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Celtics preparing to take on ‘a stud’ in Tony Allen and his short-handed Grizzlies 03.08.16 at 8:50 pm ET
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Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) dunks against Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) in the second half at FedExForum on Jan. 10. (Justin Ford/USA Today Sports)

Grizzlies guard Tony Allen (9) dunks against Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) in the second half at FedExForum on Jan. 10. (Justin Ford/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM – If ever a team needed a timely reminder that a wounded team is a dangerous team, the Celtics got one Monday night when they watched the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies take out the Eastern-leading Cavaliers in Cleveland.

The 38-25 Grizzlies, who currently stand in fifth place in the West and would face Doc Rivers’ LA Clippers in the opening round of the playoffs, took the court Monday night without the likes of Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes and Chris Anderson. All four of those players are regular starters in the lineup.

But it was Tony Allen, the fifth starter for Memphis who stepped in and stepped up his game. The 2004 first-round pick of the Celtics has become one of the most reliable players on the Grizzlies and a 34-year-old leader. Allen, along with Vince Carter and Lance Stephenson gave the Grizzlies enough Monday night to overcome LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

“You take any team for granted that has Tony Allen, Vince Carter, Chalmers, Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes down the line, you haven’t been watching basketball for a while,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after Tuesday’s final tune-up for Memphis Wednesday night at TD Garden. “We have to play well against these guys. They’re physical, long, big., They physically manhandled us the last game. They’re a team that’s won, regardless of who’s been on the floor, pretty much all year. It’s a credit top them. Dave’s done a great job with the team regardless of all the curveballs they’ve had to hit.

“You don’t respect the game you don’t win. We have to play well to win. We can’t be focused on all of the things we can’t control. We have to do it the right way, we have to share the ball, otherwise we’ll get beat. That’s the same across the league. Any time guys aren’t available, they’re usually being replaced by someone who is awfully hungry to play. That’s enough in this league with this level of talent.”

Certainly the Celtics respect Allen and the Grizzlies, who beat Boston, 101-98, at the FedEx Forum on Jan. 10. In that game, Allen had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds as Memphis overcame a 34-16 hole after the first quarter to come back and win.

When Allen was helping the 2008 Celtics win their 17th NBA title and the 2010 team reach Game 7 of the NBA finals, he was considered a defensive specialist and a role player off the bench behind Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. Allen said he felt somewhat “overshadowed” in Boston and signed a three-year, $9.7 million contract with Memphis.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, Memphis Grizzlies, NBA
Marcus Smart isn’t going to take anything from DeMarcus Cousins, or anyone else 12.31.14 at 6:58 pm ET
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Marcus Smart had a reputation in college as someone who wouldn’t back down. Now that reputation is carrying over to the NBA.

That attitude was on full display on New Year’s Eve Wednesday at TD Garden. In the fourth quarter of Boston’s 106-84 win over the Sacramento Kings, DeMarcus Cousins threw Smart to the floor after a box out under Boston’s basket.

Cousins had been frustrated by Smart running through a pair of picks earlier.

“I did have an issue,” Cousins said. “It didn’t start with the box out. It was the pick, he tried to run through my chest and then he came and I felt he took a cheap shot on the box out. That resulted to what happened. Even with that being said, I’ve got to make better decisions. The team depends on me every night and I just can’t do things like that.”

Asked if he thought Smart went low on the box out, Cousins said, “absolutely.”

“It was a box out. That’s his opinion,” Smart answered. “Everybody saw the play. Like I said, I’m not going to back down from anything and if that’s what he thinks, that’s what he thinks.”

Several years back, Cousins was hurt on a similar play while setting a pick.

