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Brad Stevens envies the ‘beautiful basketball’ of the Atlanta Hawks after seeing it up close and personal 01.15.15 at 10:24 am ET
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Brad Stevens had the perfect model for his players to see Wednesday night. The Atlanta Hawks came in winners of nine straight, despite missing star big man Al Horford and sharpshooter Kyle Korver.

He thought maybe his team would see how Atlanta (31-8) is playing the game right now for their coach Mike Budenholzer and be inspired. He thought wrong.

Not three minutes into the game, Stevens had to call a timeout to remind his young team, still working to learn each other’s game, that he wants them to run basic offense.

“I thought our offense was pretty poor all night, and I think they’€™re obviously a difficult-enough offense to guard,” Stevens said. “But when you give them run-out dunks, it doesn’€™t help anything, and we just turned the ball over too much. Put too much pressure on ourselves to be good in the half-court defensively, and then to come back.

“We had cut it to nine and we were playing with some pretty good energy, but then at the end of the day they made us pay on a few different plays. And they do such a great job of ‘€“ they don’€™t over-dribble, you know? They attack, they space, they pass ‘€“ it’€™s beautiful basketball. They really move the ball well. And I thought we never really got into anything from a movement standpoint. We got pushed out a little bit out of our space and we fumbled the ball all around as a result of that.”

The Celtics responded in the first quarter and managed a 24-24 tie after 12 minutes. But the roof started to cave in when the shots didn’t fall in the second and they could never really recover from a 57-45 halftime hole. Still, it was the start of the game that stuck in Stevens’ craw.

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Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, NBA
Jared Sullinger would rather not change momentum at 12:45 am ET
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Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger

While his team’s double-digit loss to the Hawks came as no surprise — even as Atlanta rested starters Al Horford and Kyle Korver — Celtics coach Brad Stevens wasn’t pleased with his team’s effort almost from the opening tip.

“I was really disappointed with our first three minutes of the game,” Stevens said of a timeout that came just 2:38 into Wednesday’s 105-91 loss to the red-hot Hawks. “I’m usually not that disappointed in the first three minutes of the game. I thought it was poorly played on our part.”

Things didn’t get much better over the final 45 minutes, either, as Kelly Olynyk allowed dunk after layup after dunk inside, Tyler Zeller finished 0-for-4 from the floor and Stevens continued to dig deep into his rotation.

“Well, I thought our offense was pretty poor all night, and I think they’re obviously a difficult enough offense to guard,” added Stevens. “But when you give them run-out dunks, it doesn’t help anything, and we just turned the ball over too much.” (Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?)

With usual energy boosters Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart struggling to produce, the Celtics desperately needed a game-changer, but only Phil Pressey (7 points, 2 assists) on the end of the bench provided any punch.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, NBA,
Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder carry leadership torch 01.13.15 at 2:01 am ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

Whether it’s a direct result of trading Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green or a direct response to those deals, these young Celtics are playing with more purpose than they have all season.

“It’€™s kind of like being a younger brother,” C’s rookie Marcus Smart said following a 108-100 victory against the Pelicans. “You’€™re always told, ‘You can’€™t do this; you’€™ll never do this,’ and you just want to prove them wrong. And that’€™s kind of what we’€™re trying to do.”

Rondo has since admitted to a lack of effort during his final 18 months in Boston, and Green was notorious for showing up one night only to disappear the next. That’s a horrible message for young players, and probably part of the reason they’re gone.

“I’€™d like to see everybody carry the torch,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said of a void left by trading his two top players, adding: “Everybody has to be a leader, and I’€™ve seen just in recent weeks that there are more voices to be heard and more people that are stepping up and trying to be leaders, and time will tell whether they can be. Sometimes some voices snuff out the voice of others, and we’€™re tying to create a culture where everybody takes ownership and it results in the success of the team.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, NBA
Celtics finalize Jeff Green trade for a No. 1 pick, Austin Rivers and Tayshaun Prince’s expiring contract 01.12.15 at 11:53 am ET
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The Celtics officially announced the Jeff Green trade for an unidentified future first-round pick, Tayshaun Prince‘s $7.7 million expiring contract and Austin Rivers, son of former C’s coach Doc Rivers.

Green, whose 17.6 points per game currently lead the Celtics, joins a Grizzlies team battling for home-court advantage in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Memphis sends Quincy Pondexter and a second-round pick to a Pelicans squad in search of a playoff spot.

According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported the deal, the Celtics will receive a first-round pick from Memphis that won’t come to fruition until 2019 and are expected to send Rivers elsewhere in exchange for a second-round pick and expiring contracts. Surprisingly, the Clippers have been mentioned as a potential trade partner, potentially pairing Rivers with his father in Los Angeles.

