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Brad Stevens isn’t worried about ‘managing feelings’ anymore 01.17.15 at 9:33 am ET
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There comes a point in time where an NBA coach can’t worry about massaging the egos of his team. That time has come for Brad Stevens.

After another close-but-no cigar special Friday night at TD Garden, Stevens said that he’s seeing some signs of life from his now 13-25 squad. But not enough. The Celtics shot 60 percent in the first half, competed hard for three quarters and even led the Bulls by three at the half. But Boston, as it often has this season, ran out of gas in the fourth and fell, 119-105.

Asked if he’s concerned about his constantly changing roster and the impact it might have heading on a brutal six-game western road swing, Stevens was brutally honest.

“I’€™m not as worried about keeping them up,” Stevens said. “I think we need to get better off of that. I thought we didn’€™t have enough ‘€“ we weren’€™t as tight as we need to be against that level of talent. We were loose in our coverages and a little loose on the ball and it hurt us. They’€™ve got some great, great players that stepped up and made plays and really separated the game.

“But even when we were going back and forth I didn’€™t feel like ‘€“ I didn’€™t feel like it was sustainable at that rate, the way we were playing. So, yeah, I don’€™t know, hey’€¦we’€™re employed to do everything we can, to have everything we have, and to manage the ups and downs throughout a season. Players and coaches. And it’€™s on us as individuals to be up and ready. And certainly you have to help some guys through that and help manage some of that but, you know, we can’€™t spend our time managing feelings right now; we have to spend our time getting better.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Chicago Bulls, NBA
Jimmy Butler: ‘If I didn’t have [Joakim Noah] on my team I would hate him,’ understands why Kevin Garnett doesn’t like Noah at 1:55 am ET
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Joakim Noah didn’t play in Friday’s win over the Celtics, but he still managed to find his way into the box score with a technical foul in street clothes from the bench. The call sparked one of the loudest ovations of the night from the TD Garden crowd — a fan base that has despised Noah dating back to his battles with Kevin Garnett when he was wearing green.

Noah’s cockiness was something that Garnett and Celtics fans have come to hate over the years. So in typical fashion, Noah took credit for the Bulls run against the C’s, claiming it was his technical that sparked his team. Jimmy Butler was asked about Noah’s claim after the game.

“No comment, man. Jo always thinks it has something to do with him. That’s your guy. Look at him over there,” said a smiling Butler gesturing towards a laughing Noah on the other end of the locker room. “Something’s wrong with him.”

So, is Noah the type of player that you only love when he’s on your team?

“Yes, I always say that,” Butler said emphatically before the second half of the question was even posed to him. “If I didn’t have Jo on my team I would hate him. So hopefully he’s on my team for forever because I really would not like him if I was going up against him.

“He just talks too much. He gets on my nerves. I don’t know,” he continued while both smiling and shaking his head thinking he may have gone too far. “I love him because he’s on my team, but if we end up playing towards the end of each of our careers if we go separate ways we will end up fighting. I guarantee it.”

Butler’s honesty came as a little bit of a surprise. So this seemed like the perfect time to see if one of Noah’s own teammates could see things from Garnett’s point of view during the many altercations the two shared while the Big Ticket was still in Boston (and even during his time with Brooklyn).

“Oh yeah, definitely,” Butler said. “I think that comes with the game, you know, two fierce competitors that want to win. [They’re] really great at their position. That’s what your going to get. Especially out of that one,” he finished while gesturing towards Noah once again.

Even though Butler is open minded enough to see things from Garnett and the Boston fans’ point of view, he is very grateful to have Noah on his side.

“Jo makes everyone around him play harder, dive on the floor, take a charge, because when you see how emotional he is you know that he’s really into the game,” expressed a now more serious Butler. “You want to go to war, you want to battle with a guy like Jo.”

