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Celtics Power Rankings 01.07.15 at 2:32 pm ET
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It’s a new year, and time for a new gimmick. I got sick of writing about the same five teams for my Power and Sour rankings, so I have decided to switch it up. Instead, I will rank the entire roster of our hometown squadron, the Boston Celtics. These rankings are based on gut feelings and convenient statistics. If you disagree, which if you are a regular WEEI commenter you will, please sound off at the bottom of the page. If that doesn’t feel like a enough of a personal attack, please yell at me on Twitter @SPackGuy.

Honorable mention: Tim Frazier

I love me some D-League, and especially some Maine Red Claws. Frazier is easily the best player stashed up in Maine, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get a 10-day contract later in the season.

15. Gerald Wallace

Averaging seven minutes per game and sounds like a didgeridoo.

14. Jameer Nelson

13. Brandan Wright

12. Jae Crowder

Small sample size, but I do like Crowder’s hairdo and his defensive intensity. Given Wright’s length, I expected to see him get more minutes. Never predict a Brad Stevens rotation.

11. Phil Pressey

Instant energy off the bench, but really too short to make a significant impact. He consistently drives with reckless abandon with no intention of attempting a shot. It’s frustrating.

10. James Young

Young has only played in six games, but he is the future, and one time he answered some of my questions about his time in Maine. Can you believe he has never been to Freeport? I just hope he continues to get minutes, because he clearly has a knack for getting buckets.

9. Marcus Thornton

Marcus “The Microwave” Thornton is the Celtics‘ only irrational confidence scorer. Injuries have kept him out of the lineup and thus low on the rankings. He does win the award for Celtic I would most like to hang out with.

8. Brandon Bass

“BASS IS WHO YOU THOUGHT HE WAS!” Thanks to Dennis Green for the guest commentary. I hope for Bass’ sake that Danny Ainge finds him a nice contender for whom he can play meaningful minutes down the stretch. There is really no reason he couldn’t be the Warriors’ version of P.J. Brown.

7. Avery Bradley 

Without a doubt, AB has been the most disappointing player on the team. He just keeps shooting and shooting and shooting, and the ball rarely goes in. I appreciate his defense, but you need more that 12.5 PPG and 32 percent from 3 from your starting shooting guard.

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James Young begins earning his role with the Celtics after breaking out against Hornets 01.06.15 at 9:00 am ET
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James Young had played 18 minutes on the entire season entering Monday night’s game against the Hornets. His last appearance on an NBA court was when he played two minutes in a blowout against the Lakers on Dec 5. Since then, Young has missed time with a shoulder injury and spent time playing for the Maine Red Claws in the D-League.

Monday night was a coming out party for the No. 17 overall pick in this past June’s draft. Young matched his season total by playing 18 minutes in the game against Charlotte, coming up huge by nearly leading the Celtics to a comeback victory. In the second half alone the rookie played 15 minutes, pouring in 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting, while going 3-for-4 from downtown. Young’s finest moment came on a 3-pointer he hit in the fourth quarter to cut the Hornets’ lead to just six points, the smallest it would get after being as many as 22 points.

“I just tried to take every shot with confidence,” Young said following the game. “After one fell I just tried to go for another, and another and that’s how I’ve been playing all my life so I just tried to stick with it.”

Young has been sent to the D-League often of late, playing major minutes for the Red Claws when asked to. In eight games Young has averaged 22.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals in 32.6 minutes of action. He has also been practically automatic from beyond the arc, shooting 35-of-73 in those eight games. His experience seems to be paying off, though.

“I was king of nervous when I first got in. [It was] My first time playing, really, in the regular season,” said Young of his jitters. “I was just trying to go out there in the second half and just be aggressive, everyone told me to be aggressive.”

So did Young get advice from anyone in specific before his breakout game?

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Read More: James Young,
Jared Sullinger: ‘We can’t play hero ball [because] we don’t have heroes’ 01.06.15 at 8:58 am ET
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Jared Sullinger played one season with Paul Pierce. But that one season was enough to learn a very valuable lesson from the former captain.

One man can’t win a game. He can make a shot or haul in a rebound or make a big defensive play. But Paul Pierce learned from Doc Rivers at an early age that “hero ball” – the act of putting your team on your shoulders and trying to do it all yourself.

Monday night was yet another example of that for the 11-21 Celtics as they fell behind 50-36 at the half and by 22 in the second half before making a meaningless run in a 104-95 loss to the lowly Hornets at TD Garden.

