|Studs and Duds: Celtics bottle up lethargic Rockets||11.16.15 at 10:37 pm ET|
Brad Stevens has entered unfamiliar territory, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
With their 111-95 victory Monday over the Rockets, the Celtics are now two games over .500 for the first time in the coach’s tenure. After struggling in the first quarter, the Celtics finished outscored the Rockets 87-67 to finish the game. Isaiah Thomas led the way for the C’s with 23 points, while Avery Bradley (21) and Jae Crowder (16) were also in double figures.
The two teams played with polar opposite energy levels. The C’s played with their normal aggression/desperation, while the Rockets looked as disinterested as a prepubescent boy at a middle school dance. The Celtics were extreme active in the passing lanes, which led to a season-high 16 steals. MVP runner-up James Harden was held to only 16 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUDS OF THE NIGHT: Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas.
The pair spread their 44 points across all four quarters. In the first, Thomas carried the C’s, starting the game 4-for-5 from the field with 10 points and three assists. In the second half, it was Bradley’s turn, as he scored 13 points while sitting out the final eight minutes. Both finished 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. Thomas actually started over Bradley, who was able to score 21 points in only 20 minutes. Thomas scored a similarly efficient 23 points in 24 minutes.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: The entire Houston Rockets staff, basketball team, record label and crew.
It really didn’t seem like the Rockets ever wanted to win this game. A number of times they neglected to run back on defense. Mike Gorman was personally disgusted and offered his public condolences to Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, who I imagined just shrugged his shoulders and sighed the whole night. The Celtics seemed to win every 50-50 ball and on numerous occasions just ripped the ball out of the hands of Rockets players.
|Studs and Duds: Avery Bradley, Celtics come up short in Indiana||11.04.15 at 10:00 pm ET|
It was not the prettiest evening of basketball Indiana’s ever seen, but the Celtics gave themselves a shot.
That shot was soon swallowed by a stifling defense that left Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley no breathing room on the final possession. Bradley’s 3-point attempt fell well short, and the C’s lost, 100-98. They dropped to 1-3 on the season with a brutal stretch over their next six games: Wizards, at Bucks, Pacers, Hawks, at Thunder and at Rockets.
Thomas led the C’s with 27 points and seven assists, and Bradley added 21 points despite an injured right index finger. Joe Crowder (12 points), Evan Turner (11 points) and David Lee (10 points) also reached double figures. Paul George led the Celtics with 26 points, 10 rebounds and a wide-open 3 that broke a 93-93 tie with 2:13 remaining.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
|Avery Bradley injures right index finger late in loss to Spurs||11.01.15 at 8:37 pm ET|
If you knew Celtics guard Avery Bradley sprained his right index finger late in Sunday’s 95-87 loss to the Spurs, you’d think he did it on this devastating dunk that cut San Antonio’s lead to five with 1:40 left.
Bradley left the game with 26 seconds left and the C’s trailing by three possessions, following the team doctor to the locker room. He had the finger set in a splint and his right wrist wrapped before his postgame interview, but didn’t injure it on the rim. He caught the finger on a jersey in the final minute.
‘I got it caught in someone’s jersey and bent my fingers back,” said Bradley, who scored a team-high 18 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Its just swollen right now. My right hand.’
The Celtics have the day off Monday, return to practice Tuesday and don’t play until Wednesday in Indiana, so Bradley has a few days to recover. He did not have the finger bandaged when the Celtics initially let reporters into the locker room and he didn’t appear to be favoring it as he prepared for his media session.
Considering the shoulder and ankle injuries that have plagued Bradley throughout his career, you just hope the finger doesn’t become a linger issue that diminishes the progress he’s made under coach Brad Stevens.
“I’ve just been trying to tell myself to be more aggressive, go to the basket stronger,” added Bradley. “When I broke my ankle, I feel like it’s always in the back of my head that I can go and re-injure myself. I just have to go out there and play basketball and not think. … A lot of people forget that that used to be me. I just have to continue to take what the defense gives me and be aggressive.”
Bradley was the lone C’s starter with a positive rating in Sunday’s loss, finishing plus-three in 30:28. After shooting better than 50 percent from 3-point range during the preseason, Bradley hasn’t quite found his groove, shooting 4-of-12 from distance and 37.1 percent overall so far, but his defense has been steady. If he continues to attack the rim and the 3-pointers start falling, he’ll be a game-changer.
|Avery Bradley upgrades playoff goal to championship||09.25.15 at 9:23 pm ET|
‘To get back to the playoffs and hopefully use all the experience we gained from last year to get further and have a chance to play in the championship,’ said Bradley. ‘Obviously, that’s our ultimate goal, and we’re going to try to prepare so we can get to that level.’
The championship? Really?
