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Brad Stevens isn’t about to look ahead to the playoffs: ‘There’s a lot of hard work in front of us’ 09.27.16 at 9:51 am ET
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Sep 26, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens during media day at the Boston Celtic Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Stevens shows his laser focus during media day. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM — Brad Stevens knows there’s a ton of work to be done between now and the beginning of April. 

That’s why he laughs when he’s asked about what his expectations are for making the playoffs and advancing this season. 

Entering his fourth season, Stevens has taken his team from 25 to 40 to 48 wins and playoff berths in each of the last two seasons. The natural assumption, with the additions of free agents Al Horford and Gerald Green and first rounder Jaylen Brown, is that a 50-win season with a deep playoff run is in store. 

Then the Celtics coach, on media day on Monday, reminded everyone of what he told his team before the media session began.  

“See, I’m a basketball coach so I don’t really – I know certainly I want to do my job as well as I can to make sure that we are improving every day and are striving for that ultimate objective. We have a long way to go to be considering talking about any of that stuff.

“And to be quite frank as I told our team real briefly before we walked out here, there was not a lot of room between finishing 10th and second last year in the East. Ultimately we want to be the best, we want to be among those considered the best. There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us, and it’s day by day. I don’t feel any more pressure from what ultimately happens. I’m making sure that practice tomorrow is structured right.”

To Stevens’ point, the Celtics finished tied with the Hornets, Hawks and Heat with 48 wins. The ninth place team were the Bulls with 42 wins and the tenth-place Wizards won 40. The 40 wins would’ve been good enough for seventh seed two seasons ago, the spot the Celtics found themselves in. But not last year. And the East is quickly improving. 

“My expectations never change,” Stevens said. “It’s all about getting tomorrow and making sure we’re as good as we can be. It’s a very simple, boring process but it’s the way that I go about it. And I think that the results take care of themselves.”

 What would be a successful season?

“Being better the next day. That’s my perspective,” Stevens said in his best Bill Belichick tone. “The one thing I’ve been asked about – last week I got asked about a number of wins goal, I got asked about a playoff goal or a playoff rounds goal or whatever the case may be – right when you define something as success and you reach it, you don’t go any further. You set the limit for your team.

“And I’m certainly not into setting ceilings. And I think that’s why you focus on what you can do and try to put your best foot forward. And go into that next game, and if you do that you can win the game. And that’s my job.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Gregg Popovich
Celtics sign former Boston University star John Holland 04.11.16 at 6:52 pm ET
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John Holland (Boston University)

John Holland (Boston University)

John Holland can come home again, at least to where he played his college basketball. 

The former standout guard from Boston University signed a contract Monday with the Celtics after appearing in 37 regular season contests for the D-League Canton Charge this year.

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 16.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals in 30.2 minutes per game. He shot 52.0 percent from the floor, 36.9 percent from beyond the arc and 85.2 percent from the free-throw line during the regular season.

During the 2015-16 D-League Playoffs, Holland has averaged 28.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and shot 62.5 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from the three-point line.

“Obviously John has had a good D-League year,” Brad Stevens said before Monday’s game. “He’s played overseas since he left Boston U. Obviously, he had a great career at Boston U. He played really well against us in the D-League and the D-League tournament in the first round of the playoffs. 

“He’s a good player. He brings shooting. He brings pretty good size for a perimeter player. He brings the ability to switch. And he’s another person that we can add as depth, should we need some perimeter depth.”

Holland, the 40th Gatorade D-League call-up this season, was named the America East Conference Player of the Year as a Boston University senior when he led the Terriers to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. He finished his collegiate career as just the second player in America East history with at least 2,000 points, 700 rebounds and 200 steals. 

A native of the Bronx, N.Y., Holland has played professionally in France, Spain and Turkey, and was in training camp with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Boston University, Brad Stevens, John Holland
Stud and Duds: Manu Ginobili, Spurs spoil late Celtics comeback 12.06.15 at 12:03 am ET
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Behind superior defense and efficient offense, the Spurs reminded the Celtics why they’re one of the best teams in the league, fending off the C’s late-game comeback and remaining unbeaten at home with a 108-105 win.

