|Why you should care about Monday’s Celtics game: Marcus Smart, James Young debut; Evan Turner shines||10.06.14 at 10:29 pm ET|
As if the start of basketball season starting up wasn’t reason enough for you to care about the Celtics‘ preseason opener on Monday night, then Marcus Smart and James Young making their NBA debuts — and leading the Celtics to an easy 98-78 victory over the 76ers — should be. (See the box score here.)
Smart spoke before the game about being nervous: “Of course, [there’s] always nerves,” he said. “First game at a different level, there’s always going to be nerves, but [I’ve] just got to figure out how to calm them down.”
His nerves were evident as he finished with just two points (0-8 FGs). Despite not shooting the ball particularly well, his effort on both ends of the floor was unmatched. He played lockdown defense on each and every possession coming up with three steals in the process. Although his shots weren’t falling, Smart did a good job running the offense, particularly leading the fast break. He ended up with six assists in his 27 minutes.
Young began the game cold, and his nerves were perhaps most evident when he missed his first two free throws just moments after stepping onto the floor. But he picked up the slack in the second half and was able to finish in double figures with 10 points on 3-8 shooting. Young was just 1-5 from 3-point land, but had several unlucky bounces off the iron.
OTHER REASONS YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT MONDAY’S GAME
Evan Turner shined while playing multiple positions.
In the absence of Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, Turner was exactly what the Celtics needed to fill both roles. Turner started the game at small forward and started the second half at point guard for Brad Stevens, yet was the C’s best player regardless of position. Turner flirted with a triple-double in his 31 minutes, posting 15 points and 10 rebounds to go along with six assists.
Jared Sullinger still is a rebounding machine.
Sullinger got the start at power forward and was his usual self in terms of crashing the glass. Like much of the team, Sullinger did not shoot the ball well (4-15 FGs) but he still found ways to be effective. Sullinger ripped down 13 boards and still managed to score 10 points.
There still are some veterans who can score.
Not many people came into this season excited about Brandon Bass or Marcus Thornton, but they can both still fill it up. Bass finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in just over 19 minutes of action, while Thornton scored 14 in only 14 minutes off the bench. Bass and Thornton don’t figure to be a big part of the future in Boston, but with both of their contracts expiring at season’s end, their strong play makes them both viable trade candidates.
The Celtics will take on the Knicks in Hartford on Wednesday night.
|Celtics open training camp, Brad Stevens ready for more aggressive approach||09.30.14 at 7:04 pm ET|
The Celtics kicked off training camp Tuesday with two-a-days at the team’s training facility in Waltham. It’s somewhat of a new trend for the team, which has journeyed to Newport, Rhode Island, for training camp the last several years.
Brad Stevens had a simple state of mind as to why the team is staying local.
“Because my office is here,” he said. “The computer is there, the TV I know how to work is in the same place. The equipment guys don’t have to carry thousands of bags. The video guys don’t have to move their whole life. It made a lot more sense to stay here. … The kind of work we get done is a lot more important than anything else, like where we do it.”
Stevens indicated he may have moved things along a bit too slowly last season and wants to take a more aggressive approach this time around.
“I’ve got a great idea about how fast or how slow I need to go,” he said. “Right now, in a lot of ways I’m trying to throw as much at them as possible in the next three days and then we’ll break it down after that.”
Added Stevens: “I thought I was too gradual last year and so we’re going to be a lot quicker in that. But at the same time, at the appropriate time, after a couple of days we’ll stop and hopefully break it down.”
With Rajon Rondo out of camp with a broken hand, Stevens briefly explained the team’s point guard situation on the first day of camp: “We had three teams, Evan [Turner], Marcus [Smart] and Phil [Pressey].”
Turner is less of a true point guard than Smart and Pressey, but that doesn’t concern Stevens.
“One thing is you don’t really know [is how Turner will respond], but he’s better with the ball than not,” Stevens said, adding: “Not withstanding Rondo, he’s as good of a pick-and-roll player as we have.”
Continued Stevens: “We have one point guard healthy that has NBA experience and that’s Phil Pressey. And that’s not a lot of it. I’m not as worried about [the point guard position] because I think people are going to put you in a box for your position, and I’m just not going to do that. I’m not going to worry about it. [Turner’s] a ball handler, he can make plays, he’s smart. And then I think that keeps our other guys in the positions that they’re most comfortable.”
The Celtics continue camp in Waltham all week before hosting a practice at the TD Garden on Friday for season ticket-holders.
|Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner finally get chance to team up in Boston||09.29.14 at 9:04 pm ET|
Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner officially became teammates for the first time on Monday when Turner finally inked a two-year contract that made him a member of the Celtics. It’s been a long time coming, however, and the two are excited to finally share the floor while wearing the same uniform.
While Sullinger was a freshman standout at Ohio State, it’s often forgotten that Turner would have been a senior on that team had he not left the Buckeyes a season early to enter the NBA draft. Despite never having the chance to team up in Columbus, the two are old friends that often work out together at Ohio State in the offseason.
At Celtics media day on Monday, Sullinger was asked whom he thought the best former Buckeye on the team was, and his answer was somewhat surprising.
“You have to give it to Evan, just because he won national player of the year,” Sullinger humbly proclaimed. “But I also went further than him in the tournament. He did three [years] and I did two, let’s just put it that way,” Sullinger added with a smile.
Sullinger then offered his opinion on what we can expect now that he is teammates with Turner.
