|Win in Dallas shows again Celtics know how to seal the deal late||02.13.17 at 10:57 pm ET|
The Celtics once again had their finishing kick in high gear Monday in Dallas.
Perhaps the most important quality the Celtics have shown over the course of this promising season is their ability to close out teams in the fourth. They did it again Monday as they scored 28 points in the final 12 minutes in a 111-98 win over the Mavericks at American Airlines Center. No team in the NBA scores more in the final 12 minutes than Boston’s 29-point average.
Something else they’ll need come playoff time is balance. They showed that Monday, also. Isaiah Thomas led six players in double figures with 29 points. They improved to 17-11 on the road, the best such record in the East.
The Celtics finished off their 4-game West Coast swing with three straight victories after a loss in Sacramento. They come back home with a great deal of momentum, taking on the fast-improving 76ers Wednesday night at TD Garden.
“It’s hard to win a game,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters afterward. “We got outplayed the first night. But then the last three games we played pretty well.”
“We would’ve loved to go 4-0, but we bounced back,” Marcus Smart added. “That’s what good teams do, and we’re becoming a really great team.”
For a full recap and box score of Monday’s win over the Mavericks, click here.
The Celtics won their tenth game in 11 outings to improve to 36-19 and draw to within two games of first-place Cleveland (37-16) in the East.
“We’re playing aggressively on offense,” Thomas said. “We have a good pace on offense and on defense we’re heading in the direction we want to be.”
Thomas had 29 points, his 39th straight game with at least 20 points. The Celtics got a dose of their own medicine as 5-foot-7 rookie Yogi Ferrell scored 20 points and put a scare into the Celtics in parts of the game.
Early in the game, 5-foot-7 Isaiah Thomas was guarding 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki hit a couple of jumpers over him.
The Celtics then switched to Marcus Smart. The man who has “Dallas” tattooed on his forearm put on a show in his hometown early.
The two teams were red hot to start the game from the perimeter. Thomas hit his first three shots from beyond the arc while Smart also hit an early three, making the Celtics 4-for-4 from deep. But the Mavericks connected on six of their first seven shots as they kept pace.
The Celtics finished the first quarter hitting 7-of-11 from 3-point range while Dallas was 4-for-6 from deep.
The game was a continuation of the coming out party for rookie Yogi Ferrell. He is the Mavericks’ answer to Isaiah Thomas. For a good part of the first half, he played like it. He hit his first five shots and scored 11 points in just nine minutes of action.
Deron Williams was ejected when he drove to the basket with just under 40 seconds left in the first half and was called for an offensive foul, drawn by Smart. Williams picked up two quick technicals and was tossed.
Then with just 0.6 seconds remaining, Ferrell was whistled for a questionable foul on Isaiah Thomas, who was firing up a deep three. Thomas hit all three shots and finished off an 8-0 run to put the Celtics up, 61-50, at the half. Thomas led the Celtics at the break with 18 points while Smart added 17. Gerald Green had 10.
|Brad Stevens sends congrats text to the revitalized David Lee in Dallas||02.29.16 at 6:34 pm ET|
Brad Stevens has absolutely no hard feelings when it comes to David Lee. As a matter of fact, he’s very happy that the veteran big man has landed on his feet in Dallas.
Lee, who was bought out of his final season of his contract ($15 million) the day after the trading deadline, has contributed in a big way off the Mavericks’ bench almost immediately. He scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 22 minutes in a 128-101 win Sunday in Dallas. Two nights earlier, he had 14 points and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes in a 122-116 win over the Nuggets. Dallas is 32-28 and tied for sixth in the West.
“I just sent a text after I saw [Sunday]. I watched a little bit of the comeback against Denver,” Stevens said before Monday’s game against the Jazz. “It was a great game. It was a great win for them. Just saw [Sunday] night and they won looks like pretty handily. As much as you go through with everybody and guys play or don’t play, whatever the case may be, you want everybody that leaves here to do well. So, we’re rooting for him to do well and happy for how he’s started.”
Stevens still insists it was hard for him to wave goodbye to Lee, who didn’t play at all in his final 18 games in Boston.
