|Fast Break: Third time the charm as Celtics stop Bucks||12.03.13 at 9:50 pm ET|
All five Celtics starters reached double figures, led by Jordan Crawford‘s 25 points, and the C’s avoided falling victim to the three-win Bucks for the third time in as many tries this season with a 108-100 home win.
Starters Jeff Green (18 points), Brandon Bass (16 points, 9 rebounds), Jared Sullinger (12 points, 8 boards) and Avery Bradley (15 points) all reached double digits, and Courtney Lee added 11 off the bench.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Long distance: The Celtics sunk their first four 3-point attempts — a pair of Bradley treys sandwiched around one apiece from Crawford and Green — to grab an early 18-9 advantage and force a Bucks timeout. While the C’s missed their next 10 3-point attempts, the early barrage staked them to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and a late string of triples gave them 11 on 24 attempts for the night. Crawford, Bradley and Green combined for 10 of them.
Over the Hump: The ankle injury to Kelly Olynyk finally created an opening for increased Kris Humphries minutes, and the veteran forward has responded with his usual rebounding prowess. As he has for his previous seven NBA seasons, Humphries entered the game averaging double-digit boards per 36 minutes (10.5), and that number only stands to improve after he snagged seven boards in his first seven minutes against Milwaukee.
Happy Lee returns: After missing the previous two games with soreness in his left knee, Lee scored 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting off the bench. He didn’t provide his usual stat sheet stuffing, but the Celtics desperately needed his offense after seeing their second unit get outscored by 49 points in his two-game absence.
Since Rajon Rondo appears one step closer to his eventual return, now is as good a time as any to ask: Just how much will the three-time NBA All-Star point guard help the Celtics‘ woeful offense when he returns?
When we last saw Rondo, his 13.7 points and league-leading 11.1 assists per game created an average of 38.0 points for the Celtics, and that doesn’t include the new free throw and secondary assist statistics available this season on NBA.com/stats or the C’s increased pace under Brad Stevens.
This season, Jordan Crawford has received 1,301 touches, which ranks 15th among the league’s guards, and the Celtics rank 26th in points per 100 possessions (96.0). It’s safe to assume there’s a correlation there.
The other 14 guards: Chris Paul, John Wall, Ty Lawson, Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday, Tony Parker, Mike Conley, Ricky Rubio, Steve Blake, Kemba Walker and Jose Calderon.
The most jarring name has to be Blake, who’s doing a better job replacing Steve Nash on the Lakers than Crawford is substituting for Rondo. When you combine their scoring and passing, only Calderon creates fewer points per game than Crawford (23.8), and that’s because Calderon shares a backcourt with Ellis.
|Fast Break: Balanced Celtics effort stops the Magic||11.11.13 at 9:52 pm ET|
Seven Celtics scored in double figures as they shot 60 percent as a team and stopped the Magic, 120-105.
Avery Bradley led the way with 24 points; Jeff Green, Jordan Crawford and Kelly Olynyk each netted 16; Courtney Lee dropped 12 and Brandon Bass contributed 10 in a balanced effort that improved the C’s record to .500 (4-4) for the first time in the Brad Stevens era.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
The Steez knees: Believe it or not, Crawford actually looked like a point guard. Submitting by far his best half of basketball in a Celtics uniform, he reached triple-double watch by halftime: 12 points (5-7 FG), six assists and four rebounds. More importantly, he entered the break with zero turnovers in 17 first-half minutes and owned the C’s best plus/minus number (+13) in staking them to a 59-50 advantage.
On the range: Bradley’s jumper from 15-19 feet has steadily improved since his rookie season, rising from to 26 percent in 2010-11 to 41 percent in his sophomore season and 44 percent last year. After knocking down his first three attempts from that range against the Magic — and finishing 7-of-9 on long 2’s — he’s started 13-of-24 (54 percent) from that range this season. Avery Bradley is officially a shooting guard.
