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Will Celtics really be ready for playoffs? 04.12.16 at 11:55 am ET
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After consecutive losses to playoff teams on Saturday and Monday, there is a little doubt creeping into the minds of Celtics fans. 

Are the Celtics the team that beat Golden State and Cleveland on the road and posted a 47-32 record in their first 79 games? Or are they the team that has been exposed in the second half in Atlanta and the entirety of their humiliating loss to the Hornets on Monday night at home?

Avery Bradley said after Saturday’s game in Atlanta that the Celtics looked at times to be a team fighting itself and playing tight. After Monday’s 114-100 loss to Charlotte at TD Garden, Bradley laid it out on the line for a team that was outscored 39-13 in the second quarter and blown out of its own building. 

“All the credit to them. We just have to prepare and try to fix all the mistakes we had,” Bradley said. “I know the coach said it. I’m pretty sure everybody else is going to say it. We just have to try to fix all the small things that we did [wrong] because in the playoffs, if we make these same mistakes, we might lose by 40.” 

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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens
Evan Turner cleared for ‘light non-contact’ Thursday, ‘chance’ of playing Friday 04.06.16 at 7:48 pm ET
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Evan Turner

Evan Turner

Evan Turner continues to make progress from the injury to his left eye suffered in Sunday’s win over the Lakers in Los Angeles.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens announced before Wednesday’s game with the Pelicans at TD Garden that the guard has been cleared to do some work in practice on Thursday, holding out hope that he might be available against the Bucks on Friday.

“Evan just saw the doctor again today,” Stevens said. “He’s set to do light non-contact shooting [Thursday] with a chance that he’d play on Friday.”

Stevens did not want to put a specific percentage on Turner’s availability for Friday or whether he might need protective goggles when he returns.

“To be determined. I don’t know the answer to that,” Stevens said. “I think it’s one of those situations where they’ll reassess on Friday and figure that out.”

Turner, in one of his trademark stylish camouflage sweaters, was in good spirits with the team on the bench during Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans, cheering and offering support. He was wearing his normal eye glasses, as he was on Monday when he posted a picture on Instagram.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Evan Turner, Isaiah Thomas
Sleep-deprived Avery Bradley returns from daddy duties to help Celtics tune up for playoffs 04.05.16 at 7:35 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Being a leader on a team can be difficult and demanding by itself.

Throw being a new sleep-deprived dad on top of it, and anyone would have their senses overwhelmed.

Bradley welcomed his second child into the world at the tail end of Boston’s five-game road swing through the West, explaining his absence from the team on Sunday night against the Lakers. 

Without Bradley in the building Sunday, the Celtics guards of Evan Turner, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier allowed Kobe Bryant to score 34 points but held the retiring superstar to 11-of-28 from the field.

“I know it was Kobe. I’m just happy the way our team performed,” Bradley said of the 107-100 win. “We try to play great team defense, and he was hitting tough shots. I’m just happy we were able to get the win.”

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart
Brad Stevens rules out Evan Turner (eye abrasion) for Wednesday, hopeful for Friday at 2:41 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Brad Stevens feels the Celtics and Evan Turner might have caught a big break. 

The eye poke to the guard’s left eye Sunday night in Los Angeles resulted in just an abrasion, and Turner might be able to return Friday night against the Bucks at TD Garden. 

Still, after a long red-eye flight back on Sunday night after the 107-100 win over the Lakers, the Celtics told Turner to stay home from Tuesday’s practice, get rest and let the healing continue. 

“Evan is good. He’s at home,” Stevens said before practice. “He’s not going to be here today, not going to practice today. He’s not going to play [Wednesday]. But he should be day-to-day after that. The ophthalmologist saw him [Monday] and obviously, if he were to play [Wednesday], he would probably be a day ahead of schedule and force him to wear goggles, whatever the case may be. 

“We’re hopeful that he can be feeling pretty good by Friday. So, I think giving him that extra two days is a probably a good thing anyway.”

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Evan Turner, Jonas Jerebko
Avery Bradley (personal) not with team, Jae Crowder returns to starting lineup vs. Lakers 04.03.16 at 9:18 pm ET
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Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley

The Celtics will have to avoid a massive letdown without the services of Avery Bradley. 

Coach Brad Stevens confirmed before the game in Los Angeles that the best defensive player in the starting lineup will not be with the team due to personal reasons. 

Taking Bradley’s place in the starting lineup will be Evan Turner, getting a start for the eighth time in nine games. This start, however, will be at a different position than the previous seven, where he started for Jae Crowder. 

“Evan has started the better part of the last couple of weeks because Jae has only been here for one game, so I think that keeps him in that role and in that rhythm and then we’ll figure it out from there,” Brad Stevens told reporters before Sunday’s game. 

Crowder will be returning to the starting lineup after missing Friday’s game against the Warriors in Oakland. 

Stevens also explained why Turner has been such a versatile player over the course of the last three weeks. 

“The 2s and 3s do the exact same things for us, so it doesn’t have any impact as far as knowing what’s coming or understanding the plays or whatever the case may be,” Stevens added. “It’s a pretty seamless transition, because he’s going to guard all three spots, which he usually does.”

