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Win in Detroit shows Celtics need their young guns now more than ever 02.26.17 at 8:51 pm ET
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Feb 26, 2017; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson (7) dribbles the ball during the second quarter as Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier (12) defends at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Johnson (7) dribbles the ball during the second quarter as Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier (12) defends at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Ugly is as ugly does. 

In one of the choppiest and most disconcerting games of the season, the Celtics blew a 15-point third-quarter lead and allowed the ice-cold Pistons to take a late lead. 

Jaylen Brown drilled a baseline three with 37.6 seconds left to give the Celtics the lead for good and Marcus Smart showed his typical toughness by drawing a foul and making two free throws to power the Celtics past the Pistons, 104-98, Sunday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. 

The win snapped a two-game skid and lifted Boston to 38-21 on the season. 

The Celtics were awful on the offensive glass after misses by the Pistons at the free throw line. They allowed five offensive rebounds by the Pistons on such instances, two of them leading to wide-open 3-pointers. 

The Pistons were awful at the free throw line, led by Andre Drummond, the worst free-throw shooter in NBA history. The Detroit big man missed 10 of his 11 attempts on the night and the Pistons were 16-for-35 as a team from the charity stripe. 

Isaiah Thomas scored 16 of his game-high 33 points in the first half as the Celtics used an 18-3 run to build their lead up to as many as 12, 47-35. 

Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown were a combined 7-for-9 from the field in the first half. Rozier, a key player with Avery Bradley out of action for the last six weeks, made offensive impact backing up Isaiah Thomas at the point. He also saw some playing time with Thomas. (Coach Brad Stevens indicated before Sunday’s game that Bradley could return this week, possibly against the Hawks Monday night after missing the last 18 games with a sore right Achilles). 

Brown has turned into one of the very best two-way transition players the Celtics have. He showed both in the first half as the Celtics held control most of the time. He was a plus-14 in 12 minutes of action. 

Morris connected on a 30-foot three at the buzzer that cut it to a 54-50 Celtics lead. The Celtics took 17 threes and made five. 

For a full box score and statistical recap of Sunday’s game in Detroit, click here.

With former teammates like Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace and coaches Larry Brown and Jim Calhoun looking on, the Pistons then held an extended, emotional halftime ceremony to retire the No. 32 of former UConn and Pistons star Richard “Rip” Hamilton. “This is surreal. This is surreal,” Hamilton said in his opening remarks.

“See what Ray Allen do? I’m going to do the same thing for you that I did for Ray Allen,” Hamilton told Calhoun as he recalled Calhoun’s message to him at UConn in 1996. Hamilton was the most outstanding player for the Huskies as UConn won their first national championship in 1999. 

Hamilton played nine seasons in Detroit and was a key part of the 2004 Pistons team that swept the Lakers in the NBA Finals. 

James Young, a Detroit native, told CSNNE’s Abby Chin before the game that Hamilton was his role model and idol growing up. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown
Despite brutal call in loss to Chicago, Celtics show just how much they have moved on from Rajon Rondo 02.16.17 at 10:32 pm ET
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Feb 16, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Michael Carter-Williams (7) during the second quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Thomas (4) drives past Chicago Bulls guard Michael Carter-Williams (7) during the second quarter at the United Center. (Dennis Wierzbicki/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart keep coming up huge when it matters most. 

But unfortunately for the Celtics the officials decided Thursday’s game. 

Jimmy Butler hit two free throws with 0.9 seconds left when Marcus Butler was called for grazing the right elbow of the shooter by referee Zach Zarba on the baseline. The two free throws were the difference in Chicago’s 104-103 win at the United Center. TV replays showed Smart didn’t make contact. 

A brutal call by Zarba at the worst time. Butler and Thomas each finished with 29 points. 

After a timeout trying to inbound, Al Horford missed a 16-foot shot at the buzzer as the Bulls were bailed out. 

“We not going to be derailed by that,” a tight-lipped Brad Stevens told reporters after. Stevens was irate at the moment the call was made. 

“Yeah, we thought we won the game,” said Kelly Olynyk, who had 17 points and seven rebounds. “A rollercoaster of emotions. It’s tough.”

