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David Lee on cold start with Celtics: ‘I have to be better finishing the ball’ 11.04.15 at 1:56 pm ET
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It’s way too early to panic.

But in his first three games in Boston, David Lee is averaging 5.3 points and shooting 25 percent from the floor. The Celtics suffered two losses against two good teams (Raptors and Spurs) last week, and haven’t gotten much offensive production out of their newcomer.

Lee isn’t making excuses. He acknowledged his shortcomings after Sunday’s loss against San Antonio.

“I’m out here thinking more than I’m playing, and that’s by no means an excuse,” Lee said Sunday. “I have to be better finishing the ball. That’s what I do. I think I’ve shot 50 percent or better for the last decade. If I’m a betting man, I’m thinking I’m going to snap out of it here.”

For his career, Lee has shot 53.2 percent from the floor. Just last season, Lee averaged below double digits in points for the first time since his rookie season. But still managed to shoot 51 percent in 18 minutes.

Expectations were somewhat high when the Celtics acquired Lee. Fresh off winning an NBA title as a backup on the Warriors, Lee was coming into a great situation. No one thought he would go back to being the All-Star he was a few years back, but in a starter’s role with a young Celtics core, it was fair to expect improvement from last season. At age 32, he still has plenty of basketball left in the tank.

On Sunday against the Spurs, Lee scored two points on 1-of-7 shooting, missed a jump shot and failed to tip in a rebound (twice), then Tim Duncan stuffed his shot so badly that it left him sitting on TD Garden’s new parquet floor. It was a rough game for Lee.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Studs and Duds: Celtics can’t contain hot-shooting Raptors 10.30.15 at 11:05 pm ET
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The Raptors shot better than 50 percent in the second half, outscoring a Celtics offense that couldn’t find its rhythm, and the result was Boston’s first loss of the season, 113-103 at TD Garden. Isaiah Thomas led the way for the second straight game, totaling with 25 points and seven assists. Avery Bradley scored 13 points, while Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk each added 11 off the bench. The Celtics and Raptors played to a 54-54 tie at the half, but Toronto totaled 30 third-quarter points and outscored the C’s by nine in the frame. In the end, the Celtics couldn’t contain a trio of Toronto 20-piont scorers — 2013 All-Star DeMar DeRozan (23 points), newcomer DeMarre Carroll (21 points, 5 rebounds) and reserve Terrence Ross (21 points). For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Toronto Raptors,
Stud and Duds: Jared Sullinger shines in sloppy win over 76ers 10.24.15 at 9:14 am ET
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Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger

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.

Studs and Duds: Jared Sullinger, Celtics cruise past Knicks 10.22.15 at 10:26 pm ET
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Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller

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.

Stud and Duds: Undefeated Knicks top Celtics, 101-95 10.17.15 at 12:40 am ET
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James Young

James Young

The Knicks frontcourt set the tone early and prevented the Celtics from settling into their comfort zone offensively.

New York defended the paint well and forced a number of second-half turnovers, holding the C’s to just under 40 percent shooting from the floor and preventing them from getting into an offensive rhythm in a 101-95 loss. The Celtics managed a fourth-quarter comeback, but came up short when the Knicks knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers.

Derrick Williams led the charge for New York with 19 points and five rebounds, as the Knicks improved to 4-0 during the preseason. The Celtics fell to 3-1. In an encouraging sign, second-year Celtics wing James Young scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. Seeing him score is always a good sign, and this was easily his best game of the preseason.

Stud of the night: Isaiah Thomas.

In only his second start in a Celtics uniform, Thomas scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers, and dished five assists in 24 minutes. The C’s offense was at its best in transition against the Knicks, and Thomas was a big part of that, doing most of his damage on the run. In the second half, when it came to driving to the hoop and interior scoring, the Knicks’ defense made stops and prevented the Celtics from scoring in the paint.

Dud of the night: Kelly Olynyk.

After a solid outing against the Nets, Olynyk struggled against the Knicks. New York contested his jumpers and forced Olynyk to take off-balanced attempts. He finished 1-for-7 with an underwhelming line of two points and three rebounds in 11:49. Olynyk has played well early in the preseason, but couldn’t find an offensive groove against New York’s Robin Lopez, Kyle O’Quinn and Lance Thomas — much like teammates Amir Johnson, David Lee and Jared Sullinger.

Vine of the night

Celtics coach Brad Stevens was handed just the second technical of his NBA career after a no-call in the second half, when Knicks guard Cleanthony Early undercut Tyler Zeller on a fast-break dunk. Stevens didn’t think twice when he stepped onto the court to plead his case. I agree coach, that was a foul. Always great to see Stevens riled up.