Down 22, Stevens took most of his regulars out and turned to his bench, led by 13 points apiece from rookie James Young and Jae Crowder. But it wasn’t enough. The lesson?

“It’s a natural habit from a ton of great players,” Sullinger said. “These are all great players. We didn’t get to the league by accident. We’re great players and our natural ability comes out and we try to make that home run play. But as a team, that hurts you. As a team, that hurts you. It’s not just one individual, it’s everybody. Sometimes, I do it. We just have to step outside of ourselves and put he team first and then the home run plays will naturally spit themselves out in our system.

“We have to understand that one play is not going to make up an 18-point deficit,” Sullinger said. “That’s definitely what it’s called. It’s called hero ball. We can’t play hero ball. We don’t have heroes.

“Being a hero makes you a failure, makes you a failure. You can’t play one on five at all. As a team, the system is going to spit out who’s going to score, who’s night it is. You just have to play basketball and do better.”

Brad Stevens tried to make the same point.

“That’s the type of coach he is but as a team, we just have to do better,” Sullinger said.

Sullinger made a point after Monday’s 104-95 loss shows the weaknesses a fragile, young team has.

“No, not at all. Not at all,” Belichick said. “It’s natural. If you look around at everybody in this room was a big impact in college basketball or a big impact at wherever they played. And, their ability of us as individuals automatically says, ‘let me put the team on my back.’ As a team, you can’t do that. It’s not just one person, it’s everybody.

Look at Evan. He was a national player of the year. Tyler was an 18-10 guy at North Carolina. Marcus Smart was the man at Oklahoma State. James Young was the man at Kentucky. Jeff Green at Georgetown. I could go on and on and on. Everybody at one point was a focal point.”
Re: James Young back in: ‘€œYea all his hard work he’€™s been putting in. Going back and forth from Maine to Boston and all the hard work he’€™s been putting in throughout the couple weeks is finally showing. I’€™m so proud and happy for him and the best is yet to come.’€

Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Hero Ball, Jared Sullinger
Brad Stevens takes blame for messy Celtics: ‘I’ve got to figure out how to coach this team better’ 01.05.15 at 11:30 pm ET
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Brad Stevens has reached a low point in his second season as Celtics head coach.

Stevens sounded an ominous signal Monday following a 104-95 lifeless loss to the lowly Charlotte Hornets on “Seats for Soldiers” night at TD Garden.

His team started slow out of the gate and really never recovered, trailing 22-11 late in the first quarter and 50-36 at the half.

“First of all, they played at a great pace, and they made shots and Kemba (Walker) was great,” Stevens said. “We couldn’€™t stop him. Cody Zeller was playing at a higher energy-level than anybody else on the floor a lot of the game, and you know (Gerald) Henderson has always really given us fits. I thought all three of those guys looked like they were at a different level early. And we weren’€™t very good.”

It got so bad that Stevens ran through his entire 13-man roster by the end of the third quarter. What was he hoping to accomplish?

“No idea. I think tonight was more of an anomaly because I was throwing darts. I can act like I know the answer to your question, but I was throwing darts,” Stevens said.

Asked a question about the breakout game for James Young and whether it might mean more playing time for the rookie, Stevens instead took the opportunity to do a little soul searching.

“€œI don’€™t know,” Stevens said. “I don’€™t know. I’€™ve got to figure out how to coach this team better. I’€™m not doing a very good job. We’€™re not playing well and we’€™re playing almost ‘€“ it’€™s not good basketball. We’€™ve got to do a better job playing good basketball. I’€™ll figure out the rotations later, once we start playing good basketball and once we all are very focused on very good basketball. And that’€™s on me. I’€™ve got to do a better job.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Charlotte Hornets
5 things we learned in the Celtics’ loss to the Hornets 01.05.15 at 10:00 pm ET
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James Young

James Young

Fresh off of an overtime loss in Chicago, the Celtics returned home on Monday to face the underachieving Hornets at TD Garden. Part of the problem for Charlotte has been injuries, as they were without both Lance Stephenson and former Celtic Al Jefferson for this contest.

Jefferson played a huge role in the Hornets’ 96-87 victory over the C’s back on Dec. 10 in Charlotte, finishing with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Boston was out for revenge this time around, however, they didn’t find it on Monday.

Kemba Walker was dominant for the Hornets in their 104-95 win over the Celtics, seemingly finding a bucket every time the Celtics started to claw back. Walker finished with 33 points to go with five boards and five helpers. Click here for the full box score.

