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Bounceback: Kelly Olynyk enjoys breakthrough game 01.18.14 at 1:15 am ET
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Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

After the Celtics win against the Raptors on Wednesday night that featured a zero-point output from Kelly Olynyk, Boston owner Stephen Pagliuca approached the 7-footer at his locker.

Pagliuca wanted to instill confidence in the Gonzaga product whom the Celtics took in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft to offset the loss of Kevin Garnett. Olynyk’s lack of aggression was not limited to the Toronto game. His zero-point effort just capped off a rough stretch of play. From Jan. 2 to Jan. 15 (nine games), Olynyk averaged 14.5 minutes per game and 4.3 points per game on 39 percent shooting. His boss encouraged him to abandon his on-court reticence.

“€œ[He said] be confident, be aggressive, take shots when they’€™re there,” Olynyk said after Boston’€™s 107-104 loss to the Lakers on Friday.

Olynyk received that message and translated it to the court in a big way against the Lakers. He totaled a game-high and career-high 25 points, and tacked on seven assists and five rebounds.

“€œI thought he was good,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “[He] took advantage of some match ups in the interior and then also got his jump shot rolling.”

The timid, unaggressive Olynyk who has been prominent at times this year vanished against Los Angeles. He was efficient around the rim and creative with his passing from the top of the key. Olynyk made his only 3-pointer in the first half, but played more of a facilitating role, tallying five assists in the first 24 minutes of the game. But in the second half, the Lakers had no answer for the center, as he scorched their frontline for 16 points. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brad Stevens, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Garnett, Stephen Pagliuca
Despite disappointing ending, Rajon Rondo’s return a success at 1:04 am ET
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Rajon Rondo had an eventful return to the court on Friday. (AP)

Rajon Rondo had an eventful return to the court on Friday. (AP)

Through 47 minutes and 59 seconds there was nothing to complain about regarding the debut of Rajon Rondo.

But it took just a second for that outlook to change.

With Boston trailing by three points in the waning moments, Rondo hoisted a 3-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime at the buzzer. But his shot clanked off the rim, and Boston fell 107-104 at the Garden.

‘€”Just came up a little bit short, but I was glad he had the ball,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the game.

Still, there were plenty of positive takeaways from Rondo’s first game since last January — starting with the fact that he changed the dynamic of the team before the opening tip. Stevens, unbeknownst to Rondo, bestowed captainship upon Rondo before the start of the game. Rondo is the 15th Celtic captain, following Pierce, who reigned from 2003-2013.

“€œI never told him — I mean, maybe it’€™s something I should have done,” Stevens said. ‘”But I think it’€™s something you earn through your effort, through your leadership, through your involvement in the community.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Avery Bradley, Brad Stevens, Doc Rivers, Jared Sullinger
Celtics guard Rajon Rondo starting against Lakers 01.17.14 at 7:25 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo got the start at point guard in his much-anticipated return to the court on Friday night against the Lakers.

Celtics (14-26) coach Brad Stevens confirmed Rondo’s return to reporters before the 7:30 tip-off at the Garden.

Rondo has been sidelined since Jan. 25, 2013 with a torn ACL he suffered in a regular season game versus the Hawks.

Undrafted rookie Phil Pressey started his first career game at point guard in the Celtics‘ 88-83 win on Wednesday night that snapped a nine-game losing streak. Pressey briefly took over for the starting duties for the traded Jordan Crawford.

Rondo averaged 13.7 points, 11.1 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game in 38 games last season.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Jordan Crawford, Phil Pressey, Rajon Rondo
Phil Pressey makes first career start, leads Celtics to victory 01.16.14 at 12:24 am ET
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Phil Pressey made his first start with the Celtics on Wednesday. (AP)

Phil Pressey made his first start with the Celtics on Wednesday. (AP)

A few minutes into the third quarter, Phil Pressey jetted around a pick-and-roll, confidently rose for an 18-foot jump shot and connected. But before he could celebrate a whistle sounded: A Boston foul nullified Pressey’€™s first points as a Celtic starter.

