|Studs and Duds: LeBron James, Cavaliers win ugly over Celtics||12.15.15 at 9:50 pm ET|
After taking a 46-40 lead into halftime, the Celtics were outscored by 18 in the second half, and the final outcome of an 89-77 loss to LeBron James and his Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers should have been a lot worse.
Cleveland (16-7) shot 51.3 percent to the C’s 26.2 percent after the break, turning what initially was a hard-fought playoff rematch into an ugly laugher of a game. The Celtics fell to 14-11 and seventh in the East with the loss.
Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 17 points, but required 15 shots to get there. Likewise, Jae Crowder scored 14 points on 13 attempts and Isaiah Thomas netted 12 points on 15 shots. They were the only three C’s in double figures.
For the complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: David Lee?
Even if he wasn’t much help on defense, at least Lee did some work in the post offensively. He collected eight points on 4-of-8 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes off the bench. He finished the night as the C’s only player with a positive plus/minus.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Take your pick.
|A call for Adam Silver to increase Rajon Rondo’s suspension||12.14.15 at 7:06 pm ET|
In a disturbing anecdote detailed in Yahoo Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski’s report on NBA referee Bill Kennedy’s public revelation that he is gay, former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo allegedly directed multiple anti-gay slurs at the longtime ref after he was ejected in the Kings’ 114-97 loss to the C’s in Mexico City on Dec. 3.
Following an investigation, the NBA suspended Rondo one game without pay for “directing a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner.” Rondo’s use of anti-gay slurs is reprehensible, and it’s even worse when you consider he may have suspected Kennedy was gay following disgraced referee Tim Donaghy’s 2010 allegations against Doc Rivers on CLNS Radio. Here’s that exchange, courtesy of Red’s Army.
Question: One of the referees I’ve been annoyed with over the years is Bill Kennedy. Every time he has a Celtics game, I almost know that we’re not getting calls. Is his relationship with Doc Rivers or the Celtics organization as a whole something you know about?
Donaghy: That’s a difficult question for me to answer, because I certainly don’t want to offend anybody. … I’m just gonna come out and say it like it is. It’s no secret on the staff that Bill Kennedy is a homosexual. … I don’t have any ill will towards gays or lesbians, but it was no secret that he’s a homosexual. It was known around the league. It was obvious during a game Doc Rivers questioned his sexual orientation, and I think that has stuck with Kennedy over the years — and he has no love for Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics.
Rivers denied Donaghy’s claim that he directed homophobic language at Kennedy.
Doc Rivers denies using anti-gay slur against Bill Kennedy
‘ Dan Feldman (@DanFeldmanNBA) December 14, 2015
Rondo was a 2012-13 teammate of Jason Collins in Boston the season before the 7-footer became the first active openly gay male athlete in major U.S. sports history, and Collins credited Rivers in the April 2013 Sports Illustrated article announcing his sexuality, saying, “Doc Rivers, my coach on the Celtics, says, ‘If you want to go quickly, go by yourself — if you want to go farther, go in a group.’ I want people to pull together and push ahead.” While Rondo declined to speak with media Monday, he addressed the matter on Twitter.
They absolutely do not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community. I did not mean to offend or disrespect anyone.
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for directing an anti-gay slur at an official in 2011, and Bulls center Joakim Noah was fined $50,000 for doing the same later that season. Rondo’s admission shows at least some players haven’t evolved since. Even if we take Rondo at his word — that he didn’t “mean to offend or disrespect anyone” and he acted “out of frustration and emotion, period” — that doesn’t excuse his behavior.
Whether or not he suspected Kennedy was gay, Rondo was quick to use an offensive term out of frustration, and the fear is that speaks to a locker-room culture where anti-gay slurs are on the tip of a player’s tongue. That needs to change, as it should in any workplace, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver would be wise to increase Rondo’s suspension in order to send that message. Then again, Silver should have sent that message before Wojnarowski’s detailed report, because reissuing a harsher penalty now might open the league up to all sorts of issues with the players’ association.
The NBA may have feared a harsher penalty would have risked indirectly outing Kennedy before he was ready, since the discipline was handed out prior to the Yahoo Sports report. The question then would be whether it matters if Rondo directed the homophobic slur at a gay man or a straight man. Either way, we as a society should not tolerate what amounts to hate speech, and the NBA could help set the tone in that regard.
The league has been on the forefront of cultural progression, particularly compared to other professional sports leagues and especially under Silver, so perhaps it’s time to take another stand.
|Studs and Duds: Celtics bounce back, beat Hornets||12.12.15 at 9:49 pm ET|
Brad Stevens has to have the best cure for hangovers.
