|Celtics prove why they’re one of the best teams in 4th quarter in win over Cavaliers||03.01.17 at 11:42 pm ET|
Early Wednesday afternoon, Brad Stevens issued a plan of attack and that evening his team executed it and turned it into one of their most impressive wins of the season.
Wednesday night’s 103-99 win over the Cavaliers was a testament to how tough the Celtics can be in the fourth quarter.
Even with their best scorer not hitting shots (1-of-4), the Celtics rallied behind defensive stops by Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley instead of relying on Isaiah Thomas to keep them in the game.
Facing a two-point deficit, Smart drew back-to-back offensive fouls against the Cavaliers before Jae Crowder (17 points) drained a 3-pointer under two minutes to go. Then, it was Bradley’s turn as he rattled Kyrie Irving (28 points) and drained a 3-pointer on the other end to keep his team ahead.
Out of a Cavaliers timeout, Cleveland set up sharp shooter Kyle Korver for an open 3-pointer before Thomas drained his only field goal of the fourth quarter. Irving responded with a reverse layup to tie the game (99-99) before Thomas drew a shooting foul and drained a pair of free-throws to put the C’s ahead, 101-99.
LeBron James (28 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) passed up an opportunity to tie the game by passing the ball to Deron Williams, who missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer.
For a full box score and summary of Wednesday’s game vs. Cleveland, click here.
|Celtics Pregame: With Avery Bradley on minutes restriction, Brad Stevens will rely on Jaylen Brown against Cavaliers||03.01.17 at 8:14 pm ET|
While Avery Bradley will continue playing on a minutes restriction, Celtics coach Brad Stevens will continue to lean on his rookie for steady production in the second half.
After missing 18 straight games, Bradley returned to the starting lineup against the Hawks on Monday. He finished with six points on 2-of-4 shots in 15 first-half minutes.
Bradley will most likely have a similar outing against the Cavaliers, which will give Jaylen Brown another opportunity to play extended minutes, especially in the second half.
Brown, who has clocked in over 25 minutes in each of his last three games, has been very efficient for the Celtics. Since the All-Star break, Brown is averaging 13.6 points while shooting at a 59.2 percent clip.
“Jaylen has been playing well,” Brad Stevens said. “I think he’s made a strong case to stay in that rotation. We’ll just continue to play like that.”
Lately, Brown has also proven he isn’t afraid to take big shots towards the end of the fourth quarter. His go-ahead 3-pointer with 37 seconds left against the Pistons last Sunday gave the Celtics a two-point lead and they never looked back in the Celtics’ only win in the last four games.
According to Stevens, the 15-25 minutes restriction on Bradley will be lifted by next week but until then the Celtics will need more minutes for Bradley than the 15 he saw against the Hawks. Against an offensive powerhouse like the Cavaliers, Bradley can do a good job in slowing down All-Star guard Kyrie Irving.
The Cavaliers enter Wednesday night’s game averaging 111.1 points per game, third in the NBA behind the Rockets and Warriors. However, against the Celtics, the Cavs averaged 126 points in their last two outings, including LeBron James and Irving averaging a combined 54 points.
Stevens will look to get the most out of his best on-ball defender in Bradley in the first half before giving Brown meaningful minutes against the champion Cavaliers.
|Isaiah Thomas makes franchise history, ties John Havlicek||02.15.17 at 11:44 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas became the second player in Celtics history to score 20-plus points in 40 consecutive games on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Thomas finished with a game-high 33 points in the Celtics’ 116-108 win over the 76ers. He is now tied with hall-of-fame legend John Havlicek, who completed the feat on Jan. 30, 1972.
If Thomas is able to score 20 or more points in Thursday night’s game against the Bulls, he will become first Celtics player to score 20-plus points in 41 straight games.
Can he make history on Thursday?
“I’m confident I can but like I’ve said, I’m not chasing that,” Thomas said. “Maybe it happens, maybe it doesn’t. I always say it — it doesn’t seem real for my name to be mentioned with certain greats and hall of famers, you know? It doesn’t seem like it should be like that but you know it means I’m doing something [right] and I’m just glad we’re winning on top of it.”
Thomas also made Celtics history from behind the arc in Wednesday’s win when he drained his 168th 3-pointer of the season. He’s now in second place for most 3-pointers made in a single season, tying Ray Allen who finished the 2010-2011 season with 168 3’s.
Antoine Walker holds the franchise record for most 3-pointers made in a single season, he drained 222 3’s throughout the 2001-2002 season.
|In win over 76ers, Kelly Olynyk continues to lead the second unit||02.15.17 at 10:20 pm ET|
Kelly Olynyk is quietly becoming one of the Celtics’ most reliable players off the bench.
For the fifth straight game, Olynyk led the reserves in scoring. He finished with 16 points on 6-of-8 shots and 7 rebounds in the Celtics’ 116-108 win over the 76ers.
His contributions on both ends of the floor has made him a leader for the second unit — one that’s playing without Marcus Smart — and has helped fend off opposition from grabbing big leads while the starters are resting.
Isaiah Thomas finished with a game-high 33 points. It was the 40th consecutive game that Thomas scored at least 20 points, matching the mark of John Havlicek in the 1971-72 season. Thomas also has a chance to break Larry Bird’s franchise record of 29.9 points per game for a season, set in 1987-88. After 56 games, Thomas is averaging 29.8 points, second only to Russell Westbrook’s 30.8 average.
