|Studs and Duds: Blazers spoil return of Jae Crowder, Celtics fall to 6th in East||04.01.16 at 12:52 am ET|
Not exactly the way the Celtics wanted to head into Golden State.
Al-Farouq Aminu scored a career-high 28 points and single-handedly spoiled the return of Jae Crowder Thursday night as the Blazers outlasted the Celtics, 116-109, Thursday night at the Moda Center.
Crowder made a big impact with a double-double, scoring 13 points and hauling in 10 rebounds, in his first game back from a high ankle sprain. With 22 points, Isaiah Thomas set a new franchise record with his 14th straight game as the team’s leading scorer. It was also his 14th straight game with at least 20 points, two games shy of Paul Pierce’s streak in the 2005-06 season.
“It felt good. He showed signs of what he does,” Thomas said of Crowder afterward. “It probably will take a couple of games for him to get back to his full strength. Just glad to have him back in a routine. It just sucks we couldn’t get the win for him.”
It was a costly loss for the Celtics (43-32) as they fell to sixth in the East, a half-game behind the Heat and Hornets.
Thanks to 50 percent shooting from the field in the first quarter, the Celtics raced out to a 12-4 lead. Portland didn’t score in the game’s first two minutes.
The first quarter featured the first action from Crowder since suffering a high ankle sprain March 11 against the Rockets. In the opening 60 seconds, he showed no ill effects, grabbing a rebound on the first Blazers possession of the game. On the next possession, Crowder collected a steal and dished an assist on an Isaiah Thomas 3-pointer.
|Jae Crowder ‘looking right’ for return vs. Trail Blazers, not likely for Friday vs. Warriors||03.31.16 at 2:22 pm ET|
The return of Jae Crowder is likely to be one-game only event tonight in Portland.
Barring any setback before the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he’s hopeful Crowder to be available against the Trail Blazers at the Moda Center.
“I’m feeling pretty good. Minor soreness.” Crowder told reporters Thursday in Portland. Crowder said at the shootaround that he’s hopeful to play but hasn’t fully committed. That will come following one more test in a shootaround before the game at the Moda Center.
Asked if he’d be ready to go against Portland, Crowder replied, “It’s looking right,” adding that he would prefer the slower tempo and pace of the Blazers versus the up-tempo demands of the Warriors.
Stevens added that Crowder would be limited to the game against the Trail Blazers if he’s physically not able to play in back-to-back games so early back from his right high ankle sprain. The Celtics are scheduled to play the 68-win Warriors on Friday night in Oakland.
Crowder practiced with the team at full speed Wednesday in Portland for the first time since injuring the ankle against the Rockets on March 11 at TD Garden. Stevens said he liked what he saw from Crowder in practice.
“He just looked like Jae,” Stevens told reporters Thursday.
He’s missed eight games and the team has posted a record of 4-4 in his absence.
Brad Stevens says that if Jae Crowder can play only one of the next two games, tonight will be the night.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 31, 2016
|Celtics announce times, dates for playoff ticket sales||03.31.16 at 1:52 pm ET|
Next week will be a busy time for Celtics fans planning to attend playoff games at TD Garden.
The team announced Thursday that individual game playoff tickets for round one, home games one, two and three at the TD Garden will be available to Club Green email subscribers during an exclusive, one-day-only presale event on Tuesday, April 5 starting at 11:00 a.m.
To access the exclusive presale event, fans must register for Club Green presented by Mohegan Sun at Celtics.com/subscribe. All Club Green subscribers will receive a link to access tickets before the general public.
Two days later, on April 7, individual game tickets will go on sale to the general public at 11:00 a.m. To purchase seats fans can go to Celtics.com, call 800-4NBA-TIX or visit the TD Garden Box Office.
By the time the Celtics conclude their 5-game Western swing on Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers, the team could have clinched their second straight playoff appearance in three seasons under Brad Stevens. The team enters Thursday’s game in Portland with a 43-31 record and needs just two wins to clinch a playoff berth.
For fans who want to guarantee access to Celtics tickets for the duration of the 2016 Playoffs, season ticket memberships for the 2016-17 season are now available. Membership guarantees fans access to their seats for every game in their plan plus exclusive benefits and special event invitations only available through the team.
For larger groups, private suite rentals will be available on Wednesday, April 6. To learn more and to purchase a suite rental fans may call 866-4CELTIX (866-423-5849), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Celtics.com.
The Celtics’ round one opponent, and the dates and times of games, will be posted on Celtics.com when they are determined.
If any game is not played refunds will be done at the point of purchase. Fans who purchase online will receive an automatic refund from Ticketmaster for the face value of each ticket, facility charge and per ticket service charge. All per order charges, including order processing and delivery charges, will not be refunded.
|Jae Crowder says he will ‘push [right ankle] to the limit’ in effort to return Thursday||03.30.16 at 6:31 pm ET|
The Celtics may have their most versatile player back in uniform when they take on the Trail Blazers Thursday night at the Moda Center.
“I’m hopeful that we can get back to playing the way that we were playing when we’d been all healthy earlier this year,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters before practice.
Crowder started Boston’s first 66 games before missing the last eight with the right ankle injury. The team has played .500 ball (4-4) in those games. Crowder’s value came not just in his 15.4 points per game but consistently drawing the opposing team’s best scorer as well as providing a legitimate second scoring option behind Isaiah Thomas. In losses to teams like Oklahoma City, Toronto and the Clippers on Monday, his absence was dramatically felt.
|Brad Stevens defends (sort of) his team’s lack of defense: ‘We didn’t play with any composure’||03.29.16 at 2:35 am ET|
All effort and no execution will make for a losing formula every time on the road in the NBA.
