|Al Horford (13 pts, 9 rebs), late surge from Jordan Mickey, bench put Celtics over Nets||10.13.16 at 10:05 pm ET|
The Celtics are set to become quite familiar with the Nets, with three matchups against Brooklyn in the next two weeks, one of which is the season opener on Oct. 26.
In the first of those three matchups Thursday in Brooklyn, a late surge sent the Celtics to victory, 100-97. Led by the unassuming five of Gerald Green, Jordan Mickey, Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and R.J. Hunter, the C’s finagled a 6-0 run at the end of the game to grind out the victory.
Al Horford nearly had a double-double, finishing with nine rebounds to accompany his 13 points. Isaiah Thomas and Jonas Jerebko turned in 12-point performances.
For a full box score, click here.
The game had a more regular-season feel to it for a number of reasons. In his pregame press conference, coach Brad Stevens discussed that his rotation come the start of the season would be an “eight-plus-two” scenario, making time off the bench all the more difficult to grab.
As it turned out, just 10 players took the floor for the Celtics for the first 30-plus minutes of the game, with Green being one of the noticeable omissions up until that point.
Those who did see time, however, played with regular-season intensity.
The ball oftentimes was on the floor, with bodies in both green and white jerseys sprawled across the hardwood in attempt to maintain possession. Passing was in midseason form, as it was by and large crisp, quick and accurate.
|Celtics Practice Report: Amir Johnson looking to diversify his game||10.13.16 at 11:11 am ET|
Expect to see Amir Johnson changing things up this season.
When the Celtics went out and signed Al Horford, the laundry list of things he brought to the table were apparent, but one thing that flew under the radar was how he can help other players. And just over two weeks into camp, he’s already found a way to make fellow starter and big man Amir Johnson better.
“Chemistry is great, you know, it’s just me working around Al, Al working around me and we’re just putting it together,” the 29-year-old Johnson said.
The now-12-year pro noted that one dimension of his game that he is looking to improve is his 3-point shot. Last season, Johnson pulled from deep 43 times, executing on just 10 occasions for a 23.3 percent 3-point percentage, well below his career average of 31.5 percent from deep.
But with the addition of Horford, who can already do it all, it provides Johnson the flexibility to test his shot.
“Guys are starting to step out to that 3-pointer, and guys are definitely guarding outside the 3-point line, so it definitely changes in that aspect there,” Johnson said. “Every big man wants to step out and shoot the 3 and handle the ball, but now guys are working on it.”
With a player like Johnson implementing a 3-point shot more into his game, it can also have a less clear benefit. Regardless of if the shot gets knocked down, if Johnson is able to lure an equally-tall defender out to the perimeter, it gives a natural rim-protector like Horford a chance to isolate and grab the offensive board.
But whether Johnson is shooting or not, Horford’s versatility makes his life a lot easier.
“Al’s definitely one of those versatile bigs, able to pass the ball, step out and shoot the shot. For me it just kind of makes it easier just to work around him because you know he can the pass, you know he can make the shot,” Johnson said.
The synergy between the two is helping Johnson on the other end of the court as well.
|Paul Pierce announces he’ll sign 1-day contract next season, retire a member of Celtics||10.12.16 at 4:29 pm ET|
The speculation has circulated for a while, but now it can be booked: Paul Pierce is going to retire as a member of the Celtics.
The 38-year old, who will turn 39 on Thursday, had announced on The Players’ Tribune on Sept. 26 that he would retire after one more season with the Clippers in 2016-17. Speaking on Sirius XM NBA, Pierce announced that he would sign a one-day contract with the C’s at the conclusion of this season and retire as a member of the Celtics.
Pierce said that he owes it to himself and the fans.
Paul Pierce confirmed to us on @SiriusXMNBA that he’ll retire as a Celtic after the season… Said he owes it to himself and the fans.
— Justin Termine (@TermineRadio) October 12, 2016
After being drafted 10th overall to the Celtics in 1998, The Truth went on to an extensive and prolific 15-year career in Boston that saw him win a ring in 2008 — in which he was the finals MVP — before getting traded to the Nets in 2013.
