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Studs and Duds: Blazers spoil return of Jae Crowder, Celtics fall to 6th in East 04.01.16 at 12:52 am ET
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Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas shoots the ball in front of Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu during the first quarter at the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. (Steve Dykes/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas shoots the ball in front of Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu during the first quarter at the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter. (Steve Dykes/USA Today Sports)

Not exactly the way the Celtics wanted to head into Golden State.

Al-Farouq Aminu scored a career-high 28 points and single-handedly spoiled the return of Jae Crowder Thursday night as the Blazers outlasted the Celtics, 116-109, Thursday night at the Moda Center.

Crowder made a big impact with a double-double, scoring 13 points and hauling in 10 rebounds, in his first game back from a high ankle sprain. With 22 points, Isaiah Thomas set a new franchise record with his 14th straight game as the team’s leading scorer. It was also his 14th straight game with at least 20 points, two games shy of Paul Pierce’s streak in the 2005-06 season.

“It felt good. He showed signs of what he does,” Thomas said of Crowder afterward. “It probably will take a couple of games for him to get back to his full strength. Just glad to have him back in a routine. It just sucks we couldn’t get the win for him.” 

It was a costly loss for the Celtics (43-32) as they fell to sixth in the East, a half-game behind the Heat and Hornets.

Thanks to 50 percent shooting from the field in the first quarter, the Celtics raced out to a 12-4 lead. Portland didn’t score in the game’s first two minutes. 

The first quarter featured the first action from Crowder since suffering a high ankle sprain March 11 against the Rockets. In the opening 60 seconds, he showed no ill effects, grabbing a rebound on the first Blazers possession of the game. On the next possession, Crowder collected a steal and dished an assist on an Isaiah Thomas 3-pointer. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, NBA
Jae Crowder ‘looking right’ for return vs. Trail Blazers, not likely for Friday vs. Warriors 03.31.16 at 2:22 pm ET
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Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder

The return of Jae Crowder is likely to be one-game only event tonight in Portland.

Barring any setback before the game, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he’s hopeful Crowder to be available against the Trail Blazers at the Moda Center.

“I’m feeling pretty good. Minor soreness.” Crowder told reporters Thursday in Portland. Crowder said at the shootaround that he’s hopeful to play but hasn’t fully committed. That will come following one more test in a shootaround before the game at the Moda Center.

Asked if he’d be ready to go against Portland, Crowder replied, “It’s looking right,” adding that he would prefer the slower tempo and pace of the Blazers versus the up-tempo demands of the Warriors. 

Stevens added that Crowder would be limited to the game against the Trail Blazers if he’s physically not able to play in back-to-back games so early back from his right high ankle sprain. The Celtics are scheduled to play the 68-win Warriors on Friday night in Oakland.

Crowder practiced with the team at full speed Wednesday in Portland for the first time since injuring the ankle against the Rockets on March 11 at TD Garden. Stevens said he liked what he saw from Crowder in practice.

“He just looked like Jae,” Stevens told reporters Thursday.

He’s missed eight games and the team has posted a record of 4-4 in his absence.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Jae Crowder,
Celtics announce times, dates for playoff ticket sales 03.31.16 at 1:52 pm ET
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Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas has the Celtics on a run to the playoffs. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas has the Celtics on a run to the playoffs. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Next week will be a busy time for Celtics fans planning to attend playoff games at TD Garden. 

The team announced Thursday that individual game playoff tickets for round one, home games one, two and three at the TD Garden will be available to Club Green email subscribers during an exclusive, one-day-only presale event on Tuesday, April 5 starting at 11:00 a.m.

To access the exclusive presale event, fans must register for Club Green presented by Mohegan Sun at Celtics.com/subscribe. All Club Green subscribers will receive a link to access tickets before the general public.

Two days later, on April 7, individual game tickets will go on sale to the general public at 11:00 a.m. To purchase seats fans can go to Celtics.com, call 800-4NBA-TIX or visit the TD Garden Box Office.

By the time the Celtics conclude their 5-game Western swing on Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers, the team could have clinched their second straight playoff appearance in three seasons under Brad Stevens. The team enters Thursday’s game in Portland with a 43-31 record and needs just two wins to clinch a playoff berth. 

For fans who want to guarantee access to Celtics tickets for the duration of the 2016 Playoffs, season ticket memberships for the 2016-17 season are now available. Membership guarantees fans access to their seats for every game in their plan plus exclusive benefits and special event invitations only available through the team.

For larger groups, private suite rentals will be available on Wednesday, April 6. To learn more and to purchase a suite rental fans may call 866-4CELTIX (866-423-5849), email sales@celtics.com or visit Celtics.com.

 The Celtics’ round one opponent, and the dates and times of games, will be posted on Celtics.com when they are determined.

If any game is not played refunds will be done at the point of purchase. Fans who purchase online will receive an automatic refund from Ticketmaster for the face value of each ticket, facility charge and per ticket service charge. All per order charges, including order processing and delivery charges, will not be refunded.

Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Boston Celtics,
Jae Crowder says he will ‘push [right ankle] to the limit’ in effort to return Thursday 03.30.16 at 6:31 pm ET
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Celtics forward Jae Crowder drives to the hoop against Rockets guard James Harden before his injury March 11. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Celtics forward Jae Crowder drives to the hoop against Rockets guard James Harden before his injury March 11. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics may have their most versatile player back in uniform when they take on the Trail Blazers Thursday night at the Moda Center. 

Jae Crowder returned to full team practice on Wednesday at the University of Portland for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain in the second half of their March 11 loss to the Rockets at TD Garden.
 
The team will see how he reacts Thursday and assess his availability Thursday morning. 
 
“Today I’m going to push it to the limit,” Crowder told reporters Wednesday before practice. 

“I’m hopeful that we can get back to playing the way that we were playing when we’d been all healthy earlier this year,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters before practice. 

Crowder started Boston’s first 66 games before missing the last eight with the right ankle injury. The team has played .500 ball (4-4) in those games. Crowder’s value came not just in his 15.4 points per game but consistently drawing the opposing team’s best scorer as well as providing a legitimate second scoring option behind Isaiah Thomas. In losses to teams like Oklahoma City, Toronto and the Clippers on Monday, his absence was dramatically felt.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Jae Crowder, NBA
2016 Celtics Mock Draft Pick Power Rankings v4.0 03.29.16 at 10:55 am ET
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The-Wolf-of-Causeway

The Celtics own as many as eight draft picks in June 2016 — only one of which is their own — and the unprotected selection from the Nets is legitimately one of the most fascinating storylines in the entire NBA this season. We’ll semi-regularly update the status of those selections, speculating when and who the Celtics will pick.

FIRST ROUND

4. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn): Buddy Hield.

The breakout star of the NCAA Tournament, Hield has played himself into consideration as a top-five pick. The 6-foot-4 Oklahoma shooting guard may be 22 years old — competing mostly against teens — but he’s capable of creating his own offense, scoring inside and out and everywhere in between. And he’s got big-game ability. Those skills meet two of the C’s most important needs this summer. 

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Read More: 2016 Celtics Mock Draft Pick Power Rankings,
Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga reportedly drawing interest from Georgia Tech 03.29.16 at 9:50 am ET
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Jay Larranaga

Jay Larranaga

Georgia Tech is out to find its next coach, and Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga apparently is a candidate.

According to an ESPN report, the search is still in its infancy stages, but the school has reached out to Larranaga and Duke assistant Jeff Capel.

Georgia Tech fired Brian Gregory last week after five seasons and a record of 67-86. The team never made an NCAA tournament appearance with Gregory at the helm.

Larranaga, 41, has been with the Celtics since 2012, following a two-year stint as head coach of the D-League’s Erie Bayhawks. The son of University of Miami coach Jim Larranaga, he interviewed for the C’s head coaching position after Doc Rivers’ departure in 2013 but ended up taking a back seat to Brad Stevens.

Read More: Georgia Tech, Jay Larranaga,
Brad Stevens defends (sort of) his team’s lack of defense: ‘We didn’t play with any composure’ 03.29.16 at 2:35 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas couldn't find a way to clear the Clippers Monday night.  (Richard Mackson-USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas couldn’t find a way to clear the Clippers Monday night. (Richard Mackson-USA Today Sports)

All effort and no execution will make for a losing formula every time on the road in the NBA.

That was certainly the case Monday as the Celtics, fighting for playoff positioning at 43-31, allowed the Clippers to shoot a scorching 58.5 percent from the field in the first half while yielding a remarkable 7-of-11 from beyond the arc. Those two stats alone allowed Los Angeles to race out to a 67-50 halftime lead.

Everyone was hitting shots in a Clippers uniform Monday night, including four players off the bench who scored in double figured and led a season-best 67-point effort.

“I don’t how you would say it’s bench or starters, but it’s depth,” Stevens said, referring to the 16 points of Austin Rivers and 15 of Jamaal Crawford. “It’s the ability to bring Evan [Turner] off and be versatile at that spot and play him and Smart together with the skilled bigs is obviously we like to do. But we haven’t been able to do it. Hey, those guys in the last few games have been pretty good off the bench. I thought certainly, today wasn’t a bench or starters thing. It was a Clippers thing. Credit goes to them.

“They deserve a lot of credit for the way they made shots, the way they made plays,” Stevens told reporters after his team’s 114-90 loss that ended a four-game win streak. “I thought any time we got close, we didn’t play with any composure to get back over the hump. Part of that has to do with being competitive and trying to hit home runs all the time when you’re trying to mount a comeback.

“We’ve got to do a better job in those situations than we did tonight. Defensively, I actually felt like, especially on the perimeter, we were pretty locked in and pretty good, for the most part. I thought they obviously made some contested shots that you’re going to have to defend and make. We missed some opportunities to challenge them at the rim with some rotations. All told, their play is the reason they won the game.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Los Angeles Clippers,
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