|Irish Coffee: On Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, the Celtics’ ¡Three Amigos! wreaking havoc||11.04.14 at 12:54 pm ET|
With the exception of two brief offensive substitutions, Celtics coach Brad Stevens fielded a backcourt triumvirate of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart for the final nine minutes of Monday’s 118-113 loss to the Mavericks, and they wreaked more havoc than the “¡Three Amigos!” in Santa Poco.
The Celtics scored 29 points down the stretch, and that trio scored or assisted all of them, pulling the C’s within one with 39 seconds left after trailing by 31 points at one point in the game. Bradley scored 14 of his career-high 32 points during the run, Rondo collected six of his 15 assists and Smart submitted highlight after highlight in what can only be described as atomic excitation.
It was all thrilling basketball, and a sure sign Stevens will experiment further with this trio.
|Five things we learned in Celtics’ failed comeback against Mavericks||11.03.14 at 11:07 pm ET|
For the second straight game, the Celtics dug themselves a deep early grave and spent the rest of the night trying to climb their way out. This time, though, they nearly pulled a “Kill Bill” and escaped Texas with a victory.
After losing by double digits to the Rockets on Saturday, the Celtics fell behind by 31 in the first half against the Mavericks Monday night only to slice the lead to one in the final minute. But, the C’s couldn’t convert multiple chances to tie the game, ultimately losing 118-113 to the NBA’s highest-rated offense.
Jeff Green scored a game-high 35 points while Avery Bradley added a career-high 32. Rajon Rondo collected seven points, nine rebounds and 15 assists. Marcus Smart added seven points, six boards and three assists in his homecoming, submitting the most impressive effort of his young Celtics career.
Despite becoming the first Celtics teammates to each score 30 points in a game since Rondo and Ray Allen on Rondo’s 23rd birthday five years ago, Bradley and Green both missed the mark on opportunities to tie the game in the final 39 seconds. Fouled on a 3-point attempt, Bradley made two of three free throws to cut the Dallas lead to 114-113 and Green couldn’t convert his sixth 3-pointer of the night with a chance to tie it at 116 in the closing seconds.
|Five things we learned in Celtics’ blowout loss in Houston||11.01.14 at 10:27 pm ET|
Brad Stevens‘ team arrived safely in Houston for Saturday night’s tilt, but its game was misplaced. Everything that went well for the Celts in their runaway, season-opening win Wednesday night went wrong in a 104-90 loss to the Rockets.
In a nutshell, the Celtics weren’t aggressive enough early on, and were remarkably bad from beyond the 3-point line. The C’s went to the foul line 24 fewer times than the Rockets, while having the worst 3-point shooting night in franchise history.
With the 1-for-25 showing from beyond the 3-point stripe, it marked the first time in franchise history the Celtics have not hit a three while taking more than 10 attempts. Jeff Green hit his team’s 22nd attempt. The NBA record still stands at 0-for-22, set by the Nuggets in 2012.
The closest the Celtics would come in the second half was 11 points. (For a complete box score, click here.)
RAJON RONDO IS A WORK IN PROGRESS
It was easy to forget Rondo didn’t play a single preseason game after watching him excel against the Nets. But in Game No. 2, the point guard seemed out of sorts from the start.
Before exiting the game for the first time, with the Celtics trailing, 22-8, Rondo had trouble both offensively and defensively (where he was often lost on rotations after double-teaming Dwight Howard). He would re-enter the game with the C’s still trailing by 14 (32-18), continuing to lack any sort of spark.
Rondo finished the first half going 0-for-2 from the field. For the game, the point guard went 2-for-9 from the floor, but did haul in 10 rebounds.
LEANING ON JUMPERS PROVED DANGEROUS
There was a reason the Celtics attempted just three first-half free throws, while the Rockets were going to the line 24 times: the C’s weren’t exactly taking it at the hosts.
The missed jumpers, particularly in the first quarter, were especially damaging considering how Houston was able to transition into makable shots (shooting 57 percent from the field in the initial quarter, leading to a 15-point Celtics deficit). The Celtics started going inside more in the second quarter, but the hole had already been dug.
The most noticeable aspect of the Celtics’ reliance on their outside game came from beyond the 3-point line, where they turned in a historically bad performance.
DEALING WITH HOWARD PROVED DICEY
Stevens attempted to rotate the trio of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller on Howard. That strategy, however, ran into some issues with all three carrying three fouls into halftime. The trio finished with five fouls apiece.
The unevenness at the position also translated to a dramatic 180 for Olynyk from Wednesday night, when he totaled 18 points. This time the second-year big man couldn’t find a comfort zone, finishing with eight points in 15 minutes.
Howard only finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, but his presence allowed for the likes of James Harden (26 points) to get in the clear.
LIVING WITH THE UPS AND DOWNS OF MARCUS SMART
So much was made of the performance of the rookie in Game 1, with Smart contributing on multiple levels against Brooklyn.
