|What Serge Ibaka going to Toronto means for Celtics||02.14.17 at 11:55 am ET|
The first salvo has been fired as the NBA storms towards its trade deadline.
According to multiple reports, the Raptors have secured the services of forward Serge Ibaka thanks to a trade with Orlando.
Orlando has agreed to trade Serge Ibaka to Toronto for Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round pick, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 14, 2017
Toronto will send lower of its two first-round picks to Orlando in 2017, league sources tell @TheVertical. Toronto has the Clippers' pick.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 14, 2017
The 27-year-old Ibaka had been one of the rumored targets of Danny Ainge and the Celtics, averaging 15.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Magic.
The Raptors have slipped to the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference, four games in back of the second-seed Celtics. The C’s currently reside two games in back of conference leader Cleveland, while sitting 2 1/2 games in front of Washington, and four ahead of Atlanta.
Ross was averaging 10.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 22.4 minutes per game for the Raptors.
One of the factors in moving on from Ibaka for Orlando was the reality that the former first-round pick could walk at the end of the season as a free agent.
Ibaka has not played well in his two meetings against the Celtics this season, netting four and eight points. The Celtics play the Raptors one more time in the regular season, traveling to Toronto on Feb. 24.
|Win in Dallas shows again Celtics know how to seal the deal late||02.13.17 at 10:57 pm ET|
The Celtics once again had their finishing kick in high gear Monday in Dallas.
Perhaps the most important quality the Celtics have shown over the course of this promising season is their ability to close out teams in the fourth. They did it again Monday as they scored 28 points in the final 12 minutes in a 111-98 win over the Mavericks at American Airlines Center. No team in the NBA scores more in the final 12 minutes than Boston’s 29-point average.
Something else they’ll need come playoff time is balance. They showed that Monday, also. Isaiah Thomas led six players in double figures with 29 points. They improved to 17-11 on the road, the best such record in the East.
The Celtics finished off their 4-game West Coast swing with three straight victories after a loss in Sacramento. They come back home with a great deal of momentum, taking on the fast-improving 76ers Wednesday night at TD Garden.
“It’s hard to win a game,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters afterward. “We got outplayed the first night. But then the last three games we played pretty well.”
“We would’ve loved to go 4-0, but we bounced back,” Marcus Smart added. “That’s what good teams do, and we’re becoming a really great team.”
For a full recap and box score of Monday’s win over the Mavericks, click here.
The Celtics won their tenth game in 11 outings to improve to 36-19 and draw to within two games of first-place Cleveland (37-16) in the East.
“We’re playing aggressively on offense,” Thomas said. “We have a good pace on offense and on defense we’re heading in the direction we want to be.”
Thomas had 29 points, his 39th straight game with at least 20 points. The Celtics got a dose of their own medicine as 5-foot-7 rookie Yogi Ferrell scored 20 points and put a scare into the Celtics in parts of the game.
Early in the game, 5-foot-7 Isaiah Thomas was guarding 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki hit a couple of jumpers over him.
The Celtics then switched to Marcus Smart. The man who has “Dallas” tattooed on his forearm put on a show in his hometown early.
The two teams were red hot to start the game from the perimeter. Thomas hit his first three shots from beyond the arc while Smart also hit an early three, making the Celtics 4-for-4 from deep. But the Mavericks connected on six of their first seven shots as they kept pace.
The Celtics finished the first quarter hitting 7-of-11 from 3-point range while Dallas was 4-for-6 from deep.
The game was a continuation of the coming out party for rookie Yogi Ferrell. He is the Mavericks’ answer to Isaiah Thomas. For a good part of the first half, he played like it. He hit his first five shots and scored 11 points in just nine minutes of action.
Deron Williams was ejected when he drove to the basket with just under 40 seconds left in the first half and was called for an offensive foul, drawn by Smart. Williams picked up two quick technicals and was tossed.
Then with just 0.6 seconds remaining, Ferrell was whistled for a questionable foul on Isaiah Thomas, who was firing up a deep three. Thomas hit all three shots and finished off an 8-0 run to put the Celtics up, 61-50, at the half. Thomas led the Celtics at the break with 18 points while Smart added 17. Gerald Green had 10.
|Win over Jazz should make you start wondering about bigger things for Celtics||02.12.17 at 9:08 am ET|
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Celtics — even without trading what could very well be the No. 1 pick in the draft — have entered the NBA’s elite.
