By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Nigel Hayes tells Celtics: ‘Take me third, I’ll shoot 5,000 shots a day for you’
Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes shoots against Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson in the NCAA tournament. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)
WALTHAM — Nigel Hayes knows you need confidence to play in the NBA.
The 6-foot-6 forward from Wisconsin also knows you need a jumper to play for the Celtics.
Hayes showed this week he has the first component. And he told the Celtics he can definitely work on the second.
“We were talking in the locker room, we need a wing player, someone who can really shoot the ball well. I told the guys, ‘Take me third, I’ll shoot 5,000 shots a day for you. I’ll go stand in the corner and knock down shots for you.’
“Just show them that if they need a wing player, I could fill that void. All you’ve got to do is just put in the time to be a good shooter. Putting in the time would be no problem, make a lot of shots a day, hopefully get in some games. Hopefully, make some shots in a game and have a great career.”
Hayes was a 44.1 percent shooter from the field in his three years at Wisconsin, which included 12 points and five rebounds in the 2015 NCAA national semifinal stunner over Kentucky. In that game, he knocked down 2-of-5 from 3-point range.
When Hayes spoke Wednesday, he was asked why confidence is such a big part of his game.
“I always think it’s a great thing. The number one question they ask: ‘Why should we pick you on our team?’ My first response is always, ‘I’m a winner.’ Obviously, you need winners. Winners know what to do to win. They can help those around them win. Also, I’m a basketball player and I think if you want to be good or great at any level at anything you do, you need confidence in yourself. I’ll always have confidence in my abilities on the basketball court.”
Assistant general manager and team counsel Mike Zarren, with the help of director of basketball analytics David Sparks have released all possible combinations that, if they come up on Tuesday night in New York City, will give the Celtics the top overall pick.
To keep it as simple as possible, there are 14 teams in the lottery. There are 14 ping pong balls. The process is as follows: Each team is assigned to a particular numbered ball. That process is repeated two more times. Then after the third draw of balls, the order of the lottery is determined by the 11 remaining teams in reverse order of overall record finish this past season.
The four steps in this process is called a “four-ball” lottery method. In four-ball lottery, there are 1,001 possible combinations. The NBA has eliminated one of the combos by assigning no team to it, thereby drawing it down to an even 1,000. The Celtics have been assigned 156 possible combinations, giving them a 15.6 percent chance of “winning the lottery” and getting the No. 1 overall pick.
This is the third-best chance, as the Nets finished with the third-worst record in the NBA. The Sixers, who finished with the worst record (10-72) have been assigned 250 combinations and own the best chance at 25 percent. The Lakers own 199 combinations or a 19.9 percent chance. That covers the first three picks.
Thanks to Sparks, who did the math, the Celtics can count on a 15.7 percent chance to capture the second pick and a 15.6 percent chance of winning the third pick. Put them together and the Celtics have a 46.9 percent chance of landing in the top three spots. But the bigger number might be 31.3 percent.
Those are the odds that the Celtics wind up with one of the top two picks, ensuring them the chance to draft either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. They are considered the elite two picks of the draft, even ahead of the likes of Dragan Bender, Jamaal Murray, Jaylen Brown or Buddy Hield.
The Celtics also own their own pick (No. 23) and Dallas’ picks (No. 16) in the first round. The results of the lottery are announced on ESPN at the New York Midtown Hilton in Manhattan at 8 p.m., just before Game 1 of the Eastern Finals between the Cavaliers and Raptors, also on ESPN.
The odds for the first three picks of the 2016 draft. (Boston Celtics)
Every possible combination for the 14 lottery teams. (Boston Celtics)
By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Evan Turner makes it clear he wants to return to Boston, but ‘a lot of variables that are going to occur … I can’t control’
Was Thursday Evan Turner’s swan song in Boston?
“I really don’t know,” Turner said after scoring just eight points on 4-of-17 shooting in 37 minutes in a 104-92 loss to the Hawks in Game 6. “I would love to come back, but at the same time, a lot of things, a lot of variables that are going to occur and things like that that I can’t control. Whenever July hits we’ll talk about it.”
Turner, the No. 2 overall pick of the 76ers in 2010, made $3.425 million this season, finishing out a two-year, $6.7 million deal. He could be in line for a big payday, somewhere in the neighborhood of an $8 million-$10 million annual salary.
What will Turner be looking for?