“He brings a multidimensional-type player. Honestly, he’s a great basketball player,” Sullinger offered. “He can do a lot of things, he can play the point [guard], play two [guard], play three [small forward]. I think in the NBA you have to have multiple guys that play multiple positions in order for a team to win, and I think Evan brings that.”
Sullinger was asked if he played any role in influencing Danny Ainge to bring Turner to Boston or if he had offered any type of scouting report on his fellow Buckeye.
“No, you pretty much know the scouting report on Evan, everybody does,” Sullinger responded. “If you go one year through the NBA, playing a lot of minutes, I think from the owners down everybody knows your scouting report and what type of player you are.”
|How Evan Turner’s signing impacts Celtics||07.22.14 at 8:56 am ET|
Four years after NBA experts argued whether Evan Turner or John Wall deserved the No. 1 overall selection in 2010, some of those same folks are debating Turner’s value in relation to undrafted free agent Chris Johnson.
After all, the former No. 2 pick’s agreement with the C’s likely signals the end for Johnson and fellow non-guaranteed signees Chris Babb and Keith Bogans.
Terms of the deal have not been made public, but the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett reports Turner will earn a portion of the team’s mid-level exception. Upon cutting Johnson, Babb and Bogans, the Celtics would fall $5.1 million below the luxury tax, opening the 15th and final roster spot for the 25-year-old. The non-taxpayer mid-level exception for the 2014-15 season is $5.3 million.
Most likely, Turner’s deal will expire in the next two years, allowing him to improve his value before the NBA’s new TV deal sends the salary cap soaring in 2016.
The Ohio State product’s value has never been lower. He only netted Danny Granger‘s expiring contract for the 76ers in February and didn’t warrant an $8.7 million qualifying offer from the Pacers this summer. Acquired to bolster Indiana’s hopes of an NBA Finals run, Turner ultimately lost his bench role to the immortal Rasual Butler in the Eastern Conference finals. No player who earned as many minutes as Turner (2,457) had a worse PER last season (12.4), and his true shooting percentage has never eclipsed 50 percent.
Turner isn’t a complete bust. Compiling respectable career averages of 11.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists, he started for a Sixers squad that nearly took out the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2012. He’s averaged 14.4 points (50.6 TS%), 5.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 14 career games against the C’s.
|Report: Celtics finalizing deal with free agent Evan Turner||07.21.14 at 5:16 pm ET|
Turner, the second overall pick in 2010, averaged a career high 14.0 points per game last season, but he averaged just 7.1 after getting traded from the 76ers to the Pacers in February.
Turner made headlines in late April when he and Lance Stephenson reportedly got into a fist fight in practice during the Pacers’ first-round series against the Hawks. Turner wound up playing just 12 minutes per game in the playoffs, as he floated in and out of the Pacers rotation.
Turner is a 6-foot-7 swingman and former Ohio State star.
|Report: Evan Turner ‘received interest’ from Celtics||07.14.14 at 11:20 am ET|
Evan Turner has received interest from Boston and Minnesota, a source told ESPN.
‘ Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 14, 2014
The second overall pick in 2010, Turner’s value may be at an all-time low since seeing a serious dip in production after being traded from the 76ers to the Pacers this past season. He averaged just 7.1 points (41.1 FG%), 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 27 games down the stretch for the Eastern Conference semifinalists.
Despite Philadelphia’s willingness to dump Turner for little in return (Danny Granger‘s expiring contract and a second-round pick), the Ohio State product has shown flashes of why he was picked behind John Wall in 2010. Turner also has a longstanding friendship with Celtics big and fellow former Buckeye Jared Sullinger.
|Doc Rivers pays his respect – in person- to Rick Majerus||12.08.12 at 7:11 pm ET|
In a whirlwind of a day, Doc Rivers traveled from Philadelphia to Milwaukee for Saturday morning’s funeral of his former assistant coach and close friend Rick Majerus.
“I’ve been with Rick since fifth grade for the most part so I felt like I had to be there. It was important for me,” Rivers said. It was Majerus who gave Rivers his nickname of “Doc” when he showed up at a basketball camp wearing a Julius Erving t-shirt.
Rivers then jumped on plane and made it back to Boston, getting back about 90 minutes before Saturday night’s tip-off with Philadelphia at TD Garden. Rivers said he didn’t give much consideration to not coaching Saturday.
“If I really want to [tick] Rick off, then don’t coach the game,” Rivers joked. “No, I didn’t give that much thought. Life is involved with what we do every day. You deal with life and then you deal with your job. I always try to separate them when you can. Sometimes, you can’t.”
Doc on Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday: “Jrue right now is an all-star, and Evan played like one last night for sure. He made a couple of incredible shots. His game-winning shot, he was trapped for the most part, he puts up a one-handed push shot. The blocked shot by [Paul Pierce] and getting the rebound and he had another one where he split our pick-and-roll [defense]. That’s what he does. That’s what he’s always done. He did it in college. He made three sensational plays. I think he’s getting comfortable in our league right now. I thought it started last year and I think it carried on to this year.”
Rivers had some good-natured fun with Doug Collins after being told that Collins expects to take advantage of the fact that Pierce and Kevin Garnett have combined to play an extraordinary number of minutes combined in their careers: “We played how many minutes, 51,000? We’re smarter. We’re the wiser team. I don’t know how you counteract that. I tell you what you can’t do. You can’t turn the ball over.”
The Celtics committed 19 turnovers leading to 21 Philadelphia points in Friday’s overtime loss. The Sixers committed just nine.
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