|Even on verge of No. 1 seed, Brad Stevens concedes ‘Cleveland is the team to beat… they deserve that’||04.12.17 at 7:00 pm ET|
The standings heading into the playoffs may have the Celtics at the top of the ladder in the Eastern Conference.
But in his mind, Brad Stevens is keeping the defending champions on a pedestal for a purpose going into the playoffs.
The Cavaliers lost three straight games after knocking off the Celtics last Wednesday at TD Garden. That opened the door for the Celtics to wrap up the No. 1 seed in the East with a win over the rest-depleted Bucks Wednesday night.
But Stevens knows full well that if he can keep that carrot in front of his team, they will have plenty of motivation to prove themselves worthy of the respect the Cavaliers have already earned.
Asked before Wednesday’s regular season finale how he feels about the Cavaliers still regarded as the team to beat, he grinned quickly before confirming what many experts already feel.
“No, they deserve that. Cleveland is the team to beat. There’s no question about that. They deserve that,” Stevens said. “They’ve been to back-to-back finals. So, until somebody knocks them off, as a defending champion, I think that’s a fair way to view things.”
Clearly, the Cavaliers aren’t concerned about finishing second to the Celtics in the East. They are resting LeBron James at home against the Toronto Raptors in their regular season finale, a game that will be played simultaneous with Boston’s game against Milwaukee.
Stevens also indicated before the game that it’s safe to say that – heading into the postseason – he will likely go with a rotation of nine regular players. But there’s a chance that the likes of Terry Rozier, Gerald Green or even Jordan Mickey could see time if the situation presents itself.
“Yeah, I’d say that’s exactly what we’d be looking at,” Stevens said. “But again, everybody’s got to be ready to go because things change, injuries happen. As we saw last year, match-ups you didn’t anticipate become match-ups that become important and you need to throw somebody else at so everybody’s got to be ready.”
The first four off Stevens’ bench would be Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko.
Stevens confirmed that everyone would be “available” for the regular season finale.
“We’re trying to win a game,” Stevens said of trying to capture win No. 53, a win that would clinch the No. 1 seed.
|Mike Petraglia, Sam Packard on Celtics beating Bucks to close in on No. 3 seed||04.08.16 at 11:32 pm ET|
WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Sam Packard explain how the Celtics were eventually able to get their engines going and blow out the short-handed Bucks, 124-109, Friday night at TD Garden. As a result, the Celtics won their fourth straight and improved to 47-32 on the season, tying the Hawks for third in the East heading into their Saturday night showdown in Atlanta.
|Studs and Duds: Evan Turner, Celtics bench Bucks||11.10.15 at 11:00 pm ET|
It was a “great defense will lead to great offense” type of night, as the Celtics kept the Bucks on their heels throughout the second half, and the bench provided enough scoring for the win.
The Celtics got a game-high 20 points from Isaiah Thomas and forced 17 turnovers to beat Milwaukee, 99-83, and improve to 3-3 with a second straight win. The C’s buckled down defensively in the third quarter, stealing and blocking their way to an 18-2 run to finish the quarter with a 76-59 lead. David Lee (13 points), Evan Turner (13 points), Jae Crowder (12 points), Jared Sullinger (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Kelly Olynyk (11 points) also reached double figures.
Greg Monroe collected a team-high 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks, but Milwaukee’s offense was no match for the Celtics‘ defense and bench production.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Evan Turner. Turner amassed six assists, five rebounds and four steals to go along with his 13 points, finishing with a team-best plus-32 rating. He anchored a 50-point effort from the bench.
|Fast Break: Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger help Celtics stop Bucks||02.10.14 at 10:23 pm ET|
Behind 11 points from Green, the Celtics outscored Milwaukee 32-18 in the fourth quarter to improve to 19-34 on the season. While the Bucks remained atop the tank rankings at 9-42, the C’s now own the league’s eighth-worst record — four games out of a playoff spot.
