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Celtics make their case for Evan Turner as NBA Sixth Man 04.11.16 at 8:14 pm ET
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Evan Turner for Sixth Man of the Year. (Boston Celtics)

Evan Turner for Sixth Man of the Year. (Boston Celtics)

Is there a better “Sixth Man” in the NBA than Evan Turner?

The Celtics are biased but they made their case Monday, five days after Danny Ainge called for some sixth man respect. 

Turner is in the final year of his two-year, $6.7 million contract. He becomes a free agent this summer. Turner has led the Celtics’ bench all season long in scoring (10.4 points per game) and assists at 4.5 helpers per contest. 

It was those statistics Ainge pointed to last week when making his public case for Turner.

“Well, he leads the NBA in assists off the bench,” Ainge told the team’s flagship station. “He’s a huge [in the] fourth-quarter. Everybody in Boston knows how big he’s been for us at the end of so many games this year. I don’t know what the league views of Evan.

“I think Evan sees himself as a starter and not a sixth man. But I think that in a lot of ways he is because he’s in the game often at the end. But Evan certainly should be a candidate for Sixth Man of the Year. No question.”

Turner is one of only two players in the NBA this season to record at least 350 rebounds, 350 assists and commit fewer than 175 turnovers. Those figures could easily result in Turner landing a multi-year deal worth well north of $10 million annually this summer. 

As Ainge referenced, the irony of Turner’s season is that he became most valuable to the Celtics when Jae Crowder went out with a high sprain of his right ankle and Avery Bradley missed a game for paternal leave.

Before being placed in the starting lineup for stretch of two weeks, it was Turner and Marcus Smart who teamed to become one of the better 1-2 guard tandems off the bench in the East.

Celtics owned the award in the early years of the award, which was first handed out to Bobby Jones following Philadelphia’s world championship season in 1982-83. Kevin McHale won the next two years and then Bill Walton won it in the epic 1986 season.

Monday’s public relations push for Turner is Boston’s third of the week. They began with a flier last Wednesday for Isaiah Thomas as a member of the All-NBA team. They followed that up on Friday with a campaign for Jae Crowder for “Comeback Player of the Year.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Evan Turner, Sixth Man,
Celtics sign former Boston University star John Holland at 6:52 pm ET
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John Holland (Boston University)

John Holland (Boston University)

John Holland can come home again, at least to where he played his college basketball. 

The former standout guard from Boston University signed a contract Monday with the Celtics after appearing in 37 regular season contests for the D-League Canton Charge this year.

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 16.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals in 30.2 minutes per game. He shot 52.0 percent from the floor, 36.9 percent from beyond the arc and 85.2 percent from the free-throw line during the regular season.

During the 2015-16 D-League Playoffs, Holland has averaged 28.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and shot 62.5 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from the three-point line.

“Obviously John has had a good D-League year,” Brad Stevens said before Monday’s game. “He’s played overseas since he left Boston U. Obviously, he had a great career at Boston U. He played really well against us in the D-League and the D-League tournament in the first round of the playoffs. 

“He’s a good player. He brings shooting. He brings pretty good size for a perimeter player. He brings the ability to switch. And he’s another person that we can add as depth, should we need some perimeter depth.”

Holland, the 40th Gatorade D-League call-up this season, was named the America East Conference Player of the Year as a Boston University senior when he led the Terriers to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. He finished his collegiate career as just the second player in America East history with at least 2,000 points, 700 rebounds and 200 steals. 

A native of the Bronx, N.Y., Holland has played professionally in France, Spain and Turkey, and was in training camp with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Boston University, Brad Stevens, John Holland
Brad Stevens isn’t worried about playoff seeding: ‘We literally never talk about it’ at 6:42 pm ET
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It would be natural for fans to think Brad Stevens and his fans are thinking about all the different possibilities for the playoffs with two home games left on the schedule. 

But thinking about it and talking about it are two completely different concepts in the mind of the Celtics coach. 

The Celtics, following Saturday’s loss in Atlanta, enter Monday with a 47-33 record, tied with Miami for fourth in the East, one game behind the Hawks. They are also one game ahead of sixth-place Charlotte. 

The Celtics could wind up playing the Hawks, Heat or Hornets in the first round, and could have home court or not. 

All Stevens can do with his team is to tell them to play the situation immediately in front of them and not look at the scoreboard.

“Completely. Today is all about Charlotte,” Stevens said before Monday’s game. “We didn’t mention anything else. We got together. We did our typical film. We did our typical walkthrough. We went through what we didn’t do well against Atlanta. We went through what we did do well. We went through what want to bottle up and play in a certain way against Charlotte and get ready for tonight’s game.

“Again, I’m sure that our guys are talking about it. I’m sure if you ask them, they’ll talk about it. We literally never talk about it. And it’s not something that’s relevant to winning tonight. We just have to focus on the things that we can control.

“So, our deal is just to continue to play and continue to focus on the things we can control and play well,” Stevens said. “I thought we did some really good things against Atlanta. I thought we did even better things against Milwaukee. With this being obviously, a lot yet to be determined, these are games that are important to play well in.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Charlotte Hornets,
Mike Petraglia, Sam Packard on Celtics beating Bucks to close in on No. 3 seed 04.08.16 at 11:32 pm ET
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WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Sam Packard explain how the Celtics were eventually able to get their engines going and blow out the short-handed Bucks, 124-109, Friday night at TD Garden. As a result, the Celtics won their fourth straight and improved to 47-32 on the season, tying the Hawks for third in the East heading into their Saturday night showdown in Atlanta.

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Mike Petraglia, Milwaukee Bucks
Celtics make case for Jae Crowder as Most Improved Player in NBA at 7:41 pm ET
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Boston make their case for Jae Crowder as Most Improved Player in NBA. (Boston Celtics)

Boston make their case for Jae Crowder as Most Improved Player in NBA. (Boston Celtics)

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.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jae Crowder, most improved player,
How hard will Brad Stevens push for home court? ‘That’s so far down the road for me’ at 6:55 pm ET
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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.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Giannis Antetokounmpo,
Evan Turner (left eye) cleared to play, will wear glasses at 6:31 pm ET
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Evan Turner sports his protective eyewear before Friday's game. (WEEI.com photo)

Evan Turner sports his protective eyewear before Friday’s game. (Josue Pavon/WEEI.com photo)

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.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Evan Turner, Marcus Smart,
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