Thomas and Smart stayed on the court for nearly a minute after the final buzzer and stared down Zarba. Before the call, the Celtics were poised for another clutch win in the fourth. 

There was a mindset and thought as recently as three years ago in Brad Stevens’ first year in Boston that the Celtics still needed Rajon Rondo to be apart of their next charge at a title.

But in that 2013-14 season, he missed the first 40 games recovering from an ACL injury the year before. He was named the 15th captain in team history. One year later, the disenfranchised Rondo was traded away to Dallas and the Celtics haven’t looked back. The Celtics made the playoffs that year, Stevens’ second as head coach. After 48 wins last season, the Celtics are making a run at the No. 1 seed this year.

Rondo has played for Sacramento and now Chicago.

It’s somewhat appropriate that Thomas – the man that helped the Celtics move on from the Rondo era – set a new franchise mark with his 41st straight game of at least 20 points Thursday night in the loss to the Bulls at the United Center in the final game before the All-Star break. The Celtics head into the break with a 37-20 mark, three games behind Cleveland for the top spot in the East.

For a full box score and statistical recap of Thursday’s game in Chicago, click here.

Rondo twisted his left ankle badly with three minutes left in the second quarter but in the time he was on the court, he clearly was inspired to prove he could hang with and defend Isaiah Thomas. To an extent, he was successful, holding Thomas to just two points over the first 15 minutes of the game. Rondo, coming off Chicago’s bench, was held scoreless in 20 minutes, missing all five shots from the floor, dishing out eight assists with seven rebounds. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Isaiah Thomas, NBA
Celtics exercise 2017-18 options for Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier 10.31.16 at 5:11 pm ET
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Marcus Smart already was in a good mood Monday, as he practiced with the team and then said he is ready to return to game action. He had to be feeling even better later in the day, as the team announced that it was exercising his contract for next season, keeping him in Boston for a fourth year.

The C’s also announced they were exercising the third-year option for fellow guard Terry Rozier, who is averaging 6.0 points, 3.0 assists and 3.3 rebounds in three games this season.

Smart will earn $4.5 million next season, while Rozier is set to make $1.9 million.

While both of those moves were expected — the players are key parts of Boston’s rotation — the team has not made clear its plans for shooting guard James Young leading up to Monday’s midnight deadline. The 21-year-old beat out R.J. Hunter for the team’s final roster spot earlier this month, but it would not be a surprise for the Celtics to allow him to become a free agent in the offseason, as he has yet to impress with any consistency.

Read More: Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier,
Defensive versatility is everything to Brad Stevens, and Terry Rozier ready ‘to take care of business’ 10.26.16 at 11:54 am ET
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Terry Rozier

Terry Rozier

WALTHAM – How will the Celtics cope without Marcus Smart for the first two weeks of the season? 

Ask Brad Stevens that question and he’ll give the same answer that he has for everything involving his defense-based system. 

“I think we were third or fourth last year, so it was pretty good. The bottom line is we have to be more versatile defensively,” Stevens said Tuesday when Smart and the team announced that his left ankle would sideline him for at least two weeks.

“You have to be able to do more things. We have to be able to tweak on the fly, we have to be able to adjust if something is killing us and be able to play either big or small. I think it will be interesting to see what our best lineups are that separate themselves. But our idea is that we should have some versatility. But, again, I think defense is one of those things that you gotta go out there and do it. It’s not about talking about it. It’s not about the anticipation of how good we can be. That’s an everyday commitment and thus far we’ve done it at a pretty good level, but we’ll see.”

Smart’s injury also means significantly more opportunity for Terry Rozier to continue what he showed in Summer League and camp and preseason. 

“He comes off the bench and he’s not playing, so it’s a bigger opportunity for me,” Rozier said of Smart. “It’s a step up, something where I have to be ready when my number is called. Be ready to take care of business. I want to come in and play my part, whether it’s scoring some nights, or just getting starts. The main thing is I want to play hard and do that every night.”

In Rozier’s mind, the best preparation for an increased role has been facing Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley every day in practice. 

