|Five things we learned on a night the Celtics won a game, but potentially lost Marcus Smart (for a while)||11.07.14 at 9:54 pm ET|
The Celts might have lost their first-round pick, Marcus Smart, for an extended period of time due to a fourth quarter, left ankle injury. (For more on Smart’s situation, click here.) But the C’s were able to avoid what would have been a demoralizing loss to a depleted Indiana team.
Down by two points heading into the final quarter, the Celtics rallied in the fourth to hang on for a 101-98 win over a Pacers club that has now lost five straight games. (For a complete box score, click here.)
It was revealed well after the game that X-rays were negative, classifying Smart’s injury as a severely sprained ankle.
THE PROMISE OF MARCUS SMART MAY HAVE TO WAIT
With the rookie being wheeled off the TD Garden floor on a stretcher, the reality of the start of Smart’s first season was severely clouded. While continuing to struggle shooting the ball — having gone 1-for-6 from the floor after coming into the game with just a 30 percent percentage — he had shown flashes both defensively and in his offensive aggressiveness.
After the game Brad Stevens said Smart had suffered either a sprained or broken left ankle, with the team still awaiting test results. A while after Stevens spoke, it was revealed the injury was a sprain.
“It’s a sprained ankle, or broken, we don’t know,” the coach said. “Obviously we’ll do the X-rays and all that stuff. We’re hoping it’s a sprain, but we don’t know that. So obviously great deal of concern for him, No. 1. And hopefully he can get back sooner rather than later, because he’s really playing great basketball and I’m sure it’s really disappointing to be out five games into your rookie year, even if just for a little bit of time. That’s what we hope it is.”
Smart came into the game averaging 21.5 minutes per game, suggesting a continued confidence from Celtics coach Stevens. A heavier reliance will most likely be put on Marcus Thornton (who played just 7 minutes Friday night) and perhaps Phil Pressey, who totaled a season-high 12 minutes.
AT LEAST THEY DIDN’T GIVE IT AWAY (THAT MUCH)
One game after allowing Toronto 36 points off of turnovers, the Celtics made it a point of hanging on to the ball. Prior to the game, C’s coach Brad Stevens suggested that the issue in the previous contest was mostly due to the efforts of the Raptors. The results Friday night supported that take.
The Celtics didn’t commit their first turnover against the Pacers until there was 7:10 left in the first half. The ball security allowed Indiana to go the entire first half without a fast break basket.
When the Celtics did start turning it over again — allowing five miscues in the third quarter — that’s when Indiana started getting back into it. After trailing by as many as 13 late in the first half, the Pacers went on a 15-0 run early in the second half to claim a brief four-point lead.
KELLY OLYNYK IS PROVING TO BE A FIND
The second-year forward has proven to be one of the most consistent performers for the Celtics, coming into the game averaging 23.9 points and 13.6 rebounds per 48 minutes, shooting 57 percent.
This time Olynyk chipped in with a solid 12 points, while grabbing five rebounds. He is now averaging 12.4 points and 26 minutes per game game.
The star big man for the Celtics would ultimately be Jared Sullinger, who exploded for 11 fourth-quarter pints to finish up with a team-high 17.
In this case Olynyk’s efforts were much-needed this time around, with Indiana making no bones about their intentions. The Pacers scored 16 of their 26 first-quarter points in the paint, with Roy Hibbert (who was coming off an 0-for=7 showing), Luis Scola, and Chris Copeland owning the inside.
Thanks to Tyler Zeller, there were moments where Celtics big men not named “Olynyk” or “Sullinger” made their presence felt …
RAJON RONDO STILL IS LOOKING FOR MAX-CONTRACT VALUE
Although he has shown flashes of dominance this season, Rondo proved good, but certainly not great, this time around.
The point guard totaled eight points on 4-of-10 shooting (8 points), staying on the floor for 28 minutes. Rondo had averaged 34 minutes and 9.3 points per game prior to Friday night.
BRAD STEVENS DIDN’T DESIGN THE NEW UNIFORMS
Before the game, when asked about the new Celtics uniforms (which they will be wearing six times this season), the Celtics coach had this to say:
‘I think the biggest thing is, if our guys like them, I like them. The last thing I can do, and all of you who know me know this, is analyze fashion. Ask [Rajon] Rondo, a couple of our other guys, what they think because they have a much better eye then I do.’
