|What to know about 2016-17 Celtics schedule||08.15.16 at 10:07 am ET|
With the release of the 2016-17 NBA schedule, the start of what has on paper begun to shape up as one of the most interesting season’s in recent Celtics memory is inching closer and closer.
So what challenges stand in front of the Celtics?
According to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg and a group of other insiders, the Celtics actually have the easiest schedule in the league. Let’s take a look:
Five notable games
Nov. 3 at Cavaliers
What a way to really get the season going. The Celtics’ fifth game of the year will be against the team that is one of the top contenders to stand in their way in the East. Though you’re hard-pressed to say a game at the beginning of November will have a long-term impact of the makeup of the season, this game will be a good jumping off point for the Celtics to see how they stack up against a top team when (most likely) both sides are healthy. What’s more, it will be the second game of a back-to-back, with the C’s squaring off against the Bulls the night before.
Nov. 18 vs. Warriors
A game that needs no explanation, the Celtics’ home matchup against the most highly-touted side going into this season comes a few weeks in. At that point, team identities will have been formed and an indication as to where teams are headed in their seasons should start becoming clear. Oh, and Kevin Durant too. That will be an interesting reception for the prized free agent who snubbed Boston this offseason.
Nov. 25 vs. Spurs
Another measuring stick to how the Celtics compare to top talent, it will also be the first time they see the Spurs without the incessant reminder that they didn’t get Tim Duncan in the 1997 draft.
Jan. 13 at Hawks
The Celtics don’t see the team that bounced them in the first round of the 2016 postseason until mid-January, and it will be on the road as well. For redemption sake, it will be a good matchup to see how they stack up against the new-look Hawks eight months later, but it will also be compelling to see how Al Horford squares off against his former team.
April 5 vs. Cavaliers
The Celtics in a sense bookend their season with the Cavs, and if the season goes in the direction everyone imagines it will, this will be a gargantuan game in terms of postseason preparation. It will be at home with just four more games following and will likely have postseason seeding implications as well.
|Isaiah Thomas wants to prove he’s ‘just as good as any other point guard in the NBA’||08.11.16 at 11:27 am ET|
Isaiah Thomas has had a busy summer. From recruiting Kevin Durant, to jet-setting to China to handing out ice cream at Faneuil Hall, the Celtics point guard has hardly been off this offseason.
In an interview with Celtics.com on Wednesday, Thomas talked about his trip to China, the team’s No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown, and what else he’s been doing this offseason when not recruiting, flying or giving away ice cream.
The 27-year-old went to Beijing as part of NBA Cares, an initiative to help continue to grow the game. He was joined by Karl-Anthony Townes of the Timberwolves as well as Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers. While there, they hosted clinics, meet-and-greets and NBA Finals viewing parties.
“It was a blessing to be able to be considered to go. Once they asked me to go I definitely wanted to see Beijing and what it was like,” Thomas said. “I’ve been to China before but it was definitely a smaller, but it was a good experience. I was hoping to meet Yao Ming but I didn’t get to, but it was nice to be in China and experience their culture a little bit.”
In his All-Star 2015-16 season in which he played in all 82 games (while starting 79), Thomas admittedly was a little banged up when the season concluded with their first round departure at the hands of the Hawks. As a result, he cited that he gave himself a little bit of time away from basketball at the start of the offseason.
“The first four to six weeks of offseason I didn’t play basketball, my body was hurting,” he said. “I needed some injuries to heal in my body so I really relaxed, spent time with my family, my kids and watched the playoffs so that was my biggest thing. Now I’m back working out, I’m healthy and I’m trying to just continue to get better each and every day so I can get ready for the season.”
Added Thomas on how the team plans to get better: “Work. Continue to work, continue to get better. Don’t be satisfied with what we did cause honestly we felt like we came up short, we felt like — give credit to Atlanta — but we felt like we could’ve beat them.”
Even with temperatures in the 90s in the dead of August, it’s not to early to start thinking about Christmas, and it appears the Celtics will be decking the halls of Madison Square Garden on December 25.
According to a report from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the Celtics and Knicks will be one of five games to be played on Christmas, with the Warriors and and Cavs set to tangle in a NBA Finals rematch, per ESPN’s Marc Stein.
The Celtics haven’t played on Christmas Day since 2012, when they ran through Brooklyn on the road 93-76. For reference, Rajon Rando was the leading scorer with 19 points, Kevin Garnett grabbed 10 boards and Paul Pierce had 10 assists. The Celtics still have had less than favorable results on the holiday posting an overall record of 12-17 on Christmas.