Kelly O’Sully: By replacing Vitor Faverani in the starting lineup, Brad Stevens broke up the unselfishly entertaining Olynyk-Sullinger frontcourt combination that had helped produce 105.1 points per 100 possessions through the first seven games. And the two talented young bigs responded by providing consistent production throughout a thorough dismantling of the Magic, totaling 30 points on remarkable 14-of-18 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and three steals as Jelly Sullynyk.
|Celtics, for the last time: Jared Sullinger||10.30.13 at 4:43 pm ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time ‘¦ ?” Next up: Jared Sullinger.
When’s the last time a sophomore stud enjoyed success post-injury?
In the past 25 years, only two bigs underwent season-ending surgery as a rookie and ultimately became a star.
The most recent is Blake Griffin, whose broken left kneecap was discovered on the eve of his rookie season. He missed that entire year, and then unleashed himself on the NBA in 2010-11, averaging 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists to earn his first of three All-Star invitations. But he was a No. 1 overall pick.
The other is LaMarcus Aldridge, whose heart ailment cut his 2006-07 rookie year short in April. He responded the next season with averages of 17.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He’s now a two-time All-Star.
Kenyon Martin suffered a broken leg as a college senior, and then finished second in the 2001 NBA Rookie of the year voting. Otherwise, no big man who battled injuries that early in his career ever flourished in the NBA. In fact, on the flip side, there’s guys like Greg Oden, whose chronic knee problems are well documented.
Doctors have assured Sullinger he’ll fully recover, and the production of both Griffin and Aldridge suggest it’s not only possible to recover in time for your sophomore campaign, but you can potentially flourish, too.
But Sullinger is entering uncharted territory, especially considering his surgery involved back issues. Then again, the Celtics understood that when he dropped to them at No. 21 in last year’s draft.
|Celtics, for the last time: Jordan Crawford||at 4:08 pm ET|
One of the most unpredictable Celtics seasons in recent memory begins Wednesday, and in order to determine the likelihood of each player reaching his full potential, we’ll be examining them individually in this year’s Green Street preview with one form of this question in mind: “When’s the last time ‘¦ ?” Next up: Jordan Crawford.
When’s the last time an immature young guard saw the NBA light?
Barring the great 2003 NBA draft, every June last decade featured a young guard who declared early and subsequently tumbled down the draft for any number of reasons that fall under the category of “immaturity.”
And in 2010 that guy was Jordan Crawford — he of wearing weed socks to practice, practically falling asleep on the bench and mocking Carmelo Anthony after sitting throughout a playoff game fame.
Just for fun, let’s see how each of those guys matured by Jordan’s current age of 25.
Forte: Out of the league, but not before wearing a Scooby-Doo shirt to a Celtics playoff game.
Woods: Out of the league, partly because of running a dogfighting ring out of his house.
West: Submitted his best season as a member of the Cavaliers. (P.S. Arrested on gun charges at age 26.)
Robinson: Traded twice between his 25th and 26th birthdays, contributing to C’s 2010 NBA Finals run.
Williams: Out of the league, relegated to playing in Russia.
Crittenton: Out of the league, indicted on murder and gang-related charges.
Mario Chalmers: Emerged as the starting point guard of the two-time NBA champion Heat.
Ty Lawson: Submitted his best season as a member of the Nuggets.
As you can tell, these guys have had their ups and downs, and Crawford hasn’t had the legal troubles many of these guys have experienced (well, unless you count the whole allegedly stealing a cell phone in college thing), but he has already played for three teams in his first three seasons.
The best comparison here is probably Nick Young. One’s called Swaggy P and the other Steez, and both have horrible shot selection. They were even Wizards teammates once, but that didn’t end well. However, Young enjoyed his best season at age 25, averaging a career-high 17.4 points, albeit on a lottery team.
|Terrence Williams: ‘I don’t think either team likes each other’||05.03.13 at 12:04 pm ET|
WALTHAM — In the hours before Game 6, Terrence Williams reminded everyone of the animosity between the Celtics and Knicks in this series.