Here’s five things we learned in the loss:

BRAD STEVENS PLAYED EVERY AVAILABLE CELTIC

Ever since the Rajon Rondo trade Stevens has been tinkering around with all kinds of rotations. In the last two games this meant playing 11 different players double-digit minutes. On Monday it meant playing all 13 of his available players (Marcus Thornton and Jameer Nelson sat with injuries) during meaningful action.

“No idea. I think tonight was more of an anomaly because I was throwing darts. I can act like I know the answer to your question but I was throwing darts,” said Stevens.

Gerald Wallace saw minutes in the second half, and rather than filling in for Nelson by letting players in the rotation play more, Phil Pressey stepped in to take Nelson’s role. Playing 13 players before a game even turns into a blowout says a lot about a rotation, mostly negative things. Eventually, Stevens is going to have to pick a direction with this team and establish a rotation that allows his players to find more of a rhythm.

JAMES YOUNG FINALLY BROKE OUT

After going back-and-forth between playing big minutes for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League and riding the bench for the Celtics, 19-year-old rookie James Young played when in mattered for the first time in weeks. Young came in to play the last three minutes of the first half, but didn’t come in gunning like he has done so far in his career.

That all changed in the second half, as Young scored 13 points in 13 minutes on 5-for-6 shooting in the second half alone (including 3-for-4 from downtown), nearly leading the Celtics to a comeback victory. It’s just one game, but Young was masterful on offense, and even played aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. Young is definitely a player to watch going forward as this performance may have carved him out a spot in Stevens’ wild rotation going forward.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, James Young,
Pau Gasol, Bulls outlast Celtics in overtime 01.04.15 at 12:43 pm ET
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Evan Turner fires a jumper against the Bulls in a Saturday night loss in Chicago. (Getty Images)

Evan Turner fires a jumper against the Bulls in a Saturday night loss in Chicago. (Getty Images)

Another good effort, another road loss for the Celtics.

Pau Gasol had 29 points, 16 rebounds and five blocked shots, and the Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 109-104 in overtime on Saturday night in Chicago.

Jared Sullinger forced overtime with less than three seconds left in regulation but the Celtics were outscored 10-5 in overtime for their fourth straight road loss.

“The last couple years, I had issues with my knees. I couldn’t really jump as much as I’m jumping now,” said the 34-year-old Gasol, who was coming off a career best nine blocks in Chicago’s previous game. “Not that I’m jumping super high, maybe an inch more.”

Evan Turner scored 24 of his 29 points after halftime, but Boston dropped to 2-6 since trading Rajon Rondo to Dallas on Dec. 18. Avery Bradley had 17 points for the Celtics (11-20).

Sullinger added 16 points for Boston, which returns home to play Charlotte Monday night at TD Garden.

Aaron Brooks added 19 points for the Bulls (24-10), who won for the ninth time in 10 games. Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose had 12 points apiece.

“They do what they need to do to win, obviously, even when they’re not playing well,” Turner said.

Saturday was Boston’s first game since the Rajon Rondo return with the Mavericks on Friday in Boston, a 119-101 loss to Dallas. The Celtics did not show serious hangover effects and played hard against a Bulls team missing starters Jimmy Butler (bereavement leave) and Mike Dunleavy (right ankle). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls,
Avery Bradley can appreciate Rajon Rondo being ‘aggressive like anyone would do’ against his former team 01.03.15 at 12:34 pm ET
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Friday was a unique game for the Celtics in the sense that they were playing against Rajon Rondo, not just in his return to Boston, but just two weeks after being teammates with him. Rondo got the best of his former team, scoring 29 points in a Mavericks’ 119-101 victory.

Rondo, who shot 12-for-19 from the field, scored 15 first-quarter points on perfect six-for-six shooting. It seemed like the Celtics game plan was to allow Rondo to shoot, which obviously backfired.

“We pretty much baited him to shoot and wanted him to shoot and he was knocking them down tonight,” Jared Sullinger said.

“He was being aggressive just like anyone would do, just like players on our team,” added Avery Bradley. “Just like we do every single night we take what the defense gives us and that’€™s what Rajon did. He was able to knock down shots.”

Bradley, like Rondo did in the first quarter, put his team on his back in the fourth quarter. The Celtics started down 28 before Bradley scored 17 in the final quarter as the Celtics cut the deficit to 10, 97-87, before running out of gas down the stretch.

“I think it’€™s just confidence, it’€™s the same with me and I’€™m pretty sure I can speak for him,” Bradley said. “If you have confidence out there in the game, anything is possible. He had confidence in his shot and he was making them.”
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