The writing has been on the wall for Pierce to make such a move, all it was missing, however, was his affirmation. His current coach with the Clippers as well as his longtime boss with the Celtics Doc Rivers noted just weeks before Pierce’s announcement that the forward’s “got to retire a Celtic.”
The Clippers will visit the Celtics at the Garden on Feb. 5.
|Jordan Mickey Shines, Terry Rozier suffers injury in win against Hornets||10.08.16 at 6:26 pm ET|
UNCASVILLE, CT — In a game where Brad Stevens rested four of his five starters and had to do without backup guard Terry Rozier in the second half, the Celtics defeated the Hornets in their second consecutive preseason match up, 104-86.
Jae Crowder was the lone member of the starting unit who played in this one. He started at the power forward position in a small-ball lineup that included Tyler Zeller at center, rookie Jaylen Brown at small forward, Marcus Smart at the point and Gerald Green — who made his preseason debut.
Isaiah Thomas (left wrist), Avery Bradley, Al Horford and Amir Johnson sat out as their younger teammates took care of business against Charlotte.
Both teams got off to a sloppy start and finished the game’s first 12 minutes tied at 18. Although the Celtics forced five turnovers in the first quarter — including four in the opening minutes — they struggled in transition on offense and committed six turnovers.
Making matters worse, Rozier (4 points, 2 rebounds) left the game early in the second quarter when he was elbowed in the face while attempting to take a charge against Hornets center Christian Wood. He received seven stitches and never returned.
The Celtics’ offense found its rhythm against the Hornets in the second quarter as they took a 49-38 lead into halftime. Zeller scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half — he finished 5-of-7 from the floor, including 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. He did a stellar job of knocking down open mid-range jump shots and finishing strong in the paint.
|Isaiah Thomas ‘slightly sprains’ left wrist as Celtics beat Hornets in 2nd preseason game||10.06.16 at 9:50 pm ET|
After beating the Hornets Thursday night in a preseason contest, the Celtics will now hold their breath on their star point guard.
Isaiah Thomas injured his left wrist early in the third quarter when he fought his way through a Roy Hibbert screen and came out of the game.
He did not return with what the team termed a “slightly sprained” left wrist. It is the same wrist that he had arthroscopic surgery on in Aug. 2014. Jaylen Brown subbed in for Thomas with 7:07 left in the third quarter.
As for the game, the Celtics (1-1) scored 40 points in the third quarter and rolled to a 107-92 win in a preseason game Thursday night at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Before coming out, Thomas led the Celtics with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting in 20 minutes. Al Horford scored nine of his 13 points in the third quarter. He also grabbed eight rebounds in his 19 minutes of playing time.
For a full box score, click here.
For a second straight game, head coach Brad Stevens started a lineup of Thomas, Avery Bradley, Horford, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson.
The Celtics raced out to a 22-14 lead in the first quarter, thanks to more sharp-shooting from Avery Bradley. The guard was 3-for-5 from the field, including 1-of-2 from beyond the arc.
But the Celtics bench struggled again, missing their last six shots as the Hornets scored the last nine points to take a 23-22 lead after one. The Celtics, who started off red-hot Tuesday night, made just 8-of-22 from the field in the opening quarter.
The learning curve continued for Jaylen Brown. He committed a mental error when he lost track of the shot clock at the end of the first quarter and passed the ball on the perimeter as the clock expired. He also failed to finish on a pair of drives to the basket.
Stevens used the second quarter of the second preseason game to mix and match with the starters, going with a lineup of Bradley, Thomas, Terry Rozier, Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko. The Celtics trailed 51-44 at the half, throwing up 17 threes (making seven). Overall, the Celtics shot just 17-of-44 (38.6 percent) in the opening 24 minutes. Thomas was 3-for-5 from beyond the arc and had 11 in the first half to lead the Celtics.
Unlike Tuesday, the Celtics starters opened the second half and it paid immediate dividends. The Celtics scored the first nine points of the third quarter for a 53-52 lead. One of the big highlights was two-handed monster slam from Horford on an inbounds pass from Crowder. Horford was fouled and hit the free throw for a three-point play. The Celtics were in complete control the rest of the quarter, outscoring the Hornets, 40-19, in the period.