“When you know you’re getting 20-plus points from a guy on a given night, it’s pretty a special trait,” coach Brad Stevens said. “It’s pretty special to know that. He’s been amazing with his consistency regardless of how he feels, regardless of little nicks and bruises and everything else. He just kind of keeps going. And he’s a tough guy, he’s a tough-minded guy, and his consistency’s been impressive. And I think consistency and being able to do it every night is what separates – right? – the guys that, obviously [like] Havlicek, but the great ones.”
Smart added 21 points and Crowder chipped in 18 but it was Olynyk’s effort that not only led the bench but prevented the C’s from falling behind in the first half. He scored 10 of his 16 points in the second quarter as the Celtics and 76ers headed into halftime tied at 61.
Olynyk continued to play well in the second half by pulling down rebounds and defending the paint. He helped the Celtics keep up their offensive momentum before Thomas and the starting unit returned to close out the win in the fourth quarter.
For a full box score and statistical round-up of Wednesday’s win over the Sixers, click here.
After a slow start, including December when he averaged a woeful 6.5 points in 18.2 minutes, Olynyk has turned things around this month by making an effort on the defensive end, pulling down rebounds and finding ways to score inside the arc.
Olynyk is averaging 12.7 points in his last eight games, while shooting 56.4 percent from the floor. The biggest reason for the spike in his scoring statistics has to do with his effort in seeking high percentage shots instead of settling for 3-pointers.
He’s only averaging three 3-point attempts a game while averaging six shots from in or around the paint. And on Wednesday night he finished a perfect 2-for-2 from deep.
Olynyk has not only been making cuts to the baskets and converting layups, he’s also averaging 7 rebounds. He’s made an effort in chasing down boards and boxing out big men — a facet of his game that has always been the biggest knock about the 7-footer, who averages a 4.7 boards for his career.
Celtics have now won 11 of their last 12 games and will look to make it five straight when they take on the Bulls tomorrow night at Chicago in their final game before the All-Star break.
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|Isaiah Thomas named Eastern Conference Player of the Week||02.07.17 at 5:10 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas followed up his incredible month of scoring by earning the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award.
After winning Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for the month of January, Thomas led the Celtics to a 4-0 record, while averaging 37.8 points and 6.8 assists. In two of those four games, he scored 40-plus points against the Pistons (41) and Raptors (44).
Thomas also averaged an astonishing 17.5 fourth-quarter points last week.
Since his 52-point performance on Dec. 30, the All-Star guard has been on an unbelievable tear — averaging 34.8 points and 6.6 assists in 16 games.
The Celtics (14-4) are tied with the Pacers (14-4) for the second-best record since Dec. 30. Warriors (15-3) have been the hottest team in the league throughout that span.
The C’s (33-18) are currently in second place in the Eastern Conference and will look to stretch their winning streak to seven consecutive games on Wednesday when they kick off a four-game road trip in Sacramento against the Kings.
|Paul Pierce discusses “Rajon being Rajon,” relationship with members of “The Big 3”||02.06.17 at 7:01 pm ET|
Before playing his final game in Boston, Paul Pierce answered an array of questions about his legacy, playing at TD Garden one last time and his role with the Clippers.
But when Pierce was asked about his relationship with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, he smiled. And talked about how he still keeps in touch with most of them.
Garnett is “having the time of his life,” said Pierce. He says Garnett’s show “Area 21,” a segment part of TNT’s weekly Thursday night broadcast along with being a consultant for the Clippers, has kept him busy throughout his first post-retirement season.
When he was asked about Rondo, Pierce said him and Rondo “talk all the time” and that Rondo’s rift with Bulls teammates Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler was simply, “Rajon being Rajon.”
“Just like Manny being Manny, he’s Rajon being Rajon,” Pierce jokingly said. “Man, you know what, I respect Rajon with some of the stuff he said, truthfully. I thought it was the truth. I didn’t have a problem with none of the stuff he said about Wade or Jimmy Butler because it was the honest truth. [If you] see the next game, Wade and Jimmy they got benched because what Rondo said was right.”
|Paul Pierce knocks down a farewell 3-pointer in Celtics win over Clippers||02.05.17 at 6:09 pm ET|
It was a perfect ending for Celtics fans.
Paul Pierce knocked in the final shot, and the Celtics won the game.
Towards the end of a 107-102 Celtics win over the Clippers, fans spent the most of the second half chanting for Pierce to come back in the game. With 19.8 second left, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers finally reinserted Pierce — who had been on the bench since the first quarter — and TD Garden went nuts.
With the game out of reach, the Celtics legend took a deep 3-pointer in front of Isaiah Thomas, and drained it.
The Garden erupted.
It was a fitting moment by Pierce to knock down the final shot, just like he’s done dozens of times throughout his 15 years with the Celtics.
“It’s a tough situation, been sitting for like the last two hours, then had to come in there and get a shot,” Pierce said with a smile on his face. “But I’m glad I ended it that way, [glad] I was able to. You know, you want to come in and get a win but it was a tough day, not only for me but for my teammates, it was a lot of emotion running through; my teammates kind of felt it too. I’m glad I was able to cap it off, my last game in the Garden, at least I can just say I put one last bucket in at the end of the game.
TD Garden wasted little time in showering Paul Pierce with a tribute video. During the first timeout of the first quarter — which was called at the 8:13 mark — a montage of some of Pierce’s greatest moments on the court played on the jumbotron to commemorate his final game. After Celtics fans gave a thunderous standing ovation for Pierce, one that continued as the game resumed, fans began chanting a “Thank you, Paul Pierce” chant.
“It was tough, man,” Pierce said on having to sit throughout most of the game. “The fans are awesome. These are the best fans in the world. I never felt anything like this. I truly appreciate my time here. I truly appreciate tonight. The fans showered me with a lot of love.”
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