|Five Things We Learned as Celtics — without Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart — hold on for win over Bulls||11.08.14 at 11:01 pm ET|
The Celtics had every reason to look disjointed on Saturday night in Chicago. On the back end of their second game in as many nights, the team was without not only Rajon Rondo (who required a minor surgical procedure to remove a pin from his wrist) but also Marcus Smart following his injury on Friday.
But the Celtics instead showed tremendous energy and intensity for most of the night, building a big enough lead — a 20-point advantage at one point, the first time in five years that the team had built such a large advantage in Chicago — that they were able to withstand a late, spirited charge by the Bulls and claim a 106-101 victory on the road. The Celtics shot 52 percent from the floor and had excellent ball handling and distribution, with 25 assists and just 12 turnovers.
Here are five takeaways from a contest that allowed the Celtics to improve to .500 (3-3) for the season:
MAYBE THE THE CELTICS CAN SHOOT
The Celtics‘ 52 percent performance from the floor on 81 shots represented the third time this year (in six games) that the Celtics have shot at least 50 percent from the floor, tied for the most such contests in the NBA this season. The Celtics are now shooting 47.4 percent from the floor on the season, fifth best in the NBA to this point.
MAYBE THE CELTICS CAN CONTROL THE GLASS
With Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger leading the way, the Celtics have been one of the better rebounding teams in the NBA so far. The C’s grabbed 45 boards, seven more than the Bulls reeled in, continuing a pattern that had seen the Celtics enter the night with the third-highest rebound percentage in the league (53.8).
|Celtics going young in front court, Tyler Zeller still fighting for minutes||11.06.14 at 4:14 pm ET|
Veteran Brandon Bass‘ minutes have essentially been cut in half, as he averaged 27.6 per game last season to just 14.5 so far this year. Some of the drop off can be attributed to the three-guard lineup that Stevens has been rolling out, but the big reason is simply younger players earning themselves more minutes.
Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are both coming off season-highs in minutes played against the Raptors on Wednesday, with 38 and 34 respectively, and the rotation is beginning to feel as if both will be playing right around 30 minutes a game.
In a game where Toronto was without both of its starting bigmen, Sullinger (19 points and 16 rebounds) and Olynyk (18 points and 13 assists) were able to feast, each finishing with a double-double.
But, another young big man has become lost in the mix — Tyler Zeller. Zeller has appeared in all four games, but is averaging just 6.7 minutes during three of those contests.
What about the fourth game?
An eight point, four rebound, two block performance against the Rockets — a game in which Zeller played 19 minutes.
The minutes likely were a product of Zeller being the best matchup against a force like Dwight Howard. Centers Brook Lopez and Jonas Valanciunas have missed games against the Celtics this season in contests against the Nets and Raptors, giving Stevens less incentive to get Zeller more time on the floor.
So will the coach simply use Zeller based on matchups this season?
|WEEI.com predicts 2014-15 Boston Celtics season||10.29.14 at 8:59 am ET|
The Boston Celtics season is upon us, and our WEEI.com round table of Ben Rohrbach, Mike Petraglia, Kevin O’Connor, Julian Edlow and Sam Packard weighs in on five questions facing the C’s this season.
1. What will be Rajon Rondo‘s fate this season?
@brohrbach: We’ve seen “National TV” Rondo, but we’ve never really witnessed “Contract Year” Rondo, and that could be an awful lot of fun. He’s almost two years removed from the ACL surgery, and the broken bone in his hand appears to be only a minor setback. I’m on board with Celtics president Danny Ainge’s assessment that his four-time All-Star point guard will enjoy a career statistical year as the most exciting player on a blah team. Even then, haters will find something to complain about.
As for whether he’ll be traded or not, the Celtics will sure as heck try, but the number of teams in need of a starting point guard, willing to meet Ainge’s asking price and lining up to pay Rondo max money isn’t a long list. It’s a coin flip, but I’m now leaning more toward no deal than deal.
@Trags: Traded by January.
@KevinOconnorNBA: For Rondo to be dealt by Boston, another team needs to get desperate close to the trade deadline. Looking around the NBA, I don’t see many teams willing to cough up what it’ll take, so for now I think he’ll remain with the Celtics all season.
@julianedlow: Rondo plays the year out in Boston. If he was ever going to be traded, it needed to happen by draft night. There are just no realistic packages out there that make sense for Ainge to deal Rondo. I won’t venture a guess as to what happens after this season, but I guarantee it won’t be boring.
|Why you should care about Wednesday’s Celtics win: Marcus Smart had his best game, Jared Sullinger can rebound||10.22.14 at 10:09 pm ET|
The Celtics wrapped up the preseason with a 100-86 victory over the Nets at the TD Garden on Wednesday night (check out the box score here). Brooklyn rested its starters, while Rajon Rondo was out once again with a broken left hand for the Celtics.
Here are other reasons why you should have cared about the Celtics‘ preseason finale:
Marcus Smart had a very strong showing back in the starting point guard role
Smart opened up the game by swishing a 3-pointer out of the corner, which was nice for Celtics fans to see since shooting is one of his biggest weaknesses. However, Smart did a much better job of slashing through the lane than he has in previous games. He was able to connect on three layups in traffic, while also going 4-for-4 from the free throw line. Attacking the basket might be Smart’s biggest strength, so it was certainly positive to see him do so efficiently before the preseason came to an end.
