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Former Butler player Andrew Smith, visited recently by Celtics coach Brad Stevens, dies at 25 of cancer 01.12.16 at 6:51 pm ET
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Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith

Former Butler University basketball player Andrew Smith, who was visited recently by Celtics coach Brad Stevens, died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer.

The news was broken by Smith’s wife, Samantha, who tweeted: “Andrew peacefully passed away in his sleep and in my arms as I told him I loved him this morning. Love you always, Smith.”

Smith had battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia over the last two years. Stevens, his former coach at Butler, missed the Celtics game on Jan. 8 in Chicago to pay Smith what turned out to be a final visit. He had previously checked in with him in November when the Celtics visited the Pacers, and Smith was hopeful a bone marrow transplant would help him beat the disease.

Stevens tweeted his condolences on Tuesday.

“To the toughest guy I ever met – Thank you, Andrew,” Stevens wrote. “We love you and will always be inspired by you.”

Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel noted in a separate post that, according to Samantha, Stevens called or texted Andrew Smith more than anyone outside of his family.

The 6-foot-11 Smith played on both of Butler’s national runners-up teams, in 2010 and 2011. He was a freshman reserve in 2010 when the Bulldogs lost a classic final to Duke, and he averaged 8.5 points a game for the club that lost to UConn. He played professionally in Lithuania for two years. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in January of 2014.

Smith’s father Curt issued the following statement:

“Andrew packed more living into his 25 years than most of us will enjoy in a full 75 years. He lived his faith, relished his family, selflessly served his wife, and pursued his passion of basketball at the highest levels.”

Read More: Andrew Smith, Brad Stevens, Butler, Celtics
Studs and Duds: Celtics avoid major embarrassment, beat Sixers 11.26.15 at 7:30 am ET
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This could have been a very bad look for the Celtics.

Trailing by five points with under three minutes to go, the Celts were on the verge of giving Philadelphia its first win of the season. Instead, Brad Stevens‘ crew was able to rally, handing Philly its 16th loss in as many tries this season, with the Celtics claiming an 84-80 victory Wednesday night at TD Garden.

The Sixers now have tied the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the longest losing streak in U.S. professional sports, having dropped 26 in a row dating back to the end of last season.

Philly is two losses away from matching the most losses to start an NBA season, which is currently held by the New Jersey Nets, who lost 18 times before winning a game in 2009.

Helping the Celtics save face were Isaiah Thomas (30 points), Evan Turner (16 points), and Jae Crowder, whose 3-pointer with 38.5 seconds to go gave the Celtics the lead for good.

The Sixers only scored three points in the final 6:13.

For a complete box score, click here. To go on beyond the box score, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas.

The guard not only netted a season-high 30 in his team-high 38 minutes, but managed a plus-17 when on the floor. He also added six assists while going 4-for-7 from 3-point territory. Thomas is now averaging 21.2 points per game, having managed at least 14 points in every game this season.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Kelly Olynyk.

In his 14 minutes, the Celtics‘ forward went 0-for-5 from the floor, managing just three rebounds. The Celts were a minus-8 when Olynyk was in action. It was the seventh straight game he has failed to reach double-figurges in scoring, with the 24-year-old’s field goal shooting percentage dropping to 37 percent.

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Read More: Celtics, Sixers,
Celtics really should be eyeing these free agents this offseason 05.31.15 at 1:53 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 of their playoff matchup. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 of their playoff matchup. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Celtics are heading toward a big summer in 2015, as Danny Ainge will do his best to reel in a top-tier free agent who could help the Celtics become a top team in the Eastern Conference next season.

The Celtics, who were swept by the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs, need help in the front court. The Celtics didn’t have a go-to scorer, nor did they have anyone who could rebound against Cleveland. Scoring and rebounding are two statistical categories the Celtics most need help in.

Ainge will take a crack at signing unrestricted free agents such as Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge, but chances are those players will end up staying in Memphis and Portland, respectively. Same goes for restricted free agents like Golden State’s Draymond Green and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard; two players who will stay where they are or go to another title contender out west.

But there’s still plenty of talented free agents available who could be looking for a change of scenery. Here are four free agents the Celtics could sign this summer.

Greg Monroe, PF/C
2014-15: 16 points, 10.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists

The unrestricted free agent will be attracting attention from a lot of teams this summer. Monroe is a good rebounder whose consistent offense is something the C’s need out of their front court. He can score with his back to the basket and is the most realistic free agent candidate on this list for the Celtics. This past season, Monroe averaged a double-double for the first time in his career. Adding Monroe to the offense would make the Celtics a top-five team in the East next season. Even though Ainge may have Kevin Love listed above Monroe on his free agent wish list, Monroe most likely will sit atop of Ainge’s list after Cleveland ultimately signs Love back for one more season.

