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Marcus Smart hit with 1-game suspension for punching Matt Bonner in groin 03.21.15 at 4:19 pm ET
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A cheap shot to the groin will cost Marcus Smart — and the Celtics — one game.

The NBA announced Saturday that it has suspended the Celtics point guard for Sunday’s game against the Pistons for a flagrant-2 foul committed in Friday’s loss in San Antonio.

Down 22 points and frustrated, Smart hit Spurs forward Matt Bonner in the groin with 8:56 left in the fourth quarter and was automatically ejected from a game the Celtics lost, 101-89, to the defending NBA champs.

Smart told reporters after Friday’s game that he was trying to fight through a Bonner screen and had accidentally hit him. Video replay clearly shows Smart winding up and punching him as he’s trying to fight through.

This was the second time this month that Smart was ejected for a flagrant foul.

It’s also a bad time for Smart to be hit with this suspension. With injured guard Isaiah Thomas likely to miss his seventh straight game and Smart out, Phil Pressey is expected to get more playing time as the Celtics are desperate for a win to stay in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

5 things we learned as Spurs stick it to Celtics 03.20.15 at 10:49 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

It was a wasted trip to the Midwest.

Following on the heels of Wednesday’s 122-118 loss to Oklahoma City, the Celtics came out flat, and a late charge fell short in a 101-89 loss to the Spurs Friday night in San Antonio.

For a complete box score, click here.

But thanks to some help from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics (30-38) remain tied for the eighth and final spot of the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers beat the Pacers, 95-92, in Cleveland, dropping Indiana to 30-38 on the year. Miami won their game, 108-91, over Denver, increasing its lead to two games over the Celtics.

After winning five straight games, the Celtics have lost two straight as they fight desperately for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

For a second time this season, Marcus Smart let his emotions get the best of him, getting ejected in the second half for throwing a punch to Matt Bonner’s crotch as he was trying to fight his way through a screen. On March 8 against the Magic, Smart threw an elbow in the final minute and was ejected in the loss.

“To me, it looks like an unacceptable play,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. “You can’t do that.”

The Celtics host Detroit on Sunday night at 6 p.m. at TD Garden.

ICE COLD START

The Spurs raced out to a 19-4 start and the Celtics never recovered. Two issues plagued the Celtics. After Avery Bradley hit Boston’s first jumper of the game, the Celtics missed six of their next seven. They also committed three turnovers in the first five minutes. The Celtics allowed the Spurs to shoot 60 percent in the first quarter and race out to a 32-19 lead after the first quarter.

MARCUS SMART EJECTED

For a second time this season, Marcus Smart was ejected from a game. With 8:56 left in the fourth, Smart punched Matt Bonner in the crotch trying to fight his way through a screen at the top of the key in the fourth quarter. Smart wound up and threw his right hand to Bonner’s midsection and was ejected. Smart was ejected for throwing an elbow against the Magic earlier in the season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, San Antonio Spurs,
5 things we learned as Russell Westbrook, Thunder snap Celtics’ streak 03.18.15 at 10:48 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

The Thunder scored 40 third-quarter points, and the Celtics never recovered, snapping a five-game win streak with a 122-118 loss in Oklahoma City.

The C’€™s fell to 30-37 on the season, losing a game on the Heat (31-36), who beat the Blazers on Wednesday night. Elsewhere, the Pacers (30-37) fell to the Bulls, the Bucks (34-34) lost to the Spurs, and the Cavaliers beat the Nets (27-39). The Celtics lead the idle Hornets by a half-game and remain tied with Indiana for eighth place, trailing Miami by a game for seventh and Milwaukee by 3.5 games for sixth.

Marcus Smart collected 25 points — including a franchise rookie record seven 3-pointers — to go along with nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks, leading six Celtics in double figures. Kelly Olynyk (20 points), Brandon Bass (20 points), Avery Bradley (13 points), Tyler Zeller (12 points) and Jae Crowder (11 points) rounded out the double-digit scorers, and Evan Turner chipped in with five steals, six rebounds, eight points and a team-high 10 assists.

Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 36 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and five steals, while Enes Kanter added 22 points and 10 rebounds. With the victory, Oklahoma City (38-30) opened up a half-game lead over the Pelicans for eighth place in the Western Conference sans Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka.

For a complete box score, click here.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder
Irish Coffee: Celtics, playoffs and tiebreakers, oh my 03.17.15 at 12:44 pm ET
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The bad news: Contrary to popular opinion, the Celtics are not currently in the playoff picture, since as of today they would lose the tiebreaker to both the Pacers and Heat based on their sub-.500 record against Eastern Conference opponents.

The good news: If the Celtics (30-36) have one more win than Charlotte (29-36), Indiana (30-36) and Miami (30-36) when all is said and done, they’€™ll capture the same seventh seed they earned when last they made the playoffs in 2013.

Heck, based on their performance since the NBA trade deadline (10-5, including five straight victories), there’€™s even an outside possibility the red-hot Celtics could catch the reeling sixth-seeded Bucks (34-32), whose four wins in 13 games since trading Brandon Knight have come against the Nuggets, 76ers, Wizards and Magic.

Obviously, that’€™s jumping ahead a bit, so let’€™s step back and take a look at the remaining schedules of the four Eastern Conference teams now tied with 36 losses. 

CELTICS (30-36)

Wednesday: at Thunder (37-30)
Friday: at Spurs (41-24)
Sunday: vs. Pistons (23-43)
Monday: at Nets (27-38)
March 25: vs. Heat (30-36)
March 27: at Knicks (13-53)
March 29: vs. Clippers (42-25)
March 30: at Hornets (29-36)
April 1: vs. Pacers (30-36)
April 3: vs. Bucks (34-32)
April 4: at Raptors (40-27)
April 8: at Pistons (23-43)
April 10: at Cavaliers (43-26)
April 12: vs. Cavaliers (43-26)
April 14: vs. Raptors (40-27)
April 15: at Bucks (34-32)

BY THE NUMBERS: .498 opponents’€™ winning percentage; 9 games vs. teams above .500; 9 road games; 7 games vs. teams below .500; 7 home games; 4 back-to-backs.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat
Isaiah Thomas on MFB: Back feeling better, but ‘I have to do what is best for myself and try and get as healthy as possible’ 03.17.15 at 12:38 pm ET
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Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss his back injury and also what his short time in Boston has been like. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Thomas has been out since March 9 when he landed on his back in a game against the Heat. It was learned Monday night he likely won’t make the next road trip, which includes stops in Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Thomas admits it’s been hard to miss time, especially against good teams, but knows his health is the most important thing.

“It is, but at the same time I have to do what is best for myself,” said Thomas. “I have to do what is best for myself and try and get as healthy as possible. All the best players they want to go against the best players, so I am upset I have to miss this, but it is for the sake of my health and I have to get healthy.”

“A little better,” he added of how he feels. “It’s progressing slowly, but it’s getting there. For the most part I can’t really do any activity right now, but I am just trying to get back and get healthy enough that we can have a good stretch at the end of this year.”

In six games in March, Thomas is averaging 20.8 points per game.

Thomas was traded to the Celtics from the Suns at the NBA trade deadline. He said he’s enjoying his time in Boston, and hopes to stay long-term. He adds if the team starts winning it could become a free agent destination once again.

“I hope it’s long term,” he said. “I am having a great time. I am having fun. I am playing. We’re winning. We have a chance to make the playoffs, so I have nothing to complain about other than the weather, but that will be OK. I think it’s somewhere when you start winning and see you’ve seen years ago when the team was winning people wanted to be here. I think at the end of the day when you win that is where people want to play.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Isaiah Thomas,
Avery Bradley, Tyler Zeller making believers of themselves, others 03.17.15 at 11:09 am ET
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With winning comes confidence. With confidence late in the season comes expectation. And these Celtics are talking and acting like a team that expects to make a run to the Eastern Conference playoffs with 16 games left in their season.

