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Studs and Duds: 1 down for Celtics, 81 to go 10.28.15 at 10:03 pm ET
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@WEEICeltics PODCAST GAME RECAP

It’s unclear whether the Philadelphia 76ers are an NBA team, but the win counts just the same.

With a 112-95 win over the ever-tanking Sixers on opening night, your Boston Celtics are 1-0, undefeated, atop the division standings and tied for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. One down, 81 to go. Brad Stevens is probably already watching Toronto Raptors tape right now.

Isaiah Thomas led the way with 27 points (10-19 FG) and seven assists. He was joined in double figures by Amir Johnson (15 points, 7 rebounds), Jae Crowder (14 points, 6 rebounds), Marcus Smart (13 points, 5 assists) and Jared Sullinger (12 points, 7 rebounds). Production abound.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas.

It wasn’t a great shooting night for the Sixth Man of the Year favorite, and he still had 23 points through three quarters. Thomas missed his first five 3-point attempts, but made up for it by getting to the line a ton (6-7 FT) and knocking down a triple just before the third-quarter buzzer that pushed the C’s lead to 79-67. He added seven assists against three turnovers and generally destroyed the 76ers on the pick-and-roll, mostly with Johnson working as his partner.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Tyler Zeller.

This could just as easily be David Lee, but Zeller was yanked 5:13 into the ballgame after the Sixers scored 10 of their first 15 points in the paint. He returned briefly in the second quarter and was removed again shortly after Philadelphia point guard Isaiah Canaan scored on another layup. Zeller was removed for the starting lineup at halftime in favor of Sullinger, and he sat the entire time the Celtics build their lead as large as 15 points.

VINE OF THE NIGHT:

Out of a timeout with 2.9 seconds left in the half, the Celtics ran a ton of misdirection in the paint, only to have Smart inbound the ball, hop to the 3-point line and get the ball back. It was the simplest of play calls that led to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and a 51-40 halftime lead for the C’s.

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Let’s hope this is the last time I write this sentence: More Johnson, please. Okafor was killing the Celtics with eight early points on four shots within five feet of the basket, so Brad Stevens answered with Jared Sullinger midway through the first quarter? I was under the impression interior defense was precisely why Amir Johnson was signed this past summer. On the ensuing possession, Okafor scored on Sullinger within five feet of the basket, giving the 76ers a 17-11 lead. Johnson finally checked in with 2:31 remaining in the opening quarter and the C’s trailing by nine. He recorded a block on his first possession. Over the next 8:14, the Celtics outscored Philadelphia 18-2 and grabbed a 35-28 lead. You do the math.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 26 fast-break points. Despite their youth last season, the Celtics ranked in the middle of the pack with 13.6 fast-break points per game — a slight uptick from Stevens’ first season. Granted, they were facing the 76ers, but the C’s scored 34 points off 24 turnovers and thrived in transition. Pace and space is all the rage, and they had the first part down in the opener.

@ OF THE NIGHT:

Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, NBA, Philadelphia 76ers
Celtics stick with starting lineup, deactivate James Young 10.28.15 at 7:09 pm ET
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James Young

James Young

Prior to Wednesday’s season opener against the hapless Philadelphia 76ers, Celtics coach Brad Stevens confirmed he would employ the same starting lineup he used to finish out the preseason: Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, David Lee and Tyler Zeller.

The two inactives for the C’s: R.J. Hunter (illness) and James Young, whose benching officially establishes him as the last guy on the 15-man roster. Rookie second-round pick Jordan Mickey earned the spot final spot over him. And if Young can’t crack the depth chart when Hunter is ill, then he likely won’t be seeing time in Boston soon, since they play the same position.

Kelly Olynyk will serve his one-game suspension for dislocating Kevin Love‘s shoulder in Game 4 of the C’s first-round loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s eligible to return on Friday.

