|For (preseason) openers, Al Horford, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder shine, Jaylen Brown wows in loss to Sixers||10.04.16 at 9:24 pm ET|
AMHERST — The growth spurt officially is underway.
With expectations sky high entering the preseason, the Celtics didn’t disappoint Tuesday night, showing off a new-look roster that is loaded with offensive options and tenacious defense.
Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder each scored 11 points in the first half while Al Horford made his debut, scoring eight points in a 92-89 loss to the injury-plagued Sixers in front of a sparse 4,532 fans at the Mullins Center. The game was officially a home preseason game for Philadelphia, as their parent company, Comcast/Spectacor manages the building. But nearly every fan was cheering for the Celtics.
Jaylen Brown fired up the crowd with several athletic moves, including a one-handed jam late in the fourth to bring the Celtics close. The first-rounder out of Cal finished with eight points. Isaiah Thomas also had 11 points in his 19 minutes.
Terry Rozier led the Celtics with 12 points.
The Celtics showed their intensity on defense to the very last possession. Marcus Smart forced a Philadelphia turnover with 12 seconds left on the sideline, giving Boston a chance to tie. Smart missed a fadeaway three from the left wing with six seconds remaining and the loose ball went out of bounds to Philadelphia. Then after a Smart foul, the Sixers tried to inbound but turned the ball over, giving Boston one final chance with 3.6 seconds left. Jordan Mickey missed a three with one second left to end the game.
With just under three minutes left in the third quarter, a loud “Let’s Go Celtics” chant broke out.
And early on, the fans had plenty to cheer about.
|Celtics Player Preview: Jae Crowder||09.17.16 at 2:21 pm ET|
With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.
73 games with Celtics: 31.6 minutes, 14.2 points, 44.2% FG, 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.7 steals
After signing a five-year, $35 million deal in the summer of 2015, Crowder proved he was worth every penny. He emerged as one of the better small forwards in the Eastern Conference — a two-way wing-defender who could knock down jump shots on the other end of the floor. Crowder finished the regular season shooting 33 percent from deep, but from inside the arc — his sweet spot — Crowder shot 41.6 percent. He also was a leader in the locker room and a catalyst who helped pushed the Celtics to a 48-34 regular-season record. For his production, Crowder is a bargain.
Projected role in 2016-17
As the Celtics’ most versatile defender, Crowder will continue to be a defensive anchor in the front court and should get more touches on the offensive end. With Al Horford’s inside presence, Crowder will get more open looks — which should help him improve on his 44.2 percent field goal percentage from last season. But more importantly, he’s proven he can guard some of the league’s best players — All-Stars like LeBron James, Paul George and Jimmy Butler. Crowder’s defensive assignments against some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference will give the Celtics a fighting chance to reach the upper echelon of the conference. He also will continue his leadership role in the locker room and show his understudy — rookie small forward Jaylen Brown — the ropes.
|5 Celtics crack SI’s list of Top 100 NBA players||09.15.16 at 3:27 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated recently released its annual list of the Top 100 players in the NBA, and for the Celtics, it was merely affirmation of what they already believe: this team looks to be pretty good.
Five Celtics landed in the top 100, led by Al Horford at No. 18. Isaiah Thomas is 45, Jae Crowder 53, Avery Bradley 72 and Amir Johnson 86.
Horford was praised for his ability to fit into essentially any system and make himself a threat defensively regardless of who he’s up against. He can play in the low post, he can pick and roll, he can shoot if needed. Defensively, of course is his strength. Concern was mentioned about his rebounding troubles against top rebounders — something that has routinely plagued the Celtics — as well as his occasional interest to shoot a below-average 3-pointers.
In last year’s ranking, Thomas came in at 88, and he had something to say about it.
Sports illustrated Rankings are a JOKE lol. Feels like back in HS when those POLITICAL rankings would come out & we would just laugh it off
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) August 31, 2015
This year, SI gave him a little bit more respect, specifically with his reliability and durability. The article noted his ability to drive (he was second in the league in points off the drive last season) but also the fact that as a result of his interest in driving combined with a smaller stature, he is prone to getting his shot blocked.
The focal point of Crowder’s assessment was how unlikely it seemed that he would be as adored and successful in Boston as he is when he was part of the long-awaited trade of Rajon Rondo. On top of that, his ability to steal the ball (he ranked second in the league in steals) was looked favorably upon while his reticence to routinely pull the trigger from deep was criticized.
Bradley was lauded for his abilities as a two-way player, as he won accolades for defense while being a knockdown shooter periodically last season. However, the article was critical of his inability to run an offense for extended periods of time and his injury concerns.
For Johnson — arguably the biggest surprise to make the list — the focus was on what he brings to the table defensively. A case could be made he is one of the most integral parts of the Celtics defense, which is saying a lot given how solid the C’s defense is. His drawbacks included the fact that he is not exactly a threat offensively, getting most of his points from putbacks. Even still, his impact is massive given he is the first one to the bench in most games.
|Phil Jackson’s biggest administrative mistake with Knicks? Not taking Jae Crowder||08.28.16 at 6:17 pm ET|
Phil Jackson has made a lot of mistakes as president of the Knicks, with a list going on and on from botched trades to swing-and-miss free agent signings and draft picks to regretful decisions in choosing coaches.
This has all lead the Knicks to an abysmal 49 combined wins over the two full seasons he’s been in charge.
That said, there is certainly a lot of regrets he could choose from — and his biggest gaffe involves one of today’s most prominent members of the Celtics.