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Read More: Celtics, Greg Monroe, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love
Mike Gorman on MFB: Celtics will beat Cavaliers in 6 games 04.17.15 at 1:58 pm ET
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Mike Gorman

Mike Gorman

Celtics CSNNE play-by-play commentator Mike Gorman joined Middays with MFB to discuss his predictions for the C’s upcoming playoff series against the Cavaliers. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Gorman believes that the Celtics have the ability to pull off an upset against LeBron James and the Cavs. He has picked the C’s to win the series in six games.

“It’s how you’re playing right now that matters, it’s not what you did before,” Gorman said. “And you could take a pretty substantial sample size of the last 36 games where Celtics have gone 24-12. … They’ve got the fifth-best defense in the league over the last 38 games. They have got, also — this number surprised me when I was doing the research — when Isaiah Thomas is on the floor according to the NBA statistics, they have the second-best offense in the league. Only Golden State has a better offense than the Celtics do when Isaiah Thomas is on the floor.”

Added Gorman: “There are going to be certain keys to this series that goes along right from the very beginning. One to watch for in the first quarter of the first game is the intensity level of both sides, who’s the more energetic teams that’s on the floor. And are the officials going to let Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart play very tough defensively against the guards of Cleveland.”

Cleveland is the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and the Celtics occupy the No. 7 seed after a 40-42 season. Vegas oddsmaker Westgate SuperBook has the Cavs as the favorites to win the NBA championship.

“Yes, [the Cavaliers] have more talent, but [the Celtics] play as a team,” Gorman said. “The Celtics I think are third or fourth in the last two months in fewest turnovers a game. They take care of the ball, they’re not reckless. … I think one of the keys to this game when you watch it on Sunday is the Celtics need to make Cleveland have six, seven, eight touches per offensive possession. You can’t have somebody get a rebound, fire it to LeBron, LeBron goes the length of the court and gets a dunk or Kyrie [Irving] gets a kick from LeBron and gets a 3 off one pass. You’ve got to make them play offensively and move the ball around. If the Celtics can do that, I think they can keep this game well within reach.”

For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

Read More: Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas, Mike Gorman
Five things we learned on a night the Celtics won a game, but potentially lost Marcus Smart (for a while) 11.07.14 at 9:54 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

At least the Celtics avoided a bad night turning into a really bad night.

The Celts might have lost their first-round pick, Marcus Smart, for an extended period of time due to a fourth quarter, left ankle injury. (For more on Smart’s situation, click here.) But the C’s were able to avoid what would have been a demoralizing loss to a depleted Indiana team.

Down by two points heading into the final quarter, the Celtics rallied in the fourth to hang on for a 101-98 win over a Pacers club that has now lost five straight games. (For a complete box score, click here.)

It was revealed well after the game that X-rays were negative, classifying Smart’s injury as a severely sprained ankle.

THE PROMISE OF MARCUS SMART MAY HAVE TO WAIT

With the rookie being wheeled off the TD Garden floor on a stretcher, the reality of the start of Smart’s first season was severely clouded. While continuing to struggle shooting the ball — having gone 1-for-6 from the floor after coming into the game with just a 30 percent percentage — he had shown flashes both defensively and in his offensive aggressiveness.

After the game Brad Stevens said Smart had suffered either a sprained or broken left ankle, with the team still awaiting test results. A while after Stevens spoke, it was revealed the injury was a sprain.

“It’s a sprained ankle, or broken, we don’t know,” the coach said. “Obviously we’ll do the X-rays and all that stuff. We’re hoping it’s a sprain, but we don’t know that. So obviously great deal of concern for him, No. 1. And hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later, because he’s really playing great basketball and I’m sure it’s really disappointing to be out five games into your rookie year, even if just for a little bit of time. That’s what we hope it is.”

Smart came into the game averaging 21.5 minutes per game, suggesting a continued confidence from Celtics coach Stevens. A heavier reliance will most likely be put on Marcus Thornton (who played just 7 minutes Friday night) and perhaps Phil Pressey, who totaled a season-high 12 minutes.

AT LEAST THEY DIDN’T GIVE IT AWAY (THAT MUCH)

One game after allowing Toronto 36 points off of turnovers, the Celtics made it a point of hanging on to the ball. Prior to the game, C’s coach Brad Stevens suggested that the issue in the previous contest was mostly due to the efforts of the Raptors. The results Friday night supported that take.

The Celtics didn’t commit their first turnover against the Pacers until there was 7:10 left in the first half. The ball security allowed Indiana to go the entire first half without a fast break basket.