“I think IT said it best – when you play against those two every day in practice, when you get out there in a real game it’s looser,” Rozier said. “You’re not having guys all over you like it is in practice. That’s a big help, something you have to take advantage of when you get out on the court, because in practice you’re not getting that breathing room.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Terry Rozier,
Celtics’ 10-man rotation set to create some odd men out 10.15.16 at 12:15 pm ET
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Celtics guard Terry Rozier looks to take a step forward this year and crack Brad Stevens' 10-man rotation. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Celtics guard Terry Rozier looks to take a step forward this year and crack head coach Brad Stevens’ 10-man rotation. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Prior to Thursday night’s game, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens made an announcement that wasn’t so much surprising, rather thought-provoking. 

“Ten (players) is what we usually play at the start of the season,” Stevens said. “It could be eight to ten, nine to ten.”

“Anytime you can get to a solid eight or nine in a rotation, that’s beneficial.”

That is conceivably going to leave a valuable asset out of the rotation. With his starting lineup of Al Horford, Amir Johnson, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas all but in ink, there would be two to four players vying for minutes.

Marcus Smart will also be a lock as the first man off the bench — as Stevens has often referred to him as a “sixth starter.” Once healthy, Kelly Olynyk will likely be in the same situation.

There is some fluidity after that, however.

Stevens did note that his rotation can, and likely will, change on a game-to-game basis.

“We have to have everybody ready to go,” said Stevens who added, “and some days it’ll be a solid eight plus 2 (players) but that plus 2 may change game to game depending on who we’re playing, how they played against them, how they played in practice, how they played the game before.”

With the summer league and preseason that Terry Rozier has had, reasonable minds can believe he would be in the rotation. However, ball handling and distribution are two things you could essentially get out of Smart, plus he would provide better defense. In an event where the Celtics are going to need to attempt to matchup in height with opposing teams, Rozier could see himself squeezed out of the rotation. 

Then there’s Jaylen Brown. The rookie is a fascinating case because if he’s not going to be in the rotation, then he would be better suited playing in the D-League, which is not exactly the best PR move for a team’s No. 3 pick in the draft. That aside, however, he’s proven that his game has translated well to the NBA and the Celtics could definitely use his athleticism.

Jonas Jerebko is a perplexing case as well. Seemingly every time he appears to be falling out of Stevens’ good graces, he pops a 12-point performance off the bench, as he did Thursday (and lest we forget the 2016 postseason, as well). His problem, however, is that he’ll be more or less absent for stretches, and when his shot from 15-to 18-feet is off, he can render himself useless on the offensive end.

Bottom line, Stevens knows what he’s getting with Jerebko. He doesn’t have to worry about developing him, he’s a slightly above-average defender, who has a shot that can be lethal when it’s on. It’s hard to imagine him being phased out of the rotation — especially early on in the season — but it’s a legitimate possibility if he hits a cold streak.

Another veteran in a precarious position is Gerald Green. Green didn’t even see the floor until about five and a half minutes remained in the third quarter Thursday. There are too many enticing options at Stevens’ disposal to allow Green to get meaningful minutes. Conversely, he posesses one of the biggest tools the Celtics as a whole lack: a shot. However, he’s yet to exhibit any reliability as a shooter in his two preseason appearances, going a combined 0-for-4 from deep. He’s otherwise 9-from-20 from the field. He is the type of player destined to be the first man out, especially when his shot is cold.

Tyler Zeller hasn’t exactly had a camp to remember thus far. And with his history of fluctuating minutes, it already looks as if he’s destined for the same scenario as 2015-16, where he could be playing three minutes one night, but 18 the other. 

One player that is making more of a case for himself is Jordan Mickey. A big leader in the late surge that pushed the Celtics bench past the Nets on Thursday, Mickey has started to look much more acclimated to the NBA than last year, even after tearing up the D-League. He may be an afterthought to start the season, but the amount of meaningful minutes he may get could certainly increase.

It should all come down to matchups. Stevens isn’t afraid to play small, and there is enough diversity in skill amongst bench players to where he has a quality arsenal to work with. As camp continues and more players begin to establish — or hurt — their value, the rotation should begin to take more of a shape, with some understandable flexibility taking place as well.

