|Full Court Press: Sounding the alarm, Isaiah Thomas calls out coaches, IT can’t keep bailing C’s out||11.19.16 at 9:57 am ET|
The imagery was too rich. Moments after Friday’s 104-88 wipeout at the hands of the Warriors, fire alarms were going off all around TD Garden. Fire trucks had trouble getting down the side streets leading up to the Garden to turn off the annoying sounds that delayed Brad Stevens’ postgame explanation of the mess.
Turns out, a grill on the fourth floor malfunctioned and overheated, setting off the 20-minute disruption.
If only fixing the Celtics were that easy. But we’ll try.
1. Shorten the bench. From early on in camp, the thought was that having a deep bench could strengthen rotations for Brad Stevens. It hasn’t worked that way. The bench is not producing enough and is getting constantly outdone by the opposing group of reserves. On Friday, three players on the bench had at least 23 minutes. Part of that was because of garbage time in the fourth and part of it was traveling to Detroit after the game for a back-to-back Saturday. A good three or four man rotation off the bench is the sweet spot for most NBA teams and the return of Jae Crowder and Al Horford should help that.
2. Pray for health. The Celtics have been admittedly hard hit by injuries early in the season. Crowder (left ankle) and Horford (concussion) have missed most of the season while Marcus Smart dinged his left ankle Friday night. Crowder and Horford should return on the trip while the prognosis for Smart does not seem dire. When you’re missing two-thirds of your starting front court, there is going to be a problem. The Celtics have been using this as a bit of crutch but it’s been a legitimate issue that has stunted their ability to improve early on.
3. Bench Kelly Olynyk. He spaces the floor but at some point, when you’re 0-for-5 as a finesse big man and have grab three rebounds in 17 minutes, the message needs to be sent. The Celtics can’t afford his finesse game right now. They need bigs who will get dirty. Olynyk is heading back to the bench and he should probably stay there until the 7-footer shows the ability and determination to help on the inside. Stevens certainly sounds like he’s going to try and support Olynyk on board for as long as he needs him. “Kelly, I thought, has always done a lot of good things for us. There’s some tough match-ups out there [Friday] and I think that he’s had better games; he’d be the first to tell you. But he’s been a good player for us.”
4. Press more and create transition. This is a team with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Smart. When they’re on the court, they should limit their half-court exposure and use their quickness to their advantage. With Crowder and Horford out, Stevens tried going with Jaylen Brown and Tyler Zeller to match up big for big. That didn’t work. They went to Smart to guard much bigger bigs. Not a bad idea considering he’s the healthiest low-post defender. In half-court, trapping more couldn’t hurt. They desperately need to create turnovers and transition offense for easy baskets, a category they dominated last spring when they made a run to 48 wins.
5. Get to the basket. The Celtics are taking 30 threes a game, making 10 of them. The instant gratification from that is great. Here’s the problem: They’re not drawing fouls on the opposition and, outside of Isaiah Thomas (9/9 Friday) they’re not getting to the free throw line. Thomas is fifth in the league getting to the line, averaging 10 free throws a game, making 9. The inside game of the Celtics is lacking and that takes some dirty work. Do the dirty work, get to the line and rebound. All of that happens when there’s more of an inside commitment.
Isaiah Thomas finally had enough after Friday’s 104-88 embarrassment on national TV to would-be Celtic Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors.
The Celtics were humiliated 31-9 in the third quarter, a period that featured an 18-0 run by the Warriors. The Celtics were an abysmal 2-of-17 from the field and 1-of-9 from 3-point range.
Al Horford or no Al Horford, Jae Crowder or no Jae Crowder, those numbers are appalling.
“We know we have two of our key players out and that’s no excuse but we were in the game for one half,” Thomas said. “Everybody seen that third quarter open it up. So if you take away that third quarter and play as close to 48 minutes as possible, we’d still be in the game. You can’t let a team like that go on a run like that and expect to come back.
And what’s more concerning is the lack of consistency the Celtics have shown over a 6-6 start to the season. Opposing teams aren’t just snubbing the Celtics like Durant, they’re rubbing their noses in it like Durant’s front court colleague Zaza Pachulia, who did a dance after a 17-footer that capped the 18-0 spurt. That shot made it 79-51.
“Yeah. At that point, the game is turned around,” Thomas said. “I guess we we gave up. I mean, coaching staff as well. We started subbing, it was bad. Especially, I only played 27 minutes. We gave up.”
|Fast break: Avery Bradley’s double-double (18 pts, 13 rebs); Isaiah Thomas’ 30 points lead Celtics past Mavericks||11.16.16 at 9:50 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas saved his very best for last Wednesday.
The Celtics superstar guard scored 22 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Celtics to 90-83 win over a pesky Mavericks team at TD Garden.