When the Celtics did start turning it over again — allowing five miscues in the third quarter — that’s when Indiana started getting back into it. After trailing by as many as 13 late in the first half, the Pacers went on a 15-0 run early in the second half to claim a brief four-point lead.

KELLY OLYNYK IS PROVING TO BE A FIND

The second-year forward has proven to be one of the most consistent performers for the Celtics, coming into the game averaging 23.9 points and 13.6 rebounds per 48 minutes, shooting 57 percent.

This time Olynyk chipped in with a solid 12 points, while grabbing five rebounds. He is now averaging 12.4 points and 26 minutes per game game.

The star big man for the Celtics would ultimately be Jared Sullinger, who exploded for 11 fourth-quarter pints to finish up with a team-high 17.

In this case Olynyk’s efforts were much-needed this time around, with Indiana making no bones about their intentions. The Pacers scored 16 of their 26 first-quarter points in the paint, with Roy Hibbert (who was coming off an 0-for=7 showing), Luis Scola, and Chris Copeland owning the inside.

Thanks to Tyler Zeller, there were moments where Celtics big men not named “Olynyk” or “Sullinger” made their presence felt …

RAJON RONDO STILL IS LOOKING FOR MAX-CONTRACT VALUE

Although he has shown flashes of dominance this season, Rondo proved good, but certainly not great, this time around.

The point guard totaled eight points on 4-of-10 shooting (8 points), staying on the floor for 28 minutes. Rondo had averaged 34 minutes and 9.3 points per game prior to Friday night.

BRAD STEVENS DIDN’T DESIGN THE NEW UNIFORMS

Before the game, when asked about the new Celtics uniforms (which they will be wearing six times this season), the Celtics coach had this to say:

‘€œI think the biggest thing is, if our guys like them, I like them. The last thing I can do, and all of you who know me know this, is analyze fashion. Ask [Rajon] Rondo, a couple of our other guys, what they think because they have a much better eye then I do.’€

(Click here to see the new uniforms.)

For what it’s worth, another Boston head coach, Claude Julien, was also in attendance, watching the game courtside Friday night.

Read More: Celtics, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, Pacers
Marcus Smart carted off on stretcher after hurting ankle at 9:20 pm ET
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Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart was taken off the court on a stretcher with 11:07 left in the game at TD Garden against the Pacers after injuring his left ankle while going in for a lay-up against Indiana’s AJ Price.

After the game Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart experienced either a sprained or broken left ankle, with the team awaiting test results.

A while after Stevens’ spoke, it was revealed that Smart’s injury was just a severe sprain and not a break.

“Oviously great deal of concern for him, No. 1. And hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later, because he’s really playing great basketball and I’m sure it’s really disappointing to be out five games into your rookie year, even if just for a little bit of time,” the coach said. “That’s what we hope it is.”

Smart had played 16 minutes, going 1-for-6 with two rebounds before the injury.

The entire Celtics team ultimately came out and gathered around Smart while he was being put on the stretcher, with the TD Garden crowd chanting the rookie’s name.

“Your team is clearly affected by it, because they care about him, which is a good sign,” Stevens said after his team’s 101-98 win over Indiana. “And then you have to go play, and that’s hard. But I thought that if anything, the player wants your team to play with that kind of enthusiasm and that kind of passion that those guys played with int eh last eight minutes and 37 seconds or whatever it was. So again, you feel, you hope for the best. I’ve seen some injuries that have been pretty nasty over my time and hopefully this isn’t one of them. It doesn’t sound like it from the early indications.”

Smart came into Friday night’s game averaging 7.8 points and 21.5 minutes per game.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Celtics, Marcus Smart,
Brad Stevens isn’t confident in his fashion sense at 6:59 pm ET
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Celticsuniforms2Brad Stevens is young for an NBA coach — having just turned 38 years old just more than two weeks ago. But that doesn’t mean he’s ready to declare himself fashion guru for the league’s next generation.

The latest example of Stevens’ lack of attention to detail when it comes to deciding what to wear? His response regarding the Celtics‘ new uniforms.

“I have seen them now,” said the coach when asked if he saw the team’s new alternative uniforms, which will be broken out on six occasions this season.

“I think the biggest thing is, if our guys like them, I like them. The last thing I can do, and all of you who know me know this, is analyze fashion. Ask Rondo, a couple of our other guys, what they think because they have a much better eye then I do.”

The dates the Celtics will be donning the predominately gray uniforms will be: Nov. 28, Dec. 7, Jan. 2, Feb. 6, March 4, April 12.

@EmilyAusten photo

@EmilyAusten photo

Read More: Brad Stevens, Celtics,
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