“I did. Even with that being said, I’ve still got to make better decisions,” Cousins said. “I’ve still got to keep my emotions in check. Even with that happened, I still think that could have been avoided. I’m blaming nobody but myself for that.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, DeMarcus Cousins, Marcus Smart, NBA
Travis Ford on MFB: Marcus Smart ‘just a warrior’ 06.30.14 at 2:49 pm ET
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Oklahoma State basketball coach Travis Ford joined Middays with MFB Monday afternoon to discuss his former player, Marcus Smart, who was taken by the Celtics with the sixth overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft. To listen to the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

While Smart has been praised for his defense, passing, leadership and ability to drive to the basket, the Texas native was punished this past season for shoving a fan during the closing seconds of Oklahoma State’€™s 65-61 loss against Texas Tech on Feb. 8. Ford said the incident is a non-issue going forward.

“That seems like it has passed. … For a solid week or two, that’€™s all that was being talked about,”€ Ford said. “€œI hated it for the kid. There’€™s no question that he made a mistake and he’€™s the first one that would admit it. … It was just a moment in time –€“ a two- to three-second moment in time — that does not define Marcus whatsoever.”

Ford added that Smart, who averaged 18.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 32.7 minutes a game as a sophomore in 2013-14, will bring a lot of attributes to the parquet floor.

“I think they just loved his competitiveness. Marcus is a winner,”€ Ford said. “€œThere’€™s not many players period that I’ve ever been associated with that are as competitive as he is on a daily basis. He has a motor that just doesn’t quit. … He’s all about giving it everything he’s got and trying to win whatever it is. … Marcus is just a warrior, and I think that’€™s what impressed [Boston] the most.”

Smart put the college basketball world on notice during his freshman season with the Cowboys, averaging 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists en route to being named a first-team All-American by Sporting News and a unanimous selection as Big 12 Player of the Year.

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Read More: Celtics, Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, Travis Ford
Danny Ainge on Marcus Smart and James Young: ‘I don’t want to put too much pressure on them right away’ 06.27.14 at 11:55 am ET
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Danny Ainge was true to his word Thursday night – he decided to take the two picks he had in the first round and stay right where he was after all trade talks fell through.

As Ainge predicted 90 minutes before the draft began, there was no draft night drama for Boston. The Celtics selected powerful point guard Marcus Smart and super swingman James Young at Nos. 6 and 17 respectively in an effort to get younger and stronger at the same time.

“We’re very excited about the two guys that we drafted,” Ainge said. “Marcus Smart and James Young, we think they have a bright future. We can’t wait to get them started and get them ready for Summer League.”

Summer League begins Saturday, July 5 and runs for a full week in Orlando. “I just think they’re two guys that can be starting players in the NBA for years to come. I just don’t want to put too much pressure on them right away. We need to let these guys develop and sort of earn their stripes. I think they’re going to have very, very bright careers.”

Smart is a 6-foot-4 point guard that happens to weigh in at 230 pounds. Young is a 6-foot-7 swingman who weighs nearly 20 pounds less but showed in the NCAA title game against UConn that he can do what is an absolute must for a wing in today’s NBA – get to the basket and score. He led Kentucky with 20 points as an 18-year-old in the 60-54 loss to UConn.

In his freshman season at Kentucky, Young was the second-most prolific freshman 3-point scorer in school history with 82 threes. He was named to the 2014 All-SEC second team and All-Freshman team. In 40 games (39 starts), he averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 32.4 minutes per game.

“They’re young players and very talented,” Ainge said. “Good size for their position, good length and good scoring for their positions. James played very good defense and he had to guard the different perimeter positions throughout his college freshman year. He’s very young. Marcus is a terrific defender and really defends the pick-and-roll and is a guy that goes downhill on pick-and-rolls, gets to the basket, absorbs contact, plays through contact, initiates contact.”

After being recruited as a sharp-shooting wing in high school, (earning McDonald’s All-American status in Rochester Hills, Mich.), Young saw his percentage drop to 40.7 percent for John Calipari in his only season at Kentucky.

“He was a good shooter all throughout his high school life,” Ainge said. “He didn’t shoot the ball as well this year as he has in the past but he shot the ball great in the NCAA tournament. We know he’s a good shooter. He’s got a good athletic body, good size, good length for a small forward and we think he’s a prototypical small forward.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, James Young, Marcus Smart
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