|Studs and Duds: Avery Bradley, Celtics come up short in Indiana||11.04.15 at 10:00 pm ET|
It was not the prettiest evening of basketball Indiana’s ever seen, but the Celtics gave themselves a shot.
That shot was soon swallowed by a stifling defense that left Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley no breathing room on the final possession. Bradley’s 3-point attempt fell well short, and the C’s lost, 100-98. They dropped to 1-3 on the season with a brutal stretch over their next six games: Wizards, at Bucks, Pacers, Hawks, at Thunder and at Rockets.
Thomas led the C’s with 27 points and seven assists, and Bradley added 21 points despite an injured right index finger. Joe Crowder (12 points), Evan Turner (11 points) and David Lee (10 points) also reached double figures. Paul George led the Celtics with 26 points, 10 rebounds and a wide-open 3 that broke a 93-93 tie with 2:13 remaining.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
|Jae Crowder commits greatest turnover in NBA history||at 8:36 pm ET|
If the Celtics were going to commit another turnover before the half, at least they made it the greatest one ever.
With a second left before the break, Celtics forward Jae Crowder tried to find Jared Sullinger with a fullcourt inbounds pass, except he found the bottom of the cup instead. The NBA should probably make a rule that if anyone ever does this again, everyone calls it a night — Celtics win. A proverbial mic drop. Instead, it was Pacers ball.
Dopest turnover of all time. https://t.co/SA64nLPakO
‘ RJML (@RyanJayLouis) November 5, 2015
The turnover marked the C’s 13th of the half, and Indiana took a 49-43 lead into the locker room.
|Celtics assign James Young, Jordan Mickey to D-League||11.03.15 at 5:33 pm ET|
Add this to the Celtics‘ list of unsurprising moves: James Young and Jordan Mickey have been inside to the Red Claws, Boston’s D-League affiliate in Portland, Maine.
The first of the C’s three draft picks received in return for trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, Young has been inactive for the first three games of the season. He averaged 21.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and two assists in 32.9 minutes over 17 games during 11 trips back and forth from Maine last season.
“I guess it’s something that I remind myself, but James is still only 20, and as a matter of fact, he recently turned 20” Celtics president Danny Ainge said on media day when asked about Young’s progress. “I think he would have been one of the top 10 youngest guys in this year’s draft. I think James has made great strides. He had a terrific year last year in the D-League. I had numerous coaches tell me he was one of the best prospects they’ve ever seen in the D-League at age 19 last year.”
This marks Mickey’s first assignment to the D-League after being drafted No. 33 overall in June and receiving the heftiest contract for a rookie second-round pick in league history. He played two minutes at the end of the season-opening win over the 76ers — collecting two points, two rebounds and one assist in the process — but has been inactive since fellow rookie R.J. Hunter returned from illness.
It's not about where you start at its about where you finish at
— Jordan Mickey (@Jmickey_02) November 3, 2015
In an odd bit of statistical nonsense, Mickey currently leads the NBA in offensive rating (243.1 points per 100 possessions), and that’s not likely to change soon. Although, both Young and Mickey will be recalled and re-assigned to the Red Claws more times than you can count on two hands this season, so get accustomed to it.
|Why Celtics won’t sign Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller to contract extensions now||11.02.15 at 2:03 pm ET|
The NBA salary cap is expected to expand $20 million next summer, so Sullinger and Zeller have no reason to sign a team-friendly extension based on the league’s current salary structure. Likewise, the C’s have little incentive to sign Sullinger and Zeller to player-friendly deals now, because of the former’s conditioning issues and the latter’s inconsistent production.
Consider that fellow 2012 NBA Draft first-round pick Jeremy Lamb, who couldn’t crack the regular rotation in Oklahoma City for his first three seasons, is reportedly signing a three-year, $21 million contract extension two games into his Hornets career. Sullinger and Zeller should receive an average annual value of $7 million next summer if they respectively eat a handful of Big Macs for lunch every day and fall to fifth or sixth on the C’s frontcourt depth chart this season.
More likely, both will be seeking double-digit millions per season next summer, and by not offering them that kind of cash flow right now, the Celtics can monitor their progress closely now and maintain significant salary cap flexibility in 2016, when both become restricted free agents and represent $12.2 million in combined cap holds come July 1.
|Avery Bradley injures right index finger late in loss to Spurs||11.01.15 at 8:37 pm ET|
If you knew Celtics guard Avery Bradley sprained his right index finger late in Sunday’s 95-87 loss to the Spurs, you’d think he did it on this devastating dunk that cut San Antonio’s lead to five with 1:40 left.
