|Impressive win over Pacers proves Celtics have a shot at grabbing No. 1 seed in the east||03.22.17 at 10:10 pm ET|
Don’t look now but the Celtics are now in stride to top the Cavaliers for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
With 10 games left in the regular season, the C’s are trailing the champs by one game and are showing no signs of slowing down. In Wednesday night’s 109-100 win over the Pacers, all nine Celtics players played a role in taking care of home court for the second straight night.
Isaiah Thomas (25 points, 5 assists), Avery Bradley (18 points, 8 rebounds) and Al Horford (15 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists) all turned in typical stat lines but guys like Jae Crowder (15 points, game-high plus-16), Kelly Olynyk (11 points, 8 rebounds, plus-12) and Tyler Zeller (6 points, plus-8) came up big in the second half. They helped push the Celtics to a whopping 39-point third quarter that pushed Boston’s lead to 17 — their largest of the night.
Paul George (37 points) and Jeff Teague combined for 42 points to lead the Pacers but the Celtics’ intensity in the second half disallowed their opponent to regain their first-quarter lead.
The Celtics offense tightened up in the second half, efficiently taking care of possessions and flawlessly rotating the ball for easy layups and open shots. It seemed like every player did their part in either rebounding, finding an open guy or making a defensive stop.
The team’s second unit made their presence felt in the first half. The Pacers’ back court duo of Monta Ellis and Aaron Brooks found their outside touch but so did Marcus Smart — who drained two back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter — and Jaylen Brown took advantage of his size over 6-foot-3 Ellis.
|Silver lining of early season injuries sheds light on Brad Stevens’ approach to resting players late in season||at 7:18 pm ET|
If there’s one dividend from the early season injury bug that the Celtics are cashing in on now it’s rest.
Specifically, it’s the rest players like Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Al Horford and Jae Crowder were able to gain as the rest of the league was going through the grind.
Every year, there’s intense debate as to what to do at the league level to discourage teams from resting their players at the end of the season as playoff-bound teams prep their star players for the postseason.
This was brought to a head on March 11 in San Antonio when, on a nationally televised game, the Warriors sat Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Kevin Durant was already sitting with his left knee injury. The Spurs rested Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge.
What’s Stevens’ take?
“I understand the discussion and certainly we’re all sensitive to the fact that somebody is going to watch a game in TD Garden for the first time tonight,” Stevens said before Wednesday’s game against Indiana. “That’s why I don’t know if this is fortunate or unfortunate, probably more unfortunate because you never want to have injuries, but we had a lot of injuries so we got rest because we had to get rest.
“I do think in the last week of the season it is a little bit different. But I also understand as each team goes about it to try and best set themselves up for the postseason, the idea and opportunities to get rest. I’m hopeful, like everybody else, that the extra week in the season can appropriately handle some of those things but there are some really tough stretches in this and it is difficult. You just have to try to manage those as well as you can.
“If some team chooses to rest their players then I understand it has to be a discussion but I understand why they do it.”
To mitigate some of the schedule grind to make it easier on players, the NBA shortened the preseason, adding a week to the schedule to spread out more games. Still, teams like the Celtics still faced a huge challenge.
“We knew going into the year, and I think this is probably what a lot of teams do, they look at the schedule,” Stevens said. “We knew December was going to be a monster and on Dec. 30 we were going to play six games in nine days and then we knew early February the West Coast trip coming back, All-Star break, Toronto, Detroit, back, West Coast trip again, you knew that was going to be really tough. You just kind of know that in advance and try to plan for it the best way you can. But again, some of our decisions were alleviated by the fact that we didn’t have guys available because of injuries. Again, I understand why teams do it but I understand the dilemma.”
Jae Crowder entered Wednesday’s game shooting 39.7 percent from beyond the arc. He has taken 605 shots, 340 from long range. That figures to 56 percent of his overall shots from long range.
“If they’re all open, whatever, right? And even if they’re lightly challenged, he’s a really good 3-point shooter,” Stevens said. “You look across the league at guys that do what he does, that’s pretty typical. I think that’s something that’s a great testament to him, that he can continue to be as consistent as he’s being, shooting that percentage and shooting as high of a percentage with that volume.”
|Celtics choice: Kevin Love vs. Paul George||05.26.16 at 10:39 am ET|
As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA Draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”
Today: Using the No. 3 pick to trade for Cavaliers forward Kevin Love or Pacers forward Paul George.
The case for Love
At 27, one of the best pure scoring forwards in the game is in his prime. Returning from shoulder surgery, he scored 27 of his season-high 34 points in the first half of the Cavaliers’ win over the Magic in November. On Jan. 29, 2016, he had his best game since November 23, scoring 29 points on 9-of-19 shooting in a win over the Detroit Pistons. That game also marked the first time all season that Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving each reached 20 points in a game. He helped the Cavaliers finished the regular season as the first seed in the East with a 57–25 record. For the second straight season, he was the perfect complement to James and Irving, after overcoming his shoulder problems that started with Kelly Olynyk in the first round of the ’15 playoffs. He finished this season averaging 16 points and 9.9 rebounds a game. In the first round of the playoffs, Love recorded playoff career highs with 28 points and 13 rebounds in a Game 1 win over the Pistons.
