly power rankings, Yahoo! Sports reporter Marc Spears dropped an interesting nugget.
Likewise, USA Today’s Sam Amick reported an offer that would have sent Jordan Hill, a first-rounder and presumably Nash to Boston in exchange for Rondo and Jeff Green going back to L.A. (although Hill owns Bird rights approval of a trade and can’t be dealt until Jan. 15).
Either way, it’s noteworthy that the Celtics discussed trading their captain to the rival Lakers before ultimately sending him to Dallas. The trade talks also suggest Rondo’s breakfast with Kobe Bryant during the Lakers’ most recent visit to Boston was more than “just two [expletives] having breakfast.” It would’ve been fascinating had the Lakers been willing to include Randle in a potential deal.
|Report: Celtics engaged in ‘serious’ Rajon Rondo trade discussions||12.17.14 at 5:08 pm ET|
Talks of a trade involving Rondo have increased in recent days, according to Yahoo Sports columnists Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears. To the surprise of nobody, Celtics president Danny Ainge is holding out for a hefty return, preferably from a Western Conference foe.
As much as ever in his nine seasons in Boston, the Celtics have left strong impressions with rival organizations that they’re prepared to make a deal that includes Rondo, sources said. Boston has been engaged in discussions described as ‘serious’ in recent days, but no trade agreement is imminent.
We’ve been following the Celtics captain’s trade value in our weekly Rajon Rondo Trade Barometer series.
|Kelly Olynyk, Celtics keep Sixers reeling in Philadelphia||12.15.14 at 9:28 pm ET|
Philadelphia (2-22) dropped to 0-13 at home this season, staying in contention for the NBA record more most home losses to begin a campaign. (The 1993-94 Mavericks started 0-19.)
The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Celtics, who had beaten Philly in the teams’ only other meeting this season.
The C’s broke open a five-point lead in the first quarter with a 27-13 second quarter, thanks in large part to Olynyk’s 18 first-half points.
Avery Bradley only went 5-for-20 from the floor, but finished as the Celtics’ second-leading scorer with 15 points.
Two Celtics mainstays struggled in the win, with Jared Sullinger netting just five points on 2-of-10 shooting, and Rajon Rondo took just three shots on the way to a five-point night.
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