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Full Court Press: Isaiah Thomas hears all the ridiculous naysayers, recalls advice from Kobe Bryant 12.10.16 at 7:03 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas is trying to look on the bright side of things during his groin injury. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Most of the time, professional athletes block out the noise and nonsense. 

But ever so occasionally, sometimes the noise bleeds through. 

So when there was the theory put out early in Wednesday’s game against Orlando that the Celtics are somehow a better passing team without Isaiah Thomas in the lineup, the injured point guard fired back. And he drew on the advice he got once from Kobe Bryant. 

“They gotta write something. They say the stupidest things so they get the headlines and everybody can talk about it,” Thomas said Friday night before the Celtics hosted the Toronto Raptors. “I can’t control that. At this point, I laugh about it now. Because it’s like, if you really think that, OK, that’s fine. I know what I mean to my teammates, I know what I mean to this organization and to Brad Stevens.”

The Celtics started out with 11 assists on 13 baskets. They finished the game, a 30-point blowout win, with 29 assists on 43 baskets in Boston’s first game without Thomas. 

“The ball moved a little better without me. I guess so,” Thomas said before Friday’s game with an appropriate amount of cynicism. “‘They’re a better team without me. The ball moves better without me.’ I see it all.”

After getting his points across with a due amount of sarcasm, Thomas began to speak more from the heart. 

“That’s not true. So the chip on my shoulder that is what it is, I’m always going to have that and use that for motivation,” Thomas said. “But the numbers don’t lie. It is what it is. But people that say that they don’t even believe it. They go home at night, they’re not believing that. They’re just saying it to get a reaction. I’m trying my best not to react.”

Thomas is not only averaging 26 points, he handing out a team-leading 6.1 assists per game. 

“If it was anybody else we wouldn’t be talking about that,” Thomas continued. “I’m 5-9, that’s the only reason why they say that. I’m fine with that. I know what I bring to the table. My teammates know what I bring. As long as they are happy. I’m fine. I’m not going to react. I try not to. I try to think of what Kobe said: Be a lion. Just lock in and don’t worry about what others say.”

Sully’s return: Jared Sullinger is still waiting to make his return to the NBA after back surgery last spring. The Raptors signed him to a one-year, $5.6 million deal at the start of free agency in July. Sullinger was made available when the Celtics decided not to tender him in restricted free agency. But because of his offseason surgery, he hasn’t been able to get on the floor. But his coach has high hopes for him once he starts playing. 

“He gives us the same thing Al Horford gives the Celtics – a guy who can space the floor, a post-up threat, a passer, a player with a lot of intellect to play that position, experience,” Dwane Casey said. “He started 79 games for them last year, so he gives us that experience.”

When exactly that return happens is still up in the air.

“Not sure. There’s no definite timetable on it yet,” Casey said. “Someone said four to five weeks, and I don’t want to put a hard deadline on that. But it’s going to be up to him, his pain threshold, he’s been working his ass off, he’s been in the pool, he can barely put weight on it, but he’s trying to get back. He’s doing an excellent job with his conditioning, his weight is down. We’re not concerned as all.”

Sullinger has been traveling with the Raptors, including Friday night in Boston, where he got a chance to catch up with some former teammates. Was he disappointed not to play Friday night against the Celtics?

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Jared Sullinger, NBA
Current, former Celtics gather for Isaiah Thomas’ wedding 08.23.16 at 8:37 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas finally took some time for himself during his action-packed summer, marrying his longtime girlfriend Kayla Wallace in Seattle. The C’s All-Star point guard noted via Instagram it was “by far the best day of my life.”

 

My beautiful wife and kids #ThomasFamily

A photo posted by Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) on

 

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Read More: Isaiah Thomas, Jared Sullinger, Jason Terry,
Reports: Former Celtics forward Jared Sullinger agrees to 1-year deal with Raptors 07.11.16 at 3:30 pm ET
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Once the Celtics signed big man Al Horford, they no longer had room for restricted free agent Jared Sullinger, so they renounced his qualifying offer. He didn’t stay unemployed for long.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical, Sullinger has agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with the Raptors, which he trumpeted on his Twitter account by changing his logo to that of the Raptors. Sullinger thanked Celtics fans.

Sullinger averaged 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds a game over four years with the Celtics after being selected 21st overall in the 2012 draft. Head coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe after the C’s set Sullinger free that he’d land on his feet.

“Jared’s one of the more talented guys being able to get the ball off the glass, and he’s got beautiful touch and he’s a good guy,” Stevens said. “And so I think he’ll do well.”

Read More: Celtics, Jared Sullinger, NBA Free agency, Raptors
Celtics renounce Jared Sullinger’s qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent 07.10.16 at 1:53 pm ET
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Joakim Noah goes up for a basket against Jared Sullinger. (Getty Images)

Joakim Noah goes up for a basket against Jared Sullinger. (Getty Images)

It appears as though the Jared Sullinger era is drawing to a close in Boston.

The Celtics backtracked on the qualifying offer they made the 24-year-old big man, renouncing the offer and making him an unrestricted free agent. He’s now able to sign with any team. The decision by the Celtics was first reported by RealGM’s Keith Smith.

Taken No. 21 overall by the Celtics in the 2012 draft, the Sullinger era was a tumultuous one in Boston to say the least. At times, he was a valuable body in the low post who could occasionally shoot from the perimeter, and other times — this past postseason against the Hawks — was totally absent.

This season he averaged 10.3 points per game with 8.3 rebounds, with the latter being a career high for him.

At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Sullinger’s time in Boston was often characterized by his big frame, in which he was constantly overweight and out of shape and often possessed a poor, lazy attitude at multiple points, leading to him being benched.

