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Kevin Durant on animosity for snubbing Celtics: ‘What can they be mad about?’ 11.17.16 at 1:04 pm ET
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Nov 16, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) drives to the basket as Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) attempts a block during the third quarter in a game at Air Canada Centre. The Golden State Warriors won 127-121. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant has been a force at the rim for the Warriors in their 9-2 start to the season. (Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Sports)

Kevin Durant feels it’s time for the Celtics and their fans to just get over it. 

There have been few courtships in the history of the NBA like the pursuit of the 6-foot-9 superstar this past offseason. And while the Celtics locked down a solid player in the frontcourt in Al Horford, questions were abound when Durant signed his two-year, $54 million deal with Golden State. 

Why didn’t Durant choose Boston? Why wasn’t Tom Brady enough in The Hamptons? What went wrong? Why can’t Boston draw top free agents?

The Celtics put everything they had into Durant, who instead elected to join the force that is the Golden State Warriors. What ensued in Boston was frustration, and in Jae Crowder’s case, a few off-the cuff remarks.

This Friday will mark the first time Durant faces off against the C’s as a member of the Warriors. For Durant, it was just business.

“Nah, it don’t bother me,” Durant said of Crowder’s comments to ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes. “All these guys that you ask the same questions, you know what you’re going to get from them. So you’re [asking] the same questions. Why am I going to be mad about a guy who has an opinion? I respect all these players. If they don’t respect what I did, I can’t control that.

“I got nothing but love and respect for Jae Crowder and how he approaches the game and how he plays, but we disagree on me coming here,” Durant continued. “That’s just how it is. It’s all good. We’re going to compete no matter what. That’s one thing — you can say a lot of stuff in the media or wherever you are, but we’re going to compete when we’re in between the lines. That doesn’t change anything.”

Durant acknowledged the logic of the frustration of the players and fans, but brings up a valid point — he never actually played in Boston, and he never said he was going to play in Boston.

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

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Isaiah Thomas continues to bail Celtics out as rest of team does some soul-searching at 9:28 am ET
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Nov 16, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) drives to the basket past Dallas Mavericks forward Dwight Powell (7) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas took matters into his own hands Wednesday night. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Crisis averted. 

Entering the fourth quarter, Isaiah Thomas was having a rough night, finagling just eight points to that point, going 3-for-13 from the field and 1-for-3 from the foul line.

What was worse, however, was the inability for multiple players to step up. Avery Bradley did, making his presence known with an 18 point, 13 rebound double-double. But otherwise, there was not much for the Celtics to hang their hat on. 

“I was afraid that we were going to have to really gut this one out,” coach Brad Stevens said. “We definitely stagnated quite a bit.”

Thomas ultimately went off in the final frame, dropping 22 points while going 4-for-5 from the field and 12-for-13 from the foul line

Kelly Olynyk was the only other player in double figures, netting 10 points. Otherwise, offensive production was subpar. Marcus Smart was 1-for-6 from the field, off the bench Gerald Green was 1-for-4 with, while most other while most everyone else off the bench was 2-for-3 or 2-for-4.

It has all been part of the process of learning to play without Al Horford and Jae Crowder, two player who conceivably will help pick up the slack when Thomas isn’t playing well once they return healthy. But as the team figures out how to step up in the meantime, Thomas indicated he’s going to keep rising to the pressure.

“I guess I just like that quarter. Sometimes guys get a little tired and the pressure gets a little tougher for them, I guess I just like the pressure,” Thomas said.

And while the numbers may indicate it was something of a one-man show, Thomas will be the first to say it wasn’t. He found vast success off the screen, and his teammates were integral in clearing the lane for the 5-foot-9 guard. This was especially true once Mavs big man Andrew Bogut fouled out.

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

 

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Fast break: Avery Bradley’s double-double (18 pts, 13 rebs); Isaiah Thomas’ 30 points lead Celtics past Mavericks 11.16.16 at 9:50 pm ET
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Nov 16, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Dallas Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews (23) looks to pass the ball defended by Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Avery Bradley goes up for the block on Dallas guard Wesley Matthews (23) Wednesday at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas saved his very best for last Wednesday.

The Celtics superstar guard scored 22 of his game-high 30 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Celtics to 90-83 win over a pesky Mavericks team at TD Garden. 

“He’s done it so many times,” coach Brad Stevens said of Thomas. “I was afraid that we were really going to have to gut this one out … we definitely stagnated quite a bit.”

After dropping their most recent decision to a team off to an underwhelming start, the Celtics didn’t have much room to falter against a Mavericks team entering the game 2-7. 