Prince’s expiring deal will give the Celtics as much as $30 million in cap space this summer.

Following the trade’s completion, Green posted his appreciation for Boston on Instagram.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, NBA,
Celtics trade Brandan Wright to Suns for pick(s) 01.09.15 at 6:01 pm ET
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The Celtics traded recently acquired and underused forward Brandan Wright to the Suns for a future draft picks(s), the team announced on Friday night. Yahoo Sports guru Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the trade on Twitter.

In exchange for Wright — seemingly the prized jewel in Celtics president Danny Ainge’s trade of Rajon Rondo — Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is sending a Timberwolves pick to his former employer that is top-12 protected for this season and next before turning into a pair of second-round picks in 2016 and 2017.

The 6-foot-9 Wright came to the Celtics with the league’s highest field goal percentage (74.8 percent), but then played in just eight games for Boston, averaging 3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds in only 10.8 minutes a night.

In essence, the Celtics have turned Rondo into Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson’s relatively low $2.73 million expiring contract, a late 2016 first-round pick from Dallas and two second-round picks from Minnesota in 2016 and 2017.

Meanwhile, the Celtics are nearing a deal that would send Jeff Green to the Grizzlies in exchange for Tayshaun Prince‘s $7.7 million expiring contract and a future first-round pick, according to Wojnarowski, likely giving Ainge nine No. 1 selections over the next four seasons.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandan Wright, NBA, Phoenix Suns
Brad Stevens takes blame for messy Celtics: ‘I’ve got to figure out how to coach this team better’ 01.05.15 at 11:30 pm ET
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Brad Stevens has reached a low point in his second season as Celtics head coach.

Stevens sounded an ominous signal Monday following a 104-95 lifeless loss to the lowly Charlotte Hornets on “Seats for Soldiers” night at TD Garden.

His team started slow out of the gate and really never recovered, trailing 22-11 late in the first quarter and 50-36 at the half.

“First of all, they played at a great pace, and they made shots and Kemba (Walker) was great,” Stevens said. “We couldn’€™t stop him. Cody Zeller was playing at a higher energy-level than anybody else on the floor a lot of the game, and you know (Gerald) Henderson has always really given us fits. I thought all three of those guys looked like they were at a different level early. And we weren’€™t very good.”

It got so bad that Stevens ran through his entire 13-man roster by the end of the third quarter. What was he hoping to accomplish?

“No idea. I think tonight was more of an anomaly because I was throwing darts. I can act like I know the answer to your question, but I was throwing darts,” Stevens said.

Asked a question about the breakout game for James Young and whether it might mean more playing time for the rookie, Stevens instead took the opportunity to do a little soul searching.

“€œI don’€™t know,” Stevens said. “I don’€™t know. I’€™ve got to figure out how to coach this team better. I’€™m not doing a very good job. We’€™re not playing well and we’€™re playing almost ‘€“ it’€™s not good basketball. We’€™ve got to do a better job playing good basketball. I’€™ll figure out the rotations later, once we start playing good basketball and once we all are very focused on very good basketball. And that’€™s on me. I’€™ve got to do a better job.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Charlotte Hornets
Rajon Rondo is introduced as a visitor back in Boston 01.02.15 at 7:51 pm ET
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The banner around the TD Garden video board read “Thank You Rondo!” And with that, a three-minute tribute to the former Celtics superstar point guard concluded Friday night. The Celtics showed their appreciation for Rajon Rondo, their most recent captain, in a stirring three-minute tribute featuring highlights of his eight-plus seasons in Boston, marking his return for the first time since the December trade that sent him out of town.

At the end of the tribute produced by the Celtics, Rondo acknowledged the standing ovation from the fans, and then went over to the Celtics bench, giving a hug to longtime trainer Ed Lacerte and others. Before the game, he had a hug with Celtics TV announcer Mike Gorman.

Rondo capped a 15-point first quarter with his third three-pointer in as many tries with 0.2 seconds remaining. Rondo connected on all six shots as the Mavericks raced out to a 31-17 lead.

Rondo cooled off a bit in the second quarter, connecting on 1-of-4 shots and finishing the half with 18 points, three rebounds and one assist as the Mavericks led, 59-46.

Rajon Rondo was introduced for first time as a member of the Dallas Mavericks since he was traded by the Celtics in December.

Rondo scored the first 10 points of the game for Dallas, including a pair of 3-pointers on his first two attempts from long distance.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, Danny Ainge, NBA
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