For what it’s worth, another Boston head coach, Claude Julien, was also in attendance, watching the game courtside Friday night.
|Raptors view Celtics as threat in Atlantic Division||11.06.14 at 9:40 am ET|
The Raptors flipped a 34-48 record and a last-place finish in the Atlantic Division in 2012-13 to a 48-34 ledger and a division crown in the third year of the Dwane Casey coaching era last year. With headstrong 28-year-old point guard Kyle Lowry and burgeoning young shooting guard DeMar DeRozan in the fold, they cemented themselves as the Atlantic favorites for years to come.
The Celtics are hoping to replicate Toronto’s turnaround behind their own headstrong 28-year-old point guard Rajon Rondo and burgeoning young shooting guard Avery Bradley in the second year of coach Brad Stevens‘ tenure.
The Raptors are recognizing their effort.
“They’re definitely very talented,” DeRozan said after scoring 23 points on 25 shots in a 110-107 win in Boston. “They’ve got a great coach. They’ve got a hell of a point guard in Rondo. They’re still learning and still growing. You’ve got a talented kid in [Marcus] Smart, so they definitely have a chance and we definitely have to look for them, especially in our division.”
Including the preseason, the Celtics and Raptors have faced each other three times, twice battling to the final possession. The C’s outplayed Toronto in almost every facet of Wednesday’s game — shooting 51.3 percent from the field, grabbing 31 more rebounds and leading by as many as 16 points — but committed 28 turnovers, most of which were unforced.
When asked if he viewed the Celtics as a threat in the Atlantic Division, Lowry didn’t hesitate.
“Yeah,” he said, even after dropping 35 points on 17 shots on their backcourt. “The way they play, they play so hard, man. You just have to tip your hat to how they play. They’re well coached, and they have some talented young pieces. They’ve got an NBA champion over there, so they’ve got some pieces and players who know how to get the job done.”
|5 things we learned in Celtics’ loss to Raptors||11.05.14 at 10:07 pm ET|
After an unsuccessful two-game trip to Texas, the Celtics returned home to the TD Garden on Wednesday to face off against the Raptors. Toronto came into Boston as the Atlantic Division favorite, sporting a record of 3-1 with its only loss coming on the road in Miami.
The Celtics somehow out-rebounded the Raptors, 55-24, yet still managed to come up short. Contributing the most to the Celtics‘ third loss was 28 turnovers for Brad Stevens‘ team. (For the box score, click here.)
“Well you know we were doing really well as far as that category goes, coming into this game,” Stevens said about the turnover issues. “But I thought most of our turnovers were in the half-court and late in the [shot] clock. I’d have to go back and watch to say that for sure, but they’ve got active hands in the half-court and we didn’t respond as well as we needed to to that. We knew that going in; we talked about it this morning, we talked about it this afternoon, and talked about the need for really precise execution and I thought we did that at times and we didn’t at times. But again, I think the overarching theme was their physicality and their athleticism was a major factor.”
Here is what we learned in the C’s loss:
The C’s came out blistering hot at home once again, connecting on their first seven field goal attempts and finishing the first quarter shooting 15-for-19 from the floor – good for 78.9 percent.
The Celtics also held a rebounding edge of 14-2 over the Raptors at the end of the first frame, which translated to a 35-23 lead. The only thing seemingly keeping the Raptors in the game was their 12 points off of six Celtics turnovers.
|Report: Lakers to target Rajon Rondo in free agency||at 4:42 pm ET|
Rondo’s contract expires at the end of the season and he has publicly stated his desire to test the market while maintaining Boston is his top choice. The four-time All-Star doesn’t like change and the Celtics also can offer more money and one more year than any other team — all of which points toward Rondo staying in green.
However, the Celtics drafted a point guard with the No. 6 overall pick and are years from contending in the Eastern Conference, making the decision to sign Rondo to a max contract a difficult one, even if he appears healthy.
Enter the Lakers. The C’s rivals will have the cap space to offer Rondo significant money when Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin come off the books this summer and the possibility of competing for a playoff spot next season alongside Kobe Bryant — an unabashed fan of the Celtics star — could be an intriguing possibility for Rondo come July, particularly if Mitch Kupchak lures other pieces to L.A.