“I felt like that really was going to get me goin. When I finally hit one, it felt good,” Pressey said with a smile after Wednesday night’€™s game.

Pressey never scored those elusive first two points, but with Boston’€™s 10-game losing streak snapped in the team’€™s 88-83 win over the Raptors, he can now boast about his 1-0 record as a starting point guard in the NBA.

The undrafted rookie free agent’€™s 0-for-5 shooting line and zero points were not indicative of the impact he made on the game. Pressey dished out a career-high 10 assists and did not commit a single turnover in 26 minutes of play — also a career-high.

“I thought he was absolutely terrific,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

Pressey liked the 10 dimes, but not as much as the zero turnovers.

“I know if I take care of the ball, I know I’€™m giving my team an opportunity to get more shots up. That’€™s what I pride myself on,” Pressey said.

The Celtics‘€™ thinness at the guard position necessitated Pressey’€™s insertion into the lineup. (Starting point guard Jordan Crawford and reserve guard MarShon Brooks were dealt to the Warriors, Rajon Rondo is still out, and Keith Bogans indefinitely left the team for personal reasons).

Pressey said he was alerted of his promotion in shootaround. Yet the suddenness of the promotion was not alarming.

“The guys embraced me from the start, like I’€™ve been there from day one, so it was very easy for me to step in and help my team out,” Pressey said.

Pressey started off slowly, but he helped spark a 6-0 run to end the half that put Boston ahead 45-41. With under one minute left, Pressey and Jared Sullinger executed a pick-and-roll that culminated with Sullinger canning a long running jumper. Pressey then pick-pocketed Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry and set off in transition where he found a trailing Avery Bradley with a smooth behind-the-back pass for an easy layup. Then Pressey collected a Raptors miss and alertly sent an outlet pass to Bradley, who had leaked ahead of the field. Bradley was fouled and made both free throws.

Pressey helped extend Boston’€™s lead to 17 with three assists in the third quarter.

“I thought when things got tough, he got tough,” Stevens said.

And things got tough in the fourth quarter. The Celtics blew their massive lead, and suddenly found themselves nursing a three-point advantage in the waning moments. But Pressey helped weather the storm and Boston eked out the win.

“To his credit, I thought he pulled guys in and together instead of when something doesn’€™t go our way we’€™re not together,” Stevens said.

There’€™s speculation that Rondo will return on Friday against the Lakers. But Boston hopes to ease Rondo back into action, and Pressey’€™s strong outing suggests that he’€™ll continue to see big minutes until Rondo’€™s healthy.

Read More: Avery Bradley, Brad Stevens, Jared Sullinger, Jordan Crawford
Rajon Rondo’s Celtics return coming ‘sooner rather than later’ 01.13.14 at 9:52 pm ET
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With the Celtics mired in a losing streak and spiraling down the standings, Rajon Rondo‘s return can’t come soon enough, and it doesn’t appear the All-Star point guard is all that far off from playing for the first time since his ACL injury.

“I get the impression it’€™s sooner rather than later,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters prior to playing the Rockets.

While Stevens, Rondo and the Celtics are avoiding any strict timeline, the coach didn’t rule out a return this week. “I think you could say possibly,” he said.

Yahoo’s Marc Spears reported that the Rondo was targeting Friday’s game against the Lakers as his comeback night. The Celtics also face the Heat on Jan. 21 before hosting Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the Nets on the 26th — on ESPN, no less, and we all know how Rondo enjoys national TV audiences.

Rondo added to the speculation when he sent out a tweet Monday night reading “29,233,380 secs.” That’s the amount of time from his surgery on Feb. 13 to tipoff for Friday’s game.

