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5 things we learned in Celtics’ loss to Raptors 11.05.14 at 10:07 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo couldn't lead the Celtics past the Raptors Wednesday night. (Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo couldn’t lead the Celtics past the Raptors Wednesday night. (Getty Images)

After an unsuccessful two-game trip to Texas, the Celtics returned home to the TD Garden on Wednesday to face off against the Raptors. Toronto came into Boston as the Atlantic Division favorite, sporting a record of 3-1 with its only loss coming on the road in Miami.

The Raptors took a nail-biter from the Celtics, 110-107, as Jeff Green missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Celtics somehow out-rebounded the Raptors, 55-24, yet still managed to come up short. Contributing the most to the Celtics‘ third loss was 28 turnovers for Brad Stevens‘ team. (For the box score, click here.)

“Well you know we were doing really well as far as that category goes, coming into this game,” Stevens said about the turnover issues. “But I thought most of our turnovers were in the half-court and late in the [shot] clock. I’d have to go back and watch to say that for sure, but they’ve got active hands in the half-court and we didn’t respond as well as we needed to to that. We knew that going in; we talked about it this morning, we talked about it this afternoon, and talked about the need for really precise execution and I thought we did that at times and we didn’t at times. But again, I think the overarching theme was their physicality and their athleticism was a major factor.”

Here is what we learned in the C’s loss:

HOT START

The C’€™s came out blistering hot at home once again, connecting on their first seven field goal attempts and finishing the first quarter shooting 15-for-19 from the floor –€“ good for 78.9 percent.

The Celtics also held a rebounding edge of 14-2 over the Raptors at the end of the first frame, which translated to a 35-23 lead. The only thing seemingly keeping the Raptors in the game was their 12 points off of six Celtics turnovers.

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Read More: Celtics, Jeff Green, Rajon Rondo, Raptors
Video: Jeff Green chases down, blocks Lou Williams 11.05.14 at 8:08 pm ET
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The Celtics got out to an early double-digit lead against the visiting Raptors where an engaged Jeff Green was a big factor. This remarkable chase-down block of Lou Williams highlighted was one of three blocks for Green to go along with seven points and two assists in the opening frame. The Celtics led 35-23 after one.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, Lou Williams, NBA
Amir Johnson, Jonas Valaciunas out for Raptors 11.05.14 at 7:49 pm ET
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Raptors power forward Amir Johnson and center Jonas Valunciunas will not play Wednesday night against the Celtics.

Johnson has already missed two games with an ankle injury and did not make the trip with the team to Boston. Valanciunas injured his head after an inadvertent collision with the open hand of Thunder point guard Sebastian Telfair. Valanciunas was also forced to leave the game due to an injury to his hand. After the game, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said the Lithuanian 7-footer was, “all messed up.” Valanciunas was initially listed as probable, but was ruled out about an hour before the game.

With Johnson and Valaciunas on the sidelines, expect the Raptors to rely on perimeter players Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross. This should be an advantage for the Celtics, who excel when defending guards, yet struggle with taller, longer players on the interior.

Tyler Hansbrough will start in place of Valaciunas, but also look for former Celtic  — and personal NBA2K favorite — Greg Stiemsma to get a lot of burn Wednesday for the Raptors.

Read More: Amir Johnson, Jonas Valunciunas,
Report: Lakers to target Rajon Rondo in free agency 11.05.14 at 4:42 pm ET
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Multiple NBA executives believe the Lakers will target Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo in free agency this summer, according to SI.com’s Chris Mannix.

Rondo’s contract expires at the end of the season and he has publicly stated his desire to test the market while maintaining Boston is his top choice. The four-time All-Star doesn’t like change and the Celtics also can offer more money and one more year than any other team — all of which points toward Rondo staying in green.

However, the Celtics drafted a point guard with the No. 6 overall pick and are years from contending in the Eastern Conference, making the decision to sign Rondo to a max contract a difficult one, even if he appears healthy.

Enter the Lakers. The C’s rivals will have the cap space to offer Rondo significant money when Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin come off the books this summer and the possibility of competing for a playoff spot next season alongside Kobe Bryant — an unabashed fan of the Celtics star — could be an intriguing possibility for Rondo come July, particularly if Mitch Kupchak lures other pieces to L.A.

However, Rondo can see the Lakers’ long-term prospects just as well as everybody else in basketball circles and the outlook in Boston seems rosier. He knows what becomes of aging legends on proud franchises. After all, the article in which Mannix cites front office sources focuses instead on the potential of the Lakers trading Bryant.

Take a deep breath, Celtics fans. This isn’t Rondo’s first rumored departure from Boston, and it won’t be the last.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant, NBA, Rajon Rondo
NBA power and sour rankings: Top 5, bottom 5 11.05.14 at 10:13 am ET
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In the NBA, the worst place to be is the middle of the pack. If you are not contending for a championship or tanking, in my mind, you are not relevant. Because of this, each week I will rank the top five and bottom five teams in the league. The rankings are based entirely on my own observations and opinions, so please feel free to call me names in the comments section.

FIVE BEST

1. Warriors (3-0)

Klay Thompson continues to score on and off the court. He dropped 41 points on the Lakers, signed a four-year max contract extension and, as recently reported, started dating Instagram celebrity Hannah Stocking. Personally, I would be more impressed if it was revealed Thompson was dating #AlexFromTarget. That dude got over 500,000 Twitter followers in about three days, which is damn impressive.

2. Grizzlies (4-0)

The Grizzlies are all about attitude, and it shows on the defensive end of the floor. They beat the Hornets 71-69 then held the Brow and the Pelicans to only 81 points. The Mike Conley injury is cause for concern, but the video of Tony Allen randomly smacking a cameraman is hilarious.

3. Spurs (1-1)

Even though they haven’t been spectacular during their first two games, the Spurs still are the reigning champs. Interesting storyline to pay attention to. The Spurs did not sign Kawhi Leonard to an extension before the deadline on Friday, allowing him to become restricted free agent at the end of the season. If I am Danny Ainge, I am offering Sugar K Leonard anything up to and including my daughter’s hand in marriage to get him to sign in Boston. Although there is little chance Pop and the Spurs let him go, a man can dream.

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Read More: Dirk Nowitzki, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Kobe Bryant
Irish Coffee: On Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, the Celtics’ ¡Three Amigos! wreaking havoc 11.04.14 at 12:54 pm ET
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Celtics guards Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart wreak plenty of havoc. (Glenn James/Getty Images)

Celtics guards Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart wreak plenty of havoc. (Glenn James/Getty Images)

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.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA
Five things we learned in Celtics’ failed comeback against Mavericks 11.03.14 at 11:07 pm ET
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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.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Jeff Green, NBA
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