|Sleep-deprived Avery Bradley returns from daddy duties to help Celtics tune up for playoffs||04.05.16 at 7:35 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Being a leader on a team can be difficult and demanding by itself.
Throw being a new sleep-deprived dad on top of it, and anyone would have their senses overwhelmed.
Bradley welcomed his second child into the world at the tail end of Boston’s five-game road swing through the West, explaining his absence from the team on Sunday night against the Lakers.
Without Bradley in the building Sunday, the Celtics guards of Evan Turner, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier allowed Kobe Bryant to score 34 points but held the retiring superstar to 11-of-28 from the field.
“I know it was Kobe. I’m just happy the way our team performed,” Bradley said of the 107-100 win. “We try to play great team defense, and he was hitting tough shots. I’m just happy we were able to get the win.”
|Brad Stevens doesn’t watch Villanova title-winner, and who can blame him?||04.05.16 at 3:14 pm ET|
WALTHAM — As epic as Villanova’s title-winning shot was from Kris Jenkins, there was one man who didn’t mind missing out on the second half.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens watched the first half of the Villanova-North Carolina game Monday night before turning in after a very long 24 hours. After a red-eye flight back from Los Angeles, getting into Boston at 7 a.m. and getting medical (Evan Turner) and paternal (Avery Bradley, Jonas Jerebko) updates on his players, Stevens felt comfortable turning in.
The college basketball game of the century ended when Jenkins sank a 25-footer at the buzzer, giving Villanova a 77-74 win and its first national title since 1985.
“I watched the first half and then saw the highlights this morning,” Stevens said.
Then he was reminded of the painfully obvious. As Butler’s coach, he was on the sideline in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium in April 2010 when Gordon Hayward’s shot at the buzzer against Duke nearly accomplished what Jenkins did Monday night in Houston. Still, he was asked what he thought when he saw the highlight of Jenkins’ shot that came just moments after Marcus Paige’s bicycle-kicking 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds to go that tied the game at 74.
“I think I’m probably the wrong person to ask. I think it’s obviously cool to see those kids perform on that stage and get those opportunities and I’m happy for all of them that they got that,” Stevens said. “To make shots in that moment and to ultimately win it, and the way that both teams handled it I thought was really impressive.”
|Brad Stevens rules out Evan Turner (eye abrasion) for Wednesday, hopeful for Friday||04.05.16 at 2:41 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Brad Stevens feels the Celtics and Evan Turner might have caught a big break.
The eye poke to the guard’s left eye Sunday night in Los Angeles resulted in just an abrasion, and Turner might be able to return Friday night against the Bucks at TD Garden.
Still, after a long red-eye flight back on Sunday night after the 107-100 win over the Lakers, the Celtics told Turner to stay home from Tuesday’s practice, get rest and let the healing continue.
“Evan is good. He’s at home,” Stevens said before practice. “He’s not going to be here today, not going to practice today. He’s not going to play [Wednesday]. But he should be day-to-day after that. The ophthalmologist saw him [Monday] and obviously, if he were to play [Wednesday], he would probably be a day ahead of schedule and force him to wear goggles, whatever the case may be.
“We’re hopeful that he can be feeling pretty good by Friday. So, I think giving him that extra two days is a probably a good thing anyway.”
|Duke freshman Brandon Ingram declares for NBA draft on Players’ Tribune||04.04.16 at 6:04 pm ET|
Add one name to the list of potential Celtics in the upcoming NBA draft — Duke scorer Brandon Ingram.
The 6-foot-9 freshman made it official on Monday in a story on the Players’ Tribune website, declaring for the draft to fulfill a dream of playing in the NBA.
“My time is almost over here in Durham,” Ingram wrote. “Today as I declare for the NBA Draft, I’m both excited and sad about this moment.
“On one hand, one year at Duke isn’t a very long time. I know that. But I’ve done a lot of growing, and growing up, in that time. I know by leaving I’ll miss out on a lot of friendships and opportunities. I’ll really miss all the students who showed me so much love. One of my favorite parts of the Duke basketball tradition is the high-five line at the end of home games. The students who camp out for seats for up to a week before a game — and get in their seats two hours early — are always still there after the final buzzer. Win or lose. You guys gave me the energy and support that I needed. I’ll never forget you all.”