“It was really hard, and it was really hard for him, It’s harder on him than anybody else,” Stevens said. “But we talked about it a lot. We didn’t have hardly any injuries with our bigs and we had a lot of bigs, especially at the end of games, we’re going to be in relatively the same position. It put a lot of guys on the bench, and it was different guys at different times. To his credit, when we eventually settled on playing others, he handled it really well, and kudos to him. I’m happy he’s doing well.”
Lee told reporters over the weekend that part of the reason for his resurgence is that he’s in better game shape than in Boston, where he didn’t play in 21 of his last 22 games.
“I don’t know if that’s semantics or how he meant to say it,” Stevens said. “I think the biggest thing that he was probably saying there was was that when you’re not playing you have to find other ways to stay ready. Maybe I’m wrong but I think he certainly took diet. He worked out hard. He worked out hard enough that if he would’ve played, he would’ve been gassed in the games. Sometimes, you can’t do that if you’re going to be playing 15 minutes a night. He was going two or three times hard a day during that stretch. So no, I wasn’t frustrated by it. In fact, I thought it set a pretty good example for the other guys who weren’t playing.”
|Studs and Duds: Celtics blow 18-point lead in loss to Mavericks||11.18.15 at 10:09 pm ET|
For a while there, it looked like the Celtics were going to hand a third straight Western Conference foe a blowout loss. In the end, it was the C’s who blew an early 18-point lead and collapsed down the stretch.
The Mavericks went on an 11-4 run over a five-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter, turning a tie game into a seven-point lead with 30 seconds remaining. The Celtics had a chance to tie during a frantic final few possessions, but Isaiah Thomas turned it over in transition and Dallas went on to win, 106-02.
Thomas led the Celtics (6-5) with a team-high 19 points and six assists. Jared Sullinger (18 points, 12 rebounds), Avery Bradley (18 points), Jae Crowder (14 points) and David Lee (14 points) also reached double figures. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks (8-4) with a game-high 23 points on 14 shots.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Avery Bradley.
Comfortable in his newfound role as a sixth man, Bradley scored 12 straight points on five consecutive shots, and then dropped a behind-the-back pass to Isaiah Thomas on the next trip down the floor. In the process, the Celtics doubled their lead from nine to 18 and ignited the Garden crowd. When the Mavericks swung the momentum and erased the C’s lead early in the second half, Bradley’s put-back dunk (see below) stopped the bleeding, and his corner 3-pointer stretched the lead back to seven at the end of the third.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Kelly Olynyk.
It’s not that Olynyk was bad. Despite underwhelming numbers (5 points, 3 rebounds), he owned the C’s second-best plus/minus rating behind Isaiah Thomas through three quarters (plus-14). It’s that Olynyk can’t stop fouling folks. After fouling out in 17 minutes against the Thunder on Sunday, Olynyk collected five fouls in his first 10 minutes against the Mavericks, forcing him to ease up on his already lax defense.
As is often the case, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban just said what we were all thinking.
Asked about the trade that sent Rajon Rondo to Dallas and brought Jae Crowder to Boston, the “Shark Tank” star told reporters before Wednesday night’s game, “[Expletive] happens, right? There are a lot of risks I’ve taken that have worked out just fine. They’re not all going to work.”
“Obviously, they had a really good player in Rondo, and it didn’t work out,” Stevens told a pool of reporters pregame. He added, “Crowder’s done well for us. That’s been pretty well documented. I’m not into judging or analyzing or rating how trades go; I’m more interested in who’s on our team.”
Both Stevens and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle took time to properly credit Dwight Powell, the former C’s undrafted free agent who was thrown into the Rondo deal. The only piece remaining from the deal in Dallas, Powell entered Wednesday’s game averaging 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds.
“After the trade, I talked to Brad, and Brad said, ‘Hey, we really like this guy and didn’t want to give him up,’ but they had to put some other things in the deal,” said Carlisle. “Powell’s worked extremely hard. He’s a guy with energy — he goes hard all the time — he’s got skill and he’s a great worker. We’ve really needed him this year, and he’s stepped up. He’s played well.”
