|Studs and Duds: 1 down for Celtics, 81 to go||10.28.15 at 10:03 pm ET|
@WEEICeltics PODCAST GAME RECAP
It’s unclear whether the Philadelphia 76ers are an NBA team, but the win counts just the same.
With a 112-95 win over the ever-tanking Sixers on opening night, your Boston Celtics are 1-0, undefeated, atop the division standings and tied for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. One down, 81 to go. Brad Stevens is probably already watching Toronto Raptors tape right now.
Isaiah Thomas led the way with 27 points (10-19 FG) and seven assists. He was joined in double figures by Amir Johnson (15 points, 7 rebounds), Jae Crowder (14 points, 6 rebounds), Marcus Smart (13 points, 5 assists) and Jared Sullinger (12 points, 7 rebounds). Production abound.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas.
It wasn’t a great shooting night for the Sixth Man of the Year favorite, and he still had 23 points through three quarters. Thomas missed his first five 3-point attempts, but made up for it by getting to the line a ton (6-7 FT) and knocking down a triple just before the third-quarter buzzer that pushed the C’s lead to 79-67. He added seven assists against three turnovers and generally destroyed the 76ers on the pick-and-roll, mostly with Johnson working as his partner.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Tyler Zeller.
This could just as easily be David Lee, but Zeller was yanked 5:13 into the ballgame after the Sixers scored 10 of their first 15 points in the paint. He returned briefly in the second quarter and was removed again shortly after Philadelphia point guard Isaiah Canaan scored on another layup. Zeller was removed for the starting lineup at halftime in favor of Sullinger, and he sat the entire time the Celtics build their lead as large as 15 points.
VINE OF THE NIGHT:
Out of a timeout with 2.9 seconds left in the half, the Celtics ran a ton of misdirection in the paint, only to have Smart inbound the ball, hop to the 3-point line and get the ball back. It was the simplest of play calls that led to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and a 51-40 halftime lead for the C’s.
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Let’s hope this is the last time I write this sentence: More Johnson, please. Okafor was killing the Celtics with eight early points on four shots within five feet of the basket, so Brad Stevens answered with Jared Sullinger midway through the first quarter? I was under the impression interior defense was precisely why Amir Johnson was signed this past summer. On the ensuing possession, Okafor scored on Sullinger within five feet of the basket, giving the 76ers a 17-11 lead. Johnson finally checked in with 2:31 remaining in the opening quarter and the C’s trailing by nine. He recorded a block on his first possession. Over the next 8:14, the Celtics outscored Philadelphia 18-2 and grabbed a 35-28 lead. You do the math.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 26 fast-break points. Despite their youth last season, the Celtics ranked in the middle of the pack with 13.6 fast-break points per game — a slight uptick from Stevens’ first season. Granted, they were facing the 76ers, but the C’s scored 34 points off 24 turnovers and thrived in transition. Pace and space is all the rage, and they had the first part down in the opener.
@ OF THE NIGHT:
|Celtics stick with starting lineup, deactivate James Young||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.
|Danny Ainge issues statement about former advisor Flip Saunders||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.
|Celtics cut Perry Jones III, finalize 15-man roster for opening night||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.
|Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades: 3. Hello, Ray Allen||10.17.15 at 8:23 am ET|
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.
- No. 25: Hello, Sebastian Telfair.
- No. 24: Goodbye, Semih Erden.
- No. 23: Hello and goodbye again, Antoine Walker.
- No. 22: Hello, Ricky Davis.
- No. 21: Goodbye, Walter McCarty.
- No. 20: Hello, Keyon Dooling.
- No. 19: Hello and goodbye, Courtney Lee.
- No. 18: Hello, Kelly Olynyk.
- No. 17: Hello, Nate Robinson.
- No. 16: Hello, Brandon Bass.
- No. 15: Hello, Wally Szczerbiak.
- No. 14: Goodbye, Jiri Welsch.
- No. 13: Hello, Leon Powe.
- No. 12: Goodbye, Jeff Green.
- No. 11: Hello and goodbye, Jordan Crawford.
- No. 10: Goodbye, Antoine Walker.
- No. 9: Hello, Kendrick Perkins.
- No. 8: Hello, Tony Allen.
- No. 7: Goodbye, Rajon Rondo.
- No. 6: Hello, Isaiah Thomas.
- No. 5: Goodbye, Kendrick Perkins.
- No. 4: Goodbye, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
With that out of the way, here’s No. 3 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.
June 28, 2007: Hello, Ray Allen.
|Studs and Duds: Amir Johnson, Celtics cut Nets wire to wire||10.14.15 at 10:23 pm ET|
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.
|Rajon Rondo may or may not be serious about latest coach feud||10.14.15 at 11:45 am ET|
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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