Avery Bradley is one of only three players left from the last Celtics team to make the playoffs just two seasons ago. He, Brandon Bass and Shav Randolph were all on the 2013 team that lost in six games to the Knicks.

When the Celtics were 20-33 this season and headed for another seemingly dead end to the season, could he picture his teammates making an improbable run to the postseason?

“For sure, I saw that we were improving every single game and I knew we would have a chance if we set our mind to it and started [believing] in our [potential] and that’€™s what we were doing. We never thought we didn’€™t have a chance to make the playoffs. Now we’€™re right there.”

Indeed, after Monday’s 108-89 blowout of the hapless Sixers, the Celtics are definitely in the mix. While technically ninth and on the outside looking in due to their 18-21 record in the East, they are tied with the Pacers and Heat for seventh in the East with a 30-36 record.

Monday, the Celtics came in focused, even in shootaround, determined not to let a game against the 15-51 Sixers stand in their way of their first five-game win streak under Brad Stevens. They outscored Philly 38-18 in the first quarter and it wasn’t a game after that.

“It’€™s hard, especially when you come in at halftime up by 20 and your coach might say, ‘€˜let’€™s go out there and continue to play hard,’€™ you get a little nervous,” Bradley said. “You start thinking once you get back out there on the floor and that’€™s one thing we didn’€™t do. Even though they were scoring we continued to execute our plays on both ends of the floor and it helped us continue to have a 20 point lead.”

When the Celtics, who shot 67 percent in the first quarter, looked inside, there was Tyler Zeller leading the way. He found his comfort zone and poured in a career-high 26 points.

“I don’€™t know, I mean the shots fell down,” Zeller said. “Jump shot felt really good and then they kept leaving me open so I just kept shooting it. Once again my teammates do a great job of getting me the ball on time and it makes it a lot easier.”

Road games against teams like Oklahoma City and San Antonio can be intimidating for young teams in transition. But that’s not the way these Celtics are looking at Wednesday and Friday. It’s a chance to show how much fun they’re having chasing an improbable playoff spot.

“It’€™s a lot of fun,” Zeller said. “The whole year we’€™ve been changing, I think Danny’€™s done a great job putting together the team that we’€™ve got. We’€™ve been playing with different players every night and finally have a team where we’€™ve settled in, playing with the same players every night and it’€™s fun to go to battle that way. We do a great job of playing hard and playing together.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Tyler Zeller,
Brad Stevens insists he hasn’t ‘once’ heard his team talking about playoffs 03.17.15 at 10:15 am ET
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Brad Stevens knows the potential of his team. He’s just not talking much about it. And, according to the Celtics coach, neither are his players.

With Monday’s 108-89 dispatch of the lowly 76ers, the Celtics had posted their first five-game win streak since the Doc Rivers era. They are 30-36, heading into a two-trip across the heartland, beginning with a game against the red-hot Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday and ending with a game against the defending champion Spurs in San Antonio Friday night.

They are tied with Miami and Indiana for seventh in the East but technically would not make the cut right now because of their 18-21 record against the East. Indiana would be seventh by virtue of its 22-18 mark while Miami is eighth with a conference record of 20-20.

With all the newfound excitement abound, Stevens was asked if he’s hearing the team talking about the playoff race

“I don’€™t know. I haven’€™t heard them talk about it once,” Stevens insisted. “I’€™m dead serious. I mean, we’€™ve talked about it, we’€™ve seen the standings, like you see it but I don’€™t hear it. I have not hear them say whoever Miami’€™s playing today, or who’€™s Charlotte playing today? They haven’€™t talked about it around me; maybe they are, I don’€™t know.

“But I just want to play good basketball and I think our guys just want to play good basketball, and I think as a result you have a lot more fun when you spray the ball around the way we’€™re spraying it around and when you’€™re competing together and pulling for one another and five guys playing together on a string defensively. And we’€™re still not as good as we need to be, even with ‘€“ I think our team that’€™s out there right now without Isaiah can play better. And you know, we’€™re going to need to play better in the next two games to have a chance to win.”

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