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Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck on OM&F: ‘I don’t think we’re as good as Cleveland,’ stays away from LaVar Ball 04.12.17 at 11:55 am ET
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Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck joined OM&F on Wednesday (audio above), hours before his club had a chance to lock down the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference vs. the Bucks, and was very frank about its chances of beating the Cavaliers in the playoffs.

“I don’t think we’re as good as Cleveland,” Grousbeck said. “If we got a chance to play them in the postseason, I’d love to see it, but I’m not sure how it would turn out.”

Grousbeck wasn’t just basing that thought on last week’s disappointing performance against the Cavs in a blowout loss with the top seed on the line, though that game didn’t help.

“I actually hope the guys don’t forget that,” he said. “I hope the guys don’t forget how badly we were beaten last week and they can use it as fire going forward.”

He disputed the notion that the Celtics saw the Cavs clicking on all cylinders.

“That was Cleveland clicking on one cylinder, if you ask me,” he said. “I don’t want to disrespect them, but I saw LeBron [James] take that game over single-handedly. He had a lot of help, etc. . . . I’m not disrespecting Kyrie [Irving] or Kevin Love or anyone else on the team, but LeBron took that over for a period of about six possessions there on the offensive and defensive end of the court. He dominated us. I have to give him a ton of credit. It showed us that we’ve got a ways to go.”

Grousbeck touched on a number of other subjects as well, though one he stayed away from was if the potential of dealing with headache stage dad LaVar Ball would dissuade him from drafting UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball.

“That’s a question best left for you guys to comment on,” he said. “I understand the question, but I can’t answer it.”

Grousbeck also discussed:

— Building through the draft vs. trade.

“There’s also a third option, which is to add a young player and still make cap room for a max free agent,” he said. “That’s the way we worked it last year, and that’s the way we may be able to work it this summer. But we’ve got max cap room if we want it.”

— On if Isaiah Thomas is a franchise player.

“He’s playing at that level,” he said. “When you look at where he ranks among all-time Celtics statistics and players, he’s actually on those leaderboards right now, which is pretty incredible. We wouldn’t be anywhere near where we are without Isaiah right now. He was thought of maybe as a sixth man coming in. . . . He’s opened everybody’s eyes.”

— On plans to honor the 2008 champions next season and reports that Ray Allen wasn’t invited to a player’s only gathering organized by Rajon Rondo.

“Ray’s always going to be a champion here and we wouldn’t have won it without him,” he said.

— On complaints about teams resting star players.

“We talked about it specifically at our owner’s meeting in New York last week,” he said. “The general approach I took is the problem was there were some marquee games, marquee matchups, and our television partners and our fans were all disappointed that all of a sudden these guys were all sitting out en masse. It was made very clear that we don’t want that to happen again.

“The first way we’re fixing it is in partnership with the players next year, we’re adding a week to the season next year and shortening the preseason so there’ll be fewer back-to-backs. The players that were rested in the games we’re talking about were in back-to-back matchups. It’s hard to play guys back-to-back when you’re getting close to playoff time.”

 

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, Lavar Ball, Lonzo Ball
Celtics lose to Hawks, which may end up helping them in playoffs 04.06.17 at 11:27 pm ET
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Hawks forward Taurean Prince (12) dunks against the Celtics Thursday. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

Hawks forward Taurean Prince (12) dunks against the Celtics Thursday. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics don’t seem to like sitting atop the Eastern Conference.

One night after getting blown out by the Cavaliers in a showdown for the No. 1 seed, the Celtics journeyed to Atlanta and played like a team that’s forgotten what got it here.

The C’s looked tight from the start, fell behind by double digits early, and never recovered in a 123-116 loss.

Marcus Smart led the Celtics with 18 points, including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers, seven assists and six steals. But the C’s had no answer for the Atlanta backcourt of Tim Hardaway Jr. (23 points) and Dennis Schroder (18). Big man Paul Millsap led the way with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

The Celtics launched 43 3-pointers, but made only 15 (34.9 percent). They tried to make a game of it in the final three minutes, trimming a 13-point deficit to five, with the ball, but they got no closer.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 35 and Jae Crowder added 24, but the Celtics were outrebounded 52-38.

The loss isn’t all bad. It kept the Hawks in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, which means the second-seeded Celtics could avoid them in the second round. That wouldn’t be a bad thing for Boston (50-29), which fell to 1-2 vs. the Hawks this year after being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by them last year in six games.

As things stand now, if the seedings hold and the Celtics beat the Bulls in the first round, they’d get the winner of Milwaukee and Toronto in the conference semifinals.

Read More: Celtics, Hawks, NBA scores,
LeBron James (36), Cavaliers pummel Celtics to claim first place in Eastern Conference 04.05.17 at 11:18 pm ET
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Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) works the ball against Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) on Wednesday. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) works the ball against Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) on Wednesday. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics arrived at the Garden on Wednesday believing they could claim sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. They left licking their wounds after being routed by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Behind 36 points from LeBron James and a suffocating defensive effort — not to mention a domination of the boards — the Cavaliers cruised to a 114-91 victory that gave them first place in the East with four games left to play.

The Celtics led 20-19 after one, but Cleveland (51-27) took control with a 38-point second quarter to open a 57-42 halftime lead and the C’s never seriously threatened.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics (50-28) with 26 points on 9-of-19 shooting, but he got absolutely no help from his supporting cast. The C’s shot just 7-for-33 on 3-pointers (.212) and put only three other players in double figures, led by Jae Crowder’s 13.