A night after an emotional double-overtime loss to the undefeated Warriors, the Celtics defeated the Hornets, 98-93. The win marks the C’s 10th straight when playing on the road on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Celtics struggled to find their legs in the first half, scoring only 38 points on 35 percent shooting from the field and converting a putrid 1-of-10 attempts from the 3-point line. But the Hornets, who came into the game with one of the league’s best offenses, couldn’t capitalize, as they too missed open shots.
The entire pace of the game changed in the third quarter, as the C’s hit seven of their first eight attempts from beyond the arc and built a 12 point lead. Despite a 35-point quarter, the Celtics squandered the double-digit 12-point lead, as Nic Batum (21 points) led Charlotte on a 10-2 run that closed the deficit to four.
The C’s clung to a narrow lead in the fourth quarter and escaped Charlotte with a five-point victory. Avery Bradley led all scorers with 23 points, while Isaiah Thomas (21 points), Jae Crowder (16 points), Evan Turner (10 points) and David Lee (10 points) also reached double figures.
The win pushes the Celtics to 14-10 on the season, just a half-game back of the Hornets (14-9) for second place in the Eastern Conference. The C’s will host LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Tuesday. The Cavs swept Boston in the first round of the playoffs last season.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
|What we learned about Celtics in double-OT loss to Warriors||12.12.15 at 4:26 pm ET|
Friday night at TD Garden undoubtedly was the game of the year in the NBA.
The unbeaten Warriors came into Boston and topped the Celtics‘ best effort by a score of 124-119. It wasn’t easy. It took double-overtime for Golden State to improve to a historic 24-0 on the season.
After about 10 seconds of silence in which you could tell his blood was boiling, Stevens gave the reporter the courtesy of answering his question.
“Not even a good one,” Stevens replied before swiftly moving on to the next question.
The coach certainly has created a trickle-down effect, as his players all agreed that there was nothing good about losing a game in which they spent 58 minutes going toe-to-toe with the defending champions.
All that said, we still learned somethings about this never-say-die C’s squad during Friday’s showing.
FEAR NO OPPONENT
Many teams have come out of the locker room to face the Warriors this season with the game already over. You can tell that they’re scared to begin with, but once Golden State gets on one of its runs, that’s when it’s officially over. The opposition waves the white flag and the Dubs run away with the game.
The Celtics weren’t going to let themselves be the hunted on Friday. They were the hunter.
|Knee-Jerk Reactions to Celtics vs. Warrios||12.12.15 at 1:24 pm ET|
—Avery Bradley flat out dominated the first quarter. Bradley hit six of his first seven shots and was responsible for 15 of the Celtics first 18 points. He was aggressive, confident, and for a brief moment, the best player on the court. Then in the second quarter, AB didn’t even attempt a shot. Celtics fans shouldn’t be surprised by this, as Bradley has the tendency to put up amazing quarters or halves, but we have never seen him do it for a full 48. I don’t know if was simply a matter of energy, (Bradley had just played 12 minutes of great defense against Curry) but it doesn’t make much sense for him not attempt another shot until the third quarter. Bradley only had 4 more points the rest of the game to finish with 19.
–I will give Bradley a pass, because he is one of the major reasons why Steph Curry had (in Comic Book Guy voice) The Worst 38-point Game Ever! The Celtics held the presumptive MVP to a pedestrian 33% from the field and his 44.4 eFG% was the worst of the season. The Celtics did an amazing job of keeping Curry out of the paint on pick-and-rolls and Bradley/Turner had a hand in his face all night, but Curry is still a superstar the best shooter of all-time. Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton explained it best after the game.
“The players that are true superstars in this league — all you can try to do is make it tougher. They’re going to get their numbers no matter what happens, but you just try to make it tough. And Boston made it tough on Steph tonight.”
–It wasn’t just Steph who “struggled”, the Celtics did a great job of defending everyone else on the Warriors.
Celtics held Golden State to a 99.1 offensive rating, per https://t.co/akLr22gbMF. Essentially turned the Warriors offense into the Bucks.
‘ Jay King (@ByJayKing) December 12, 2015
–Draymond Green was absolutely outstanding and finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 blocks, and 5 steals. He is obviously one of the best 10 players in the league and is making an argument that he is also the league’s best Power Forward.