Turner has averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game in his last seven starts. He scored 21 points in Friday’s shocker in Oakland, grabbed five rebounds, and had five assists. He scored 10 points during the final quarter, including a couple of key clutch jumpers. 

There will be others expected to step up their game, also. 

“Terry (Rozier) has played a lot more than he had earlier in the season and he and Marcus (Smart) have given us good things together especially with the ability to make physical plays, defend, rebound, those type of things that we need our guards to do to be the best team that we can be,” said Stevens. “It’s one of those things where we haven’t been a great rebounding team, so playing those guys together helps shore that up a little bit.”

Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Evan Turner, Jae Crowder
Avery Bradley, Celtics look forward to challenge of 68-7 Warriors: ‘That’s what I play basketball for’ 04.01.16 at 2:08 am ET
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Warriors guard Stephen Curry shoots over Celtics guard Avery Bradley during the first half at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Warriors guard Stephen Curry shoots over Celtics guard Avery Bradley during the first half of their game at TD Garden in December. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Even though they suffered an emotionally draining loss in Portland, the Celtics say they’re ready for the biggest challenge of the season Friday night in Oakland.

The 43-32 Celtics will be going up against the 68-7 Warriors, who are in the midst of an NBA-record 54-game home winning streak, including a perfect 36-0 this season.

“It’s fun. That’s what I play basketball for every single night — to go up against the best players,” Avery Bradley said after Thursday’s 116-109 loss in Portland.

The last time the Celtics and Warriors met, Golden State was on another amazing streak. Heading into their Dec. 11 meeting at TD Garden, the Warriors had won 23 straight to open the season. They extended the streak to 24 but barely, outlasting the Celtics, 124-119, in double overtime. Steph Curry scored 38 points while Draymond Green added 24 as the Warriors improved to 24-0.

That streak ended the next night in Milwaukee but the Celtics made their case that they were legit this season. 

Now, Isaiah Thomas takes one look at the Eastern Conference standings and sees more urgency. Thursday’s loss dropped Boston to sixth place, a game behind the Heat and the Hornets in the loss column.

“We’ve got to win,” Thomas said.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Isaiah Thomas
Celtics approaching rarified (home) air of 2008 World Champs 03.01.16 at 3:28 pm ET
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Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) celebrates against the Utah Jazz during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) celebrates against the Utah Jazz during the second half at TD Garden. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM — The Celtics are on some kind of roll at TD Garden. 

The team that started out under .500 (9-10) in their first 19 home games this season has suddenly found the magic touch. 

They have won 11 in a row on Causeway Street and if they finish this homestand with wins over the Blazers Wednesday and the Knicks on Friday, they will pass the mark of the 2007-08 Celtics. The group of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen won 12 straight in a row at home to start the season that ended in a title run.

“I don’t know if we can put ourselves in that conservation, man,” Jared Sullinger laughed when the comparison was mentioned Tuesday after practice. “You had Rondo, you had KG, you had Paul, you had Ray, Perk, Tony. You really can’t put yourself in that conversation. But it will say a lot about this team and all the maturing we did over the season. I thought we did a tremendous job of executing of late. 

“You can’t really compare the two. It’s two completely different teams,” Avery Bradley added. “We’re just trying to take care of home and take it one game at a time and make sure we’re continuing to get better and take care of the little things.”

What Bradley did acknowledge, and something he learned from former coach Doc Rivers, was the home court matters come playoff time in April and May. 

“That matters in the playoffs,” Bradley said. “We got a taste of it last year but home court advantage definitely matters. I learned that from Doc. That’s something we wanted to get every single year so that does matter.”

“For sure, for sure. Doc said that when I was here playing for him that one year,” Sullinger added. “Home court really does matter just because you’re in your normal routine. You’re at home. You’re not on the road. You don’t have to worry about little things. Home court advantage matters, and as long as you’re normal with your routine, everything will be fine.” 

“[Confidence] is pretty high. It’s pretty high. I think the biggest thing is we have a streak going now, eleven straight at home. We have two more home games until we hit the road. We’re just trying to close it out. Talking earlier before we started our homestand, we wanted to go 5-0, go 5-0 and protect home court and try to get many wins as possible.

“And what’s funny, I was talking to Jae [Crowder] earlier, we really haven’t been shooting the ball well in these past couple of games and we’re still able to pull out the win. That just shows how much we’re maturing as a basketball team, understanding that offense doesn’t dictate our defense. We’re doing a great job.” 

Then there’s the perspective of coach Brad Stevens, who entered last year’s playoffs as the No. 7 seed but without the benefit of home court. The Celtics were swept in four games by Cleveland so home court was moot. 

“I’ve never lived it,” Stevens said Tuesday. “I think you have to win on the road and at home in the playoffs. And you have to be able to well in either. You never know how those series play themselves out. Our focus isn’t on 21 games from now, it’s right now. Our next two games are at home so we’ll try to play as well as we can in those next two games.”

Read More: 2008 Boston Celtics, Avery Bradley, Brad Stevens, Doc Rivers
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