‘I feel like it’s definitely realistic,’ added the 24-year-old Bradley. ‘A lot of people laughed when I said we were going to make the playoffs last year, and we did.’
Well, he’s got a point there. Believe it or not, Bradley is the longest-tenured player of the Celtics, and as the lone remaining member of the team that reached the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, he should know what it takes.
‘I know that I want to take that role to help my teammates become the best players on and off the court,” said Bradley. “I’m going to try to speak up more this year. I’m definitely going to lead by example, no matter what, but I definitely want to try to be a role model for the younger guys and push them every single day so we can be the best players we can be, so we can achieve our ultimate goal — and that’s winning a championship.’
So, the goal really is winning a championship, then. (As it should be for every team worth its salt, by the way.)
‘If we continue to work hard, anything’s possible,’ said Bradley, who started for the 2014-15 team that got swept in the first round. “If you buy into what the coach is trying to do and this Celtics culture, I feel like anything is possible and we can definitely have a chance to make it to the championship if we do those things.’
|J.R. Smith compares Avery Bradley to Kobe Bryant, and not in a good way||04.20.15 at 2:58 pm ET|
Granted, Sunday’s game between the Cavaliers and Celtics was questionably officiated, but J.R. Smith hardly has a case he didn’t deserve all four of his fouls — and maybe even more. But that didn’t stop the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year from complaining.
What did J.R. Smith learn during 4-foul, 19-minute game? “Don’t touch Avery Bradley. Apparently he’s like Kobe now, so I can’t touch him.”
‘ Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) April 19, 2015
So, apparently Smith thinks Avery Bradley is getting superstar treatment, which is … interesting … since the Celtics guard attempted all of zero free throws, and Smith somehow still managed to complain after trucking Kelly Olynyk like a linebacker.
|Celtics’ Avery Bradley receives Red Auerbach Award||04.03.15 at 7:57 pm ET|
Prior to Friday’s game against the Bucks, the Celtics named Avery Bradley as the 10th recipient of the annual Red Auerbach Award, given to the player or coach who best represents what it means to be a Celtic on and off the court.
A regular participant in the Shamrock Foundation’s charitable efforts, Bradley promptly scored the C’s first nine points against Milwaukee, surpassing 1,000 points in a season for the first time in his five-year career. Appearing in 72 of Boston’s 76 games, he has averaged 14.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists this season.
“Avery Bradley received this award because he embodies what it means to truly be a Boston Celtic,” Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca said in a statement. “He continues to prove that not only can you be a great basketball player, but you can also be an amazing role model in the Boston community off the court. We are proud to have someone like Avery as a part of our organization, as he exemplifies exactly what it means to be a part of the Celtics franchise.”
The Celtics rewarded Bradley with a four-year, $32 million contract this past summer. He joins select company as the 10th recipient of the Red Auerbach Award since 2006: Paul Pierce (2006, 2013); Al Jefferson (2007); Kevin Garnett (2008, 2012); Ray Allen (2009); Rajon Rondo (2010); Doc Rivers (2011); Brandon Bass (2014); and Avery Bradley (2015).
|5 things we learned as Kelly Olynyk keeps an eye on playoffs||04.01.15 at 9:57 pm ET|
Maybe Shavlik Randolph should abuse his teammates before every game.
During warmup drills, Randolph smacked Kelly Olynyk with an elbow to the face. Olynyk’s eye quickly swelled to the size of a golf ball, and trainers were doubtful he would even be able to play. Deciding to forego a protective mask or goggles, Olynyk opted to play and ended up leading the Celtics to a 100-87 victory against the visiting Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
Olynyk and Tyler Zeller led the Celtics with 19 points apiece, while Evan Turner (13 points, 12 assists, 11 rebounds) submitted his third triple-double of the season. Avery Bradley (11 points) and Jae Crowder (10 points) also scored in double figures. Despite only shooting 22 percent from the 3-point line, the Celtics controlled the game for all four quarters, not relinquishing a lead they took four minutes into the game. George Hill led the Pacers with 21 in the loss.
The Celtics (34-41) moved two games ahead of the Pacers (32-43) with seven to play, and they now own the head-to-head tiebreaker with a 3-1 series victory this season. The C’s trail both the Brooklyn Nets (34-40) and Miami Heat (34-40) by a half-game for the seventh and eight seed.
For a complete box score, click here.
TYLER ZELLER DOMINATES FIRST HALF
Starting opposite 7-footer Roy Hibbert, Zeller dominated the first half, scoring 17 of his 19 points. Zeller opened the game by hitting his first four shots and drawing two early fouls on Hibbert. With Hibbert on the bench for the majority of the half, the Celtics dominated the paint, outscoring the Pacers 26-12.
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