Bradley left the game with 26 seconds left and the C’s trailing by three possessions, following the team doctor to the locker room. He had the finger set in a splint and his right wrist wrapped before his postgame interview, but didn’t injure it on the rim. He caught the finger on a jersey in the final minute.
‘I got it caught in someone’s jersey and bent my fingers back,” said Bradley, who scored a team-high 18 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Its just swollen right now. My right hand.’
The Celtics have the day off Monday, return to practice Tuesday and don’t play until Wednesday in Indiana, so Bradley has a few days to recover. He did not have the finger bandaged when the Celtics initially let reporters into the locker room and he didn’t appear to be favoring it as he prepared for his media session.
Considering the shoulder and ankle injuries that have plagued Bradley throughout his career, you just hope the finger doesn’t become a linger issue that diminishes the progress he’s made under coach Brad Stevens.
“I’ve just been trying to tell myself to be more aggressive, go to the basket stronger,” added Bradley. “When I broke my ankle, I feel like it’s always in the back of my head that I can go and re-injure myself. I just have to go out there and play basketball and not think. … A lot of people forget that that used to be me. I just have to continue to take what the defense gives me and be aggressive.”
Bradley was the lone C’s starter with a positive rating in Sunday’s loss, finishing plus-three in 30:28. After shooting better than 50 percent from 3-point range during the preseason, Bradley hasn’t quite found his groove, shooting 4-of-12 from distance and 37.1 percent overall so far, but his defense has been steady. If he continues to attack the rim and the 3-pointers start falling, he’ll be a game-changer.
It was an ugly shooting night for the Celtics, especially in the first half, when they missed more than 70 percent of their attempts, but somehow they remained with four of the Spurs in the final minutes.
It was a testament to their defense, but despite making several runs to cut into a 15-point deficit, the Celtics couldn’t ever get over the hump in a 95-87 loss that dropped them to 1-2 on the young season.
Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 18 points on 18 shots before leaving the game with 26 seconds left and retreating to the locker room with the team doctor. Marcus Smart (17 points), Isaiah Thomas (15 points on 18 shots), Jared Sullinger (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Amir Johnson (10 points) also reached double figures.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
|Brad Stevens gets an early look at strength of his team: ‘Our bench has to be a great source of energy’||10.29.15 at 10:43 am ET|
The Celtics started off slowly to the lowly 76ers, trailing by as many as nine, 26-17, in the first quarter. Boston made just six of its first 21 shots and could find no rhythm.
The young 76ers had rookie Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel running the court, and scoring. And the Celtics looked flat.
Then the bench started to make the impact that it was built all offseason to make. Slowly but surely, Jared Sullinger, Isaiah Thomas and Amir Johnson made their impact, some faster than others. Thomas missed his first four shots before finding his range, on his way to a game-high 27-point night. Johnson added 15 and Sullinger chipped in with 12 as the vision of Danny Ainge was clear for everyone to see.
When it was all said and done, the Celtics bench outscored Philly reserves, 67-15, in walking away with a 112-95 win. That’s exactly what Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens had in mind when they built the deepest roster in the NBA in the offseason.
“Our bench has to be a great source of energy and scoring and everything else for us,” Stevens said. “And I thought [the Sixers] came out of the gates great. Okafor was really hard for us to guard early ‘ and then Noel, I just thought they had a great impact on the game on both ends. So, we found ourselves in a hole which probably isn’t all bad in your first game, to see how you respond, and we responded. Any time we cut it close I thought we responded. I thought we missed some things that we can clean up, but at the same time I thought we did a lot of good things.”
Down 26-17, the Celtics outscored the Sixers, 21-2, over the next eight minutes. Thomas and Sullinger each had six points in the run.
The bench was also the reason the Celtics were able to hold off the Sixers each time they made a run. Three times the Sixers got as close as five points and each time the Celtics answered, including a 7-0 spurt at the end of the third, when Thomas hit a three right before the buzzer.
“The end of the quarters are important to us,” Stevens said. “We want to finish well, we want to do well in those situations. And those were big for us tonight. But I thought just as big was they’d cut it to five and we’d go on a 7-0 run. They’d cut it to, I believe it was three one time, we go on a 6-0 run. So those are good responses in those moments.”
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