Speaking to Today’s Fastbreak’s Charley Rosen, Jackson discussed when he could’ve had Jae Crowder, but instead took a chance with a draft pick instead.
“I don’t consider hiring [then-head coach Derek Fisher] a mistake because he worked hard and got the guys to stay as positive as possible while the losses piled up,” Jackson said. “I think the biggest mistake I made was actually this…One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics. In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder. I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn’t get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo, so I took the pick which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder.
The 70-year-old added: “Anyway, for all of us, making mistakes are part of the learning process.”
The Knicks president does bring up a valuable point, however, that Crowder would have been in a tough spot to find playing time behind Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony. However from a production standpoint, Crowder would have been more valuable coming off the bench behind Anthony than Early has ever been in his NBA career.
After Jackson passed on Crowder, the small forward made his way to Boston via the Rajon Rondo trade that the troubled point guard to the Mavs during the 2014-15 season. Crowder finagled his way into the Celtics starting lineup during the 2015-16 season, starting every game he appeared in, and he’ll likely do the same this season.
To put it in perspective, Jackson ended up with someone who has spent quite a bit of time in the D-League and even played in the summer league this summer. He was also sidelined for most of the second half of 2016 after being shot in the knee outside of a strip club.
In that timeframe, Crowder became a quasi-star in Boston, playing in 73 games alone in 2015-16 (to Early’s 56 career NBA games) and averaged 14.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game over 31.6 minutes per game.
|Jae Crowder on Kevin Durant choosing Warriors: ‘It was like a slap in the face for us’||07.21.16 at 6:19 pm ET|
Jae Crowder isn’t happy with Kevin Durant. And he’s not pulling any punches talking about it.
Speaking to Tom Westerholm of MassLive prior to his 60 Days of Summer appearance at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts the forward was remarkably candid in discussing how he feels after the Celtics were snubbed.
“We were the only team in the NBA to beat both (Cleveland and Golden State) on their home court — the only team in the NBA, the Boston Celtics,” Crowder said. “We told him that. We played him clips from both games and told him basically the scouting report of how we guarded Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) — our entire game plan, basically. That’s what made me mad. We (expletive) told him everything we do to beat these guys, and we beat them, and he went and joined them. I mean, that’s part of the process, but I did not think he would go to those two teams … I felt like afterward, I was talking to Isaiah, like maybe after you sit back, you shouldn’t have told him everything, but who the (expletive) thought he was going to Golden State, realistically? It was like a slap in the face for us, basically.”
Durant made his dramatic announcement via The Players’ Tribune on July 4, stating he would be joining the squad that had denied him a chance to take the Thunder back to the NBA Finals mere weeks ago.
The Celtics pulled out everything they had to try and swing the most prized free-agent their way. They brought some of their impact players like Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk to their meeting in the Hamptons. They also brought Tom Brady — Durant’s favorite athlete. Just prior to the decision, they inked big man Al Horford, who Durant had long shown interest in playing alongside.
|Danny Ainge: ‘I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance’ to land Kevin Durant||07.07.16 at 1:12 pm ET|
Since Kevin Durant’s Fourth of July fireworks on Monday announcing that he would be joining the Warriors, Danny Ainge has had time to mull over what exactly happened to see Durant slip from the Celtics’ grasp.
“You know, in a situation like that, you never really know,” Ainge said to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “I didn’t really feel like we had a great chance, but I thought we had some chance. And then after we met with them, I felt like we had a real chance.
“I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance. It seemed like a really good fit. It seemed like a really good option for him, and it just wasn’t meant to be. He had other good options, too, but I did allow myself to get really excited for that 48-hour period, and it just didn’t happen.”
Ainge admitted he was incredibly disappointed when he got the courtesy call from Durant saying he was going to Golden State shortly before his Players’ Tribune piece came out.
The Celtics certainly pulled out all the stops trying to sway Durant into wearing green next season, bringing a cavalry of team personnel, coach Brad Stevens, players Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder and even Tom Brady — Durant’s favorite athlete — to meet with the star in the Hamptons on Saturday.
Even David Ortiz tweeted at Durant to apologize for not being able to make the meeting. And upon signing Al Horford — who multiple times indicated him and Durant had discussed playing together — the Celtics seemed like legitimate contenders for the prized free agent.
“I felt like the meeting and presentation couldn’t have gone any better. I think we all felt that,” Ainge said. “I think it went as well as it could have, and we got a really good sense that it was going to be a really hard decision for him, but that we were a strong consideration.
“We felt like that was the most important part of the whole presentation — who he’d play with and how he’d be utilized. He had some good questions about that and about his role – how he would play, how we would use him. I think we did a great job of explaining and making a great presentation, and I think it was tempting for him. I think he is very, very excited about Boston and the history, the Celtics, all of that. I think he loved what Brad had to say. I think he was impressed with Brad’s preparation, and we had a really good feeling about it.”
|Jae Crowder reportedly to help Celtics recruit Kevin Durant, Al Horford||07.01.16 at 6:40 pm ET|
It won’t just be Isiah Thomas helping the Celtics recruit free agents this weekend, as Jae Crowder reportedly will as well.
According to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, Crowder will be present at the meetings with both Kevin Durant and Al Horford.
The meeting with Horford is reportedly Friday night, while the meeting with Durant is reportedly on Saturday.
According to a league source, Jae Crowder is expected to be part of the Celtics’ delegation at Kevin Durant meeting.
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) July 1, 2016
Jae Crowder will also be a part of the Celtics’ meeting with Al Horford tonight, league source says.
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) July 1, 2016
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