|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|
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.”
|Studs and Duds: Celtics shock Warriors, end longest home winning streak in pro sports history||04.02.16 at 1:06 am ET|
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.
|Kelly Olynyk misses 11th straight game, Jared Sullinger (skin infection) good to go||03.11.16 at 7:10 pm ET|
The status remains the same on Kelly Olynyk.
The 7-foot sharp-shooter was ruled out Friday night before the Celtics took the court against the Rockets, the 11th straight game he’s missed since partially separating his right shoulder in the first half against the Clippers on Feb. 10.
“[He’s] not playing. We didn’t do anything today,” Stevens said before Friday’s game. “I’m assuming he’ll just stay on the same path of progress and feel better and better as he move towards next week’s games.”
The Celtics play four of their next five on the road, visiting Indiana next Tuesday before coming home to play the Thunder on Wednesday at the Garden. They will head on the road to play in Toronto next Friday and in Philadelphia on March 20.
As for Jared Sullinger and his skin infection that had him wearing a wrap around his stomach against Memphis, Stevens said he was again ready to go. Sullinger hasn’t missed any game action but hasn’t taken part in the team’s practice on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday. Stevens said the team didn’t want Sullinger to “overdo it” in practice and re-hydrate after the events earlier in the week.
“He looks to me like he’s got a different bounce,” Stevens said pre-game Friday. “We did a little jog-through and he looked good.”
Sullinger was limited to just 12 points and five rebounds in 21 minutes against Memphis, as his stomach wrap had to be re-applied. In his nine previous games, Sullinger was averaging 12.4 points and 10.6 rebounds, including five double-doubles.
|Celtics rest Jared Sullinger at practice, don’t want him to ‘overdo it,’ expected to play Friday||03.10.16 at 3:16 pm ET|
WALTHAM – The Celtics are playing it safe with Jared Sullinger.
One day after returning to game action from a skin infection that forced him to miss Monday and Tuesday practices, Sullinger (with a wrap around his stomach) was again on the sidelines Thursday. Brad Stevens said that while Sullinger was able to play Wednesday (12 points, 5 rebounds in 21 minutes) against Memphis, the team felt it best that he take it easy on Thursday.
“We just held him out of practice because he spent a couple days getting IVs and dehydrated and everything else, just didn’t want to overdo it,” the Celtics coach said. “So, he’s expected to play [Friday].”
The Celtics could certainly use his bulk in the post Friday as Dwight Howard, James Harden and the Rockets come calling to TD Garden.
“I think obviously he’s a good player,” Stevens said of Sullinger. “He’s able to score. He’s able to stretch the floor and shoot the ball. He’s able to score in the paint. But I think obviously the way he’s aided us defensively, his communication is excellent and then his rebounding is elite. Everybody’s got their strengths they bring to the table to help their team win. I think when we’re at our very best he certainly is having a huge impact on the glass.”
Sullinger has also been a force with his passing game, as evidenced by his two key fourth-quarter outlet passes against the Knicks last Friday that keyed the comeback win.
“He can really pass,” Stevens said. “He’s a smart basketball player. He’s really a smart guy but he plays the game with a good savvy. He understand where people should be. He understands what the right next play is. He’s had a good year. He’s had a good year.”
“He’s always had that. He’s a strong guy so he can get it from one end of the court to the other. I know that. That’s why I take off running,” added Jae Crowder, who was on the receiving end of those passes last Friday.
“He’s more comfortable,” “He’s probably the most comfortable I’ve ever saw him. He’s playing at a great rate for us. He’s been rebounding the ball as well as he’s been doing all year. He’s shooting the ball. His outside shot has been coming around. Once we have him hit his shots, it spread our offense out even more and gives lanes to me and Isaiah to drive in the paint. It helps us on offense.”
Sullinger has missed just one game this season, starting 56 of the 64 games he’s played.
“I think all our guys want to play all 82 but it’s not feasible all the time,” Stevens said.
|Jared Sullinger released from hospital after skin infection, could play Wednesday||03.08.16 at 2:20 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Jared Sullinger has been released from the hospital after a skin infection caused him to become sick and miss two days of practice this week.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens made the announcement when he was asked about the big man’s absence on Monday and Tuesday at practice.
“Jared has a skin infection and was actually hospitalized [Monday] but has been released and hopefully, will be available [Wednesday],” Stevens said. “We don’t know that yet. We’ll reassess that [Wednesday]. He did not practice either day.”
Stevens said he had no idea when or how the infection happened. Sullinger had 17 points and 13 rebounds in the team’s last game, a 120-103 loss in Cleveland Saturday night. Sullinger has had double-doubles in six of the last 10 games.
“I don’t know exactly,” Stevens said. “I didn’t get into the details of that.”
If Sullinger isn’t available, it will break a string of 20 games that the Celtics have had the same starting lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Sullinger, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder.
Sullinger has started 26 straight and 55 of Boston’s 63 games this season.