Look, Jimmy Butler does not dislike Joakim Noah, “Jo’s my guy,” Butler said multiple times in the locker room. But Celtics fans may just find it refreshing to know that someone in the Bulls locker room can justify that he too would hate Noah if he were an opponent. KG might even find it a bit gratifying as well.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah
Pau Gasol, Bulls outlast Celtics in overtime 01.04.15 at 12:43 pm ET
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Evan Turner fires a jumper against the Bulls in a Saturday night loss in Chicago. (Getty Images)

Evan Turner fires a jumper against the Bulls in a Saturday night loss in Chicago. (Getty Images)

Another good effort, another road loss for the Celtics.

Pau Gasol had 29 points, 16 rebounds and five blocked shots, and the Bulls beat the Boston Celtics 109-104 in overtime on Saturday night in Chicago.

Jared Sullinger forced overtime with less than three seconds left in regulation but the Celtics were outscored 10-5 in overtime for their fourth straight road loss.

“The last couple years, I had issues with my knees. I couldn’t really jump as much as I’m jumping now,” said the 34-year-old Gasol, who was coming off a career best nine blocks in Chicago’s previous game. “Not that I’m jumping super high, maybe an inch more.”

Evan Turner scored 24 of his 29 points after halftime, but Boston dropped to 2-6 since trading Rajon Rondo to Dallas on Dec. 18. Avery Bradley had 17 points for the Celtics (11-20).

Sullinger added 16 points for Boston, which returns home to play Charlotte Monday night at TD Garden.

Aaron Brooks added 19 points for the Bulls (24-10), who won for the ninth time in 10 games. Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose had 12 points apiece.

“They do what they need to do to win, obviously, even when they’re not playing well,” Turner said.

Saturday was Boston’s first game since the Rajon Rondo return with the Mavericks on Friday in Boston, a 119-101 loss to Dallas. The Celtics did not show serious hangover effects and played hard against a Bulls team missing starters Jimmy Butler (bereavement leave) and Mike Dunleavy (right ankle). Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls,
Brad Stevens knows Celtics have ‘got to finish’ before they can even think about winning 11.28.14 at 10:27 pm ET
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Winners go for the jugular. Losers allow victory to slip through their hands.

Unfortunately, for Brad Stevens, he’s seeing much too much of the slipping and not enough killer instinct, with Friday’s 109-102 loss to the Bulls the latest example.

There’s a common, unsettling theme developing between Stevens’ rookie season of 25 wins and this season. The Celtics‘ coach watched Friday as a 16-point second-quarter lead evaporated. He then saw his team bounce back as they have so many times this season, taking an 81-72 lead late in the third quarter.

Was Friday finally going to be one of those rare days where the Celtics show the mental toughness to hang on for a quality win like they did on Nov. 8 in Chicago against these same Bulls?

Nope. Not when you shoot 5-for-26 (19.2 percent) in the final quarter, score 11 points, miss all eight 3-point attempts and convert just one of five free throws. The Celtics, like they did against Toronto, Oklahoma City and Cleveland just crumbled on their own parquet floor.

“I felt good coming into the game,” Stevens said. “I felt good about what we did at the end of the game. I’€™m not going to lose too much sleep over the ball not going in the basket. I’€™ll go back and re-watch the execution and the defensive possessions and those types of things, but I felt pretty good about it. Hey, we scored 102 points on Chicago and that’€™s with an 11-point quarter. So we’€™re doing a lot of good things, but we’€™ve got to finish. It’€™s the difference between winning and losing.”

After his team fell to 4-9 on the season, losing for the fifth time in six games, Stevens was asked if he’s starting to question what he’s doing based on all the losing.

“We can win by 30 and I’m questioning me,” Stevens said. “This has nothing to do with [score]. I don’t change game to game, as far as my own analysis or being overly critical or any of those types of things.”
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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Chicago Bulls,
Celtics go ice-cold in matinee loss to Bulls at 3:25 pm ET
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Another big first half lead. Another would-be win turned into a loss as the Celtics were outscored 24-11 in the fourth quarter and fell to the Chicago Bulls, 109-102, Friday afternoon in a matinee contest at TD Garden. Jimmy Butler hit four key free throws while the Celtics went ice cold from the field as Boston fell to 4-9 on the season. The Bulls, who outscored the Celtics, 55-42 in the second half, gained a measure of revenge for Boston’s stunning win in Chicago earlier in the month.