Sullinger was originally offered a qualifying offer alongside Tyler Zeller on June 29, with Sullinger’s being valued at $3,695,169. The decision to renounce the qualifying offer will create needed cap space in the aftermath of the Al Horford signing.

Sullinger could still sign with the Celtics, but in light of the decision made today, the C’s would be offering much lower than what he’s is looking for.

Read More: Al Horford, Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller
Report: Celtics to extend qualifying offers to Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller 06.30.16 at 10:57 am ET
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Kevin Durant may be the prize, and Dwight Howard an intriguing possibility, but the Celtics aren’t taking any piece of their roster for granted.

To that end, they plan to offer qualifying offers to big men Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller. Per Steve Bulpett of the Herald:

Qualifying offers must be made by Thursday, and extending them allows the Celtics to match any offer sheet Zeller and/or Sullinger sign in restricted free agency. Otherwise, they would’ve become unrestricted free agents.

Sullinger’s offer will be for $4,433,683, while Zeller’s one-year offer is for $3,695,169, according to the Herald.

Sullinger averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds this year, though he was ineffective against the Hawks in the playoffs. Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds, falling out of Brad Stevens’ rotation at times.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Celtics, Celtics rumors, Jared Sullinger
Jonas Jerebko starts for Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner starts for Marcus Smart as Brad Stevens shakes it up 04.22.16 at 6:55 pm ET
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Brad Stevens stayed true to his word before Friday’s Game 3 with the Hawks at TD Garden.

Marcus Smart and Jared Sullinger will start the game on the bench while Evan Turner and Jonas Jerebko get the start.

“We’re going to start Turner for Smart and Jerebko for Sullinger,” Stevens announced just under two hours before tip. “We’ll go with Turner, Isaiah, Jae, Jerebko and Amir.”

“Obviously, there’s certain things from the starting group, as far as how we want to play, spacing-wise,” Stevens said in explaining the move. “Those types of things factor in. Obviously, Jerebko gives you spacing, gives you some defensive versatility on the two bigs. And then Turner has been, along with Isaiah, really able to get into the paint and do certain things, and consistently be able to attack throughout the first [two] games.

“That’s that. Sully and Smart are still going to play, still going to play big parts for us. I’ve said this before about the guards, you can just kind of throw a dart with those four guards, and Smart being the fourth one tonight. They’re all going to play 30-plus minutes for us on most nights.”

The lineup of Turner, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Jerebko and Johnson haven’t exactly spent a lot of time together this season on the court.

“They’ve played a whole 33 possessions together. They’re plus-20. So, the sample size in an analytical viewpoint is not strong. But I think the one thing is you practice all year. You try different things. You’re going to have moments like this, certainly, especially with Avery out, with Kelly out where you’re going to have to do some of that. And you know what? There’s going to be groups off the bench that haven’t played much together, too.

“Any lineup with Terry and/or R.J. or both has not played very much for us. So, that’s the way it is. That’s why you practice all year and that’s why you play and find the synergy in practice. You believe in what supposed to do by doing it right and you go out and do it.”

Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens
Studs and Duds: Celtics shock Warriors, end longest home winning streak in pro sports history 04.02.16 at 1:06 am ET
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Jared Sullinger shoots the basketball against Warriors guard Klay Thompson during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Jared Sullinger shoots the basketball against Warriors guard Klay Thompson during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics pulled off the unthinkable Friday night in epic fashion.

Playing without Jae Crowder, Boston got 22 points from Isaiah Thomas, 21 points from Evan Turner and 20 points and 12 rebounds from Jared Sullinger to lead the Celtics to a 109-106 win over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena, ending the longest home winning streak in major pro sports history.

Steph Curry got a clean look in the final seconds at a potential game-tying three. The shot rimmed out and the Celtics had their best win of the season and the signature win of the three-year Brad Stevens era.

The Warriors, who committed 22 turnovers, had won 54 straight regular season games at home and hadn’t lost on their home court since Jan. 27, 2015, when they fell in overtime to the Bulls. The Warriors last lost on their home court in Game 2 of the NBA finals last June to the Cavaliers. The win also avenges Boston’s heartbreaking double-overtime loss to the Warriors on Dec. 11 at TD Garden. 

It was just Golden State’s eighth loss of the season, dropping them to 68-8 on the season. They must win five of their final six games to break the record of the 1996 Chicago Bulls. 

The win improves the Celtics to 44-32 on the season and pull to within a half-game of the Hawks (45-32), who lost in overtime to the Cavaliers Friday night. 

The Warriors came out gunslinging. Their first three field goals were 3-pointers, racing out to leads of 6-0 and 9-4. But that gunslinging mentality also led to six turnovers in the first six minutes, five of which were committed by Steph Curry. 

Thanks to great defense from Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart, the Celtics were able to hold the combination of Curry and Klay Thompson scoreless until Curry’s 3 with 4.3 seconds left in the first quarter, a trey that gave the Warriors a 23-21 lead after the opening 12 minutes. The Warriors finished the first quarter with eight turnovers. 

The Celtics were killing themselves at the free throw line, missing six of their first 11 attempts. The Warriors took a 35-28 lead but the Celtics scored the next eight points to take a one-point lead, capped by an Evan Turner three with 3:01 left in the first half. Curry’s second three ended the Celtics’ run. The Warriors continued their remarkably sloppy play with the ball in the second quarter, committing five more turnovers and 13 for the first half. Avery Bradley’s three with 2.3 seconds left in the first half gave Boston a 45-43 lead heading to the locker room. 

Curry had just two field goals (both threes) and six points in the first half, while committing seven turnovers. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Evan Turner, Golden State Warriors, Isaiah Turner
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