That was certainly the case Monday as the Celtics, fighting for playoff positioning at 43-31, allowed the Clippers to shoot a scorching 58.5 percent from the field in the first half while yielding a remarkable 7-of-11 from beyond the arc. Those two stats alone allowed Los Angeles to race out to a 67-50 halftime lead.
Everyone was hitting shots in a Clippers uniform Monday night, including four players off the bench who scored in double figured and led a season-best 67-point effort.
“I don’t how you would say it’s bench or starters, but it’s depth,” Stevens said, referring to the 16 points of Austin Rivers and 15 of Jamaal Crawford. “It’s the ability to bring Evan [Turner] off and be versatile at that spot and play him and Smart together with the skilled bigs is obviously we like to do. But we haven’t been able to do it. Hey, those guys in the last few games have been pretty good off the bench. I thought certainly, today wasn’t a bench or starters thing. It was a Clippers thing. Credit goes to them.
“They deserve a lot of credit for the way they made shots, the way they made plays,” Stevens told reporters after his team’s 114-90 loss that ended a four-game win streak. “I thought any time we got close, we didn’t play with any composure to get back over the hump. Part of that has to do with being competitive and trying to hit home runs all the time when you’re trying to mount a comeback.
“We’ve got to do a better job in those situations than we did tonight. Defensively, I actually felt like, especially on the perimeter, we were pretty locked in and pretty good, for the most part. I thought they obviously made some contested shots that you’re going to have to defend and make. We missed some opportunities to challenge them at the rim with some rotations. All told, their play is the reason they won the game.”
|Doc Rivers on Paul Pierce injury scare: ‘Of course, Laker fans, they were going to bring out a wheelchair’||03.29.16 at 1:43 am ET|
Doc Rivers could laugh about it after his team’s 114-90 win over the Celtics on Monday night, but the moment Paul Pierce went down in the second quarter clutching his right knee, joking was the last thing from his mind.
With just over two minutes left in the first half, Pierce drove to his left and lifted a finger roll to the basket that fell through for two points. But Pierce fell very awkwardly. He stayed on the floor for several minutes while trainers took a close look. He got up and limped off, later being diagnosed with a sprained ankle and just a bruise on his kneecap.
“It’s his ankle, which is the good news because when he went down, I thought it was his knee,” Rivers said. “Of course, the Laker fans, they were going to bring out a wheelchair at some point. They didn’t do that so that was good. He’s going to be out for a little bit. We don’t know how long. It’s one of those things.
“When he went down, I thought it was his knee because he grabbed his knee. He said he grabbed his knee because he got kneed and he hit [the floor]. The pain was there [in knee] but he twisted his ankle.”
Of course, the incident Rivers was referring to was Game 1 of the 2008 NBA finals when Kobe Bryant drove to the basket and scored in the third quarter. Kendrick Perkins came down on Pierce’s right leg and Pierce fell on the baseline, clutching his right knee. He left in a wheelchair, only to return in Willis Reed-style later in Game 1.
Rivers was relieved to find out from his staff in the second half that the Clippers had dodged a bullet. And while he may be out for the final two weeks of the regular season, Rivers and the Clippers sounded hopeful Pierce would return by the playoffs.
“For a second, when he grabbed his knee, I definitely thought, ‘Oh boy.’ Then I’m thinking, ‘Against the Celtics.’ I was thinking, ‘No.’ It didn’t happen, so that’s good,” Rivers said.
|Studs and Duds: Defenseless Celtics can’t stop Chris Paul; Paul Pierce injuries ankle, knee||03.29.16 at 12:48 am ET|
There was no dramatic comeback this time against the Clippers. Just a mismatch.
On Feb. 10 at TD Garden, the Celtics came back late in the fourth quarter to force overtime and win, 139-134. The Clippers repeated their offensive effort but the Celtics could not keep up Monday at Staples Center in a 114-90 Clippers’ win.
Austin Rivers (16 points) and Jamaal Crawford (15) led a potent bench effort that dominated the Celtics all night. The Clippers’ bench scored a season-high 67 points and outscored Boston’s reserves, 67-37. Chris Paul had 13 points and 14 assists while DeAndre Jordan dominated the glass with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Paul also had three steals in his 26 minutes. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics in scoring for a 13th straight game, pouring in 24 points.
In addition to seeing their four-game win streak come to an end, it was a costly loss for the Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings. The fifth-place Celtics fell to 43-31 and a half-game behind Miami (43-30) for fourth place in the East. They are now just a half-game ahead of sixth-place Charlotte (42-31) in the East.
In what could’ve been his last game against his former team, Paul Pierce escaped what appeared to be a serious knee injury when he drove to the basket for a made a finger roll layup with 2:07 left in the second quarter. He landed awkwardly on his right knee, which bent underneath him.
Pierce laid on the court for several minutes as the Clippers training staff tended to him. He got up and made his way to the locker room under his own power. He was ruled out for the rest of the game with a right knee contusion and a sprained right ankle.
Pierce was having a very solid game at the time of his injury, scoring eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, with three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 11 minutes. Clippers coach Doc Rivers was furious that no foul was called on the play and Rivers’ son Austin picked up a technical foul for continuing the argument during the injury timeout.
Thomas continued two impressive streaks. The diminutive guard has led the Celtics in scoring for 13 straight games, the best streak since Larry Bird accomplished it in 13 in a row in March 1988. In those 13 games, Thomas had also scored at least 20 points, the longest streak since Paul Pierce scored 20 or more in 16 straight games Feb. 4-March 16, 2006.
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