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Studs and Duds: Celtics lose 4th straight, fall to Knicks with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis on bench 01.12.16 at 10:53 pm ET
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The Knicks handed the Celtics their fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games with a 120-114 decision at Madison Square Garden. The C’s (19-19) fell to .500 for the first time since Nov. 24 and remain in ninth place, now tied with New York (20-20), in the jam-packed Eastern Conference.

Carmelo Anthony and rookie Kristaps Porzingis dominated the first half, combining for 28 points in the first quarter. The 7-foot Porzingis hit three of his first four attempts from distance, including one from Stephen Curry range of 25 feet. Meanwhile, Anthony played well off the ball, knocking down five of his first six shots. The pair finished the half with 37 of their 43 combined points on an extremely efficient 64 percent shooting.

Surprisingly, neither Anthony nor Porzingis had much impact on the second half. Anthony sprained his ankle while running into a referee in the second quarter and pulled himself out of the game after only 19 seconds of the third quarter.

To start the second half, Celtics coach Brad Stevens played small ball, subbing Marcus Smart in for the struggling Kelly Olynyk. Despite giving up nearly a foot to Porzingis, Smart played physical defense against the big man. Porzingis played only eight more minutes after picking up two early fouls to begin the third quarter.

The small lineup of Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson slowly pulled the Celtics back into the game. Thomas took advantage of the extra space on the floor, repeatedly attacking the paint and getting to rim to score 16 of his game-high 34 points in the third quarter.

Sans Anthony and Porzingis, Aaron Afflalo carried the Knicks in the second half, scoring 10 points in each of the third and fourth quarters, while Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez also scored in double figures.

Perhaps due to the aggressive defense of the small-ball lineup, the Celtics also found themselves in foul trouble late in the game. Smart finished with five fouls, as the Knicks shot 27 of 30 from the free throw line.

The Celtics host the Paul George and the Pacers (22-16) in front of a national audience on ESPN on Wednesday night.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Former Butler player Andrew Smith, visited recently by Celtics coach Brad Stevens, dies at 25 of cancer 01.12.16 at 6:51 pm ET
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Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith

Former Butler University basketball player Andrew Smith, who was visited recently by Celtics coach Brad Stevens, died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer.

The news was broken by Smith’s wife, Samantha, who tweeted: “Andrew peacefully passed away in his sleep and in my arms as I told him I loved him this morning. Love you always, Smith.”

Smith had battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia over the last two years. Stevens, his former coach at Butler, missed the Celtics game on Jan. 8 in Chicago to pay Smith what turned out to be a final visit. He had previously checked in with him in November when the Celtics visited the Pacers, and Smith was hopeful a bone marrow transplant would help him beat the disease.

Stevens tweeted his condolences on Tuesday.

“To the toughest guy I ever met – Thank you, Andrew,” Stevens wrote. “We love you and will always be inspired by you.”

Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel noted in a separate post that, according to Samantha, Stevens called or texted Andrew Smith more than anyone outside of his family.

The 6-foot-11 Smith played on both of Butler’s national runners-up teams, in 2010 and 2011. He was a freshman reserve in 2010 when the Bulldogs lost a classic final to Duke, and he averaged 8.5 points a game for the club that lost to UConn. He played professionally in Lithuania for two years. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January of 2014.

Smith’s father Curt issued the following statement:

“Andrew packed more living into his 25 years than most of us will enjoy in a full 75 years. He lived his faith, relished his family, selflessly served his wife, and pursued his passion of basketball at the highest levels.”

Read More: Andrew Smith, Brad Stevens, Butler, Celtics
Marcus Smart addresses on-court argument with Jae Crowder: ‘Me and Jae are good’ 01.11.16 at 10:32 am ET
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In the Celtics‘ 101-98 loss against Memphis on Sunday, there was a play that drew the attention of most of the Celtics team.

With the Celtics down 93-92 and a 17-second difference between the shot clock and game clock, the plan appeared to be to play the possession out and get a stop, but Marcus Smart pressed up on Greg Chalmers fouled him, which seemed to upset many of his teammates, including Jae Crowder who ran at him stomping his feet.

After the game, Smart accepted responsibility for the bad play and said there’s no hard feelings between he and Crowder.

“He was just telling me we didn’t need to foul there,” Smart said to reporters. “It was heat of the moment, two players, competitors going at it, both mad at each other. I’m mad at myself. He’s mad at me because I made a play. But me and Jae are good. That’s supposed to happen. I made a bad play.”

The Celtics have now lost three straight and five of their last six.