The Celtics/Knicks matchup will feature some new faces tossed into the Boston/New York rivalry with Celtics’ addition of Al Horford and the Knicks’ addition of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
The league generally schedules the games based on how a team stands in terms of their marketability, so don’t be surprised to see the Heat, Lakers, Clippers or Bulls (all of whom played on Christmas last season) potentially get thrown into the mix this year.
|5 takeaways from Celtics summer league||07.16.16 at 10:55 pm ET|
Celtics summer league action ended Friday night, as the C’s finished out their Vegas season losing to Portland 80-75. Boston ended up with a 1-4 record in Vegas after sweeping the four-team Utah Summer League. However, this is summer league, where players are competing for roster spots, and the wins don’t really matter.
With that said, here are the C’s players who made the best and worst cases for playing at the Garden.
1. Terry Rozier stands out
If only to resurface the backcourt talent log jam issue, which seemed to clear after Evan Turner signed with Portland, Terry Rozier is showing a lot of promise on the dawn of his sophomore season.
Averaging 20 points per game along with 5.3 rebound and 3.5 assists, Rozier could be the Turner replacement the Celtics are looking for. He was the facilitator of Boston’s offense throughout summer league, showing efficiency and a solid stroke throughout July. And of course, he made a last-second shot to win the C’s the Utah Summer League title, just to add to an already impressive summer league resume.
With Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart making the thought of cracking the point guard rotation difficult, Rozier will most likely be better suited to backing up Avery Bradley at the two. Granted, Rozier’s level of play could also mean that he would be a strong trade asset, or a solid replacement for another Celtics guard, should Boston want to sweeten their side of a major deal, such as the rumored three-team Blake Griffin trade.
2. Jaylen Brown silences draft day boos
Celtics fans were ready to welcome a superstar to Boston in exchange for the No. 3 pick in the draft on June 23, or at least bring home Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield or Marquese Chriss. Instead, they ended up with Jaylen Brown, who had much to prove in summer league after his selection was greeted with some boos at TD Garden and defended by Danny Ainge afterwards. Read the rest of this entry »
|Reports: Former Celtics forward Jared Sullinger agrees to 1-year deal with Raptors||07.11.16 at 3:30 pm ET|
Once the Celtics signed big man Al Horford, they no longer had room for restricted free agent Jared Sullinger, so they renounced his qualifying offer. He didn’t stay unemployed for long.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical, Sullinger has agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with the Raptors, which he trumpeted on his Twitter account by changing his logo to that of the Raptors. Sullinger thanked Celtics fans.
— Jared Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0) July 11, 2016
Sullinger averaged 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds a game over four years with the Celtics after being selected 21st overall in the 2012 draft. Head coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe after the C’s set Sullinger free that he’d land on his feet.
“Jared’s one of the more talented guys being able to get the ball off the glass, and he’s got beautiful touch and he’s a good guy,” Stevens said. “And so I think he’ll do well.”
|Celtics agree with former Hawks big man Al Horford on 4-year, $113 million deal, land marquee free agent||07.02.16 at 7:24 pm ET|
Al Horford is coming to the Celtics, and he wants everyone to know it.
The free agent big man agreed to a four-year, $113 million contract on Saturday night and immediately took to his official Twitter account to celebrate.
Celtic Pride!!!!!! 🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀
— Al Horford (@Al_Horford) July 2, 2016
Eagle-eyed Celtics fans will notice exactly 18 shamrocks in that tweet. That’s the number the C’s will have if they win another one.
Horford, 30, averaged 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds last year. He helped lead the Hawks past the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs in six games before being swept out of the playoffs by the Cavaliers.
The four-time All-Star gives the Celtics something they’ve lacked during the Brad Stevens era — a mobile big man who can defend the rim as well as the pick and roll, while also scoring inside, from medium range, and even from 3-point land.
He’s considered a winning player who does all the little things, from passing out of double teams to setting solid screens. He helped lead the Hawks to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in 2014-15 and a trip to the conference finals, where they fell to the Cavaliers.
Horford’s arrival gives the Celtics a fighting chance on another front, as well. They met with free agent Kevin Durant on Saturday night in the Hamptons, and the two players are good friends. While the Celtics remain a long shot to sign Durant, Horford certainly helps their cause.
Tom Brady isn’t the only superstar athlete hoping to lure Kevin Durant to Boston. David Ortiz got in on the fun on Saturday, too.
Yo @KDTrey5 sorry I couldn’t make the meeting today but Brady will tell u they don’t call Boston the City of Champions for nothing 🏆🏆🏆
— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) July 2, 2016
Brady reportedly attended the meeting with Durant and his representatives in the Hamptons on Saturday. Ortiz obviously had other commitments, with the Red Sox hosting the Angels, so he tweeted his support instead.
According to the Boston Globe, the Celtics’ meeting with Durant had ended by 7 p.m.
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