“Just fit, obviously. I want to get a decent amount of money, you know what I’m saying? But at the same time the fit is going to be huge and the opportunity to play on a winning team,” Turner said. “I have played on [expletive] teams a couple times and it’s not fun. But obviously the fit, the opportunity to play, and the opportunity to progress and win.”
By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Teary-eyed Isaiah Thomas: ‘This should hurt everybody’
After spending 20 minutes with a towel draped over his head in front of his locker, and after emptying his tank for six games, Isaiah Thomas had to get up the energy to walk to the postgame podium.
He did so with red eyes, the product of emotion and tears following a 104-92 loss to the Hawks in Game 6 that suddenly ended his breakout season and began an offseason of questions.
“It was 2-2, we went down there and they made an adjustment to try and do whatever they can to stop me and guys continued to play through it, and that’s what I love about this group,” said Thomas, who had a team-leading 25 points on 9-of-24 shooting. “Guys continued to shoot their shot with confidence, it’s just we couldn’t make enough plays. They made more plays than us. There was a game where they went on that third-quarter run, it’s tough to get back into the game, especially against a good team. So, we’ve got to just learn from these battles, knowing that nobody said it was going to be easy, it’s tough to win a series and we know that. It was tough to even win two games. This should hurt everybody, and we will come back next year even stronger.”
For the second straight game, Boston had no answers when the Hawks threw two and three bodies at Thomas, in an effort to force others to pick up the slack.
But this time, unlike after Game 5, Thomas wasn’t calling out his teammates. He was praising them.
“Yes, it’s very emotional for me, just because we gave it our all,” Thomas said. ” We never put our head down, like I said, this group of guys is something special. I mean, I played, I gave it my all, so that’s why it hurts that much more. I wish I could have done more, but it just happened to be like that. So it is tough on me, though.”
By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Can Celtics keep Hawks from running away with Game 6?
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (left) and Mike Budenholzer (right) are having quite the matchup in the first round. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)
There’s been plenty of talk over the last three games about the coaching moves made by Brad Stevens and Mike Budenholzer.
There was Stevens changing his lineup and inserting Jonas Jerebko and Evan Turner into the starting lineup with great results before Game 3. There was Stevens going with a small lineup that gave the Hawks fits, especially in the fourth quarter of both games in Boston and there were the two timeouts call by Budenholzer with 15 seconds left in regulation of Game 4. He proceeded to watch his point guard dribble out the clock without actually getting a shot up at the rim as the game went to overtime, where the Celtics dominated and tied the series.
The advantage went back to Budenholzer on Tuesday as his decision to stay with a perimeter was rewarded when the Hawks connected on 14-of-35 shots from beyond the arc. Budenholzer also took a page out of Stevens’ book by going smaller and moving Paul Millsap to center for long stretches of the game.
But Stevens said in a conference call Wednesday it’s important not to become overly obsessed with turning the game into a chess match.
“I think that’s what you have to look at. I think that’s what you have to figure out. I think you always start with a mountain-load of information and your desire is to get to basketball in its simplest form,” Stevens said.
“I’ve shared this quote before, my old boss at Butler used to quote Lincoln when he said, ‘I apologize for the length of this letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one.’ I think that that’s a coach’s job, is to try to make it as short, simple and sweet as possible and then let guys go out there and play a fast game with a clear mind, and that’s the bottom line, that’s my job and that’s what I’ll stay up thinking about doing. The goal will just be to go out and do our stuff as well as we can.”
By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Brad Stevens on Isaiah Thomas’ call for more help from teammates: ‘You just have to make right basketball play’
Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) shoots the ball past Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) in Game 4. (Bob DeChiara-USA Today Sports)
Brad Stevens can certainly understand the frustration Isaiah Thomas was feeling during the Game 5 loss in Atlanta.
For just the second time this season, he was held to single-digit scoring. He missed his first five shots and finished just 3-of-12. He faced double and triple-teams all night. Of course, to top it all off, he sprained his left ankle on his final basket of the night.
On Wednesday, Stevens watched the film and answered some of Isaiah’s concerns from an Xs and Os standpoint.
“I thought in retrospect, as you go back and watch the film, we handled it really well in those first 18 or 20 minutes,” Stevens said. “We had our opportunities and at the end of the day, you have to take advantage of as many of them as you can, realizing you are not going to play a perfect game. You got to continue to be aggressive passing out of it and guys have to continue to be aggressive driving and playing and making plays for others out of it.
“There are certain things we’ll look to do should they decide to stay with that. I think obviously they did a good job and their energy level was really good. They just executed what they wanted to do really, really well last night. I’m talking about Atlanta here. I think that Isaiah has been trapped before. He’s been trapped quite a bit. I thought yesterday his reads at the start of the game were really good.”
