|Celtics make case for Jae Crowder as Most Improved Player in NBA||04.08.16 at 7:41 pm ET|
Another home game, another public relations blitz from the Celtics.
On Wednesday, the Celtics articulated their case for Isaiah Thomas on the All-NBA team.
This time, the Celtics are pushing Jae Crowder as the most improved player in the Association.
To their argument, Crowder has set career highs in:
- Points per game (14.5)
- Assists per game (1.9)
- Minutes per game (31.9)
- 3-point FG percentage (34.1)
- Rebounds per game (5.2)
- Steals per game (1.8)
- FG percentage (44.5)
- FT percentage (82.4)
Brad Stevens has maintained all season that Crowder has been one of, if not their best, versatile player, almost always drawing the opposing team’s best scorer. The Celtics have been able to win games, like Golden State, without him.
There’s no question that home court advantage plays a role in the NBA playoffs.
The real issue is how hard does Brad Stevens step on the gas in the final week to get a potential Game 7 on the TD Garden parquet?
The 46-32 Celtics enter Friday night a half-game behind the Hawks (47-32) for third in the East, with a chance to pull into a tie heading into Saturday night’s showdown in Atlanta. Boston is tied with Miami for fourth. Both are a game ahead of Charlotte. A showdown with the Hornets at the Garden looms Monday night before the Celtics wrap up the regular season against the Heat Wednesday night in Boston.
So much to consider but first the games need to be played – and won.
“I think the biggest thing is we want to try to be playing our best,” Stevens said pregame Friday. “We want to play well, we’re focused on that. Regardless of the guys that are in the game, we need to be playing at a good rate, defensively and offensively, as we head into next week. Obviously, health is incredibly important as you get into the playoffs but there’s a lot of things that go into being successful and we want to be playing well.”
Will Stevens consider rest players?
“If they need it,” Stevens answered. “See how it goes, see who you’re playing and all that other stuff. I don’t think you can make any decisions until you know who you are playing and what kind of matchup problems they present.
“It would be nice to be done in four. That’s so far down the road for me, I’m not even thinking about it. So, we could play really well in any of the next four games and get beat. But we have to just focus on playing on the way that we can play. We’re playing good teams. We’re playing very talented teams.
After watching his 212-game streak of games played end Wednesday night, Evan Turner returns against the Bucks.
The news is not all that surprising considering Turner was diagnosed with just a left eye abrasion on Monday and no retina damage after getting poked in the eye with 20 seconds left in the win over the Lakers Sunday night.
Brad Stevens was asked so much Tuesday and Wednesday about the possibility of Turner wearing goggles that he joked after Marcus Smart took four stitches above the right eye against the Pelicans that Smart wouldn’t need goggles.
As it turns out, Turner will wear protective glasses against the Bucks after going through a light workout on Thursday.
“It feels better, I can see out of my peripheral,” Turner said before Friday’s game. “I got in some shooting [Thursday] and some cardio, so I should be ready to rock. I could see a little bit. I think I’ll be fine. Once I get into a rhythm and flow I’m sure I’ll be good. One thing I was worried about was getting in some cardio workouts more than anything.
“There weren’t many choice,” Turner said of his choice of eyewear. “I had Chris Douglas-Roberts and a choice from Horace Grant or Kurt Rambis. CDR [was the choice] and that was pretty much it. I never had to do that. This will be my first time, and that should be good, be cool. No pain, it’s just red. I’ll be fine.
“If I did [keep wearing them], it would be moreso to protect the eye, especially after going through things with the doctors. I know the eye is fragile, and it could be way worse the next time.
“Didn’t do much,” Stevens said. “Shot a little bit [Thursday] but hasn’t done anything contact wise. He’ll wear a pair of glasses tonight, don’t know how long he’ll have to have those on, as far as multiple days whatever the case may be. Obviously, err on the side of protecting his vision and his eye. But he’s having no trouble seeing peripherally or anything else. Should be good to go.”
|Mike Petraglia, Josue Pavon explain significance of Celtics’ ugly win over Pelicans||04.07.16 at 9:05 am ET|
WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Josue Pavon explain how the Celtics were able to hold on for an important 104-97 win over the Pelicans on Wednesday night at TD Garden. The Pelicans didn’t have young superstar Anthony Davis and point guard Jrue Holiday but still managed to erase a pair of double-digit deficits in the second half. The win lifted the 46-32 Celtics into a third-place tie in the Eastern Conference with the Hawks.
|Brad Stevens gets teaching moments for his team in win, Avery Bradley, Celtics ‘appreciate’ Amir Johnson||at 8:58 am ET|
The way the injuries had been piling up in the last four weeks, Brad Stevens was just happy he could make light about the elbow Marcus Smart took to the face in the final 90 seconds of Boston’s 104-97 win over the Pelicans on Wednesday night that result in four stitches above the right eye.
“He had four stitches just above his eye,” Stevens said. “Everything is in place and everything is fine. He will not have to wear goggles on Friday. I know that’s the most important part of the question.”
Stevens was referring to the constant questions he’s faced over the last several days about Evan Turner’s left eye and whether he might play on Friday and whether or not he’ll have to wear goggles to protect his left eye. As it turns out, Stevens said there is “a chance” Turner will be available against the Bucks.
Since mid-February, the Celtics have lost Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko and Evan Turner for stretches of time with various injuries. But after Wednesday’s ugly win, in which the Celtics blew a pair of double-digit leads in the second half to the Pelicans and had to pull away in the final 90 seconds, Stevens was just focused on his team playing hard and closing out games.
|Celtics make very public case for Isaiah Thomas as All-NBA||04.06.16 at 8:50 pm ET|
It’s an election year, and the Celtics are pushing their guy hard for a spot on the All-NBA team.
Isaiah Thomas has exploded onto the scene this year for the Celtics, leading his team to stunning wins over the Cavaliers in Cleveland and the Warriors last Friday in Oakland. He earned his first All-Star spot in February, playing for the East in Toronto on Feb. 14. Perhaps most significant, with Thomas leading the way, the Celtics are 45-32 and in position to make a run for the No. 3 seed in the East for the playoffs.
On Wednesday, the Celtics took the somewhat unusual move to take to social media and encourage those in the media with a vote to name the 24-year-old to the league’s all-NBA squad.
“I think as you look at the All-NBA, you’re looking for 15 guys that most impact their team’s success. Hard to argue against him,” coach Brad Stevens said before Wednesday’s game.
In making their case, the team pointed out that Thomas is:
- On track to become only the third player in Celtics history with 1,600 or more points and 500 or more assists in a season. He would join a pair of Hall of Famers in Larry Bird and John Havlicek.
- One of six players in the NBA to average 22 points and six assists per game this season.
- Only player in the league to average 22 points, six assists and commit fewer than three turnovers per game.
- Eighth in the league in points per 100 possessions (32.2 PPG).
The team also points out that the Celtics are a plus-9.5 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the court versus when he’s on the bench.
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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