Avery Bradley also came up huge, putting up a double-double, dropping 18 points while setting a career-high in rebounds as he grabbed 13 boards. 

Thomas and Bradley also combined for the play of the game and one of the most thrilling plays of the early season so far. With just over a minute left, Thomas got out on the break and found a trailing Bradley with a fancy between-the-legs bounce pass. Bradley finished the play with a one-hand jam, sending the Garden into pandemonium. 

“I guess I just like that quarter,” Thomas said. ““Sometimes guys get a little tired and then the pressure gets a little tougher for them. I guess I like the pressure.”

Thomas got off to a slow start, but catching fire when it mattered in the fourth quarter. He entered the final frame with eight points, he dropped 22 points in the quarter. Up until then, his quiet production was nearly palpable given the lack of a support system with the exception of Bradley.

“He’s got a knack for it,” Stevens said. “I guess I’m so used to being around him and so used to watching him operate like that, nothing surprises me.”

Early on, it didn’t take the Celtics long to find their stride, jumping to an 11-3 run to start the game. Oftentimes it felt as though the Celtics were running away with the game, but the Mavs stayed within an arms reach most of the night.

“Just was getting some good shots, my teammates were getting me the ball, I was getting to my spots and was able to knock down some shots in the first quarter,” Bradley said.

For the most part, they stayed within 8-12 points, but they made a surge in the fourth quarter to take a lead with 6:43 left, keeping things close for the remainder of the game. They traded chances with the Celtics, but were never able to create enough of a lead to totally fend the C’s off.

The low-scoring final tally, while far from a positive on the offensive end, was at least a modest hope for a team struggling to keep opposing point totals low. Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews dropped 28 and 22 points, respectively for the Mavs, but the Celtics otherwise kept point production low and contained. As a result, there was a noticeable lack of offense when either one was on the bench.

“Harrison Barnes made some tough shots, but for the most part we were defending them well, we wanted him to take some contested twos and that’s what he did, he was just knocking down good shots for them. He’s a good player,” Bradley said.

The timing of the win couldn’t have been better for the Celtics. After a poor effort on Monday, and a tilt against the Warriors on deck Friday, Wednesday served as a fine enough confidence booster as well as tune up for a Warriors team off to a hot start.

The win also marked the end of a long winless streak for the Celtics against the Mavs. The C’s dropped the last six decisions against Dallas, with their previous win coming on Dec. 12, 2012.

For a complete box score, click here.

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

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Fast Break: Isaiah Thomas, Celtics blow out Knicks 11.11.16 at 10:03 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics were very hungry for a win. 

After two consecutive lopsided defeats, the Celtics reverted to their old ways and put together their strongest defensive performance of the season in a 115-87 win at TD Garden. 

Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 29 points, Kelly Olynyk added 19 points and seven rebounds in his first start of the season and Avery Bradley finished with a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds). Seven Celtics scored in double figures. 

From the tip, the Celtics were aggressive in the opening minutes — grabbing a 19-8 lead. But New York came back when Carmelo Anthony caught fire and scored 12 first-quarter points to help push his team to within four points (31-27) after the game’s first 12 minutes.

However, the Knicks never held a lead throughout the second quarter but their rebounding certainly kept things close. New York dominated the Celtics on the glass — giving them plenty of chances but the Knicks only scored five second-chance points off of 12 offensive rebounds. 

With 4:44 left in the first half, the Celtics caught a break when Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony refuted a loose ball foul called by NBA official Tony Brothers. After he was handed an initial technical foul, Anthony continued to plead his case with Brothers which resulted in a second technical foul and was ejected from the game. Anthony finished the night with 12 points and two rebounds in 12 minutes. 

Following the ejection, the Celtics topped off an 11-3 run and finished the half with a 10-point lead (61-51). It was the first time the Celtics have allowed fewer than 54 first-half points in their last three games.

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Isaiah Thomas laments Celtics’ lack of effort: ‘We’re in a bad funk right now’ 11.09.16 at 10:22 pm ET
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The Celtics’ latest embarrassment, a 118-93 rout at the hands of the previously struggling Wizards on Wednesday night, has left the team searching for answers.

Guard Isaiah Thomas said the bottom line is the C’s need to play harder.

“It’s tough. We’re in a bad funk right now. But we can’t hold our heads,” he told reporters in Washington. “One thing I think is, we’re not the hardest-playing team no more. I think that’s what made us special, that’s what made us good, is us playing harder than the other team, being more scrappier, getting all the loose balls. Rebounds don’t come to us no more because we’re not playing hard.