While Sullinger (13 points, 10 rebounds) logged his sixth straight double-double, Olynyk (14, 11) had the first of his NBA career.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Bass kicking: If not for Bass, the Celtics would have been in serious trouble early against the Bucks. While the rest of his teammates shot a combined 6-of-17 from the floor (35 percent) in the opening 12 minutes, Bass finished 5-of-8 for 12 points to go along with four rebounds, and the Celtics led 26-24 after one.
Crash course: Perhaps motivated by the few Milwaukee fans in attendance who constantly chanted his first name, Gerald Wallace filled the stat sheet in the opening half. Starting in place of the injured Avery Bradley, he compiled eight points on three shots, three boards, three steals and two assists by halftime, helping the C’s take a 49-46 lead into the locker room. His production halted after the break, but …
Green thumbs up: After scoring just two points on four shots in the first quarter, Green progressively improved throughout the night, saving his best for the last quarter. He scored eight points on five shots in both the second and third quarters, and then erupted for another 11 on eight attempts in the fourth to close out the win.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Tank top: The Bucks sat Larry Sanders (eye), Ersan Ilyasova (back), O.J. Mayo (illness) and Caron Butler (ankle), and the Celtics countered with Rajon Rondo (knee), Bradley (ankle) and Vitor Faverani (knee) on the bench. If a February game against the NBA’s worst team in Milwaukee could get any uglier, it just did.
Oh, shoot: Midway through the third quarter, the Bucks were shooting exactly 50 percent from the floor (22-44 FG), taking a 61-59 lead after consecutive buckets by Khris Middleton (a 3) and Zaza Pachulia (a bunny). Milwaukee entered the game shooting a league-worst 42.1 percent from the field.
Zaza’s elbows: Pretty much everybody felt the wrath of Zaza Pachulia‘s errant elbows, but Bass got the worst of it, reportedly suffering a corneal abrasion to his left eye that kept him out of the fourth quarter.
Phantom Phil? This late Phil Pressey foul call had Jackie Mac doing her best Tommy impression, but alas it appears Rondo’s replacement may have tripped up Gary Neal well before the whistle.
|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.
|Fast Break: Celtics can’t deliver Brad Stevens’ first win||11.01.13 at 10:11 pm ET|
Bill Russell walked through that door, but he was 79 years old and watching from the front row after the city unveiled a statue in his honor on Friday afternoon. The Celtics still could’ve used his help.
The C’s built a second-half lead as large as 22, but the Bucks outscored them 34-15 in the fourth quarter to regain the lead in the final minute and steal a 105-98 victory in Boston’s home opener.
It wasn’t all bad for the Celtics, who got a double-double from Vitor Faverani (12 points, 18 rebounds) and nearly got a couple more from Brandon Bass (17 points, 9 rebounds) and Jeff Green (13 points, 9 rebounds).
WHAT WENT WRONG
Nets loss: Maybe it was the matchup. Maybe it’s more than that.
Maybe it’s Maybelline. Whatever it was, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans and MarShon Brooks sat on the bench. For the entire game. Only Gerald Wallace, who started for the second straight game, saw the floor among those acquired in the Paul Pierce–Kevin Garnett trade.
Glass wipe: The Celtics talked a whole lot about rebounding better after getting trounced on the glass and allowing 19 offensive boards in the season opener. And while they owned the overall rebounding edge against Milwaukee, the C’s still allowed 17 offensive rebounds that led to 22 second-chance points for the Bucks.
Lame late: The Celtics built a lead as large as 22 after a 9-0 lead early in the third quarter, and then proceeded to watch it slowly disappear like a codeine drip. From 9:32 to 3:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Bucks went on a 16-4 run that tied the game, 93-93. Wallace drilled a 3-pointer that briefly gave the C’s a cushion, but a late controversial call handed Zaza Pachulia a pair of free throws that gave the Bucks the lead for good in the final minute.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
El Hombre Indestructible: Is Vitor Faverani still the best? It appears so. Vitor likes blocks, so in the opening two minutes of the contest he introduced himself to last year’s block percentage leader, Larry Sanders, with the first of his six blocks. Vitor likes dunks, so he threw one down for his first NBA basket 5:17 into the game. Vitor like rebounds, so he grabbed 11 of them by halftime. Vitor like physical plays, so he tried to charge through Sanders for one of his four turnovers. Hey, Vitor Faverani’s not perfect. He’s just the best.