Jared Sullinger led the Celtics with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Avery Bradley added 18 points. Rajon Rondo finished just two points, three rebounds and one assist shy of a triple-double but missed two key free throws late as the Celtics lost for the fifth time in six games.

“I felt good coming into the game,” coach Brad Stevens said. “I felt good about what we did at the end of the game. I’€™m not going to lose too much sleep over the ball not going in the basket. I’€™ll go back and re-watch the execution and the defensive possessions and those types of things, but I felt pretty good about, We scored 102 points on Chicago and that’€™s with an 11-point quarter. So we’€™re doing a lot of good things, but we’€™ve got to finish. It’€™s the difference between winning and losing.”

The game was highly entertaining, with plenty of back-and-forth.

Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose (hamstring) both overcame nagging injuries to start the game but it was an aggressive Celtics‘ dose of Bradley and Sullinger that proved to be painful for the visitors early on. Bradley hit his first three shots while Sullinger connected on three of his first four as the Celtics built a 16-point lead (54-38) midway through the second quarter.

But the Bulls finished the first half on a 16-6 run to cut it to 60-54 at the half. Brandon Bass came off the bench to score 11 points and haul in six rebounds to power Boston while Pau Gasol had 11 points to lead the Bulls.

The Bulls continued their charge in the third quarter, Rose connected on a three just four minutes into the third to tie the game, 68-68. Jimmy Butler’s 15-foot pull-up jumper gave Chicago its first lead since 6-4, capping a 16-8 run to open the second half.

The Celtics regained a measure of control late in the third quarter, going on a 15-6 spurt. Bradley scored the final 10 points in the run for Boston, which led 83-76 on Bradley’s layup with 1:54 left in the period.

The Bulls closed the Celtics‘ lead to 91-85 heading into the fourth quarter. Boston would shoot just 5-of-26 (19.2 percent) in the final 12 minutes, scoring just 11 points.
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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Jared Sullinger
D.J. Augustin leads Bulls past pesky, inspired Celtics 03.30.14 at 9:23 pm ET
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D.J. Augustin scored a career-high 33 points and drilled the go-ahead 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining to lift the Bulls over the Celtics, 107-103. Rajon Rondo led a balanced attack for the Celtics, with 17 points and 10 assists as six Boston players scored in double figures. Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger each had 16 for the Celtics, who fell to 23-50 on the season.

It marks just the sixth time in history the Celtics have had a 50-loss season, the last coming in Rondo’s rookie season of 2006-07 when the Celtics won just 24 games and lost 58.

In a game inspired by the memory of two Boston firefighters who perished in last week’s fire on Beacon Street, the Celtics and Bulls put on one of the most entertaining games of the season.

Before the game, the Celtics wore warmup shirts with the Boston Fire Department insignia on them. The coaches and non-uniformed staff wore the department patches on their suits.

As for the game, it featured 18 ties and 14 lead changes.

Green‘s 3-pointer with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter drew the Celtics to within two, 95-93. After a free throw gave the Bulls a three-point lead, Green’s three with 2:18 left tied the game for an 18th time.

Augustin’s three with 1:19 left put the Bulls up for good, 99-96. After a Celtics turnover, Augustin added a pair of free throws with 34.8 seconds left to seal the victory for the visitors.

The two teams will meet again Monday night, this time in Chicago, as the 41-32 Bulls look to improve their playoff standing in the Eastern Conference.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, D.J. Augustin, NBA
Sunday notes: Celtics need a way to feed Kevin Garnett, get more out of Jason Terry, bench 04.21.13 at 2:08 pm ET
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NEW YORK — The Celtics didn’t practice Sunday. Instead, they hunkered down in a suite inside the Four Seasons Hotel in midtown Manhattan to go over the ugly details of their 85-78 loss to the Knicks in Game 1 Saturday afternoon.

