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Studs and Duds: Avery Bradley, Celtics blow out Nets 11.20.15 at 9:54 pm ET
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For the second straight game, the Celtics grabbed a big first-half lead — only they held it this time.

The Celtics outscored the Nets 68-40 in the paint and shot 58.6 percent from the field, blowing out the Nets, 120-95. The C’s led by 24 at the half (66-42) and opened up a 30-point advantage in the third quarter — their biggest lead of the night. Avery Bradley‘s 21 points off the bench led five Celtics in double figures. Jae Crowder (19), Isaiah Thomas (18 points, 9 assists), Evan Turner (12 points, 7 assists) and David Lee (11 points) also reached double digits.

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

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Jae Crowder.

Crowder found his offense early and often against the Nets. After scoring 11 points in the first quarter, he finished the night with 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting. He also pulled down five rebounds and had three steals.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Joe Johnson.

Johnson couldn’t find a rhythm and was minus-19 on the night. He finished with three points on 1-of-5 shooting.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Isaiah Thomas
Studs and Duds: Celtics bottle up lethargic Rockets 11.16.15 at 10:37 pm ET
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Brad Stevens has entered unfamiliar territory, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

With their 111-95 victory Monday over the Rockets, the Celtics are now two games over .500 for the first time in the coach’s tenure. After struggling in the first quarter, the Celtics finished outscored the Rockets 87-67 to finish the game. Isaiah Thomas led the way for the C’s with 23 points, while Avery Bradley (21) and Jae Crowder (16) were also in double figures.

The two teams played with polar opposite energy levels. The C’s played with their normal aggression/desperation, while the Rockets looked as disinterested as a prepubescent boy at a middle school dance. The Celtics were extreme active in the passing lanes, which led to a season-high 16 steals. MVP runner-up James Harden was held to only 16 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

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

STUDS OF THE NIGHT: Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas.

The pair spread their 44 points across all four quarters. In the first, Thomas carried the C’s, starting the game 4-for-5 from the field with 10 points and three assists. In the second half, it was Bradley’s turn, as he scored 13 points while sitting out the final eight minutes. Both finished 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. Thomas actually started over Bradley, who was able to score 21 points in only 20 minutes. Thomas scored a similarly efficient 23 points in 24 minutes.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: The entire Houston Rockets staff, basketball team, record label and crew.

It really didn’t seem like the Rockets ever wanted to win this game. A number of times they neglected to run back on defense. Mike Gorman was personally disgusted and offered his public condolences to Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, who I imagined just shrugged his shoulders and sighed the whole night. The Celtics seemed to win every 50-50 ball and on numerous occasions just ripped the ball out of the hands of Rockets players.

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Isaiah Thomas
Studs and Duds: Avery Bradley, Celtics come up short in Indiana 11.04.15 at 10:00 pm ET
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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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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, Isaiah Thomas
Studs and Duds: Celtics can’t contain hot-shooting Raptors 10.30.15 at 11:05 pm ET
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The Raptors shot better than 50 percent in the second half, outscoring a Celtics offense that couldn’t find its rhythm, and the result was Boston’s first loss of the season, 113-103 at TD Garden. Isaiah Thomas led the way for the second straight game, totaling with 25 points and seven assists. Avery Bradley scored 13 points, while Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk each added 11 off the bench. The Celtics and Raptors played to a 54-54 tie at the half, but Toronto totaled 30 third-quarter points and outscored the C’s by nine in the frame. In the end, the Celtics couldn’t contain a trio of Toronto 20-piont scorers — 2013 All-Star DeMar DeRozan (23 points), newcomer DeMarre Carroll (21 points, 5 rebounds) and reserve Terrence Ross (21 points). For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Toronto Raptors,
Brad Stevens gets an early look at strength of his team: ‘Our bench has to be a great source of energy’ 10.29.15 at 10:43 am ET
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If Wednesday night is what the Celtics bench is going to look like all season, Brad Stevens is going to have a very good year.

The Celtics started off slowly to the lowly 76ers, trailing by as many as nine, 26-17, in the first quarter. Boston made just six of its first 21 shots and could find no rhythm.

The young 76ers had rookie Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel running the court, and scoring. And the Celtics looked flat.

Then the bench started to make the impact that it was built all offseason to make. Slowly but surely, Jared Sullinger, Isaiah Thomas and Amir Johnson made their impact, some faster than others. Thomas missed his first four shots before finding his range, on his way to a game-high 27-point night. Johnson added 15 and Sullinger chipped in with 12 as the vision of Danny Ainge was clear for everyone to see.

When it was all said and done, the Celtics bench outscored Philly reserves, 67-15, in walking away with a 112-95 win. That’s exactly what Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens had in mind when they built the deepest roster in the NBA in the offseason.

“Our bench has to be a great source of energy and scoring and everything else for us,” Stevens said. “And I thought [the Sixers] came out of the gates great. Okafor was really hard for us to guard early ‘€“ and then Noel, I just thought they had a great impact on the game on both ends. So, we found ourselves in a hole which probably isn’€™t all bad in your first game, to see how you respond, and we responded. Any time we cut it close I thought we responded. I thought we missed some things that we can clean up, but at the same time I thought we did a lot of good things.”

Down 26-17, the Celtics outscored the Sixers, 21-2, over the next eight minutes. Thomas and Sullinger each had six points in the run.

