|Isaiah Thomas: ‘We feel like we can definitely make noise’||04.15.16 at 3:07 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Armed with an attitude and the confidence of a full All-Star season to back it up, Isaiah Thomas feels these Celtics are ready to make some noise against Atlanta in the playoffs starting Saturday night.
“I learned a lot,” Thomas said following Friday’s final practice at the team’s facility in Waltham. “You’ve got to adjust to whatever the team’s doing. And be able to still contribute, even if they’re trying to take away your aggressiveness or your scoring ability or whatever the case may be. The best players figure it out. I know they’ll probably try to, not just contain me, but to try to slow me down. But you just gotta stay at it and continue to keep your foot on the pedal.”
Last year against Cleveland in the four-game sweep in the opening round, Thomas made just 18-of-54 shots from the field, averaging 17.5 points. He scored 20 points in three of the four games but was held to just five points in the Game 2 loss.
But Thomas believes it’s not just him but the entire team that is feeling better about themselves after a 48-34 season and the No. 5 seed in the East.
“I think we got just a lot more confidence. We feel like we can definitely make noise,” Thomas added. “We think that the Eastern Conference is open for any team. We just gotta get a win and gain confidence off that win. I think we’re just a lot more confident and we feel like we’ve been here before, which we have.
“Just more confident. I think we just got a different feel about ourselves. Last year we kinda snuck into the playoffs, this year, I mean, teams knows about us a little bit. I think we’re the best team in the Eastern Conference. We want to make some noise. Like I said, we want to get that first win off our belt, then we want to win a playoff series and go from there. We’re not overlooking Atlanta. We know that they’re a great team. We gotta be locked in and just live in the moment. This is a big moment for us.”
Thomas and the Celtics will have fresh memories of the Hawks when they take the court Saturday night for Game 1. They fell apart in the fourth quarter after leading 87-75 and lost, 118-107.
“We need to slow down a little bit. Slow down and just execute,” Thomas said. “They sped us up a little bit more than we wanted to. And they also pushed our catches where they were denying us. We just gotta get to our spots. We gotta do what we do and do that at a high level. I think that would be the big thing.”
That goes for his own game.
“It’s something that I just tried to learn throughout the offseason as well, by watching a lot of film, and really learning how to impact the game without just scoring; learning how to use double-teams to my advantage to get the ball out quicker; having [help] on the backside any things like that,” Thomas said. “Just stay in attack mode, don’t let whatever they do try to slow me down.”
Thomas was again asked about his left wrist after practice Friday and whether it might be an issue in the series.
“No, I don’t want [any tests],” Thomas said. “I’ll be fine, I’ll be all right.”
|Evan Turner cleared for ‘light non-contact’ Thursday, ‘chance’ of playing Friday||04.06.16 at 7:48 pm ET|
Evan Turner continues to make progress from the injury to his left eye suffered in Sunday’s win over the Lakers in Los Angeles.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens announced before Wednesday’s game with the Pelicans at TD Garden that the guard has been cleared to do some work in practice on Thursday, holding out hope that he might be available against the Bucks on Friday.
“Evan just saw the doctor again today,” Stevens said. “He’s set to do light non-contact shooting [Thursday] with a chance that he’d play on Friday.”
Stevens did not want to put a specific percentage on Turner’s availability for Friday or whether he might need protective goggles when he returns.
“To be determined. I don’t know the answer to that,” Stevens said. “I think it’s one of those situations where they’ll reassess on Friday and figure that out.”
Turner, in one of his trademark stylish camouflage sweaters, was in good spirits with the team on the bench during Wednesday’s game against the Pelicans, cheering and offering support. He was wearing his normal eye glasses, as he was on Monday when he posted a picture on Instagram.
|Evan Turner suffers left eye injury in win over Lakers||04.04.16 at 12:50 am ET|
When Kobe Bryant’s three with 19.9 seconds rimmed in and out, the battle under the boards turned into an ugly affair for Evan Turner and the Celtics.
Turner got entangled with Lakers big man Julius Randle, who appeared to accidentally poke Turner in the left eye with his right hand.
Turner immediately grabbed the left side of his face and made his way off the court and to the locker room.
“He’s got bleeding in his eye,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters afterward. “They’re looking at it. An internist is looking at him. We don’t know the extent of the injury. But clearly he got some eye poke [action]. Hopefully, not too much trauma.”
According to multiple reports, Turner emerged from the showers with his left eye shut and redness around the eye.
If Turner is out for any period of time, it could be costly to the Celtics. After Jae Crowder, Turner is arguably the most versatile player on the team. Turner filled in for Avery Bradley Sunday night in the starting lineup. Bradley was not with the team due to personal reasons. Before Sunday, Turner started the last seven games that Crowder missed with his high sprain of his right ankle.
Turner has left eye shut as he emerges from the shower.
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) April 4, 2016
Evan Turner’s left eye is red and swollen shut.
— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) April 4, 2016
|Is Brad Stevens now the front-runner in NBA coach of the year race?||04.02.16 at 2:31 am ET|
It might be time to call Brad Stevens the front-runner in the race for NBA coach of the year.
After all, his team, missing its most versatile defender on the court, was able to pull off something no other team in the NBA had been able to do since Jan. 27, 2015.