“He’s done it so many times,” coach Brad Stevens said of Thomas. “I was afraid that we were really going to have to gut this one out … we definitely stagnated quite a bit.”
After dropping their most recent decision to a team off to an underwhelming start, the Celtics didn’t have much room to falter against a Mavericks team entering the game 2-7.
Avery Bradley also came up huge, putting up a double-double, dropping 18 points while setting a career-high in rebounds as he grabbed 13 boards.
Thomas and Bradley also combined for the play of the game and one of the most thrilling plays of the early season so far. With just over a minute left, Thomas got out on the break and found a trailing Bradley with a fancy between-the-legs bounce pass. Bradley finished the play with a one-hand jam, sending the Garden into pandemonium.
“I guess I just like that quarter,” Thomas said. ““Sometimes guys get a little tired and then the pressure gets a little tougher for them. I guess I like the pressure.”
Thomas got off to a slow start, but catching fire when it mattered in the fourth quarter. He entered the final frame with eight points, he dropped 22 points in the quarter. Up until then, his quiet production was nearly palpable given the lack of a support system with the exception of Bradley.
“He’s got a knack for it,” Stevens said. “I guess I’m so used to being around him and so used to watching him operate like that, nothing surprises me.”
Early on, it didn’t take the Celtics long to find their stride, jumping to an 11-3 run to start the game. Oftentimes it felt as though the Celtics were running away with the game, but the Mavs stayed within an arms reach most of the night.
“Just was getting some good shots, my teammates were getting me the ball, I was getting to my spots and was able to knock down some shots in the first quarter,” Bradley said.
For the most part, they stayed within 8-12 points, but they made a surge in the fourth quarter to take a lead with 6:43 left, keeping things close for the remainder of the game. They traded chances with the Celtics, but were never able to create enough of a lead to totally fend the C’s off.
The low-scoring final tally, while far from a positive on the offensive end, was at least a modest hope for a team struggling to keep opposing point totals low. Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews dropped 28 and 22 points, respectively for the Mavs, but the Celtics otherwise kept point production low and contained. As a result, there was a noticeable lack of offense when either one was on the bench.
“Harrison Barnes made some tough shots, but for the most part we were defending them well, we wanted him to take some contested twos and that’s what he did, he was just knocking down good shots for them. He’s a good player,” Bradley said.
The timing of the win couldn’t have been better for the Celtics. After a poor effort on Monday, and a tilt against the Warriors on deck Friday, Wednesday served as a fine enough confidence booster as well as tune up for a Warriors team off to a hot start.
The win also marked the end of a long winless streak for the Celtics against the Mavs. The C’s dropped the last six decisions against Dallas, with their previous win coming on Dec. 12, 2012.
For a complete box score, click here.
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|Celtics reportedly considering dealing Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder if it means Klay Thompson in return||11.14.16 at 1:49 pm ET|
The Celtics and Warriors might be looking to celebrate their meeting this Friday night at TD Garden in style.
According to Celtics CSNNE broadcaster Brian Scalabrine, the Celtics might be willing to give up their most experienced defensive shutdown player if it means bringing in one of the best shooting guards in the NBA.
On SiriusXM NBA Radio, Scalabrine said he had heard Thompson might be available and that the specific rumor he heard involved the Celtics. According to Scalabrine, the Celtics would send out Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and the right for Golden State to swap first-round picks with Boston’s pick from Brooklyn.
In return, Boston would land Thompson, with the Warriors then using the Brooklyn pick to acquire a shot-blocking center. He added on CSNNE Facebook Live that Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel would be a player the Warriors would acquire with the pick.
That might seem like a lot for Boston to give up but if Ainge feels Thompson makes the Celtics a serious threat to Cleveland, he would at least consider it.
“Maybe they’re on what I’m on, and [they feel] it’s impossible to win championships without rim protection against LeBron and Kyrie [Irving],” Scalabrine said. “So who’s your most valuable asset or most unneeded asset at this point?”
|Celtics Pregame Notes: Al Horford out next two games with concussion; Tyler Zeller starts Wednesday||11.02.16 at 6:46 pm ET|
For the first time this season, the Celtics starting lineup will not include Al Horford — and it will be that way for a at least two games.
The Celtics center will miss Wednesday’s game against the Bulls as part of the NBA concussion protocol, being replaced by Tyler Zeller. Horford suffered the injury on Monday in practice when a teammate swiped for a ball and got Horford in the head. After feeling fine Monday night and into Tuesday morning, Horford was too nauseous to complete Tuesday’s practice.
He won’t travel with the team either for Thursday’s game against the Cavs.
According to head coach Brad Stevens, “He felt better today but still had some symptoms, and you have to be 24 hours symptom-free before resuming activity, and if any symptoms come up after that 24 hours once you resume activity it restarts itself. So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but he will not be on the trip, he will not play [Wednesday or Thursday].”
