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Fast Break: Kawhi Leonard, Spurs’ bench beat Celtics in matinee at TD Garden 11.25.16 at 3:37 pm ET
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Nov 25, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas (4) drives to the basket againstSpurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) during the first half Friday at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

For the first time this season, a Celtics team that was at full-strength faced one of the best teams in the league. 

Although the C’s have already played against teams like the Cavaliers and the Warriors, both games were played without Al Horford and Jae Crowder. After sweeping their three-game road trip, Horford, Crowder and the Celtics battled against the third-best team in the NBA — the San Antonio Spurs (13-3) — but were outplayed in the second half en route to a 109-103 loss at TD Garden.

Isaiah Thomas’ 3-pointer from the corner with one minute left pulled the Celtics to within three points before Spurs guard Patty Mills answered Thomas with a 3 of his own — making it a two-possession game (107-101). Out of a timeout, Horford’s dunk pulled the game to within four points but the Celtics surrendered a crucial offensive rebound to Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge — who was intentionally fouled and made both free-throws with 18.5 ticks left that pretty much sealed the game.

The backcourt duo of Isaiah Thomas (24 points, 8 assists) and Avery Bradley (19 points, 8 rebounds) led the Celtics and Jae Crowder had his best shooting night of the season — finishing with 18 points on 7-of-11 shots.

Leonard finished with a game-high 25 points to go with his 9 rebounds and 4 assists and Mills’ 19 points led the Spurs’ bench. San Antonio’s bench made a big difference in this one. They combined for a whopping 56 points. Former Celtic David Lee finished with a double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Davis Bertans added 15 points, including 3-of-5 from deep. 

For a complete box score, click here

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

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Fast Break: Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant lead Warriors in a blowout win over Celtics 11.18.16 at 10:28 pm ET
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Nov 18, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) throws a no look pass past Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Stephen Curry and the Warriors toyed with the Celtics Friday night in a blowout win. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Warriors reminded the Celtics on Friday why they’re one of the best offensive teams in the league en route to a 104-88 blowout win over the Celtics at TD Garden. 

Klay Thompson scored a game-high 28 points, while Kevin Durant flirted with a triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) and silenced the boos from the Garden’s faithful.

Early on, boos rained down every time Durant touched the ball but that didn’t seem to phase him or his teammates by the second half when the Warriors took control of the game and handed the Celtics their sixth loss of the season. 

Isaiah Thomas scored a team-high 18 points and Avery Bradley finished with a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) for the Celtics.

For a complete box score, click here

The Celtics closed out the first quarter with an 11-4 run, pulling them to within two points (29-27) before the Warriors found their offensive groove — finishing the half shooting 50 percent from the floor. The Celtics’ offensive rhythm came in spurts throughout the second quarter. Whenever the Warriors tried to pull away the Celtics responded with small scoring runs that kept the game close. 

The C’s were getting back defensively on the Warriors’ fast break but couldn’t put together a strong enough offense to give themselves a lead before the end of the half.  However, the Warriors did an excellent job of scoring off of the Celtics’ missed attempts in and outside of the paint. 

Although the Celtics weren’t too far behind at halftime (55-48), it sure felt like it in the second half when the Warriors went on a 24-3 run and grabbed a 28-point lead.

Golden State drained in five 3-pointers, while shooting 56.5 percent and forced five Celtics turnovers throughout the game-changing quarter.  The Warriors outscored the C’s 31-9 — giving them a 29-point lead, heading into the fourth quarter.

Adding to the misery, the short-handed Celtics lost their best bench player when Marcus Smart departed with a left ankle contusion in the third quarter. He had treatment on the sideline and then headed to the locker room and did not return. Brad Stevens said after the game that he would be re-evaluated with the team Saturday morning and would make the trip to Detroit. His status for Saturday night’s game against the Pistons is uncertain.