Read More: Gerald Green, Jaylen Brown, Jonas Jerebko, Jordan Mickey
Jordan Mickey Shines, Terry Rozier suffers injury in win against Hornets 10.08.16 at 6:26 pm ET
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Jordan Mickey

Jordan Mickey

UNCASVILLE, CT — In a game where Brad Stevens rested four of his five starters and had to do without backup guard Terry Rozier in the second half, the Celtics defeated the Hornets in their second consecutive preseason match up, 104-86. 

Jae Crowder was the lone member of the starting unit who played in this one. He started at the power forward position in a small-ball lineup that included Tyler Zeller at center, rookie Jaylen Brown at small forward, Marcus Smart at the point and Gerald Green — who made his preseason debut.

Isaiah Thomas (left wrist), Avery Bradley, Al Horford and Amir Johnson sat out as their younger teammates took care of business against Charlotte.

Both teams got off to a sloppy start and finished the game’s first 12 minutes tied at 18. Although the Celtics forced five turnovers in the first quarter — including four in the opening minutes — they struggled in transition on offense and committed six turnovers.  

Making matters worse, Rozier (4 points, 2 rebounds) left the game early in the second quarter when he was elbowed in the face while attempting to take a charge against Hornets center Christian Wood. He received seven stitches and never returned.

The Celtics’ offense found its rhythm against the Hornets in the second quarter as they took a 49-38 lead into halftime. Zeller scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half — he finished 5-of-7 from the floor, including 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. He did a stellar job of knocking down open mid-range jump shots and finishing strong in the paint.

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Read More: Jordan Mickey, Terry Rozier,
Terry Rozier warns rest of NBA about Jaylen Brown 10.06.16 at 11:45 am ET
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Terry Rozier has been saying it for a while: Jaylen Brown is eventually going to be a nightmare for the rest of the NBA. 

How bad of a dream is up to the rookie out of Cal. 

On Tuesday night, in 20 minutes, Brown was 4-of-9 from the field for eight points and four rebounds. 

It wasn’t pretty at the start. He had a one-handed dunk attempt partially blocked by Hollis Thompson with eight minutes left in the second quarter. 

He had one turnover and was a minus-9. 

In the second half, he was moved to the ‘4’ on the post from the swing spot. It worked. He found his rhythm, finishing 3-for-6 with three rebounds. In short, he found a comfort level. 

“Yeah, I’m comfortable at the 4, wherever coach needs me to play,” Brown said. “That’s just part of being versatile; part of versatility is just being ready when somebody calls your name. You’re a rookie, so you can’t really have any excuses. If he wants to play me at the ‘4’ I’m down [with that].

“You can’t be surprised. You’ve just got to be ready at all times. Whenever somebody calls my name, I’m ready, focused, locked in. Rookies can’t be surprised.”

The highlight of the game came when the still 19-year-old Brown threw down a Tomahawk one-handed dunk with four minutes left, bringing the Celtics within three points. Terry Rozier was in Brown’s shoes last season, a first-round pick trying to show he was worth the pick. 

“He had the crowd going, going crazy, had our bench going crazy,” Terry Rozier said. “That’s something he’s going to be good for doing, jump out of the gym. He’s going to see a lot of minutes this year. Once the game really slows down for him, it’s going to be scary for a lot of people. I’ve been telling him this since summer league.” 

Truth of the matter is that Brown, as a third overall pick, is under the microscope much more than Rozier, who was a 16th overall pick. And there are bigger expectations. Brown has just begun to fulfill those expectations.

“It felt really good,” Brown said. “The floor opened up, felt like I could close out and it was just like the lane was wide open. I like to attack, close out and be aggressive, and if somebody had collapsed, I would’ve just kicked it to the corner for the open shot.

“It’s like a blur. This is all happening at once. It helped a little bit. Just getting up and down and getting to the basket. Just touching the ball when you’re getting up and down the floor is a great feeling, and nothing beats that. That feeling when you first walk in the arena. Nothing beats that feeling. When I got on floor, everything else just goes on the way.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier,
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