Smart never saw the floor in the second half, but the damage was done. He racked up 16 points in just 15 minutes of action, adding four assists, a rebound and two steals. Perhaps most importantly, he did it on 5-for-8 shooting from the field — all three of his misses coming from downtown. Good things happen when Smart gets into the paint.
Jared Sullinger was a beast on the boards once again
Sullinger is a very good scorer, but he is a phenomenal rebounder. After ripping down 19 boards on Sunday, Sullinger grabbed 13 in the first half alone Wednesday. He finished the game with what is becoming a classic Sullinger stat line — 15 points and 17 rebounds. Sullinger did so while shooting 7-for-10 from the field in 26 minutes of action.
James Young returned from a hamstring injury
Young hurt his hamstring while warming up for the first preseason game, but kept that information to himself and ended up by playing in the game. Young posted 10 points in his debut, but then has missed each preseason contest since. He also didn’t play in a summer league game following a car crash.
The rookie wasted no time Wednesday, nailing a 3-pointer on his first possession in the game. He finished with just five points and four rebounds, but keep in mind it was just his second professional game. Young has plenty of room to grow this season.
|Why you should care about Sunday’s Celtics win: Jared Sullinger absolutely dominated||10.19.14 at 5:36 pm ET|
With four more minutes, the Celtics may not have pulled out their fourth preseason victory in seven tries, but Jared Sullinger’s extraordinary effort helped the C’s stave off the Nets in the NBA’s experimental first 44-minute game.
Sullinger finished with 21 points and 19 rebounds in 29 minutes in the 95-90 win.
The Celtics trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half, but they outscored Brooklyn 33-14 in the 11-minute third quarter. Jeff Green scored 10 of his 14 points playing as a power forward in the frame.
Evan Turner had the worst performance of his brief Celtics career, shooting just 1-of-9 from the field while collecting just three points and one assist against three turnovers. Likewise, Kelly Olynyk had just four points on 2-of-7 shooting to go along with six rebounds.
While Brad Stevens started Turner at point guard, the Celtics coach swapped Smart in for the third quarter, pushing Turner to the wing. To start that 33-point third quarter after a 40-point first half, Avery Bradley at shooting guard, Green at the 4 and Sullinger at center.
Smart converted 3-of-8 attempts from 3-point range, making 4-of-11 field goals overall. As a team, the Celtics shot just 37.8 percent form the field, sinking just nine of their 29 3-point attempts.
Gerald Wallace returned from his bone bruise injury, but finished scoreless in just five minutes.
For the record, the NBA’s first 44-minute game lasted 1 hour, 58 minutes — finishing roughly a half-hour quicker than an average game.
|Why You Should Care About Wednesday’s Celtics Win: Jared Sullinger, Marcus Smart stand out||10.08.14 at 10:27 pm ET|
HARTFORD — The Boston Celtics beat the New York Knicks 106-86 Wednesday night at Hartford’s XL Center in Hartford (see box score here). With few standout individual performances beyond Jared Sullinger’s 23 points on 12 shots, the real star of Thursday night’s game was the Celtics‘ team defense.
The Celtics played aggressive, jumping in passing lanes and contesting jump shots. They finished with x14 steals and held the Knicks to 40 percent shooting.
The young Celtics guards, especially Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley, played at a frantic pace, leading to a number of scoring opportunities in transition. And the Knicks did not do themselves any favors, as they committed 28 turnovers.
Self-proclaimed underrated supserstar Carmelo Anthony also struggled, scoring just 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting from the field opposite Evan Turner.
OTHER REASONS TO CARE AOBUT CELTICS-KNICKS:
Marcus Smart made a shot!
Four, actually. After an 0-for during his NBA debut, Smart scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting. He scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, in the second quarter. Smart, who normally looks to attack the basket, showed no hesitation taking jump shots. He also looked adept at running the offense, leading the team with six assists.
|Asset Management: Jared Sullinger’s Celtics future||10.02.14 at 1:22 pm ET|
I think we can all agree the Celtics won’t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’s pieces in a series we’ll call Asset Management. Next up: Jared Sullinger.
Sullinger’s No. 1 goal this summer was to work himself into better shape, an objective both Celtics president Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens publicly supported, and then he showed up to training camp looking an awful lot like the guy who finished last season in need of improved conditioning.
“I’m not where I want to be, but really, really close,” said Sullinger. “Getting up and down in practice has really been helpful. Especially because of the pace that we’re playing, there’s no choice but for me to get in shape.
“So, as long as practices stay like this — and with the competition we have with Brandon [Bass] and Tyler [Zeller] and Erik Murphy and Dwight [Powell] and Kelly [Olynyk] — you have no choice but to play as hard as you can.”
That competition could further cut into his minutes, especially since Stevens has adopted the annual league-wide preseason mantra of pushing the pace and has other frontcourt contributors on the roster more suited to do so. After Wednesday’s practice, Stevens said of Olynyk, “I think our best bet is to make him a big part of what we’re doing,” and then added of Zeller, “He runs hard to the rim. … I think we’ll see a lot of that this year” — both of which could mean more time on the bench for Sullinger this season.
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