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

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Fast Break: Isaiah Thomas, Celtics blow out Knicks 11.11.16 at 10:03 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics were very hungry for a win. 

After two consecutive lopsided defeats, the Celtics reverted to their old ways and put together their strongest defensive performance of the season in a 115-87 win at TD Garden. 

Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 29 points, Kelly Olynyk added 19 points and seven rebounds in his first start of the season and Avery Bradley finished with a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds). Seven Celtics scored in double figures. 

From the tip, the Celtics were aggressive in the opening minutes — grabbing a 19-8 lead. But New York came back when Carmelo Anthony caught fire and scored 12 first-quarter points to help push his team to within four points (31-27) after the game’s first 12 minutes.

However, the Knicks never held a lead throughout the second quarter but their rebounding certainly kept things close. New York dominated the Celtics on the glass — giving them plenty of chances but the Knicks only scored five second-chance points off of 12 offensive rebounds. 

With 4:44 left in the first half, the Celtics caught a break when Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony refuted a loose ball foul called by NBA official Tony Brothers. After he was handed an initial technical foul, Anthony continued to plead his case with Brothers which resulted in a second technical foul and was ejected from the game. Anthony finished the night with 12 points and two rebounds in 12 minutes. 

Following the ejection, the Celtics topped off an 11-3 run and finished the half with a 10-point lead (61-51). It was the first time the Celtics have allowed fewer than 54 first-half points in their last three games.

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Celtics pregame notes: Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk will start against Knicks 11.11.16 at 7:12 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

For the first time this season, Brad Stevens will start Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk in place of Jae Crowder (left ankle) and Al Horford (concussion) against the Knicks on Friday. 

Stevens emphasized the importance of getting off to a strong start against New York and said that defense played a major part in his decision to start Smart and Olynyk.

“I thought we started pretty well in Cleveland but we haven’t started well the last two games,” Stevens said. “I think Tyler [Zeller] has actually done some really good things — I think he’ll be able to play off the bench well. I think that Jaylen [Brown] obviously has done some good things, he’ll be able to play off the bench well. But I know that with Marcus and Kelly I think that from my evaluation the other night they were probably our two best defenders in the game the other night so I’d like to start off with that mindset right out of the gate.”

The Celtics are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and have gotten out to horrendous starts. They’ve allowed 76 points combined in the last two opening quarters and surrendered their biggest loss of the young season on Wednesday — a 118-93 blowout against the Wizards. Although it’s still very early in the regular season, Stevens understands his team’s performance the past two games were unacceptable.

“I think I have to be able to take a step back and say there’s a lot of games to be played, we haven’t played very well the last couple,” Stevens explained. “We’re far from a finished product and we’re far from a full team. But at the same time these games come at you a million miles an hour and you only get one chance to play each of them. So you gotta put your best foot forward and we need to play better. May not ever guarantee the result you want but we need to play better basketball than we played the last few nights.”

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Read More: Al Horford, Brad Stevens, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart
Brad Stevens on Celtics’ defensive struggles: ‘We play like a finesse team’ 11.07.16 at 12:09 am ET
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Brad Stevens saw his team fix some things in earning their second win of the season. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

Brad Stevens says his team needs to sustain its aggressiveness on the defensive end. (Jeremy Brevard/USA Today Sports)

Following their 123-107 loss to the Nuggets on Sunday at TD Garden, Brad Stevens pointed to his team’s physicality — or lack thereof — as the biggest reason why the Celtics have struggled defensively in their first six games of the season.

The Celtics allow an average of 111.8 points a game — they’re second in most points allowed behind the Suns (113.3). Five of their first six opponents of the season have finished with no less than 105 points, as the Celtics (3-3) are now a .500 team. 

“I think we play like a finesse team, and they play physical,” Stevens explained after the Celtics’ loss on Sunday. “So I kind of saw that right out of the gate. You know, they were getting where they wanted to on their drives.”

How far are the Celtics from becoming a top three defensive team?