In beating the Golden State Warriors Friday night, 109-106, without Jae Crowder, the Celtics ended Golden State’s regular season home win streak at 54 games and gave Stevens the signature win to date of his three-year tenure in Boston. The Celtics became the first team since San Antonio on Nov. 11, 2014 to beat the Warriors in regulation in a regular season game in Oakland.
The Celtics, who improved to 44-32, withstood charge after charge down the stretch from the record-hungry Warriors, who fell to 68-8 on the season. They withstood Steph Curry going off for 21 of his 29 points in the third quarter. Stevens got Thomas involved in the offense early in the third quarter, as Thomas scored his first 18 points of the game in the period. Stevens diagramed play after play, including the game-clincher, an side inbounds from Marcus Smart to Thomas for a layup with 8.3 seconds left in the game.
“It was a heck of a game,” Stevens told reporters after the game. “When Curry got going in the third quarter, the biggest moments of the game were us scoring consecutively when he scored because when he got going, that’s usually when they run away with a 10-0 run or a 12-0 run. We had to play. Guys had to play really well. We didn’t have a guy play poorly. That’s what it takes to beat a team like this. They’re outstanding.”
Perhaps most impressive was the fact that Stevens had his team ready just 24 hours after a 116-109 grueling loss in Portland.
“I think the biggest meaning is the idea that we can bounce back from a night like [Thursday] night where we expended a considerable amount of energy and came up short, flew here, got in late and came to compete again,” Stevens said. “I thought that probably the other biggest moment of the game was when we were struggling to score in the second quarter, they weren’t scoring a ton and kind of kept us in the game. We were fortunate to win but at the same time, we made a lot of plays to win the game.”
|Studs and Duds: Blazers spoil return of Jae Crowder, Celtics fall to 6th in East||04.01.16 at 12:52 am ET|
Not exactly the way the Celtics wanted to head into Golden State.
Al-Farouq Aminu scored a career-high 28 points and single-handedly spoiled the return of Jae Crowder Thursday night as the Blazers outlasted the Celtics, 116-109, Thursday night at the Moda Center.
Crowder made a big impact with a double-double, scoring 13 points and hauling in 10 rebounds, in his first game back from a high ankle sprain. With 22 points, Isaiah Thomas set a new franchise record with his 14th straight game as the team’s leading scorer. It was also his 14th straight game with at least 20 points, two games shy of Paul Pierce’s streak in the 2005-06 season.
“It felt good. He showed signs of what he does,” Thomas said of Crowder afterward. “It probably will take a couple of games for him to get back to his full strength. Just glad to have him back in a routine. It just sucks we couldn’t get the win for him.”
It was a costly loss for the Celtics (43-32) as they fell to sixth in the East, a half-game behind the Heat and Hornets.
Thanks to 50 percent shooting from the field in the first quarter, the Celtics raced out to a 12-4 lead. Portland didn’t score in the game’s first two minutes.
The first quarter featured the first action from Crowder since suffering a high ankle sprain March 11 against the Rockets. In the opening 60 seconds, he showed no ill effects, grabbing a rebound on the first Blazers possession of the game. On the next possession, Crowder collected a steal and dished an assist on an Isaiah Thomas 3-pointer.
|Jae Crowder says he will ‘push [right ankle] to the limit’ in effort to return Thursday||03.30.16 at 6:31 pm ET|
The Celtics may have their most versatile player back in uniform when they take on the Trail Blazers Thursday night at the Moda Center.
“I’m hopeful that we can get back to playing the way that we were playing when we’d been all healthy earlier this year,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters before practice.
Crowder started Boston’s first 66 games before missing the last eight with the right ankle injury. The team has played .500 ball (4-4) in those games. Crowder’s value came not just in his 15.4 points per game but consistently drawing the opposing team’s best scorer as well as providing a legitimate second scoring option behind Isaiah Thomas. In losses to teams like Oklahoma City, Toronto and the Clippers on Monday, his absence was dramatically felt.
|James Young, Coty Clarke recalled from Maine, available in Phoenix||03.26.16 at 8:17 pm ET|
The Celtics have reinforcements as their five-game Western swing begins.
Coty Clarke and James Young were recalled Saturday from the Maine Red Claws. Both are expected to be with the team in Phoenix as the Celtics take on the Suns. The reinforcements will help the team deal with the continued absence of Jae Crowder, who is expected to miss his seventh straight game with a high sprain of his right ankle. Crowder is with the team out West and Brad Stevens said he’s still hopeful Crowder could be back playing before the end of the trip.
On Friday night, in the Red Claws’ 120-113 victory over the Austin Spurs, Clarke scored 21 points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal in 32 minutes of action. Clarke, who signed his second 10-day contract on March 18, has played in 42 games for Maine this season and is averaging 16.4 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 26.0 minutes per game.
Also on Friday night, Young finished with nine points, eight rebounds, two assists and one steal in 29 minutes against Austin on March 25. He has appeared in 12 contests for the Red Claws this season and is averaging 14.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.0 steal in 28.0 minutes per game.
Both also played Wednesday night in the first game of the two-game trek through Texas, a 137-111 loss to Rio Grande. Clarke had 22 points and seven rebounds while Young scored 21 points and six rebounds.
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