Specifically, what happened in the final 13 minutes, 40 seconds when they scored exactly eight points.

Part of the issue, admitted coach Doc Rivers, was not efficiently feeding Kevin Garnett, and forcing it to him when he wasn’t open, leading to the avalanche of turnovers that led to their demise.

‘€œI thought, from an offensive standpoint, I didn’€™t have a lot of different opportunities,” Garnett said. “Obviously, I had shots and stuff. Some went down, some didn’€™t. But I try not to let that predicate things or my level of play. I thought I moved the ball very well, got other guys open, was able to rebound obviously, trying to be as much of a force as I can on defense. In Game 2, I’€™d like to be a little more aggressive, obviously, but being consistent with the overall game.’€

For the first time in his career, Jason Terry was held scoreless in a playoff game. But Terry was far from alone on an unproductive Boston bench. To Rivers, it was a case of something he likes to call “hero-ball” – where the ball stagnates and teammates watch as one player tries to generate something all by himself.

‘€œWe didn’€™t do a good job with Terry [Saturday], especially in the second half, there were so many [isolations] that Jason has nothing to do with,” Rivers said. “In the first half, Jason didn’€™t score, but we ran that play with the pick-and-roll with him and Paul. We scored five times in a row because of Jason Terry’€™s involvement, so I don’€™t actually look at if he scored. I look at the points he created, and in the first half he created 12 points. In the second half, it was all ISOs. I mean, it’€™s not us. We’€™re not built that way.’€

Courtney Lee provided the only four points (all on free throws) as Boston’s reserves were outscored by New York’s bench, 33-4. Boston didn’t get a single field goal from their bench in the entire game.

‘€œI’€™m looking for a better overall effort, whether it’€™s the bench, whether it’€™s the starters,’€ Paul Pierce said. ‘€œThe starters, you look, me and Jeff [Green] had 12 turnovers ‘€“ just us two. We have to be better, regardless of our bench. Overall as a team, we have to be better.’€

Rivers acknowledged that he might look to shake up a bench rotation was limited solely to Terry, Jordan Crawford and Lee. Rivers said he would consider adding a big man to the rotation, either Shav Randolph or Chris Wilcox. Crawford played just 10 minutes, 46 seconds, including just over three minutes in the second half.

“I thought Jordan should have played more in the second half,” Rivers said. “It’€™s funny, he didn’€™t score, but he created baskets. And, I’€™ll tell you, he’€™s buying in defensively and if he can continue to do that, then he has a chance to help us.”

Speaking of the Four Seasons Hotel, that’s also where Rivers’ old friend Tom Thibodeau and Chicago Bulls are spending their weekend in the Big Apple. Their Saturday was even worse in Brooklyn as they were down by 25 at halftime and lost Game 1 at Barclays Center. They will play Game 2 Monday night in Brooklyn.

‘€œIt’€™s not a good hotel today,’€ Rivers said in dark humor. ‘€œTwo losing teams, I think one should leave. This was a quiet, dark hotel last night. The New York area teams didn’€™t treat the guests very well.”

While Rivers expects the Celtics to execute better in Game 2 Tuesday night, he expects the same of the Knicks, who shot just 40.5 percent and had two starters (Tyson Chandler and Chris Copeland) who went scoreless. J.R. Smith, who torched the Celtics for 32 in late March at TD Garden, made just 7-of-19 shots and finished with 15.

‘€œThey’€™re going to play better, too,’€ Rivers said. ‘€œJ.R. Smith missed a couple open 3s. [Steve] Novak didn’€™t get involved. So we have to anticipate them playing way better, and then we have to play way better. And that’€™s what, in the playoffs, you just have to anticipate that.’€

The Celtics didn’t practice Sunday but will on Monday at Madison Square Garden in advance of Game 2.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Doc Rivers, NBA playoffs
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