The Celtics built their lead to as many as 21 in the fourth quarter, cruising to their first win of the preseason.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 7, 2016
|Terry Rozier warns rest of NBA about Jaylen Brown||10.06.16 at 11:45 am ET|
Terry Rozier has been saying it for a while: Jaylen Brown is eventually going to be a nightmare for the rest of the NBA.
How bad of a dream is up to the rookie out of Cal.
On Tuesday night, in 20 minutes, Brown was 4-of-9 from the field for eight points and four rebounds.
It wasn’t pretty at the start. He had a one-handed dunk attempt partially blocked by Hollis Thompson with eight minutes left in the second quarter.
He had one turnover and was a minus-9.
In the second half, he was moved to the ‘4’ on the post from the swing spot. It worked. He found his rhythm, finishing 3-for-6 with three rebounds. In short, he found a comfort level.
“Yeah, I’m comfortable at the 4, wherever coach needs me to play,” Brown said. “That’s just part of being versatile; part of versatility is just being ready when somebody calls your name. You’re a rookie, so you can’t really have any excuses. If he wants to play me at the ‘4’ I’m down [with that].
“You can’t be surprised. You’ve just got to be ready at all times. Whenever somebody calls my name, I’m ready, focused, locked in. Rookies can’t be surprised.”
The highlight of the game came when the still 19-year-old Brown threw down a Tomahawk one-handed dunk with four minutes left, bringing the Celtics within three points. Terry Rozier was in Brown’s shoes last season, a first-round pick trying to show he was worth the pick.
“He had the crowd going, going crazy, had our bench going crazy,” Terry Rozier said. “That’s something he’s going to be good for doing, jump out of the gym. He’s going to see a lot of minutes this year. Once the game really slows down for him, it’s going to be scary for a lot of people. I’ve been telling him this since summer league.”
Truth of the matter is that Brown, as a third overall pick, is under the microscope much more than Rozier, who was a 16th overall pick. And there are bigger expectations. Brown has just begun to fulfill those expectations.
“It felt really good,” Brown said. “The floor opened up, felt like I could close out and it was just like the lane was wide open. I like to attack, close out and be aggressive, and if somebody had collapsed, I would’ve just kicked it to the corner for the open shot.
“It’s like a blur. This is all happening at once. It helped a little bit. Just getting up and down and getting to the basket. Just touching the ball when you’re getting up and down the floor is a great feeling, and nothing beats that. That feeling when you first walk in the arena. Nothing beats that feeling. When I got on floor, everything else just goes on the way.”
|For (preseason) openers, Al Horford, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder shine, Jaylen Brown wows in loss to Sixers||10.04.16 at 9:24 pm ET|
AMHERST — The growth spurt officially is underway.
With expectations sky high entering the preseason, the Celtics didn’t disappoint Tuesday night, showing off a new-look roster that is loaded with offensive options and tenacious defense.
Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder each scored 11 points in the first half while Al Horford made his debut, scoring eight points in a 92-89 loss to the injury-plagued Sixers in front of a sparse 4,532 fans at the Mullins Center. The game was officially a home preseason game for Philadelphia, as their parent company, Comcast/Spectacor manages the building. But nearly every fan was cheering for the Celtics.
Jaylen Brown fired up the crowd with several athletic moves, including a one-handed jam late in the fourth to bring the Celtics close. The first-rounder out of Cal finished with eight points. Isaiah Thomas also had 11 points in his 19 minutes.
Terry Rozier led the Celtics with 12 points.
The Celtics showed their intensity on defense to the very last possession. Marcus Smart forced a Philadelphia turnover with 12 seconds left on the sideline, giving Boston a chance to tie. Smart missed a fadeaway three from the left wing with six seconds remaining and the loose ball went out of bounds to Philadelphia. Then after a Smart foul, the Sixers tried to inbound but turned the ball over, giving Boston one final chance with 3.6 seconds left. Jordan Mickey missed a three with one second left to end the game.
With just under three minutes left in the third quarter, a loud “Let’s Go Celtics” chant broke out.
And early on, the fans had plenty to cheer about.
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