Ingram averaged 17.3 points a game on 44.2 percent shooting, including .410 from 3-point land. Listed at just 190 pounds, the reed-thin Ingram will need to add bulk to excel in the NBA, where his body type and shooting ability have earned him comparisons to a poor man’s Kevin Durant.
Following a disappointing season from LSU freshman Ben Simmons, Ingram has zoomed to the top of some draft boards. He’s expected to be no worse than the No. 2 overall pick.
The Celtics own the Nets’ pick in the first round. Brooklyn current owns a record of 21-56, the fourth-worst in the NBA, but it’s only a game behind the Suns for the third-worst record and a 15.6 percent chance at the first overall pick.
|Evan Turner diagnosed with ‘abrasion’ of left eye, posts picture on Instagram||04.04.16 at 12:22 pm ET|
Evan Turner and the Celtics may have dodged a bullet. At least he’s got a sense of humor about his nasty eye injury Sunday night.
While his left eye was closed shut following Sunday night’s eye poke from Julius Randle with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter, he was able to make light of the unfortunate injury somewhat on social media.
He posted a picture of his eye on Instagram, making reference to his stylish jacket he was wearing, writing, “#lookhowfreshmyjacketis.”
In the picture, his face is transposed, making it look like it was his right eye that was closed when in actuality, it was his left eye that was injured.
“He was seen by Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte and Lakers team physician and diagnosed with a right eye abrasion and will be reexamined [Monday],” the Celtics said in a team statement.
His status for Wednesday against the Pelicans at TD Garden is uncertain at this point, pending further examination of the eye.
The Celtics have been relying on Turner to serve an incredibly important role on the roster, as he started for Jae Crowder in seven of the nine games Crowder missed with his right ankle sprain. Turner also started Sunday night when Avery Bradley had to leave the team for personal reasons.
|Isaiah Thomas on Kobe Bryant: ‘He looked like the old Kobe’||04.04.16 at 2:13 am ET|
Isaiah Thomas was paying very close attention to Kobe Bryant on Sunday night at Staples Center.
The Celtics point guard was watching how the 37-year-old handled his business for a 16-win team that was headed nowhere against a young team trying to clinch a playoff spot.
What he saw was an intense competitor who wanted the ball so desperately down the stretch that he screamed at teammate D’Angelo Russell when Bryant was open for a three. As it turned out, Julius Randle got the ball from Russell and converted a three-point play.
When he did get the ball, Bryant reminded everyone what he could still do, starting with his first shot of the night over Jae Crowder in the first quarter. Bryant had 11 points in the opening 12 minutes.
Bryant had 18 points in the first half as the Lakers stayed close, 57-48, at the half.
Bryant would finish with a game-high 34 points on 11-of-28 shots from the field. The Celtics won the game, 107-100, and a spot in the playoffs.
“He looked like the old Kobe,” Thomas said. “From the jump, from the first play, he just had a different energy about him. You knew it was probably going to be a long night if he felt good.”
|Isaiah Thomas on clinching a playoff spot: ‘We definitely want more’||04.04.16 at 1:47 am ET|
Brad Stevens was fond of reminding everyone for the last two months that his team was closer to being out of the playoffs than it was to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Well, he doesn’t have to worry about missing the playoffs anymore.
And the biggest reason for the Celtics making their second straight playoff appearance this year under Stevens is Isaiah Thomas. The point guard scored 21 of his 26 points in the first half Sunday night in a 107-100 playoff clinching win over Kobe Bryant and the Lakers at Staples Center.
“It means a lot,” Thomas told reporters afterward. “It means a stepping stone. It was definitely goal of ours to make it to the playoffs but we definitely want more. It’s a positive. We’re happy.”
Last year, the Celtics made the playoffs with a 40-42 record and even finished seventh in the East. But they were swept out in four games by the Cavaliers. Now, the Celtics (45-32) are shooting for much more than just making the playoffs. With Sunday’s win, they are tied with the Hawks for third in the East and could wind up with home court advantage if they perform in the final five games, four of which will be on their home court.
“That’s what you want. You want to, obviously, give yourself a chance,” Stevens said. “So, the only way you get a chance is to make the playoffs. It’s been a very focused group. I haven’t heard the guys talk about it a ton. Obviously, when asked about it, they may comment on it. But they’ve been pretty focused on just the task at hand. We still want to be playing our best going into it.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do and hopefully, get some rest here and get ready for Wednesday night.”
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