“I always wanted to say this, that’s playoff basketball,” Williams said at Friday morning’s shootaround in Waltham. “Before I got here, I heard these two teams were rivals so you don’t expect anything less. But at the end of the day, it’s basketball. I think everything should be left on the court. Nothing should be escalated off the court like last game at the end of the game. Stuff like that shouldn’t happen but it’s playoff basketball.”
The back-up guard doesn’t think either team has any tricks in store for Game 6 at TD Garden. Williams made a point to once again bring up the Knicks funeral wardrobe before Game 5 at Madison Square Garden, and explained why that bothered him.
“No, there are no surprises,” Williams said. “At this point, I don’t think either team likes each other. We’re all for our guys and they’re for their guys. When people wear all black and say it’s a funeral, a lot of us have people that died in our own personal lives. That’s not really something funny. That’s not something to play with. You can say you’re going to end the series in New York but not [call it] a funeral. We know we don’t like them and we know they don’t like us.”
That bad blood was countered when Jordan Crawford verbally attacked Carmelo Anthony at the end of Game 5, giving the Knicks some ammunition in the war of words. Crawford didn’t play in Game 5 but Williams did. It was Williams, along with DJ White and Chris Wilcox, who was at the center of trying to keep Crawford away from Anthony and the Knicks.
“I was there, yeah,” Williams said Friday morning. “I don’t really remember. I put out of my mind. As you guys saw, I was trying to be the peacemaker. I grabbed Felton. I don’t want that to escalate. I don’t really remember.”
Has a message been sent from coach Doc Rivers and the staff about keeping the mouths shut before and during the game?
“I don’t know if it has or hasn’t,” Williams said. “It doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, we’re going to compete. If there’s a funeral, then there’s a funeral. If there’s fuel to the fire with that, then it is what it is but you don’t really have to have that conversation because we’re not little kids. We’re professionals. We’re going to try and handle our jobs every day.”
Williams was the only Celtics player to talk Friday morning as the team prepared for the 7 p.m. tip at TD Garden.
|How Jordan Crawford-Carmelo Anthony feud unfolds||05.02.13 at 9:52 am ET|
If the Celtics ever pull off the seemingly impossible against the Knicks, let’s just say benchwarmer Jordan Crawford‘s weed socks aren’t exactly the equivalent of Red Sox ace Curt Schilling‘s bloody sock in 2004.
Just as Kevin Garnett denied the infamous Honey Nut Cheerios comment about Carmelo Anthony‘s wife Alani “La La” Vasquez earlier in the season, Crawford did the same about similar internet speculation after Game 5.
“Nah, they was talking to me, baby,” Crawford told The Boston Globe after seemingly starting a verbal altercation with Anthony and Raymond Felton despite playing exactly zero minutes in the C’s 92-86 win. “They was talking to me. Yeah, they like me. I think it’s that smile I keep carrying. I think we’re playing freely, not thinking as much.”
While Anthony escalated the Garnett feud outside the Celtics’ team bus after the January incident, the struggling NBA MVP candidate chose not to engage Crawford with his team on the brink of choking away a 3-0 series lead.
“I’m not thinking about no Jordan Crawford,” Anthony told reporters at the podium afterwards. “Not at this point in time. I’ll tell you that. I don’t even think he even deserves for you to be typing right now.”
Meanwhile, Crawford played dumb, which seems apt for a player talking trash after a DNP-coach’s decision.
“I don’t know what happened, you know what I’m saying?” he told the Globe. “I was on the bench the whole game, I don’t know why they was talking to me. They gotta be upset, their [expletives] tightening up. Of course they upset.”
Based on the way Doc Rivers scolded rookie Fab Melo for sticking around the fracas, it’s safe to say the Celtics coach won’t be too pleased with Crawford. Maybe he’ll even get benched. Oh, wait …
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