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Celtics prove they’re better than Warriors (for one night, anyway) 03.09.17 at 7:12 am ET
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Kelly Olynyk had quite a game for the Celtics Wednesday night. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Kelly Olynyk had quite a game for the Celtics Wednesday night. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

It gets you thinking.

Sure, there was no Kevin Durant. And, yes, they only play each other two times a season. But when you have the success the Celtics have had against the powerhouse Warriors, thoughts of what might happen in a playoff series are bound to start percolating. Maybe Brad Stevens’ team could win a game.

As was the case last season, the Celtics went into Oracle Arena and came out as victors over the NBA’s best team, this time beating Golden State, 99-86, Wednesday night. In case you forgot, the C’s win in Oakland the last time snapped the Warriors’ 54-game home winning streak.

(Of course, we’ll forget the 104-88 walloping the Warriors put on the Celtics at TD Garden with Durant back in November.)

This time, one of the aspects of the victory which made it memorable was the chant of “M-V-P” from the home crowd toward Celtics’ guard Isaiah Thomas, with Steph Curry having to stand on the same court at the same time. After hearing the shouts during both games against the Lakers and Clippers, Thomas extracted them this time with a 25-point effort.

“We get them in other teams’ arenas too. We can’t be sensitive about that,” the reigning MVP, Curry, told reporters after the game.

What truly paced the Celtics past the Warriors, who entered the game 26-3 at home, was defense against Golden State’s shooters, Klay Thompson and Curry. The duo combined to go just 4-for-17 from beyond the 3-point stripe.

Another huge plus for the Celtics came from Kelly Olynyk, with the forward not only going 7-for-9 from the floor, but totaling a plus-29 in just 26 minutes. Also highlighting the reserves’ contribution was Jaylen Brown’s plus-13 in 15 minutes.

For a complete recap of the game, click here.

Isaiah Thomas admits he must keep emotions in check following outburst aimed at Brad Stevens 03.08.17 at 3:47 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas is second in the NBA in scoring this season. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas is second in the NBA in scoring this season. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Everything seems to be cool between Isaiah Thomas and Brad Stevens –– for now.

In a meeting with reporters Wednesday, Thomas said he didn’t mean to disparage Stevens following the Celtics’ loss to the Clippers Monday. The All-Star point guard also admitted he must do a better job of keeping his emotions in check. 

“I didn’t mean to throw anybody under the bus. That’s not me,” Thomas said, via ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “I just said how I felt at that time. My job is just to move on and do my job and don’t make it a distraction, because it’s not.” 

The Celtics were in control of the Clippers throughout the first half Monday, but unraveled after halftime. At one point, Los Angeles went on a 41-14 run, which carried into the fourth quarter. With Al Horford (elbow strain) and Jonas Jerebko (flu) out of the lineup, the Celtics were forced to go with a smaller rotation. At the end of the third period, their lineup featured James Young at one of the forward spots and Jordan Mickey at center. Thomas expressed frustration at the configuration, saying it’s too late in the season to be experimenting

While Thomas didn’t back off his words Wednesday, he said he regrets creating a stir. 

“I gotta do a better job of calming down after tough games, tough loses,” he said. “I’m always going to be me. And that’s the only way I know how. Like I said to Brad, I’m not here to throw anybody under the bus, because I wouldn’t want anybody to do that to me. That’s just how I felt at that time. Yes, I have to do a better job of it and I know that. I’m here to be Isaiah Thomas and lead and win games. And I know if we win that wouldn’t have even been a problem.” 

Stevens, for his part, appeared to take Thomas’ outburst in stride. 

“At the end of the day, I didn’t put much thought into it until it became a deal that everybody was talking about,” he said. “And at that point in time, I heard from Isaiah pretty quickly. So again, I don’t put a lot of stock. I understand the emotions and how high they run at the end of games, win or lose.”

After two consecutive loses, including a brutal last-second defeat to the Suns after Thomas missed a free throw and fumbled an inbound pass in the game’s final moments, the Celtics will look to get back on track against the Warriors Wednesday. That, of course, is easier said than done. Golden State is sitting atop the Western Conference with a 52-11 record. 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Isaiah Thomas,
Isaiah Thomas appears upset with Celtics coaching staff following stunning loss to Clippers 03.07.17 at 7:58 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas was upset following the Celtics' loss Monday night. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas was upset following the Celtics’ loss Monday night. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics led by 13 points late in the third quarter Monday night against the Clippers and appeared well on their way to avenging their last-second loss to the Suns the day before.

But, the Clippers then went on a 43-14 run and the Celtics ended up by losing the game, 116-102.

It was their second straight loss.

Click here for a full box score.

After the game, Isaiah Thomas appeared very upset and frustrated.

“We should have won this game,” Thomas told reporters. “We should have won [Sunday] night [in Phoenix]. We can’t be experimenting in Game 63.”

Thomas is likely referring to the lineup the Celtics rolled out late in the third quarter of  Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, James Young and Jordan Mickey. These players hadn’t played together much, if at all this season.

“It’s just the way we lost tonight was unacceptable,” Thomas said. “We lost the game in the last 15 minutes of the game. We played a really good game up until the last 15 minutes. And that’s the players’ fault, the coaches’ fault, that’s everybody in this locker room’s fault. We could have done a lot better.”

Tuesday is an off day with the team then taking on the Warriors Wednesday night.

Read More: Isaiah Thomas,
When it comes to brutal losses, there aren’t many worse than the one Celtics suffered in Phoenix 03.05.17 at 9:08 pm ET
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It was shaping up to be another example of the resilience of these gritty, gutty Celtics.