What hurt the Celtics was the same thing that has hurt them all season. When Isaiah Thomas hasn’t scored they’ve struggled to find a consistent second scoring option. Some nights it’s Jae Crowder, some nights Evan Turner and some nights Jared Sullinger. But none of those three require a full game plan to stop. Thomas does.
“You just have to make the right basketball play and he’s got good teammates around him who have had great years,” Stevens continued. “We didn’t shoot it as well as we would have liked last night but I believe in each one of those guys, as does Isaiah.
When the Celtics weren’t struggling on offense, they were having trouble finding the open shooter on the perimeter again, especially in the third quarter, when Atlanta converted five of their 14 3-pointers on the night, scoring 42 points in the process.
“I think transition was the biggest thing and then we had some positions where we probably over-rotated a few times in the half court,” Stevens said.
The Celtics’ zone defense has had its moments when it’s been very effective in matching up against Atlanta’s sharp-shooters. Then there were times like last night where it failed them. Stevens, during his conference call Wednesday, made it sound like the zone is still a gimmick in the Celtics defensive playbook.
“We don’t spend a lot of time on it. We practice it very, very little,” Stevens said. “Obviously, [Tuesday] night, they had a couple of baskets against it. The first one I felt like was handled [well] and got a shot you’d look for, which was a 10-foot contested floater. The second time we didn’t get to [Kent] Bazemore, but the other day it was great to us. Maybe it was Game 3 at home, where they went scoreless against it. Sometime it’s very productive, sometimes it’s not. But we’re not going to spend a lot of time on it since we don’t play it a lot.”
By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Brad Stevens sticking with small ball in Game 4, wants team to ‘not cross line’ with emotions
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was a man in control Friday night. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)
The Celtics came out with great emotion and energy in Game 3, and it paid off in a 37-20 lead after one quarter. Then that energy wore off a bit and Brad Stevens was concerned his team might run out of gas on lap one of the mile course.
Stevens also knows the Celtics are fortunate, perhaps, to not have lost Isaiah Thomas to a suspension after Thomas’ left palm struck Dennis Schroder in the face late in the first quarter.
Energy and discipline. It’s a combination the Celtics must master in Game 4, along with executing their offense with Isaiah Thomas likely playing his same off-guard role as Game 3.
“I think we have to play better, from an execution standpoint,” Stevens said. ” bviously our energy was really good, played really hard. We gotta bottle that up and do that again, that’s going to be imperative. And we’re going to have to match their speed and continue to find the right shot and hopefully knock them down.
I think that that’s been the critical part of the whole series and, in the game that we did, we gave ourselves a great chance to win. I think that, again, it goes back to what you can control and finding those great shots is most important from my standpoint, then playing with that same energy that we played with on Friday night.”
Kelly Olynyk will be back after a two-game absence with a right shoulder injury. But look for the Celtics and Stevens to stay small when possible, meaning Jared Sullinger, Olynyk and Tyler Zeller might find it tough to get on the court.
“I think kind of like what we did the other night, there’s a chance obviously with Kelly back that we would play two bigs together – and when I say bigs, I’m not really considering Jonas and Jae in that regard that have played the four mostly for us in this series,” Stevens added. “But it probably won’t be a ton. So it just limits the minutes that you can play all those different guys, whether it’s Amir, Jared, Kelly, Tyler and such.
“Obviously we certainly have confidence in playing those guys together. We’ve done that at different times throughout the year, but we’ll see how this game turns itself out. And judging by the first three games, obviously being with more switching groups and playing more small has been better so far. SO we’ll see. It’s a tough position for all those guys to be in just because of the way the series is going, but we’re going to need them all at one time or another to have success in this thing. So each of them’s in a different boat, and we’ll see.”
Stevens did admit he spoke to the team about not getting into any shenanigans that might lead to technicals or worse.
“Yeah. I think we talk about, all the time about not wanting to cross that line. And at the same time it’s going to be physical and competitive because you watch every playoff series, that’s what they are,” Stevens said. “You’re playing a team for the fifth time in two weeks. They’re used to us, we’re used to them. It’s prideful people on both sides of the floor, really good players. There’s gonna be some of that. But obviously you don’t want it to cross the line. That’s something that certainly we’ve addressed. And we’re not going to spend a ton of time on it, and I’m sure they aren’t either. We’ve got to focus on what we can do to play well.”