Read More: Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart,
Studs and Duds: Celtics blow 21-point lead, fall to Grizzlies 01.10.16 at 8:58 pm ET
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The Grizzlies overcame a 21-point deficit to beat Celtics 101-98 on Sunday night in Memphis.

After a Tony Allen 3-pointer opened the game, the C’s took the lead on a 19-1 run. The starting unit moved the basketball from side to side with great success and finished the quarter with a 34-16 lead. In what is becoming a disturbing pattern, the Celtics took their foot off the gas in the second half and allowed Memphis to creep into the game. The C’s ball movement from the first quarter disappeared, as they settled for contested jumper after contested jumper.

The Grizzlies took advantage of the Celtics‘ lack of size, dominating in the paint and on the offensivee glass. Zach Randolph led Memphis with 25 points and 13 rebounds off the bench, while Marc Gasol finished with 11 boards and 11 points, nine of which came in the second half.

The loss marks the third straight — and fifth in the last six games — for the Celtics (19-18). The C’s will attempt to halt their losing streak when they travel to New York to play the Knicks on Tuesday.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Studs and Duds: Derrick Rose, Bulls hand Celtics 4th loss in 5 games 01.07.16 at 10:36 pm ET
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The Bulls defeated the Celtics 101-92 on Thursday night in Chicago, handing Boston its fourth loss in five games and second defeat in as many nights.

After a sloppy first half in which both teams struggled to find open looks, the Bulls pulled ahead in the third quarter, outscoring the C’s 26-16. In the quarter, the Celtics shot 7-for-32 from the field, missing all six of their 3-point attempts.

Pau Gasol’s 17 points and 18  boards led the Bulls (22-12). The rest of Chicago’s starters also scored in double figures, as the dynamic backcourt of Jimmy Butler (19 points, 10 assists) and Derrick Rose (18 points) combined for 37 points.

Seven different Celtics scored in double figures, led by Jae Crowder (17 points). The loss was Boston’s fourth in its last five games, and the C’s dropped to 19-17 — ninth in the East. The Celtics will look to end their two-game skid on Sunday in Memphis.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Brad Stevens to miss Bulls game while visiting former Butler player 01.07.16 at 5:45 pm ET
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Brad Stevens will not be on the bench for Thursday’s game against the Bulls in Chicago, as he is visiting a former Butler player in Indiana, the team announced hours before the game.

“We ask that the private nature of this visit be respected,” the Celtics said in a statement.

Assistant coach Jay Larranaga will serve as head coach in Stevens’ absence.

Former Butler player Andrew Smith, who has been battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma for the past two years, was readmitted to the hospital on Wednesday, according to the Indianapolis Star. His wife, Samantha Smith, reached out on Twitter asking for prayers for her husband, whose condition worsened in November.

Smith played four seasons for Stevens, who visited his former player on the eve of his bone marrow transplant when the Celtics played the Pacers in Indiana this past November.

‘€œI think after the transplant it’€™s going to be pretty tough on him, so obviously getting to see him, and Coach getting to see him, is good for us and good for him,’€ Celtics video coordinator Alex Barlow, who played for Stevens and with Smith at Butler, told The Boston Globe in November. ‘€œIt’€™s just very unfortunate that somebody like him who’€™s so nice has had to go through something so terrible.’€

2016 Celtics Mock Draft Pick Power Rankings v3.0 01.07.16 at 11:28 am ET
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cropped_lionel

The Celtics own as many as eight draft picks in June 2016 — only one of which is their own — and the unprotected selection from the Nets is legitimately one of the most fascinating storylines in the entire NBA this season. We’ll regularly update the status of those selections, speculating when and who the Celtics will pick.

FIRST ROUND

3. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn): Jaylen Brown.

Just as there will be what-ifs when it comes to the C’s end-of-season record, the same will be true for the Nets. Now that their season series is complete, we can surmise how vital those two Boston losses to Brooklyn will prove to be come April. Currently, had the Celtics swept the Nets (10-25) rather than split their four-game set, Boston would have as many wins as the No. 2 seed and Brooklyn would have as few wins as the Lakers.

Regardless, Jarrett Jack‘s season-ending ACL injury likely ensures the Nets will finish no worse than third in the lottery, which means the C’s should have a 15.6 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick. And if they aren’t lucky enough to win the Ben Simmons sweepstakes, Brown or Brandon Ingram are the next-best wings.

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Read More: 2016 Celtics Mock Draft Pick Power Rankings, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Diamond Stone
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