Without two of their top three scorers, Al Horford (right elbow strain) and Avery Bradley (right hamstring strain), the Celts were on their way to overcoming the absences and a 15-point, third-quarter deficit against the Suns Sunday night.

But then came the last 11.9 seconds.

After Isaiah Thomas put the Celtics up by two with just under 12 seconds left, the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe went right by Jae Crowder for a game-tying lay-up with four ticks remaining. Then, in a haste to get the ball up the court, Crowder’s inbound pass to Thomas was knocked away by Marquese Chriss, into the hands of rookie Tyler Ulis.

Ulis grabbled the loose ball, and, falling away, sank the game-winning 3-pointer as the clock expired, handing the Celtics their 109-106 loss. (For a complete recap, click here.)

Making the loss even more painful for the Celtics, who will have to play the Clippers in Los Angeles Monday night, was that it allowed Washington to gain a game in the Eastern Conference standings, now sitting two in back of the C’s.

Isaiah Thomas is a big fan of the Lakers’ Magic Johnson hiring 03.03.17 at 3:28 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas says he thinks Magic Johnson will bring respectability back to the Lakers. (Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas says he thinks Magic Johnson will bring respectability back to the Lakers. (Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports)

The Lakers’ decision to hire Magic Johnson as their director of basketball operations was met with mixed reviews, largely because of his lack of NBA front office experience. But count Isaiah Thomas among those who think Johnson will excel in the role. 

In a scrum with reporters in Los Angeles Friday, Thomas said he thinks Johnson will bring mystique back to the Lakers franchise. The Celtics will take on the Lakers Friday night. 

“Some superstar is going to come here. It’s good,” Thomas said, via ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “Magic Johnson is arguably the best Laker ever, so to have him ahead of all that and making decisions, it’s a step in the right direction. Everybody respects him. I mean, the Lakers are not going to be, I guess, what they are now forever. He’ll bring some people here.”

The 19-42 Lakers are currently 15th in the Western Conference, limping their way towards a fourth consecutive losing season. In a radical shakeup last month, team president Jeanie Buss fired general manager Mitch Kupchak and stripped her brother, Jim, of all his basketball power. In addition to Johnson, the club brought aboard former agent Rob Pelinka to serve as its GM. 

Johnson returns to the Lakers with a mixed post-career resume. Since officially retiring from the NBA in 1996, he’s taken taken part in a number of successful business ventures. His entertainment company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, has a net worth of $700 million. Johnson is also a part of the Dodgers’ ownership group. 

But his endeavors in basketball have been less fruitful. Johnson coached the Lakers at the end of the 1993-94 season, finishing with a 5-11 record. Apparently, though, Thomas is willing to discard that –– perhaps because of his lifelong affinity for the franchise.

“I was brainwashed to be a Laker fan when I was younger, so I always wanted to be a Laker. But I love being a Celtic,” he said.

Thomas will be a free agent after the 2017-18 season. 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Los Angeles Lakers, Magic Johnson
Bill Belichick visits LeBron James in Cavaliers locker room after Celtics victory 03.02.17 at 12:44 am ET
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The Hoodie introduced himself to the King.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watched the Celtics beat the defending-champion Cavaliers in a wildly entertaining game at TD Garden on Wednesday from seats right under the basket near the Celtics bench. During a stoppage in play, Celtics star Isaiah Thomas sauntered over to shake his hand.

During the game, Belichick got an up-close-and-personal look at LeBron James, who landed in his lap during one sequence after sailing out of bounds. After the game, Belichick went one better, visiting the Cavaliers locker room, according to multiple reporters, and making an impression on King James.

It’s enough to make you wonder how Belichick would use James if he could ever get him in pads. Perhaps an even more athletic version of Gronk?

It’s doubtful James gets starstruck around too many professional sports figures, but it looks like Belichick qualifies.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Cavaliers, Celtics, LeBron James
Celtics prove why they’re one of the best teams in 4th quarter in win over Cavaliers 03.01.17 at 11:42 pm ET
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Mar 1, 2017; Boston, MA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) looks to make a pass while guarded by Boston Celtics shooting forward Jaylen Brown (7) during the fourth quarter at TD Garden.  The Boston Celtics won 103-99.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Stevens reinserted Avery Bradley towards the end of the 4th quarter to help slow down Kyrie Irving (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today)

Early Wednesday afternoon, Brad Stevens issued a plan of attack and that evening his team executed it and turned it into one of their most impressive wins of the season.

Wednesday night’s 103-99 win over the Cavaliers was a testament to how tough the Celtics can be in the fourth quarter.

Even with their best scorer not hitting shots (1-of-4), the Celtics rallied behind defensive stops by Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley instead of relying on Isaiah Thomas to keep them in the game.

Facing a two-point deficit, Smart drew back-to-back offensive fouls against the Cavaliers before Jae Crowder (17 points) drained a 3-pointer under two minutes to go. Then, it was Bradley’s turn as he rattled Kyrie Irving (28 points) and drained a 3-pointer on the other end to keep his team ahead. 

Out of a Cavaliers timeout, Cleveland set up sharp shooter Kyle Korver for an open 3-pointer before Thomas drained his only field goal of the fourth quarter. Irving responded with a reverse layup to tie the game (99-99) before Thomas drew a shooting foul and drained a pair of free-throws to put the C’s ahead, 101-99.

LeBron James (28 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists) passed up an opportunity to tie the game by passing the ball to Deron Williams, who missed the potential game-winning 3-pointer. 

For a full box score and summary of Wednesday’s game vs. Cleveland, click here.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas
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