Whine of the night

In his best game of the preseason, so far, Jared Sullinger still only scored five points against the Knicks, although he pulled down 10 rebounds. O’Quinn may have given Sullinger the ounce of motivation he needed to grab 10 boards, tossing the Celtics forward around the paint and even making layup attempts difficult. O’Quinn also earned a flagrant foul after sending Sullinger to the floor in the third quarter. It’s a positive sign to see Sullinger grab 10 boards, but 1-for-8 from the floor and 3-for-6 from the free throw line isn’t going to fly for a guy who was considered one of the Celtics’ biggest scoring threats entering his fourth NBA season.

Stat of the night 

The Celtics amassed 18 turnovers, while the Knicks only had seven. When the Knicks opened up a double-digit lead in the second half, the Celtics responded with a run in the third quarter. But after things got chippy between the two teams (see: O’Quinn’s flagrant foul), the Celtics made bad passes and committed a number of turnovers that led to an 88-80 fourth-quarter lead by the Knicks.

@ of the night 

Avery Bradley continues to knock down jumpers throughout the preseason, but he cooled off a bit in New York. Bradley finished 3-for-7 from the field, including one 3-pointer. It would have been nice to see him take more shots in the third quarter, but it was great to see him fill up the stat sheet. He also pulled down eight rebounds and had three assists.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Isiah Thomas, Jared Sullinger
James Young improves defense, gains weight 09.26.15 at 8:08 pm ET
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James Young

James Young

In preparation for the 2015-16 NBA season, James Young spent the majority of the summer working on his body and his one-on-one defense.

At Friday’€™s annual media day at the Celtics‘ Waltham practice facility, Young talked about gaining weight over the summer and how he’€™s entering his second season feeling more confident about his defense.

“€œI just got in the gym and worked out harder,” said Young. “This season is going to be special for the team and me. I just want it to be great — got in the gym every day, [twice] a day.

“€œJust to absorb the contact from bigger and stronger guys, you can’€™t just go in the lane and be at 200 pounds; you’€™re going to get pushed over. €œSo, you [have to] add weight, and that’€™s what I did. I want to add more — not done yet.”

Young split his rookie year between Boston and Maine. He played 17 games for the Red Claws, averaging 21.5 points and shooting an impressive 44.2 percent from behind the 3-point arc.

Young finished his rookie campaign with the Celtics averaging 3.4 points in 10.7 minutes per game. While adding weight to his frame to improve his offense, Young says he has a better understanding of what to do on the defensive end.

“€My footwork is a lot better,” he said. “I know what to do now. Pulling over, communicating, everything is working a lot better now. I know what to do now. I didn’€™t know then, but now I know.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens also discussed Young’€™s progress at Friday’€™s media day.

“He’€™s really improved his defensive abilities,” said Stevens. “€œHis defensive awareness was great in summer league, and he’€™s a guy that we know offensively has some skill and some talent. The other thing about James that I’€™m excited about is he’€™s bigger and stronger, and he’s only 20 years old.”

Read More: Brad Stevens, James Young,
Danny Ainge will have contract talks with Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger 09.04.15 at 6:33 am ET
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Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger

The Celtics have until Oct. 31 to decide if they want to offer contract extensions to Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger, two extension-eligible players that are still on their rookie contracts.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told The Boston Globe that he’s had meetings with Sullinger and Zeller’s agents and that talks will continue through October.

“Obviously, those are two guys that we like moving forward,” Ainge told the Globe. “So, yeah, there will be more discussions with both of them, probably during the month of October.”

Zeller, who is coming off the most impressive season of his young career, earned a starting spot in the lineup at center last season. Averaging 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, Zeller may have the best chance of signing a contract extension with the Celtics before November.

Sullinger, 23, is coming off of another injury-plagued season, playing only 58 games last year. He averaged 13.3 points and 7.6 rebounds, but the Celtics may hold off on offering him a contract extension until they see health improvements. Sullinger still is young, but as he’s had back and foot surgeries, the Celtics have seen him play one complete season throughout his three-year career. His weight and conditioning also have become a concern, a problem that Sullinger has worked on this summer, gearing up for the upcoming season.

Newly acquired forward Perry Jones is another player who is eligible for a contract extension, but he will have to fight for a spot on the roster. Jones, who was traded to the Celtics from Oklahoma City, could be cut from the team since the Celtics have to eliminate one of their 16 guaranteed contracts to get down to the league maximum of 15 players.

Read More: Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller,
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