Meanwhile, the 76ers will start Boston area native Nerlens Noel and lottery pick Jahlil Okafor along with three guys you may have never heard of — Hollis Thompson, Jakarr Sampson and Isaiah Canaan. The league’s tanking experiment gone wrong for the past several seasons, Philadelphia offers a prime opportunity for the Celtics to start the season off with a win in front of their home crowd.

Read More: Boston Celtics, James Young, Philadelphia 76ers, R.J. Hunter
Danny Ainge issues statement about former advisor Flip Saunders 10.25.15 at 9:02 pm ET
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Danny Ainge

Danny Ainge

Celtics president Danny Ainge issued a statement following the death of Timberwolves coach and president Flip Saunders on Sunday:

“€œI am deeply saddened by the loss of Flip Saunders. He was an outstanding coach who always got the most out of his teams. He was always a well-respected opponent. Flip dedicated so much of his life to basketball and the NBA. His life has impacted so many. May God bless his wife Debbie, their children, and extended family. He will be missed greatly by our small NBA community.”

Saunders served as an advisor for the Celtics at the end of the 2011-12 season, when the C’s made a run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, shortly before Saunders returned to Minnesota.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Flip Saunders, NBA
Celtics cut Perry Jones III, finalize 15-man roster for opening night 10.25.15 at 2:50 pm ET
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Perry Jones

Perry Jones

The Celtics cut forward Perry Jones III and guard Corey Walden on Saturday, finalizing their roster at 15 players.

Walden hung around as a training camp invite to fill preseason gaps left by Marcus Smart’s illness and Isaiah Thomas‘ tendinitis, so Kelly Olynyk wouldn’t get stuck playing point guard again, as he did against the Nets on Monday.

Jones’ departure is a little more interesting from an operational standpoint. The Celtics acquired him and Detroit’s second-round pick from the Thunder for essentially nothing (a heavily protected second-round pick). Jones is guaranteed $2 million this season, at least a portion of which was offset by cash they acquired in that deal as well.

The Celtics raved about Jones’ production in Oklahoma City during the early going last season and the athleticism he brings to both the big small forward and small big forward positions. But chronic knee issues that arose again during the preseason may threaten the 24-year-old’s NBA career. Surely, team president Danny Ainge shopped Jones’ contract around the league in hopes of not having to eat his salary, but it doesn’t appear anybody was willing to take on that guaranteed $2 million. Whether he’ll receive a non-guaranteed minimum offer elsewhere remains to be seen.

Barring a trade in the next few days, the Celtics have locked in their 15-man roster for Wednesday’s opener.

  • Ball-handlers: Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Evan Turner, Terry Rozier
  • Wings: Avery Bradley, R.J. Hunter, James Young
  • Swings: Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko
  • Bigs: David Lee, Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Mickey

The only questions left now are who will start and how deep the rotation will go, and we probably won’t have definitive answers to either of those queries on opening night, because that’ probably change from night to night.

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, Perry Jones III,
Stud and Duds: Jared Sullinger shines in sloppy win over 76ers 10.24.15 at 9:14 am ET
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Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger

In a game where both teams combined for 40 turnovers, the Celtics outscored their opponent in the second half and closed out the preseason by beating the 76ers, 81-65. Marcus Smart’s 10 points and Jared Sullinger’s 14 rebounds led the charge, as the Celtics finished the preseason with a 6-1 record.

The Celtics held the lead throughout most of the game until the end of the second quarter, when Philly cut the lead to three heading into halftime. The Celtics then opened up a 12-point advantage in the third quarter and never looked back. 76ers rookie Jahlil Okafor notched 12 points and eight rebounds for Philadelphia.

For a complete box score, click here.

Stud of the night: Jared Sullinger

Sullinger finished the preseason on a high note, pulling down 14 rebounds and scoring eight points against the 76ers. He was also cheerful on the bench — on his feet, encouraging his teammates after every big play. The Celtics grabbed a lot of boards against Philadelphia last night. Amir Johnson snagged 13 and Kelly Olynyk had 12. But it was especially nice to see Sullinger active around the glass. After a lukewarm start to the preseason, Sullinger has momentum heading into the regular season.

