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Marcus Smart earns Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award for February 03.04.15 at 9:26 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart has been recognized for his efforts to keep the Celtics in the playoff hunt through a crazy trade season in Boston.

Smart and Minnesota Timberwolves sensation Andrew Wiggins were named Wednesday the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for February.

Smart ranked third among East rookies in scoring (9.8 ppg), assists (4.3 apg) and steals (1.64 spg) for the month. He also was fourth in rebounding (4.5 rpg) and averaged a conference-rookie-high 32.6 minutes in 11 games for the Celtics, whose 7-4 record was tied for fourth best in the East.

The 6-4, 220-pound point guard set single-game career highs in rebounds (10), assists (nine) and steals (five) during February. Smart scored in double figures in six of his final seven games of the month.

Smart’s playing time increased significantly following the Dec. trade of Rajon Rondo to Dallas. He continued to impress even as Danny Ainge brought in Isaiah Thomas in a deadline deal with Phoenix. Wednesday against Utah marked Smart’s 16th start of the season.

As for Wiggins, the rookie out of Kansas won the West award for the fourth consecutive month and helped the Timberwolves to a 5-6 record, their best mark in a full calendar month this season. The 6-8, 199-pound forward led all rookies in scoring (16.8 ppg) and minutes (38.7 mpg), and he shot 45.7 percent from the field and averaged 4.8 rebounds.

On Feb. 23, Wiggins scored 30 points in a 113-102 loss to the Houston Rockets, his third 30-point game of the season, matching the Minnesota rookie record set by Isaiah Rider in 1993-94.

Here are just some of the highlights of the month for Smart:

  • Feb. 1 vs. Miami: Dished out a career-high nine assists and had only one turnover in an 83-75 loss to the Heat.
  • Feb. 4 vs. Denver: Grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds and added four points, eight assists and three steals in a 104-100 victory over the Nuggets.
  • Feb. 20 @ Sacramento: Scored 16 points and contributed five rebounds and a career-high five steals in a 109-101 loss to the Kings.
  • Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA rookie of the month,
    Brad Stevens isn’t worried about ‘managing feelings’ anymore 01.17.15 at 9:33 am ET
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    There comes a point in time where an NBA coach can’t worry about massaging the egos of his team. That time has come for Brad Stevens.

    After another close-but-no cigar special Friday night at TD Garden, Stevens said that he’s seeing some signs of life from his now 13-25 squad. But not enough. The Celtics shot 60 percent in the first half, competed hard for three quarters and even led the Bulls by three at the half. But Boston, as it often has this season, ran out of gas in the fourth and fell, 119-105.

    Asked if he’s concerned about his constantly changing roster and the impact it might have heading on a brutal six-game western road swing, Stevens was brutally honest.

    “I’€™m not as worried about keeping them up,” Stevens said. “I think we need to get better off of that. I thought we didn’€™t have enough ‘€“ we weren’€™t as tight as we need to be against that level of talent. We were loose in our coverages and a little loose on the ball and it hurt us. They’€™ve got some great, great players that stepped up and made plays and really separated the game.

    “But even when we were going back and forth I didn’€™t feel like ‘€“ I didn’€™t feel like it was sustainable at that rate, the way we were playing. So, yeah, I don’€™t know, hey’€¦we’€™re employed to do everything we can, to have everything we have, and to manage the ups and downs throughout a season. Players and coaches. And it’€™s on us as individuals to be up and ready. And certainly you have to help some guys through that and help manage some of that but, you know, we can’€™t spend our time managing feelings right now; we have to spend our time getting better.” Read the rest of this entry »

    Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Chicago Bulls, NBA
    Brad Stevens envies the ‘beautiful basketball’ of the Atlanta Hawks after seeing it up close and personal 01.15.15 at 10:24 am ET
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    Brad Stevens had the perfect model for his players to see Wednesday night. The Atlanta Hawks came in winners of nine straight, despite missing star big man Al Horford and sharpshooter Kyle Korver.

    He thought maybe his team would see how Atlanta (31-8) is playing the game right now for their coach Mike Budenholzer and be inspired. He thought wrong.

    Not three minutes into the game, Stevens had to call a timeout to remind his young team, still working to learn each other’s game, that he wants them to run basic offense.