The case against Love
Consistency. Last July, Love re-signed with the Cavaliers on a 5-year, $113 million max deal. He has four years left on it. Love can have games where he shows exactly why he’s paid so handsomely. He can also go long stretches where his production drops way off. In Games 3 and 4 against the Raptors, both losses, Love was 5-for-23 with 13 points total in the two games. Starting with a Christmas Day loss at Golden State, he went a full month and scored just 20 points once in 17 games. His numbers have dropped off in Cleveland. The drop from 26 points per game to 16 a game the last two seasons in Cleveland is understandable with LeBron and Irving scoring so much. But the falloff in rebounding is more alarming, as he’s gone from a league-leading 15.4 rebounds a game in Minnesota in 2011-12 to 9.9 rebounds per game in Cleveland. Danny Ainge has always like long, athletic shooters from the wing and has been looking for one but the question is whether Love is really worth the $113 million?
|Studs and Duds: Cold Celtics left with no shot in loss to Pacers||03.15.16 at 9:34 pm ET|
The Pacers did their best to give the short-handed Celtics a shot. But on this night in Indianapolis, the Celtics couldn’t convert.
Paul George scored 25 and Monta Ellis added 14 as the Pacers held on for a 103-98 win over the Celtics on Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Celtics (39-28), who lost their second straight, were playing their first game of the season without Jae Crowder (high ankle sprain) and their 12th straight without Kelly Olynyk (shoulder). The Celtics lost consecutive games for the first time since losing at Dallas and at Toronto on Jan. 18 and 20.
The Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas with 21 points while Jared Sullinger had another double-double, with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Coach Brad Stevens went with a three-guard look in his first game this season without the injured Crowder in the starting lineup. Marcus Smart got the call, along with Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas. Amir Johnson and Jared Sullinger were the only big men in the game.
Thanks to an early steal from Smart, the Celtics showed energy with the small lineup, shooting out to a 20-13 lead. But the Pacers, behind Paul George, scored the final seven points of the quarter to forge a 20-20 tie after 12 minutes.
The Pacers used a 23-13 run to open a 43-33 lead before the Celtics closed it to four at the break on a 6-0 run before the break. The Celtics stayed in the game thanks to 10 Indiana turnovers.
|Jordan Mickey recalled in time for Celtics’ trip to Indiana||03.14.16 at 6:01 pm ET|
Before taking off for their trip to Indianapolis and a Tuesday meeting with the Pacers, the Celtics recalled forward Jordan Mickey from the Maine Red Claws of the D-League.
The move is likely just depth at the 3/4 position as the Celtics cope with the loss of Jae Crowder for at least two weeks with a high ankle sprain to his right foot.
Mickey has turned into a shot-blocking phenom, blocking four shots (three in the first quarter) against Grand Rapids on Sunday in the Red Claws’ 129-123 victory.
Mickey also tallied a double-double with a team-high 28 points, 11 rebounds, one assist and a steal in 32 minutes of action. He has played in 23 games for Maine this season and is averaging 17.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 4.4 blocks per game in that span.
Mickey blocked three shots in a span of five seconds last Wednesday in a win over Memphis at TD Garden.
Coach Brad Stevens said the team would likely consider a number of options to replace Crowder’s minutes, most likely involving Evan Turner and James Young.
|Studs and Duds: Paul George, Pacers outshine Celtics||11.11.15 at 10:10 pm ET|
The Celtics and Pacers traded runs in the third quarter, but Paul George ensured Indiana came out on top in the fourth. George scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half and added 10 rebounds in a 102-91 victory that dropped the Celtics to 3-4 on the season. Evan Turner led the Celtics with 20 points. Isaiah Thomas (14 points), David Lee (13 points) and Jared Sullinger (11 points, 11 rebounds) also reached double figures in a 41.6 percent shooting effort.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Paul George. It sure helps to have a superstar. Every time the Celtics made a run, George put an end to it. When the C’s answer to George was a whole lot of Turner, that should raise some questions.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Marcus Smart. After missing three straight games with a sprained left big toe, Smart returned to the lineup, albeit on a minutes restriction off the bench. He missed all four of his 3-point attempts — badly — and had the worst plus/minus rating of anybody on the team. But without Avery Bradley (lower left leg bruise), Brad Stevens was forced to rely on Smart despite the rust. Read the rest of this entry »
|Studs and Duds: Avery Bradley, Celtics come up short in Indiana||11.04.15 at 10:00 pm ET|
It was not the prettiest evening of basketball Indiana’s ever seen, but the Celtics gave themselves a shot.
That shot was soon swallowed by a stifling defense that left Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley no breathing room on the final possession. Bradley’s 3-point attempt fell well short, and the C’s lost, 100-98. They dropped to 1-3 on the season with a brutal stretch over their next six games: Wizards, at Bucks, Pacers, Hawks, at Thunder and at Rockets.
Thomas led the C’s with 27 points and seven assists, and Bradley added 21 points despite an injured right index finger. Joe Crowder (12 points), Evan Turner (11 points) and David Lee (10 points) also reached double figures. Paul George led the Celtics with 26 points, 10 rebounds and a wide-open 3 that broke a 93-93 tie with 2:13 remaining.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
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