The Celtics play the Grizzlies Wednesday at TD Garden at 7 p.m.
|Celtics approaching rarified (home) air of 2008 World Champs||03.01.16 at 3:28 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics are on some kind of roll at TD Garden.
The team that started out under .500 (9-10) in their first 19 home games this season has suddenly found the magic touch.
They have won 11 in a row on Causeway Street and if they finish this homestand with wins over the Blazers Wednesday and the Knicks on Friday, they will pass the mark of the 2007-08 Celtics. The group of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen won 12 straight in a row at home to start the season that ended in a title run.
“I don’t know if we can put ourselves in that conservation, man,” Jared Sullinger laughed when the comparison was mentioned Tuesday after practice. “You had Rondo, you had KG, you had Paul, you had Ray, Perk, Tony. You really can’t put yourself in that conversation. But it will say a lot about this team and all the maturing we did over the season. I thought we did a tremendous job of executing of late.
“You can’t really compare the two. It’s two completely different teams,” Avery Bradley added. “We’re just trying to take care of home and take it one game at a time and make sure we’re continuing to get better and take care of the little things.”
What Bradley did acknowledge, and something he learned from former coach Doc Rivers, was the home court matters come playoff time in April and May.
“That matters in the playoffs,” Bradley said. “We got a taste of it last year but home court advantage definitely matters. I learned that from Doc. That’s something we wanted to get every single year so that does matter.”
“For sure, for sure. Doc said that when I was here playing for him that one year,” Sullinger added. “Home court really does matter just because you’re in your normal routine. You’re at home. You’re not on the road. You don’t have to worry about little things. Home court advantage matters, and as long as you’re normal with your routine, everything will be fine.”
“[Confidence] is pretty high. It’s pretty high. I think the biggest thing is we have a streak going now, eleven straight at home. We have two more home games until we hit the road. We’re just trying to close it out. Talking earlier before we started our homestand, we wanted to go 5-0, go 5-0 and protect home court and try to get many wins as possible.
“And what’s funny, I was talking to Jae [Crowder] earlier, we really haven’t been shooting the ball well in these past couple of games and we’re still able to pull out the win. That just shows how much we’re maturing as a basketball team, understanding that offense doesn’t dictate our defense. We’re doing a great job.”
Then there’s the perspective of coach Brad Stevens, who entered last year’s playoffs as the No. 7 seed but without the benefit of home court. The Celtics were swept in four games by Cleveland so home court was moot.
“I’ve never lived it,” Stevens said Tuesday. “I think you have to win on the road and at home in the playoffs. And you have to be able to well in either. You never know how those series play themselves out. Our focus isn’t on 21 games from now, it’s right now. Our next two games are at home so we’ll try to play as well as we can in those next two games.”
|Brad Stevens: ‘We were pretty locked in defensively most of the [game]’||02.27.16 at 6:43 pm ET|
Brad Stevens knows sometimes the best wins are the ugly ones.
When he team started out making just seven of 24 shots and falling behind 12 points to the Heat, Saturday’s game felt like it could be an ugly loss. But the Celtics didn’t panic and began to chip away, thanks in large part to Miami’s equally inept ability to take care of the ball. Thirteen Miami turnovers in the first half kept the Celtics in it, as Boston trailed just 49-46.
Trailing 52-46, the Celtics went on an 11-0 run and led 72-70 after three. They hit the glass in the fourth quarter and rolled to a 101-89 win over the Heat, taking a two-game lead on Miami for third in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics won the game despite making just 39-of-96 shots (40.6 percent), including 7-for-25 from the starting backcourt of Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas.
“Hard game to win, hard team to play against, especially when you start out shooting the ball the way we did. But we were pretty locked in defensively most of the [game],” Stevens said after his team’s 35th win of the season. Thomas missed all eight shots he took in the first half and finished just 4-for-17. Bradley wasn’t much better early but did finished 3-for-8.
“You look at it and two of our leading scorers, Isaiah and Avery, combined for four [points] and our starters were 5-for-26 in the first half,” Stevens said. “So, you’re down three and you feel like you’re lucky as heck to be down three. But again, that’s kind of what this team has been doing. To their credit, it’s easy to let a game, when you’re not playing well, affect you. To their credit, they just kind of stuck with it and stayed the course. All of them made huge plays in the second half, particularly Isaiah making those plays driving to the basket. Jae Crowder made some big plays and I thought Sully was great on the glass. In the last five minutes of the game, I felt like he got every rebound there was.
“I felt like everybody played really hard through that stretch. I felt like Jonas and Tyler held down the fort with a couple of vertical plays in the paint. Jared, it seemed, got every rebound late. I just thought he was really active, finished plays on offense. Multiple times today he caught it at the rim, he recognized that Whiteside was there and he made a play for somebody else. That play at the end of the half, he kicked it out, extra pass to Avery. That was a heck of a play and a huge play for us. He’s got a good awareness and he’s a smart guy and he’s a heck of a rebounder.”
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