This time, however, he couldn’t supply any help for a Celtics team desperate for some aggressiveness. Smart went 0-for-7 from the field
HOT STARTS ARE STILL A THING OF THE PAST
The Celtics failed to go 2-0 once again, not having accomplished the feat since 2009.
|Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and a shared love for Gino||10.30.14 at 9:09 am ET|
There was a different feel to this Kevin Garnett homecoming than the first. No longer paired with Paul Pierce on the Nets, he received a standing ovation from Celtics fans and a smattering of “KG” chants during Brooklyn’s pregame announcements in the Garden, but nothing like the catharsis in January.
Still, the love is there, as it always will be in Boston, and the feeling is mutual.
“It’s always special to come back to Beantown,” Garnett said after a 121-105 loss. “Hearing the little things, it’s very hard to focus. I had to go to yoga this morning, ooh-sah, get my meditation right, stay level. A lot of energy in the building. It’s always great to come back here. I love Beantown. I’m always bleeding green. Y’all know what it is.”
Garnett finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes, but old friend Rajon Rondo won the night, amassing 13 points, 12 assists and seven boards in 30 minutes. “Rondo was classic,” added Garnett. “I don’t know what he said he was at — 89, 83 percent? That was a hell of an 83 percent.”
Rondo returned the favor.
“It was special again going against KG,” he said. “He’s like my big brother. He hit me a couple times on the pick, but he didn’t hit me as hard as he was hitting Avery [Bradley]. He nails guys on the pick, and I’m used to him nailing guys for me. It’s always great to play against the guy, especially since it’s his 20th year.”
Garnett begrudgingly paid respect to another old friend he would’ve rather not seen: Gino. So often staring at the Jumbotron, disco dancing in Celtics sweats at the end of blowout wins from 2007-13, Garnett retreated to Brooklyn’s huddle and didn’t even glimpse at the long-haired man who brought him so much joy.
|Why you should care about Wednesday’s Celtics win: Rajon Rondo’s spectacular return, Marcus Smart’s debut||10.29.14 at 10:22 pm ET|
First the C’s took a 26-point lead into halftime, then they dropped 101 points by end of the third quarter thanks to a Kelly Olynyk buzzer-beater.
In the end, the Celtics played extremely well as a whole, winning 121-105 while shooting an insane 55.7 percent from the field for the game (Click here for the box score). And it was Rajon Rondo who gave them the shot in the arm that they really needed, not missing any games after breaking a bone in his left hand just 33 days ago.
Rondo dazzled in his return
Rondo returned to action just shy of five weeks after having surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand and was better than ever. Wearing protective padding over his injured hand, Rondo posted a near triple-double in his first game action since April, finishing with 13 points (6-for-9 from the field), 12 assists and seven rebounds in just under 30 minutes of action.
Brad Stevens said prior to the game that there is no minute restriction on his star point guard, but he will open up the season playing in these types of short “stints” followed by even shorter rests.
“I thought he played great,” Stevens said of Rondo after the win. “I probably played him in the second half too long of stints for what I wanted to at one time, but I actually thought one of the best parts of the game for us was the fact that we went to the bench and we just kept going. And the bench made such a great contribution, and Rondo just kind of fit in seamlessly.”
|Rajon Rondo to play and start on opening night vs. Nets||10.29.14 at 6:09 pm ET|
He’s been giving us updates on himself all week, from 79 percent on Monday to 83 percent on Tuesday, but now Brad Stevens has made it official. Rajon Rondo will play in the Celtics‘ first game of the season on Wednesday night just 33 days after surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand.
Stevens was straight to the point when asked if Rondo would play and if he would start, simply responding, “Yes,” to both questions.
Then Stevens was asked if Rondo would have a minutes restriction: “No,” said the coach. ‘The way that I’ve looked at it is that I might play him in shorter stints, but no minute restrictions. And then, you know, it will be about how he plays after that, it really is his first preseason game as well for him.”
Stevens also went on to say that Rondo will receive shorter rest than he did last year in between his playing stints.
|Asset Management: Rajon Rondo’s Celtics future||10.29.14 at 12:34 pm ET|
I think we can all agree the Celtics won’t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’s pieces in a series we’ll call Asset Management. Next up: Rajon Rondo.
There’s no point arguing about whether Rajon Rondo is a great player any longer. He’s capable of things on a basketball court previously reserved only for Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson, and that’s all I’ll ever need to know.
We haven’t seen Rondo at full strength since Jan. 25, 2013, when he dropped a 16-10-11 triple-double and played the final 12 minutes of a double-overtime loss to the Hawks on a torn ACL. How anyone hates on him is beyond me.
Playing at 87 percent health or whatever weird number he assigned to his rehabbed right knee last season, Rondo still averaged 11.7 points, 9.8 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 33.3 minutes over 30 games. You know who else achieved those averages in 2013-14? Nobody. Not Kevin Durant. Not LeBron James. Not Stephen Curry. Not Chris Paul. Nobody.
Rondo is one of the most extraordinary players in the NBA, if not the league’s strangest bird, and it’s good to have him back. The broken metatarsal in his left hand will prevent Rondo from reaching 100 percent for a week or two, but he’ll be collecting triple-doubles before we know it, ascending everbody’s player rankings all year.
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