The bench was also the reason the Celtics were able to hold off the Sixers each time they made a run. Three times the Sixers got as close as five points and each time the Celtics answered, including a 7-0 spurt at the end of the third, when Thomas hit a three right before the buzzer.

“The end of the quarters are important to us,” Stevens said. “We want to finish well, we want to do well in those situations. And those were big for us tonight. But I thought just as big was they’€™d cut it to five and we’€™d go on a 7-0 run. They’€™d cut it to, I believe it was three one time, we go on a 6-0 run. So those are good responses in those moments.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Isaiah Thomas, NBA
Isaiah Thomas shoots himself into a groove in opening night win: ‘I’m not going to be shy’ at 12:36 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas is very happy that his coach doesn’t get discouraged by a little cold streak.

The instant offense offense off the Celtics bench missed his first four shots in the first quarter Wednesday night as the Celtics struggled out of the gate.

Thomas made three of his next five shots and that was a sign of things to come as the Celtics outscored the Sixers, 30-14, in the second quarter, grabbing control of the game, 51-40, at the halftime break.

Smart his 5-of-8 shots in the third quarter, including a three at the buzzer as the Celtics took a 79-67 lead into the final quarter.

“I mean that’€™s the biggest thing,” Brad Stevens said. “We’€™ve talked quite a bit about that: play with speed, play aggressive, play with spirit, let the chips fall where they may with him. We know a hot streak is coming.”

Thomas scored 13 of his game-high 27 points in the third quarter as the Celtics cruised to a 112-95 win in the season opener at TD Garden.

“That’€™s my job,” Thomas said of keeping the shots coming. “I’€™m not going to be shy when I’ve got a job to do out there. Coach has confidence in me. My teammates have confidence in me, and they tell me to continue being aggressive ‘€“ so I’€™m going to continue to do that.”

Thomas’ 27 points came in 29 minutes of action. The Detroit Pistons of the mid and late-80s had Vinnie Johnson – “The Microwave.” The Celtics have Isaiah Thomas.

“I work on it ‘€“ each and every day,” Thomas said. “I know that some point in time, it’€™s going to fall. I have that confidence in my game, and I work on my craft, so I think the harder you work, and when it doesn’€™t happen in games, you go to what you know. When I get into the spots that I like to go to in my workouts, and feeding off my teammates, no matter if I’€™m having a good game or not, you have to just make the right play out there. If the right play is to shoot, and I’€™m not making them, I have to continue to shoot that shot.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Philadelphia 76ers,
Studs and Duds: 1 down for Celtics, 81 to go 10.28.15 at 10:03 pm ET
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@WEEICeltics PODCAST GAME RECAP

It’s unclear whether the Philadelphia 76ers are an NBA team, but the win counts just the same.

With a 112-95 win over the ever-tanking Sixers on opening night, your Boston Celtics are 1-0, undefeated, atop the division standings and tied for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. One down, 81 to go. Brad Stevens is probably already watching Toronto Raptors tape right now.

Isaiah Thomas led the way with 27 points (10-19 FG) and seven assists. He was joined in double figures by Amir Johnson (15 points, 7 rebounds), Jae Crowder (14 points, 6 rebounds), Marcus Smart (13 points, 5 assists) and Jared Sullinger (12 points, 7 rebounds). Production abound.

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

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas.

It wasn’t a great shooting night for the Sixth Man of the Year favorite, and he still had 23 points through three quarters. Thomas missed his first five 3-point attempts, but made up for it by getting to the line a ton (6-7 FT) and knocking down a triple just before the third-quarter buzzer that pushed the C’s lead to 79-67. He added seven assists against three turnovers and generally destroyed the 76ers on the pick-and-roll, mostly with Johnson working as his partner.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Tyler Zeller.

This could just as easily be David Lee, but Zeller was yanked 5:13 into the ballgame after the Sixers scored 10 of their first 15 points in the paint. He returned briefly in the second quarter and was removed again shortly after Philadelphia point guard Isaiah Canaan scored on another layup. Zeller was removed for the starting lineup at halftime in favor of Sullinger, and he sat the entire time the Celtics build their lead as large as 15 points.

VINE OF THE NIGHT:

Out of a timeout with 2.9 seconds left in the half, the Celtics ran a ton of misdirection in the paint, only to have Smart inbound the ball, hop to the 3-point line and get the ball back. It was the simplest of play calls that led to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and a 51-40 halftime lead for the C’s.

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Let’s hope this is the last time I write this sentence: More Johnson, please. Okafor was killing the Celtics with eight early points on four shots within five feet of the basket, so Brad Stevens answered with Jared Sullinger midway through the first quarter? I was under the impression interior defense was precisely why Amir Johnson was signed this past summer. On the ensuing possession, Okafor scored on Sullinger within five feet of the basket, giving the 76ers a 17-11 lead. Johnson finally checked in with 2:31 remaining in the opening quarter and the C’s trailing by nine. He recorded a block on his first possession. Over the next 8:14, the Celtics outscored Philadelphia 18-2 and grabbed a 35-28 lead. You do the math.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 26 fast-break points. Despite their youth last season, the Celtics ranked in the middle of the pack with 13.6 fast-break points per game — a slight uptick from Stevens’ first season. Granted, they were facing the 76ers, but the C’s scored 34 points off 24 turnovers and thrived in transition. Pace and space is all the rage, and they had the first part down in the opener.

@ OF THE NIGHT:

Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, NBA, Philadelphia 76ers
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