The C’s are just 2 1/2 games out of the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and have now won nine of their last 10 games. During that run Brad Stevens’ club managed wins over the East’s No. 4 team (Toronto), and the third-, fourth-, and fifth-best teams (Houston, Utah, Clippers) in the Western Conference.
The latest reminder came Saturday night, when the Celtics picked apart one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, the Jazz, on the way to a 112-104 win over Utah. (For a complete recap, click here.)
This time around the non-Isaiah Thomas scoring came from reserves Kelly Olynyk (19 points) and Gerald Green (16 points), with Al Horford doing his thing with 16 of his own. But what the win over the Jazz did was once again remind us what a good coach Stevens is.
The Celtics had already come away with a win over the Jazz at the Garden, so a very good Utah team had every opportunity to adjust when hosting the C’s this time around. But Stevens managed an offensive game-plan that exposed the Jazz’ usual lock-down defense.
For the night, the Celtics finished shoot 59 percent fro the field, keyed by Olynyk and Green going a combined 15-for-19. Sure, there is still the prevailing notion that the Celtics are a player away. (Watching Kevin Durant return to Oklahoma City Saturday should have gave C’s fans a quick jolt of what-might-have-been.) But, the way this team has found a way to make the most of what they have should at least make the Cavaliers nervous.
The Celtics should be favored in the remaining six games they have in February, leaving two contests that should be circled: March 1 at Cleveland and the March 8 road game against the Warriors. By the time those games roll around, Danny Ainge could very well have secured that one piece everybody is looking for.
It coast would seem to be clear if Celtics fans wanted to adjust expectations a bit.
|Win in Portland shows Celtics’ true grit as Marcus Smart and Gerald Green spark rally||02.10.17 at 1:21 am ET|
The Celtics had one of their toughest and most satisfying wins of the season Thursday in Portland.
Trailing by 17 points with under three minutes left in the second quarter, the Celtics went on a 23-4 run to get back in the game, and then held off a rally by the Blazers late in a 120-111 win at the Moda Center in Portland.
Gerald Green hit a three with 11:25 left in the fourth quarter to give the Celtics the lead for good. Boston improves to 34-19 while Portland falls to 23-31.
With Avery Bradley (Achilles) and Jae Crowder (family illness) unavailable, Marcus Smart and Gerald Green stepped up while Isaiah Thomas was his standard unstoppable self, scoring a game-high 34 points.
Smart had 18 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals while Gerald Green was 5-of-6 off the bench with 11 points, including a spectacular put-back dunk with 7:06 left in the game that put Boston up, 94-91.
“That’s a heck of a win, considering we didn’t have Avery and Jae out there. That was a hard-nosed, tough win. Down big but stuck with it. End of the first half was outstanding,” head coach Brad Stevens told reporters afterward.
Rookie Jaylen Brown also played a critical role in the win. He scored 14 points in the starting lineup, helping the Celtics avenge the 127-123 overtime loss to Portland on Jan. 21 at TD Garden.
As for Smart?
“He was terrific. Marcus was good, he was really good,” Stevens said. “We were guarding at a much-better rate.”
The Celtics cut the 17-point hole down to six before half and continued their spurt to open the third quarter. Thomas was again remarkable in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 of the team’s 43 points in the final 12 minutes as the Celtics outscored the Blazers, 43-35. The 43 points was a season-high for the Celtics in any quarter.
The Trail Blazers big took early advantage of the soft middle.
One night after coming up empty late against a Kings team without DeMarcus Cousins and watching their seven-game win streak end, the Celtics again looked a step slow against one of the best tandem guards – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum – in the league. Lillard finished with 28 while McCollum had 20.
McCollum made a sick hesitation dribble on Kelly Olynyk with 34 seconds left in the first quarter. He drove to the basket and drew the foul.
Then McCollum, on the next Blazers possession, made a spectacular pass across the lane to Al-Farouq Aminu, who was fouled. He made both free throws and the Blazers led, 32-22, after 12 minutes.