Downright offensive: Playing without a point guard, the Celtics pushed the ball, attacked the basket and shared the scoring load. Sound familiar? It shouldn’t. These C’s netted 11 points on the break and 23 on second-chance opportunities (thanks to 18 offensive boards), and somehow they did it with just 13 assists on 34 field goals. The offense fell apart late, but the Celtics’ 83 points through three quarters was encouraging.
Wonderful Lee: After committing as many turnovers as he had points and submitting a minus-16 rating against the Raptors on Wednesday night, Courtney Lee bounced back with exactly the type of game the Celtics would like to see out of him on a nightly basis. He added three rebounds and a couple steals to his 13 points in 26 minutes off the bench.
|Ugly clincher: C’s finally beat Pistons, clinch playoff berth||04.03.13 at 10:09 pm ET|
Jeff Green scored a game-high 34 points and Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass each had 17 as the Celtics held off the Pistons, 98-93, Wednesday night at TD Garden. As it turned out, the Celtics clinched a spot in the playoffs by virtue of Philadelphia’s 88-83 loss in Charlotte as the fourth quarter was getting underway in Boston.
The Celtics snapped a two-game skid and improved to 39-36, maintaining their tenuous lead on Milwaukee for seventh in the Eastern Conference and out of a first-round encounter with the Miami Heat. With the Bucks losing at home to Minnesota, the Celtics now lead Milwaukee by 2.5 games for seventh in the East.
The Celtics won the game despite getting out-rebounded, 52-34, outscored in the paint, 58-28, and beaten in second-chance points, 26-7. Boston shot 50 percent on the night while holding the Pistons to 37 percent shooting, including 4-of-24 from 3-point range.
The Pistons had beaten Boston twice in their previous two meetings, scoring 103 points each time and winning by an average of 17 points a contest. Detroit shot 50 percent in each game in handing the Celtics two unexpected losses in Auburn Hills.
The Celtics appeared to be in for another long night against the bigger Pistons in the first quarter. Detroit jumped out to a six-point lead twice before settling for a 30-25 lead over Boston after 12 minutes.
Thanks to eight of his team-leading 23 points in the second, the Celtics outscored the Pistons, 29-14, and took a 54-44 lead to the locker room at halftime.
The Celtics built their lead to 18, 70-52, on two Bass free throws with 5:37 left in the third. They led by 18, 74-56, on a Chris Wilcox layup with 3:50 left in the quarter. But the Celtics fell asleep the rest of the period, allowing the Pistons to score the final 11 points of the period and cut the lead to 74-67 heading into the fourth.
Two Brandon Knight free throws with 9:21 left cut Boston’s lead to three, 79-76.
Charlie Villanueava blew a layup with eight minutes left that would have cut the lead to one. The Pistons threw away another fast break chance with 7:22 left and Pierce came down and hit a jumper to put Boston back up five, 83-78, with seven minutes left. Villanueva, the University of Connecticut product, gave the Celtics a chance to avoid another embarrassing loss. Villanueva was 2-for-17 from the field and missed all eight 3-point attempts.
Green’s jumper with 4:55 left put Boston up, 89-80. His put-back slam dunk of a Jason Terry missed jumper with 3:36 brought the crowd to their feet and put Boston ahead, 91-83. A technical on the Celtics bench and a two Greg Munroe free throws cut the lead down to four, 91-87, with three minutes left but Green answered with an 18-foot jumper with 2:56 left.
Jonas Jerebko gave Detroit new life with a three with 2:29 left, as the Pistons pulled within 93-90. Knight, infamous for getting dunked on by DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers, blew a wide open layup with just under two minutes left that would’ve drawn the Pistons within one.
Green’s third trey of the night from the left baseline put Boston up 96-91 with just 45.3 seconds left. Rodney Stuckey passed on a wide-open, game-tying three with 20 seconds left, instead deferring to Villanueva, who missed his seventh triple attempt of the night.
The Celtics continue their four-game homestand on Friday night at the Garden with a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. For more from Mike Petraglia and Ben Rohrbach from the Garden, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
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