The Spurs (17-4) were dominant, shooting 52.4 percent from the floor and commanding the post — where they outscored the Celtics (11-9) in the paint, 44-30, and converted 10 second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds.

But the Celtics didn’t go down without a fight. They challenged the Spurs’ transition defense, outscoring San Antonio 28-3 on fast-break points. After the Spurs opened a 15-point lead at the end of the third quarter, the C’s pulled within two with a 14-1 run midway through the fourth quarter.

Avery Bradley (18 points) missed a go ahead three-point attempt with eight seconds left — the Celtics’ last chance to pull off the upset, since their last-second, full-court pass resulted in a turnover. Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 23 points, and Evan Turner added 16.

LaMarcus Aldridge’s 17 points led six Spurs in double figures.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Manu Ginobili, NBA
Studs and Duds: LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs too much for cold-shooting Celtics 11.01.15 at 6:02 pm ET
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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.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, San Antonio Spurs,
5 things we learned as Spurs stick it to Celtics 03.20.15 at 10:49 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

It was a wasted trip to the Midwest.

Following on the heels of Wednesday’s 122-118 loss to Oklahoma City, the Celtics came out flat, and a late charge fell short in a 101-89 loss to the Spurs Friday night in San Antonio.

For a complete box score, click here.

But thanks to some help from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics (30-38) remain tied for the eighth and final spot of the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers beat the Pacers, 95-92, in Cleveland, dropping Indiana to 30-38 on the year. Miami won their game, 108-91, over Denver, increasing its lead to two games over the Celtics.

After winning five straight games, the Celtics have lost two straight as they fight desperately for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

For a second time this season, Marcus Smart let his emotions get the best of him, getting ejected in the second half for throwing a punch to Matt Bonner’s crotch as he was trying to fight his way through a screen. On March 8 against the Magic, Smart threw an elbow in the final minute and was ejected in the loss.

“To me, it looks like an unacceptable play,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. “You can’t do that.”

The Celtics host Detroit on Sunday night at 6 p.m. at TD Garden.


The Spurs raced out to a 19-4 start and the Celtics never recovered. Two issues plagued the Celtics. After Avery Bradley hit Boston’s first jumper of the game, the Celtics missed six of their next seven. They also committed three turnovers in the first five minutes. The Celtics allowed the Spurs to shoot 60 percent in the first quarter and race out to a 32-19 lead after the first quarter.


For a second time this season, Marcus Smart was ejected from a game. With 8:56 left in the fourth, Smart punched Matt Bonner in the crotch trying to fight his way through a screen at the top of the key in the fourth quarter. Smart wound up and threw his right hand to Bonner’s midsection and was ejected. Smart was ejected for throwing an elbow against the Magic earlier in the season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, NBA, San Antonio Spurs,
Hawks represent a “machine” Brad Stevens is familiar with: Could Boston model Atlanta’s success? 01.15.15 at 3:23 pm ET
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Back in 2007 the Celtics inspired the NBA when they put together what became known as the Big Three. Since then, the Heat accumulated their own successful trio, which LeBron James is now trying to replicate in Cleveland. Teams around the league are all scrambling to put together their own Big Three, but superstars are not easy to come by. Danny Ainge has found that out since trading away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.

Meanwhile, after collecting an impressive victory in Boston without two of their top players, the Hawks are far from scrambling in search of stars. Sitting at 31-8, they’ve lost just two games since Thanksgiving. The first-place team in the Eastern Conference? It’s not the Bulls, the Wizards and certainly not LeBron’s struggling Cavs. That would be the Atlanta Hawks.

After the C’s loss on Wednesday, Brad Stevens, Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley all referred to the Hawks as a “machine.” So what is it that makes this particular machine so good?

One key is balance. All five of the Hawks’ starters average at least 11.9 points, but it’s not just about scoring. They can all rebound the ball, starting with the front court duo of Al Horford and Paul Millsap. They can all distribute the ball, but the head of the monster is the crazy-quick Jeff Teague. Kyle Korver is “the most challenging player in the league that averages less than 13 points to prepare for,” according to Stevens. That can be attributed not only to Korver’s lights-out shooting from downtown, but the fact that if he’s doubled he knows how to pass out of it and if his man leaves him it’s an automatic 3-pointer. Then there’s Demarre Carroll, a do-it-all type player with the ability to drop 22 points like he did on the C’s when other starters sat out, despite being the least heralded of the five.