 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Brad Stevens on Celtics: ‘#EveryGameIsAnAdventure’ 12.28.13 at 4:43 pm ET
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The Celtics watched a 22-point lead dwindle to two in the final minute, but coach Brad Stevens breathed a sigh of relief when his defense held the fort against the Cavaliers’ charge on the final two possessions.

“We did a really good job and played exceptionally well in the fourth quarter — for 18.3 seconds,” joked Stevens.

Brandon Bass blocked Dion Waiters with 8.9 seconds remaining and Earl Clark‘s last-second 3-point attempt missed the mark, so the Celtics avoided blowing a double-digit lead for the third time in three games.

“Sometimes you get on your heels, and we’ve got to figure out a way to not be on our heels,” added Stevens. “And I think sometimes when you win a game like this, that helps you the next time. Obviously, there’s that tension of, ‘Oh, no, don’t lose,’ and that’s no way to live life, that’s no way to play, but it’s a factor.”

After Bradley’s put-back dunk  gave the Celtics a 94-84 lead, Stevens’ charges made just one field goal in the game’s final 6:36 — a spinning, off-balance Jordan Crawford runner amid a flurry of turnovers and failed 3′s.

“I was telling [Celtics president] Rich Gotham, it should have been promoted as part of our holiday package: Every game is an adventure. ‘Green runs deep #EveryGameIsAnAdventure,’” said Stevens, gifting the C’s pro shop a t-shirt idea. “That would be a great thing to promote. Maybe we can work on that — get that on the website.

“It was an adventure, and we’ve got to get better in those situations. Again, we have been for the majority of the time, but for whatever reason in the last two weeks we haven’t. Today, I just didn’t think we played purposefully when it mattered. You have to balance this idea of playing with extreme maturity with still playing clear and loose.”

The absence of Rajon Rondo is never more glaring than in their late-game execution , but despite a three-game losing streak that snapped  Saturday, the C’s remain a half-game behind the Raptors for first place in the division.

“Hopefully people come in and say, ‘Hey, we can get down,’ but I think we’ve made the last couple weeks an adventure, and we haven’t played the right way the whole game,” said Stevens. “And whether that’s in the first half or the fourth quarter, we have to become a better team for 48 minutes. Three times we’ve not played well in the second half, but once we didn’t play well the whole game. So, we’ve got a lot of minutes we’ve got get better at.”

So it goes  for these Rondo-less C’s. Improve every minute, every game; stem the tide until their fearless returns.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, NBA,
Jeff Green on Celtics’ defense: ‘Lately, we’ve been (expletive)’ 12.27.13 at 9:04 pm ET
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Jeff Green (AP Photo)

Jeff Green (AP Photo)

WALTHAM — The Celtics returned to practice for a second straight day after their three-day holiday break, Friday. The opportunity to end their three-game losing streak comes Saturday afternoon (1) taking on the Cavs, who are also desperate for a win after dropping their last three.

“If we don’t play well,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, “we’ll get beat. [Kyrie] Irving and [Dion] Waiters can get to the rim on us, they can get to the rim on everybody. If we don’t defend well, it’s going to be hard for us to win.”

The Celtics prefer to start on offense in transition, so forcing turnovers is critical for their success. Jeff Green, for one, has not been pleased with the team’s effort on defense.

“Lately, we’ve been [expletive],” said Green. “We’ve been giving up a lot of points and a lot of easy looks.

“Our defense,” continued Green, “is the key.”

The Celtics defeated the Cavs at the TD Garden, 103-86, on November 29. Jordan Crawford is excited to match up again with Cleveland start Kyrie Irving, though he understands it’s far from an individual match-up.

“It’s a team effort,” said Crawford. “Kyrie’s looking for his, and once you key in on him, he’ll find the others. But you want to step up to the challenge. He’s a great player, so you want to see where you at.”

Also of note from practice was Rajon Rondo working on two additional agility drills. In what has become a familiar sight, Phil Pressey was last to leave the court.

For a complete preview of Saturday’s matchup, click here.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Cavaliers, Celtics, Jeff Green
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