It was Aminu, who finished with 26 points, who had the great bounce pass midway through the second quarter, finding Lillard to grow the Blazers’ lead to 43-28.
Former Celtics sixth man stud Evan Turner missed the game as he’s out 5-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right hand.
For a full recap and box score of Thursday’s win over the Blazers, click here.
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|Celtics Midseason Report||02.08.17 at 8:08 pm ET|
With 51 games through the regular season, the Celtics (33-18) have the second-best record in the East and will look to finish strong and make a deep run in the playoffs. WEEI.com’s Josue Pavon and Logan Mullen recap the highs and lows of the 2016-17 season, and make predictions for how far the C’s will go and what needs to happen for them to get there in this Celtics midsesaon report.
When the Celtics signed Al Horford over the summer, guys like Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley were destined to see a bump in their scoring average. However, Thomas becoming the NBA’s second-best scorer (29.9) isn’t what I had in mind.
According to basketball-reference.com, he’s averaging 43.2 points per 100 possessions this season and his fourth-quarter scoring has made him an MVP candidate behind Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Thomas is averaging a league-leading 10.7 points in the fourth quarter and is easily the biggest surprise of the season for the Celtics.
(Logan) Fourth-quarter Isaiah Thomas
After finishing last season as one of the best defensive teams, the Celtics entered the 2016-17 season with lofty expectations. Adding big man Al Horford certainly had a lot to do with those assumptions, however, the slippage falls on the entire roster.
Last year, the C’s were great defensively because it was a group effort and made the difference in narrow victories against last season’s top-notch teams. Although scoring is up across the league this year, it still doesn’t prove why there’s been such a dramatic drop off. It could be a combination of Amir Johnson having a down year compared to last season, Jae Crowder not being the same lock-down defender he was a season ago or the fact that the small-ball lineup – while it’s effective offensively – welcomes mismatches that favor their opponents.
One of the biggest differences between last season’s team and this year’s is their decline in forcing turnovers. The Celtics finished second in forced turnovers last season – averaging 16.3 per game. This year, they’ve dropped to 14th in that department.
(Logan) Marcus Smart’s offense
|Isaiah Thomas named Eastern Conference Player of the Week||02.07.17 at 5:10 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas followed up his incredible month of scoring by earning the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award.
After winning Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for the month of January, Thomas led the Celtics to a 4-0 record, while averaging 37.8 points and 6.8 assists. In two of those four games, he scored 40-plus points against the Pistons (41) and Raptors (44).
Thomas also averaged an astonishing 17.5 fourth-quarter points last week.
Since his 52-point performance on Dec. 30, the All-Star guard has been on an unbelievable tear — averaging 34.8 points and 6.6 assists in 16 games.
The Celtics (14-4) are tied with the Pacers (14-4) for the second-best record since Dec. 30. Warriors (15-3) have been the hottest team in the league throughout that span.
The C’s (33-18) are currently in second place in the Eastern Conference and will look to stretch their winning streak to seven consecutive games on Wednesday when they kick off a four-game road trip in Sacramento against the Kings.
|Paul Pierce discusses “Rajon being Rajon,” relationship with members of “The Big 3”||02.06.17 at 7:01 pm ET|
Before playing his final game in Boston, Paul Pierce answered an array of questions about his legacy, playing at TD Garden one last time and his role with the Clippers.
But when Pierce was asked about his relationship with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo, he smiled. And talked about how he still keeps in touch with most of them.
Garnett is “having the time of his life,” said Pierce. He says Garnett’s show “Area 21,” a segment part of TNT’s weekly Thursday night broadcast along with being a consultant for the Clippers, has kept him busy throughout his first post-retirement season.
When he was asked about Rondo, Pierce said him and Rondo “talk all the time” and that Rondo’s rift with Bulls teammates Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler was simply, “Rajon being Rajon.”
“Just like Manny being Manny, he’s Rajon being Rajon,” Pierce jokingly said. “Man, you know what, I respect Rajon with some of the stuff he said, truthfully. I thought it was the truth. I didn’t have a problem with none of the stuff he said about Wade or Jimmy Butler because it was the honest truth. [If you] see the next game, Wade and Jimmy they got benched because what Rondo said was right.”
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