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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,
Celtics really should be eyeing these free agents this offseason 05.31.15 at 1:53 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 of their playoff matchup. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 of their playoff matchup. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Celtics are heading toward a big summer in 2015, as Danny Ainge will do his best to reel in a top-tier free agent who could help the Celtics become a top team in the Eastern Conference next season.

The Celtics, who were swept by the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs, need help in the front court. The Celtics didn’t have a go-to scorer, nor did they have anyone who could rebound against Cleveland. Scoring and rebounding are two statistical categories the Celtics most need help in.

Ainge will take a crack at signing unrestricted free agents such as Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, but chances are those players will end up staying in Memphis and Portland, respectively. Same goes for restricted free agents like Golden State’s Draymond Green and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard; two players who will stay where they are or go to another title contender out west.

But there’s still plenty of talented free agents available who could be looking for a change of scenery. Here are four free agents the Celtics could sign this summer.

Greg Monroe, PF/C
2014-15: 16 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists

The unrestricted free agent will be attracting attention from a lot of teams this summer. Monroe is a good rebounder whose consistent offense is something the C’s need out of their front court. He can score with his back to the basket and is the most realistic free agent candidate on this list for the Celtics. This past season, Monroe averaged a double-double for the first time in his career. Adding Monroe to the offense would make the Celtics a top-five team in the East next season. Even though Ainge may have Kevin Love listed above Monroe on his free agent wish list, Monroe most likely will sit atop of Ainge’s list after Cleveland ultimately signs Love back for one more season.

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Read More: Celtics, Greg Monroe, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love
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