    “I thought our offense was pretty poor all night, and I think they’€™re obviously a difficult-enough offense to guard,” Stevens said. “But when you give them run-out dunks, it doesn’€™t help anything, and we just turned the ball over too much. Put too much pressure on ourselves to be good in the half-court defensively, and then to come back.

    “We had cut it to nine and we were playing with some pretty good energy, but then at the end of the day they made us pay on a few different plays. And they do such a great job of ‘€“ they don’€™t over-dribble, you know? They attack, they space, they pass ‘€“ it’€™s beautiful basketball. They really move the ball well. And I thought we never really got into anything from a movement standpoint. We got pushed out a little bit out of our space and we fumbled the ball all around as a result of that.”

    The Celtics responded in the first quarter and managed a 24-24 tie after 12 minutes. But the roof started to cave in when the shots didn’t fall in the second and they could never really recover from a 57-45 halftime hole. Still, it was the start of the game that stuck in Stevens’ craw.

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    Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, NBA
    Jared Sullinger: ‘We can’t play hero ball [because] we don’t have heroes’ 01.06.15 at 8:58 am ET
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    Jared Sullinger played one season with Paul Pierce. But that one season was enough to learn a very valuable lesson from the former captain.

    One man can’t win a game. He can make a shot or haul in a rebound or make a big defensive play. But Paul Pierce learned from Doc Rivers at an early age that “hero ball” – the act of putting your team on your shoulders and trying to do it all yourself.

    Monday night was yet another example of that for the 11-21 Celtics as they fell behind 50-36 at the half and by 22 in the second half before making a meaningless run in a 104-95 loss to the lowly Hornets at TD Garden.

    Down 22, Stevens took most of his regulars out and turned to his bench, led by 13 points apiece from rookie James Young and Jae Crowder. But it wasn’t enough. The lesson?

    “It’s a natural habit from a ton of great players,” Sullinger said. “These are all great players. We didn’t get to the league by accident. We’re great players and our natural ability comes out and we try to make that home run play. But as a team, that hurts you. As a team, that hurts you. It’s not just one individual, it’s everybody. Sometimes, I do it. We just have to step outside of ourselves and put he team first and then the home run plays will naturally spit themselves out in our system.

    “We have to understand that one play is not going to make up an 18-point deficit,” Sullinger said. “That’s definitely what it’s called. It’s called hero ball. We can’t play hero ball. We don’t have heroes.

    “Being a hero makes you a failure, makes you a failure. You can’t play one on five at all. As a team, the system is going to spit out who’s going to score, who’s night it is. You just have to play basketball and do better.”

    Brad Stevens tried to make the same point.

    “That’s the type of coach he is but as a team, we just have to do better,” Sullinger said.

    Sullinger made a point after Monday’s 104-95 loss shows the weaknesses a fragile, young team has.

    “No, not at all. Not at all,” Belichick said. “It’s natural. If you look around at everybody in this room was a big impact in college basketball or a big impact at wherever they played. And, their ability of us as individuals automatically says, ‘let me put the team on my back.’ As a team, you can’t do that. It’s not just one person, it’s everybody.

    Look at Evan. He was a national player of the year. Tyler was an 18-10 guy at North Carolina. Marcus Smart was the man at Oklahoma State. James Young was the man at Kentucky. Jeff Green at Georgetown. I could go on and on and on. Everybody at one point was a focal point.”
    Re: James Young back in: ‘€œYea all his hard work he’€™s been putting in. Going back and forth from Maine to Boston and all the hard work he’€™s been putting in throughout the couple weeks is finally showing. I’€™m so proud and happy for him and the best is yet to come.’€

    Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Hero Ball, Jared Sullinger
    Brad Stevens takes blame for messy Celtics: ‘I’ve got to figure out how to coach this team better’ 01.05.15 at 11:30 pm ET
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    Brad Stevens has reached a low point in his second season as Celtics head coach.

    Stevens sounded an ominous signal Monday following a 104-95 lifeless loss to the lowly Charlotte Hornets on “Seats for Soldiers” night at TD Garden.

    His team started slow out of the gate and really never recovered, trailing 22-11 late in the first quarter and 50-36 at the half.

    “First of all, they played at a great pace, and they made shots and Kemba (Walker) was great,” Stevens said. “We couldn’€™t stop him. Cody Zeller was playing at a higher energy-level than anybody else on the floor a lot of the game, and you know (Gerald) Henderson has always really given us fits. I thought all three of those guys looked like they were at a different level early. And we weren’€™t very good.”