The Celtics were outrebounded 51-38 and allowed Kevin Love to grab 16 boards alongside his 15 points.

For more on the game, including how badly it exposed the Celtics as playoff pretenders, check out this column.

Read More: Cavaliers, Celtics, Eastern Conference standings, Isaiah Thomas
Celtics fall apart down stretch without Isaiah Thomas, lose to 76ers as showdown with Wizards looms 03.19.17 at 3:57 pm ET
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Celtics forward Jaylen Brown soars for two against the Sixers on Sunday. (John Geliebter/USA Today Sports)

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown soars for two against the Sixers on Sunday. (John Geliebter/USA Today Sports)

Want to see what an NBA margin-for-error looks like? Pit the Celtics, without Isaiah Thomas, against the up-and-coming 76ers and then start the fourth quarter.

On Sunday, the Celtics once again found themselves running ragged without their All-Star point guard around to remind everyone what time it was with the game on the line, and the result was a disappointing 105-99 defeat.

In the process, they made the race for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference unnecessarily tight, with a showdown in Boston looming against the third-seeded Wizards on Monday night. It’s unclear if Thomas, who is nursing a bone bruise in his right knee, will be able to play.

Without him, the Celtics must determine a way to slow John Wall (25.6 points, 11.1 assists in his last 8 games) and Co., or they’ll be teetering on the precipice of falling to third in the conference.

After Washington threw away Saturday’s game against Charlotte, the Celtics looked to be in a good position to grow their 1 1/2-game lead. But Rookie of the Year favorite Dario Saric scored 20 points to lead the Sixers, who outscored the Celtics 14-8 over the final 3:41 to break a 91-91 tie.

Now, if Washington wins on Monday, it will close the gap to just one game in the loss column in the playoff race, which highlights what a missed opportunity Sunday represented. With Al Horford scoring a season-high 27 points and Terry Rozier (14 points, 10 rebounds) providing a nice lift off the bench, the Celtics appeared to be in the driver’s seat, but they imploded down the stretch on offense without Thomas to bail them out.

They blew leads of 13 in the third quarter and five in the fourth. In one stretch, Marcus Smart attempted a spin move in the lane, but left the basketball behind; Amir Johnson boxed around an entry pass; Jae Crowder clanged a 3. The Celtics lost what felt like 80 percent of the loose balls during this stretch, and the Sixers sealed it when Nik Stauskus made a 3-pointer from the right wing with 38.8 seconds remaining.

There will be no rest for the weary as the Celtics return home to face the Wizards in a game that could decide who finishes second in the East. Washington leads the season series, 2-1, so the Celtics will need this one to have any chance in any potential tie-breakers. As thing stand now, the second seed in the conference will get Miami in the first round (the Heat had won 23 of 28 entering Sunday), while the third seed will face Paul George and the Pacers.

Read More: 76ers, Celtics, NBA playoff standings, Wizards
Bill Belichick visits LeBron James in Cavaliers locker room after Celtics victory 03.02.17 at 12:44 am ET
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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.

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.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Cavaliers, Celtics, LeBron James
Andrew Bogut reportedly chooses Cavaliers over Celtics, Rockets 02.28.17 at 8:51 pm ET
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Andrew Bogut

Andrew Bogut

In the end, Andrew Bogut ended up exactly where we expected him.

According to the Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the free-agent big man will sign with the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers this weekend. The 76ers acquired him from the Mavericks at the trade deadline and then bought him out on Monday. He is expected to clear waivers on Wednesday.

Bogut has been limited to 26 games this year by knee and hamstring injuries. He reportedly narrowed his choices down to the Cavs, Celtics, and Rockets before settling on LeBron James and Co.

The Celtics were interested in Bogut as a potential rebounder who could shore up the inside, where the C’s have taken a beating recently.

Bogut is averaging three points and 8.3 rebounds this year.

Read More: Andrew Bogut, Celtics rumors,
Report: Celtics remain in contention for free agent center Andrew Bogut 02.28.17 at 12:07 am ET
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Andrew Bogut

Andrew Bogut

Don’t send Andrew Bogut to Cleveland just yet.

According to the Boston Globe, the free agent center has narrowed his list of preferred destinations to five or six teams, and the Celtics are one of them.

Bogut was waived by the 76ers on Monday after being acquired from the Mavericks at Thursday’s trade deadline. He’s averaging just 3 points and 8.3 rebounds in 26 games this year, and has been slowed by knee and hamstring injuries.

He’s also a proven rebounder and interior presence, and the Celtics desperately need some size and toughness. They were once again badly outrebounded (55-40) in Monday’s blowout loss to the Hawks.

Celtics hoops boss Danny Ainge told the Globe that he’s not ruling out a dive into the buyout market, but he’s not feeling any pressure, either.

“I like our team right now,” he told the paper, “and unless something really jumps out to us where I feel like we can get significantly better, I’d just assume keep our team intact.”

Bogut is expected to sign on Wednesday after clearing waivers, and a Globe source disputed reports that he’s signed, sealed and delivered to the Cavs, insisting that not only do the Celtics remain in play, but that Bogut hopes to speak to some Boston players to get a feel for the situation on Tuesday.

Read More: Andrew Bogut, Cavaliers, Celtics rumors,
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