However, Rondo can see the Lakers’ long-term prospects just as well as everybody else in basketball circles and the outlook in Boston seems rosier. He knows what becomes of aging legends on proud franchises. After all, the article in which Mannix cites front office sources focuses instead on the potential of the Lakers trading Bryant.
Take a deep breath, Celtics fans. This isn’t Rondo’s first rumored departure from Boston, and it won’t be the last.
|Irish Coffee: On Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, the Celtics’ ¡Three Amigos! wreaking havoc||11.04.14 at 12:54 pm ET|
With the exception of two brief offensive substitutions, Celtics coach Brad Stevens fielded a backcourt triumvirate of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart for the final nine minutes of Monday’s 118-113 loss to the Mavericks, and they wreaked more havoc than the “¡Three Amigos!” in Santa Poco.
The Celtics scored 29 points down the stretch, and that trio scored or assisted all of them, pulling the C’s within one with 39 seconds left after trailing by 31 points at one point in the game. Bradley scored 14 of his career-high 32 points during the run, Rondo collected six of his 15 assists and Smart submitted highlight after highlight in what can only be described as atomic excitation.
It was all thrilling basketball, and a sure sign Stevens will experiment further with this trio.
|Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and a shared love for Gino||10.30.14 at 9:09 am ET|
There was a different feel to this Kevin Garnett homecoming than the first. No longer paired with Paul Pierce on the Nets, he received a standing ovation from Celtics fans and a smattering of “KG” chants during Brooklyn’s pregame announcements in the Garden, but nothing like the catharsis in January.
Still, the love is there, as it always will be in Boston, and the feeling is mutual.
“It’s always special to come back to Beantown,” Garnett said after a 121-105 loss. “Hearing the little things, it’s very hard to focus. I had to go to yoga this morning, ooh-sah, get my meditation right, stay level. A lot of energy in the building. It’s always great to come back here. I love Beantown. I’m always bleeding green. Y’all know what it is.”
Garnett finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes, but old friend Rajon Rondo won the night, amassing 13 points, 12 assists and seven boards in 30 minutes. “Rondo was classic,” added Garnett. “I don’t know what he said he was at — 89, 83 percent? That was a hell of an 83 percent.”
Rondo returned the favor.
“It was special again going against KG,” he said. “He’s like my big brother. He hit me a couple times on the pick, but he didn’t hit me as hard as he was hitting Avery [Bradley]. He nails guys on the pick, and I’m used to him nailing guys for me. It’s always great to play against the guy, especially since it’s his 20th year.”
Garnett begrudgingly paid respect to another old friend he would’ve rather not seen: Gino. So often staring at the Jumbotron, disco dancing in Celtics sweats at the end of blowout wins from 2007-13, Garnett retreated to Brooklyn’s huddle and didn’t even glimpse at the long-haired man who brought him so much joy.
|Why you should care about Wednesday’s Celtics win: Rajon Rondo’s spectacular return, Marcus Smart’s debut||10.29.14 at 10:22 pm ET|
First the C’s took a 26-point lead into halftime, then they dropped 101 points by end of the third quarter thanks to a Kelly Olynyk buzzer-beater.
In the end, the Celtics played extremely well as a whole, winning 121-105 while shooting an insane 55.7 percent from the field for the game (Click here for the box score). And it was Rajon Rondo who gave them the shot in the arm that they really needed, not missing any games after breaking a bone in his left hand just 33 days ago.
Rondo dazzled in his return
Rondo returned to action just shy of five weeks after having surgery to repair a broken bone in his left hand and was better than ever. Wearing protective padding over his injured hand, Rondo posted a near triple-double in his first game action since April, finishing with 13 points (6-for-9 from the field), 12 assists and seven rebounds in just under 30 minutes of action.
Brad Stevens said prior to the game that there is no minute restriction on his star point guard, but he will open up the season playing in these types of short “stints” followed by even shorter rests.
“I thought he played great,” Stevens said of Rondo after the win. “I probably played him in the second half too long of stints for what I wanted to at one time, but I actually thought one of the best parts of the game for us was the fact that we went to the bench and we just kept going. And the bench made such a great contribution, and Rondo just kind of fit in seamlessly.”
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