    It got so bad that Stevens ran through his entire 13-man roster by the end of the third quarter. What was he hoping to accomplish?

    “No idea. I think tonight was more of an anomaly because I was throwing darts. I can act like I know the answer to your question, but I was throwing darts,” Stevens said.

    Asked a question about the breakout game for James Young and whether it might mean more playing time for the rookie, Stevens instead took the opportunity to do a little soul searching.

    “€œI don’€™t know,” Stevens said. “I don’€™t know. I’€™ve got to figure out how to coach this team better. I’€™m not doing a very good job. We’€™re not playing well and we’€™re playing almost ‘€“ it’€™s not good basketball. We’€™ve got to do a better job playing good basketball. I’€™ll figure out the rotations later, once we start playing good basketball and once we all are very focused on very good basketball. And that’€™s on me. I’€™ve got to do a better job.”

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    Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Charlotte Hornets
    Rajon Rondo has advice for young Celtics: ‘Stick with’ Avery Bradley and ‘listen to’ Brad Stevens 01.03.15 at 12:05 pm ET
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    When Rajon Rondo was traded to Dallas in December, it left a void of leadership to a degree. Some may argue just what kind of leader the temperamental point guard was but he was the captain of the Celtics.

    So after Friday night’s 119-101 win over the Celtics, Rondo offered some advice for the likes of Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk, who are left to look up to Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Gerald Wallace.

    “Their future’€™s bright. They’€™re a very young team and a lot of hard-working guys over there,” Rondo said. “You know, stick with Avery, listen to Gerald, listen to Coach Stevens. You know, he’€™s very positive. And he expects a lot out of the guys but he’€™s the right coach for these young guys.”

    With Friday out of the way, Rondo will be solely focused on getting back to the NBA finals, a place he hasn’t been since losing Game 7 to the Lakers in 2010. He did get to a Game 7 of the Eastern finals in 2012 but fell in Miami.

    “I just want to win,” Rondo said. “I just want to win a championship. I’€™ve got to get to that feeling again and we have a great, talented group of guys in Dallas that I think we can do it, maybe one piece away. Our defensive rebounding, rebound entirely has to get better as a team, and coach Carlisle made an emphasis of rebounding the basketball and we did a pretty good job.”

    Rondo has been known to play at his best with a chip on his shoulder. Is he playing with a bigger chip on his shoulder than in 2010?

    “I wouldn’€™t say that,” he replied. “I’€™m very blessed to be playing basketball again. I took a long time off for my ACL injury and I think I took basketball for granted up to a certain point; being able to go out there every night and do what I love to do. So I don’€™t know if I was able to show it as much here while I was a Celtic, but now, I say I’€™m still just very humbled and blessed to be playing basketball. Something I love to do every night. So I don’€™t take it for granted, and this is how I play the game now.”
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    Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Rajon Rondo,
    Rajon Rondo looks back on a day that leaves him ’emotionally tired’ 01.02.15 at 10:49 pm ET
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    After lighting his former team up for 29 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, Rajon Rondo addressed reporters for about eight minutes following a 119-101 Dallas victory over the Celtics Friday night at an electric TD Garden.

    “Obviously it was a special day today,” Rondo said. “I’m emotionally tired, physically tired, drained right now. It was a tough game to get through but my teammates came through for me and we got the win.”

    Rondo started the game red-hot. He was 6-for-6 in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers and 15 points. His third three of the quarter came with 0.2 seconds left in the period and gave the Mavericks a 31-17 lead after one quarter.

    That inspired performance led into a three-minute video produced by the Celtics, which ended with the words “Thank You Rondo!” wrapped around the video board. Rondo caught a peek at the tribute but didn’t want to get too distracted by it.

    “I just tried to stay focused,” Rondo said. “It was a big game and it was already emotional enough. I just wanted to stay locked in and listen to the coach in the huddle and then obviously, go out and say thank you to the fans. So, I wasn’t too keyed in on the video. You know, I watched. I saw a couple of glimpses but I was just trying to stay focused.”

    Was he close to crying?

    “No tears,” Rondo said. “I think [Brandon] Bass blinked a couple of times. But I didn’t cry. It was a tough game, and they turned up the heat on us in the second half, defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »

    Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Rajon Rondo,
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