“I don’t even know if it’s statistically possible based on our week,” Stevens answered. “I don’t even know if you can make it up in 76 games but we can get a lot better. But it starts with holding your ground physically. You know, [Emmanuel] Mudiay goes nuts, that’s fine, but Mudiay also gets two putbacks — or at least one putback early — that gets you going. Makes you feel good about yourself. We brought a little bit of aggressiveness at the start of the third quarter but that wasn’t sustainable.

So, I don’t know. I don’t have the answer. Obviously we’ve got some guys that aren’t playing that will play, but this is about physically holding your ground.”

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Jae Crowder (sprained left ankle) expected to miss at least a week 11.03.16 at 11:07 am ET
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Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder

The Celtics will look to build off of their 3-1 record without Jae Crowder for at least a week, according to coach Brad Stevens. 

Crowder suffered a left ankle sprain in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s 107-100 win over the Bulls at TD Garden. He is the second player in the front court to sustain an injury this week for the Celtics.

Al Horford, who was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol program on Tuesday, will not be making the trip to Cleveland for Thursday night’s game against the Cavaliers, and Stevens doesn’t expect to see Crowder back on the floor in the near future. 

“Jae sprained his ankle,” Brad Stevens said. “That’s all I know. I was told that it would be at least a week and then we’ll see after, but I don’t think we’re into it enough to make an assessment on that timeline. It doesn’t sound like he’ll be back anytime soon.”

Crowder came down on Rajon Rondo’s foot after making a jumping pass and hit the floor for a moment before he hopped off the court and straight to the Celtics locker room. 

All-Star Isaiah Thomas knows losing Crowder is a tough blow to his team, but he reminded everyone that the Celtics were in a similar position last season when the C’s were forced to play without their starting small forward.

“[It’s] very tough,” Thomas said after the Celtics’ win against the Bulls. “Last year we lost a back-to-back and beat the Warriors in their arena without Jae Crowder. There’s no excuses, they’re not going to feel sorry for us. Get our rest tonight and be ready for prime-time TV tomorrow.”

Thomas is confident in the Celtics’ depth and said he believes guys can come up big on the road against the Cavaliers. 

“We have a lot of good players who can step in at any given time,” Thomas said. “That’s our strength, our depth, and we have to keep going. Hopefully we can sneak one out of Cleveland.”

Read More: Brad Stevens, Jae Crowder,
Marcus Smart shines defensively, struggles on offense in season debut 11.03.16 at 12:31 am ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

In his season debut, Marcus Smart reminded everyone why he’s so important to the Celtics.

While his offensive touch might have been off, his defensive prowess shined against the Bulls and their brightest stars.  

Smart rattled the Bulls’ one-two punch of Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. He forced them to take awkward shots from the perimeter, pressured them in the back court and was physical with both All-Stars when they penetrated the paint. 

In other words, Smart being Smart. 

Butler, who finished with 23 points on 8-of-21 shots, had trouble finding his rhythm offensively. The same could be said for Wade. The star who finished off the Celtics just a week earlier with a late 3-pointer, finished with 15 points on the night, on 5-of-13 shooting from the field. Both Bulls go-to scorers shot below 40-percent and Smart, who didn’t play in the Celtics’ only loss this season in Chicago, was a big key in slowing them down. 

His defensive play earned him nearly 34 minutes of playing time off the bench, and was a big reason why he was still in the game at the end of the fourth quarter. Smart finished with seven points, including a game-changing running hook shot out of a timeout called by Brad Stevens with 25.2 seconds left that made it a two-possession game (105-100).

“It kind of just happened,” Smart said. “I was supposed to get a ball right to Isaiah [Thomas], but he was getting double-played so I just made a play.”

How often does Smart practice hook shots?

“I actually work on those, work on getting it high off the glass,” Smart said. “I just figured if I could get to the spot and put it up there it’d be a good shot to go in.”

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