“I’ve got to watch the film, I’ve got to see what I’ve got to do better, see what we can do better. But that’s just the feeling I have right now, that we’re not the hardest-playing team. And that’s what made us special, what made us win 48 games last year and made teams not really want to play against us. We don’t have that swagger no more.”

The C’s biggest issues are with defensive and rebounding — they were beaten 54-31 on the boards Wednesday.

“It’s playing hard, leaving it all out there on the floor,” Thomas said. “That’s who we were. That’s what made us one of the best defensive teams in the league. That’s what made us win 48 games last year. We have to find that swag. We’ve got to find that … that. We’ve got to get that back. Because if we don’t, it seems like we’re going off talent, which we really don’t have that much talent, including myself. I think if we get that hard hat back where we’re the hardest-playing team, we’re going to be in every game. Last year we didn’t get blown out like this. Even though it’s early, it’s been two really bad games for us. But we didn’t have these types of games last year. Just half the battle was us playing that hard, which we were in most of the games.”

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Fast Break: Amir Johnson, Isaiah Thomas each put up 23 points as Celtics survive against Bulls 11.02.16 at 10:38 pm ET
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Nov 2, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Chicago Bulls guard / forward Jimmy Butler (21) is guarded by Boston Celtics forward / center Amir Johnson (90) during the second quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Amir Johnson was an offensive and defensive force for the Celtics Wednesday, here guarding Jimmy Butler. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

While one Chicago team was in pursuit of ending a 108-year championship drought, another was giving the Celtics a heart attack in the C’s 107-100 win over the Bulls.

Leading by 16 points in the fourth quarter, the Celtics squandered yet another lead at home, letting the Bulls tie the game with less than two minutes left in the fourth. Despite the late surge, the Celtics fended off the Bulls, scoring five unanswered points after the Bulls evened the game.

“We’ve got to play better in that situation,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I thought our offense was good and executed well, but we’ve got to be more sound defensively in that time.”

Amir Johnson had arguably his most memorable game in green, dropping 23 points on the Bulls, including four 3-pointers on as many attempts. He had three assists and five rebounds as well. 

“I was just feeling good,” Johnson said. “I’m always able to shoot, guys can shoot in the league, it’s just in our offense I’ve always played team ball and been a very unselfish player, [tonight] I was just able to find open shots and knock down shots.”

Isaiah Thomas turned in a double-double performance, scoring 23 points while dishing out 10 assists.

In his season debut, guard Marcus Smart was quiet offensively, turning the ball over six times in his 33 minutes of work, but was solid on the defensive end. He managed to grab five boards with one steal.

With legitimate concern surrounding the Celtics frontcourt with the absence of Al Horford, the C’s were more than adept on the glass against a Bulls team that dominated them in rebounding during their last meeting less than a week ago. While the C’s were outrebounded 49-39 Wednesday, it was an improvement compared to them getting worked over 55-36 on the glass on Thursday.

“[Tyler Zeller and Amir Johnson] did a really good job. Both those guys are good players,” Stevens said. “We talked about Tyler’s reliability off the bench, and you know one thing about Al: When he plays with Al, a lot of times he’s the roller and Al’s the guy that plays on the perimeter. And tonight Tyler was is the roller and [Johnson] is on the perimeter more.”

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Isaiah Thomas says ‘no excuse’ for sloppy end to opening win 10.27.16 at 1:36 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas knows the Celtics got away with one Wednesday night. 

The Celtics beat the rebuilding Nets, 122-117, in a game that never should have been that close. Thomas led the Celtics with 25 points and came out with the rest of the starters at the end of the third quarter and the Celtics in cruise control, leading 97-81.

Terry Rozier was running the offense with Avery Bradley the only starter remaining in the game. The lineup featured Rozier, Bradley, Jaylen Brown, Tyler Zeller and Jonas Jerebko.

“I thought that it would be, obviously, a great opportunity to play the right way and figure out a way to keep them at bay as they come hard-charging,” Brad Stevens said of his substitutions. “It’s hard to play with a team that’s got nothing to lose, that’s flying at you and everything else. Wasn’t to be. Probably will be … less, less likely to leave them in that long if we’re in a similar scenario. Hopefully we learn from it and we’re not.”

Thomas was a big reason the Celtics had 36 assists on 48 baskets, the most assists by an NBA team in a season opener since 2001.

“It feels great,” Thomas said. “We didn’t end it like we wanted to, but we definitely got the win and it feels good, to play in front of your fans and really get going and playing for something that counts.”

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