Once again, Cuban cut to the chase. “I think when it’s all said and done, that Crowder for Powell trade will be a break-even,” said the billionaire. Well, don’t forget about that top-seven protected first-round pick the Mavericks still owe the Celtics. That’s when Cuban probably should have taken a cue from his television show and told C’s president Danny Ainge on Rondo: “I’m out.”
|Rajon Rondo may or may not be serious about latest coach feud||10.14.15 at 11:45 am ET|
Asked about his relationship with Kings coach George Karl during the preseason, Rondo said, “It’s not been going too well. We got into a couple arguments the last couple days, but hopefully we’ll continue to talk and get better.” OK, then, thanks for honesty, I guess?
Considering Rondo once threw a water bottle at former Celtics coach Doc Rivers and feuded during a game with Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle before being benched for the playoffs, you can see how someone would interpret Rondo’s comments as the logical next progression.
Then again, if you ever watched a postgame interview with Rondo, you’d know he often deadpans complete nonsense just to toy with the media. Just about Q&A with him left me wondering, Wait, is he serious? It sounds like he’s joking, but it wasn’t funny, so …
|Rajon Rondo has advice for young Celtics: ‘Stick with’ Avery Bradley and ‘listen to’ Brad Stevens||01.03.15 at 12:05 pm ET|
When Rajon Rondo was traded to Dallas in December, it left a void of leadership to a degree. Some may argue just what kind of leader the temperamental point guard was but he was the captain of the Celtics.
So after Friday night’s 119-101 win over the Celtics, Rondo offered some advice for the likes of Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk, who are left to look up to Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Gerald Wallace.
“Their future’s bright. They’re a very young team and a lot of hard-working guys over there,” Rondo said. “You know, stick with Avery, listen to Gerald, listen to Coach Stevens. You know, he’s very positive. And he expects a lot out of the guys but he’s the right coach for these young guys.”
With Friday out of the way, Rondo will be solely focused on getting back to the NBA finals, a place he hasn’t been since losing Game 7 to the Lakers in 2010. He did get to a Game 7 of the Eastern finals in 2012 but fell in Miami.
“I just want to win,” Rondo said. “I just want to win a championship. I’ve got to get to that feeling again and we have a great, talented group of guys in Dallas that I think we can do it, maybe one piece away. Our defensive rebounding, rebound entirely has to get better as a team, and coach Carlisle made an emphasis of rebounding the basketball and we did a pretty good job.”
Rondo has been known to play at his best with a chip on his shoulder. Is he playing with a bigger chip on his shoulder than in 2010?
“I wouldn’t say that,” he replied. “I’m very blessed to be playing basketball again. I took a long time off for my ACL injury and I think I took basketball for granted up to a certain point; being able to go out there every night and do what I love to do. So I don’t know if I was able to show it as much here while I was a Celtic, but now, I say I’m still just very humbled and blessed to be playing basketball. Something I love to do every night. So I don’t take it for granted, and this is how I play the game now.”
Read the rest of this entry »
|Rajon Rondo looks back on a day that leaves him ’emotionally tired’||01.02.15 at 10:49 pm ET|
After lighting his former team up for 29 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, Rajon Rondo addressed reporters for about eight minutes following a 119-101 Dallas victory over the Celtics Friday night at an electric TD Garden.
“Obviously it was a special day today,” Rondo said. “I’m emotionally tired, physically tired, drained right now. It was a tough game to get through but my teammates came through for me and we got the win.”
Rondo started the game red-hot. He was 6-for-6 in the first quarter, including three 3-pointers and 15 points. His third three of the quarter came with 0.2 seconds left in the period and gave the Mavericks a 31-17 lead after one quarter.
That inspired performance led into a three-minute video produced by the Celtics, which ended with the words “Thank You Rondo!” wrapped around the video board. Rondo caught a peek at the tribute but didn’t want to get too distracted by it.
“I just tried to stay focused,” Rondo said. “It was a big game and it was already emotional enough. I just wanted to stay locked in and listen to the coach in the huddle and then obviously, go out and say thank you to the fans. So, I wasn’t too keyed in on the video. You know, I watched. I saw a couple of glimpses but I was just trying to stay focused.”
Was he close to crying?
“No tears,” Rondo said. “I think [Brandon] Bass blinked a couple of times. But I didn’t cry. It was a tough game, and they turned up the heat on us in the second half, defensively.” Read the rest of this entry »
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