With Horford’s absence clearing the way for Zeller to get a start, it is another testament to the 7-footers flexibility in minutes.
After spending most of last season deep in the bench, he’s averaged 16.3 minutes so far this season, including 20 minutes, 18 seconds when the Celtics played the Bulls last Thursday.
“Tyler has been there, done that here and we talked about Tyler’s value extending beyond just a typical role when fully healthy is that he’s been a guy that’s started games for us, started big games for us and has played really well and is able to both. He’s able to come off the bench or start,” Stevens said.
“With his size, with their rebounding, we’re going to need guys to get them off the glass. It doesn’t mean that he’ll get every rebound, we’ll need our guards to rebound as our bigs are blocking out a lot.”
Other Celtics Notes: — Marcus Smart will make his season debut after missing the first three games with a left ankle sprain. Avery Bradley will be available as well, after receiving a cortisone shot Tuesday. Stevens indicated both will be free of any minutes restrictions.
|Al Horford will miss Bulls game while in concussion protocol program; Avery Bradley has shoulder examined||at 12:26 pm ET|
The Celtics will be without Al Horford for Wednesday night’s game at TD Garden against the Bulls, as the center was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol program.
According to the team, Horford was hit in the head during Monday’s practice, although he did not show any concussion symptoms on Monday night or Tuesday morning. During Tuesday’s practice, Horford started to show symptoms, so he was removed from the court and examined by team physicians. He was placed in the concussion protocol program Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Avery Bradley missed Tuesday’s practice with a sore right shoulder — an issue he’s been dealing with since training camp. Coach Brad Stevens said the team’s medical staff will determine the guard’s availability for Wednesday. Bradley had two shoulder surgeries (both sides) after the 2011-12 season.
Bradley, 25, is coming off a tremendous performance in a win over the Hornets on Saturday night, as he amassed 31 points, 11 rebounds and eight 3-pointers. Through three games he is averaging 21.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
On the positive side for Boston, guard Marcus Smart will make his season debut Wednesday after being sidelined with a sprained ankle.
|Celtics, Avery Bradley hit stride in solid win over Hornets||10.29.16 at 10:07 pm ET|
The Celtics finally found a groove in their 104-98 win over the Hornets, their second win of the season.
After two lackluster games, the third time was the charm for the Celtics this season. They came out of the gate strong in the first quarter grabbing the lead early with 3-point shots. Their first 15 points were all from 3-pointers.
The Celtics pulled ahead with a 28-19 lead after the first quarter, but leveled off with a stagnant bench and the Hornets closed the Celtics’ lead gap to 44-41 at halftime.
The Celtics defense overall was stronger than in the past two games. Rebounding was key in this one, with Bradley coming through with a career-high 11 boards, while Jae Crowder grabbed nine.
“I thought we were locked in,” coach Brad Stevens said in his post game press conference. “I thought our guys were really locked in. … They just played with poise, chipped at it.”
The team looked generally in sync offensively as the bench woke up in the second half and they returned to shooting with confidence. Crowder made two 3’s in the third while Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas each sunk one.
The Celtics lost the lead in the third and ended the quarter behind 72-71 before regaining it quickly in the fourth on another Bradley 3-pointer and went on to go on a 22-5 run in that final quarter.
|Fast Break: Isaiah Thomas (25 points), Jae Crowder (21) open strong as C’s hold on for dear life in season opener||10.26.16 at 10:02 pm ET|
And we’re off.
Facing a team predicted to be one of the worst in the league, the Celtics held off a late surge from the Nets in a 122-117 victory at TD Garden.
Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley all found the form off the tip that has made them indispensable in their tenures with the team. Crowder was a knockdown shooter from the field, garnering 21 points with four boards, a pair of assists and steals and a block.
Already having a solid game through one half, Thomas was untouchable in the third, cruising to a 25-point performance while one assist shy of a double-double. Compared to Crowder and Thomas, Bradley’s first non-preseason game since leaving the postseason with an injury in April paled in comparison, as he put up 17 points with five assists and nine boards.
Al Horford had 11 points , five rebounds, six assists and four blocks in his Celtics debut.
“The first 40 minutes I thought we really played with great presence and purpose. And the last few we didn’t. It’s a reminder of how quickly this thing can turn in this league,” coach Brad Stevens said.
It wasn’t smooth sailing throughout the game, however. Despite going up by double digits in the second quarter, the C’s allowed the Nets to get within five late in the period. This after a streaky first quarter that saw an eight-point lead to get whittled down to one. The Celtics then proceeded to allow the Nets to make a late 18-2 run to close to within three in the final minutes of the fourth quarter before the Celtics starters returned and closed it out.
“It was 110-87 and we started shooting bad shots and not guarding and throwing it to the other team. That’s how quickly it can change, we all know that. I was hopeful not to have to put [the starters] back in, but I probably went a little bit longer than I normally would have,” Stevens said.
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