‘ Jared Weiss (@CLNS_JaredWeiss) December 12, 2015
–Against the Warriors, the Celtics did an excellent job of finding in him in pick-and-rolls, as Olynyk finished with 28 points on an ABSURD 21 attempts. The Celtics are 6-2 in games where Kelly takes more than 10 shots. Olynyk was also wearing a Man-Bun in 6 of those 8 games. Coincidence? I THINK NOT #FearTheBun
— Some questioned the decision not to take a timeout during the Celtics two game-winning chances, but I liked the decision by Stevens. Shaun Livingston made a great play to block Isaiah Thomas‘ first shot and then IT got a great look, but missed the second. Stevens is known for his great play-calling ATO, but tonight it just wasn’t working for the Celtics.
The Celtics got 10 points on 14 after-time-out plays in the fourth quarter and OTs.
‘ Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 12, 2015
— This Elevators play run by the Warriors is literally impossible to stop. AND they waited till the final minute to use it. How is Bradley supposed to defend this any better?
— I have never seen so many people this jazzed for a pregame warm-up. The blood-curdling shrieks from fans made it feel like Curry had become the fifth member of the Beatles. The massive pregame crowd of fans and giddy reporters (myself included) followed his every move, albeit through the lens of their smartphone.
— James Young played 20 minutes of solid defense and even got some burn in overtime. Stevens obviously has trust in the kid, which is shocking considering where he was at the beginning of the season. Celtics will need his depth at the small-forward position if they want to play more small-ball lineups moving forward.
— The Celtics have no time to reflect on the tough loss or even rest after playing two overtimes. Tonight they take on a Hornets team that has a Top 5 offense and won 8 of their last 10 games.
|Studs and Duds: Celtics lose heartbreaker, Warriors keep streaking||12.11.15 at 10:39 pm ET|
The Warriors were without Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, shot 39 percent from the floor, playing a double-overtime thriller on the sixth game of a road trip, and somehow still walked out of TD Garden with their 24th straight victory.
The Celtics played phenomenally for long stretches, but missed seven of their 16 free throws and couldn’t create offense when they needed it most, losing a 124-119 heartbreaker after two extra frames. Still, the C’s (13-10) announced themselves as power players in this NBA season’s most unforgettable game.
“They’re tough, man,” said Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, who scored 38 points on 9-of-27 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds and eight assists. “Their record is still above .500, but they’ve played better than their record. They’ve got some big wins on the road against some tough teams — OKC, Atlanta. And when they win, they win bi. “They really show out, so you know they have that punch — that firepower. They provide a couple of matchup problems with some of the bigs that can step out and shoot 3’s and space the floor. You don’t really know where it’s coming from on a nightly basis, which is tough.”
Kelly Olynyk led the Celtics with 28 points off the bench. Avery Bradley (19 points), Isaiah Thomas (18 points, 10 assists), Jae Crowder (15 points), Evan Turner (13 points, 9 rebounds) and David Lee (10 points) also reached double figures. Golden State’s Draymond Green had 24 points, 11 boards, eight assists, five steals and five blocks.
For the complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
|4 keys for Celtics to beat Warriors||12.11.15 at 3:06 pm ET|
Don’t let the Celtics fool you, this isn’t just another game.
The Celtics (13-9) have a chance to beat the undefeated Warriors (23-0) Friday night at TD Garden, and of course it’s not going to be easy. Reigning MVP Steph Curry is making a case for this year’s honor and leading the league’s best offense. Avery Bradley is going to do his best to pester Curry — make him uncomfortable, keep a hand in his face — but if the Celtics do knock off the Warriors it’s not going to depend on that.
The Warriors are a great team with a lot of weapons. If the Celtics are to pull off the upset, here are four things that would go a long way toward helping that happen.
1. Isaiah Thomas comes through with his season-best effort
No other Celtic has been more consistent than Isaiah Thomas. He’s averaging a team-high 21 points and leads the team in assists (6.3). The Celtics need a big night from their best scorer. If Thomas scores 30 or more points against the Warriors, it’s going to free up guys like Bradley and Jae Crowder. He’s only scored 30 points once this season (against the 76ers) but if there’s one Celtic you have to bet is going to score 30, it’s Thomas. Lately he’s been the second-half hero for the C’s. That has to end Friday night. Thomas needs to get it going early.
2. The C’s control the boards
Jared Sullinger has been a force on the glass lately, grabbing 36 rebounds in his last two games. But he is going to have his hands full guarding Draymond Green. Sullinger needs to out-rebound Green and keep him outside of the paint. The Celtics also are going to need all the second-chance points they can get. The C’s managed 17 second-chance points on 13 offensive rebounds against the Bulls, and they should be able to do the same against Green, Andrew Bogut and the Warriors.
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