Bottom line is that it’s a tough group of players, but even tougher when you see how fantastic they all gel together. On top of that, Atlanta has seven players coming off the bench that all average over four points, so depth isn’t an issue. Depth is also something the superstar-less Celtics seem to have, but with such a young team they have been unable to find the same type of cohesiveness that the Hawks have.

“I think you have to look and redefine who the superstars are with our own eyes everyday, right?” Stevens said following the game when asked about how Atlanta wins without superstars. “And so I would argue that they’ve got a couple guys on their way. And I don’t know what qualifies a superstar, but I know this: Nobody in the league can keep Jeff Teague in front of them. Nobody. And [Dennis] Schroder — I’m not saying he’s a superstar yet, he’s a young kid –but nobody can keep him in front of them. And then they space it with shooters, so now it’s a basketball team, right? And Millsap’s been and All-Star, Horford didn’t play tonight, he’s been an All-Star, Korver didn’t play tonight, he’s a really good player. So they’ve got a great group and it fits well, and you might have a budding superstar in that group, right?

“The other thing that I’d say about them that stands out, jumps off the page, jumps on the page when you’re coaching against them, jumps off the page when you’re watching film: Big-time savy,” the coach continued to gush. “The game comes really easy to them. It’s slow on defense. They can see things coming. They play well together. They know the biggest threats. They react to the biggest threats. And offense, they stay spaced to make the right basketball play time and again. And I agree with you that the superstar thing and factor is a big part of this, but there’s something to be said about a group that just — it’s like a machine. They’re a machine. They’ve really got a good thing going already.”

Another thing that makes the Hawks so good is their coaching. With Mike Budenholzer at the helm, the team has taken on a new identity since his arrival in 2013, and this may be a machine that Stevens recognizes. Budenholzer coached under Gregg Popovich from 1996-2013, winning four championships in the process. The Spurs have been an organization that Stevens has practically been obsessed with since he’s been on an NBA sideline, now the Hawks might be joining that same elite class.

It seems like the Spurs/Hawks’ style is the type of play that Stevens is most interested in coaching, it’s ultimate team basketball, which might be played best in a superstar-less system. In other words, the Celtics greatest success may come from Danny Ainge searching for the perfect fits in Boston while his youngsters develop, rather than waiting for the next KG trade to fall into his lap. Ainge has been actively working the trade market of late, so he certainly isn’t waiting around, but he may want to take a look at the Hawks blueprint if he wants to taste the champagne again soon.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Gregg Popovich
Fast Break: Tim Duncan, undermanned Spurs stop Celtics 02.12.14 at 9:46 pm ET
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Tim Duncan offered a reminder of what can happen when the Ping Pong balls don’t fall the Celtics way, turning back the clock 17 years after they missed out on one of the game’s great power forwards. Duncan finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds to held the Spurs hand the C’s their second loss in three games, 104-92.

Six Celtics scored in double figures — led by 15 points from Kris Humphries and Kelly Olynyk (10 rebounds, second straight double-double) — but the Celtics dropped to 19-35. Here’s what went wrong (and right) entering the All-Star break.


Worst first: Sans two of their big three — Tony Parker (back) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring) — as well as key contributors Kawhi Leonard (hand) and Tiago Splitter (calf), the Spurs still dug the Celtics an early hole. Led by Marco Belinelli, who posted nine first-quarter points and five early assists without Avery Bradley (ankle) to frustrate him, San Antonio shot 56 percent as a team and led 25-19 after one.

Green thumbs down: It was an ugly Jeff Green outing this time around. He missed his first six shots before knocking down a 3 at the end of the first quarter, and then failed on a couple bunnies before sinking a buzzer-beating layup to limit the damage to 48-44 at the break. He had more turnovers (2) than rebounds (1), assists, steals or blocks at the half. Green’s engagement early once again proved an indication of his overall performance.

Not going streaking: After logging six straight double-doubles, Jared Sullinger‘s string came to an end. The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week started 2-of-9 from the field (0-2 3P) and sat for a large stretch of the second half in favor of Olynyk, Kris Humphries and (wait for it) Joel Anthony.

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