Dud of the night: James Young

In 20 minutes, Young tried his best to find a groove offensively, but much like the entire preseason, he came up short. He finished with three points on 12 shots. There’s a good chance Young may be starting his regular season in Maine with the D-League affiliated Red Claws.

Philadelphia will get their shot at revenge when they head to the TD Garden on Wednesday for a season-opening matchup against the Celtics.

How much will Jared Sullinger play at the start of season? 10.23.15 at 9:01 am ET
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It’s the weighty question that hangs over the Celtics.

How much will Jared Sullinger contribute at the start of the season?

There are subsets to that question, as well. Like how much will he be able to contribute, what will his role be and perhaps most of all, what does head coach Brad Stevens envision as a realistic starting point when the season opens Wednesday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The 6-foot-9 power forward listed at 260 pounds played three stints Thursday in a 99-85 preseason win over the Knicks at TD Garden. His final line: 19 minutes, 6-of-10 from the field, eight rebounds and a team-high 16 points.

“I think he played at the end of the game because we wanted to throw the ball at the post and score,” Stevens said. “So obviously, there were other guys in the game that hadn’€™t played up to that point, but he had played three stints, [and] that was his third stint.”

At the start of camp, Sullinger acknowledged that his family and former NBA star John Lucas all but had an intervention to help him with his weight approaching 300 pounds and his conditioning. Sullinger can look out on the floor and see a long list of names that are fighting with him for significant playing time, names like Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko and David Lee. Games like Thursday seem to be an indication that he’s at least headed in the right direction as he builds his stamina off the bench.

“You know, time will tell how it all works itself out with minutes but I thought he did a lot of good things,” Stevens said. “As the season goes on, we’€™re always going to factor in good play. So that’€™s a good thing.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Jared Sullinger,
Studs and Duds: Jared Sullinger, Celtics cruise past Knicks 10.22.15 at 10:26 pm ET
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Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller

After losing to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden last Friday night, the Celtics avenged their defeat by beating New York, 99-85. The C’s took control early in the first half by being aggressive offensively and never allowing the Knicks to settle into their halfcourt defense.

Tyler Zeller had the kind of offensive production that earned him a starting job last season, scoring 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and pulling down five rebounds. His great hands caught nearly every pass thrown his way, allowing him to finish around the hoop for easy buckets.

Jose Calderon (17 points, 8 rebounds) led the way for the Knicks, but the Knicks struggled offensively and couldn’t get All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony going.

For a complete box score, click here. For a breakdown beyond the box, read on.

Stud of the night: Jared Sullinger

Sullinger had a stellar night, filling the stat sheet with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He fought for most of his points in the paint, where he also grabbed rebounds and played solid defense against the Knicks. When he battled inside more often, he was able to make his layups or draw contact and earn trips to the foul line. Sullinger just has to do a better job at making those free throws. He went 4-for-10 from the charity stripe, but that was the only part of his game that prevented him from having a spectacular night.

Dud of the night: Carmelo Anthony 

It was Jae Crowder versus Anthony, and Crowder reigned victorious in this bout. Crowder not only put together a solid statistical game (13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists), but also pestered Anthony all night. The Knicks star scored eight points on 18 shots — all when Crowder wasn’t defending him — and never got into a rhythm. It was a great battle for Crowder.

 

After the game, Anthony had this to say about Crowder:

“I like Jae Crowder, he’s a pest,” said Anthony. “He likes to play physical, likes to get up in the passing lane. I like him, I’m a fan of Jae.”

 

Crowder on guarding Anthony:

“He’s very tough, very physical,” said Crowder. “Great jump shooter, as we all know, so I just tried to make it harder for him and wear him down on both ends of the court. Just try to make him guard on his defensive and just try to stay on him on the offensive end. I want to be physical with him and he’s going to be physical back so I just want the game to be called fair.”

 

Isaiah Thomas (tendinitis) and Kelly Olynyk (rest) did not play. No word yet if either will make the trip up to Manchester, N.H., where the Celtics will take on the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night in their preseason finale.

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