Jan 11, 2017; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) is guarded by Washington Wizards forward / center Jason Smith (14) during the third quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) is guarded by Washington Wizards forward Jason Smith (14) during the third quarter at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

On a night that Floyd Mayweather was courtside, it was only appropriate that Wednesday’s Celtics-Wizards game ended with a fight. 

As the players were filing off the court in the wake of Boston’s 117-108 win, the banged up John Wall crossed paths with Jae Crowder. The Celtics forward started talking to Wall, who took exception. Crowder pointed his finger in Wall’s face and the two teams started pushing and shoving, a melee that spilled into the tunnel leading to the locker rooms behind the Wizards bench. 

“Just some altercation,” Wall said when asked about it. “We knew there was going to be some trash talking.  We knew it was going to be a physical game. That’s all it was. Just a little trash talking and a physical game.

“My right pinky is messed up and my left wrist is swollen.  I’ll probably get an X-Ray and see what’s wrong with it.  I knew it was hurting.  I knew it was painful before the game.  It was a big game for us.  I just tried to come out and play through it and the results came out how it was.”

Brad Stevens said he didn’t see it but heard about it and reminded his players what was expected in terms of behavior.  

“I heard what was going on in the tunnel. All I did was walk out. There were only two guys that were walking in from the court from our team, and I just said, ‘Get in the locker room.’ And then I talked to the team about what we represent and that’s it,” Stevens said. “I don’t know what happened.  I have no idea – I haven’t asked yet. I’ll find out after I get back to the locker room.”

Crowder admitted it was a challenge to keep his cool in a game with such high intensity. 

“It was a good fight,” Crowder said. “It was a good fight. Both teams coming off a back-to-back. So the effort was truly there, and it was two teams playing hard.”

Crowder said he and the Celtics were very aware the referees were allowing a physical game. 

“We talked about that at halftime,” Crowder added. “The refs weren’t calling it tight, so we were able to get up into guys and play a little physical. And that’s what happened.”

 


Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Jan 11, 2017; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) is guarded by Washington Wizards forward / center Jason Smith (14) during the third quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) is guarded by Washington Wizards forward Jason Smith (14) during the third quarter at TD Garden. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

On a night that Floyd Mayweather was courtside, it was only appropriate that Wednesday’s Celtics-Wizards game ended with a fight. 

As the players were filing off the court in the wake of Boston’s 117-108 win, the banged up John Wall crossed paths with Jae Crowder. The Celtics forward started talking to Wall, who took exception. Crowder pointed his finger in Wall’s face and the two teams started pushing and shoving, a melee that spilled into the tunnel leading to the locker rooms behind the Wizards bench. 

“Just some altercation,” Wall said when asked about it. “We knew there was going to be some trash talking.  We knew it was going to be a physical game. That’s all it was. Just a little trash talking and a physical game.

“My right pinky is messed up and my left wrist is swollen.  I’ll probably get an X-Ray and see what’s wrong with it.  I knew it was hurting.  I knew it was painful before the game.  It was a big game for us.  I just tried to come out and play through it and the results came out how it was.”

Brad Stevens said he didn’t see it but heard about it and reminded his players what was expected in terms of behavior.  

“I heard what was going on in the tunnel. All I did was walk out. There were only two guys that were walking in from the court from our team, and I just said, ‘Get in the locker room.’ And then I talked to the team about what we represent and that’s it,” Stevens said. “I don’t know what happened.  I have no idea – I haven’t asked yet. I’ll find out after I get back to the locker room.”

Crowder admitted it was a challenge to keep his cool in a game with such high intensity. 

“It was a good fight,” Crowder said. “It was a good fight. Both teams coming off a back-to-back. So the effort was truly there, and it was two teams playing hard.”

Crowder said he and the Celtics were very aware the referees were allowing a physical game. 

“We talked about that at halftime,” Crowder added. “The refs weren’t calling it tight, so we were able to get up into guys and play a little physical. And that’s what happened.”

 


Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Brad Stevens said before Wednesday’s encounter with the Wizards that he doesn’t pay much attention to stats. 

That’s a good thing because with no Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown and Amir Johnson, the stats certainly weren’t in Boston’s favor as they squared off against the hottest backcourt in the East. 

Jan 29, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. laughs with Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (R) after defeating the Orlando Magic at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. had plenty to laugh about Wednesday with good friend Isaiah Thomas. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Brad Stevens said before Wednesday’s encounter with the Wizards that he doesn’t pay much attention to stats. 

That’s a good thing because with no Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown and Amir Johnson, the stats certainly weren’t in Boston’s favor as they squared off against the hottest backcourt in the East. 

“No excuses from my standpoint,” Stevens said. “You’ve got games to play, let’s play.”

Isaiah Thomas certainly did – lighting it up again in the fourth quarter – scoring 20 of his game-high 38 points in the final period to lead the Celtics past the Wizards, 117-108, at TD Garden. 

And on a night second-year forward Jordan Mickey was making his first NBA start and Floyd Mayweather was sitting courtside, they needed the knockout shot from their MVP-caliber point guard in the end.

The first half Wednesday was not one for Al Horford’s highlight reel. In over 16 minutes, he was 3-for-6 from the field for six points, didn’t get to the free throw line, committed two turnovers and was a minus-8. He did grab five rebounds and blocked two shots but looked out of sorts at times, playing the 5-spot with Mickey filling in for Johnson. 

For a full recap and box score of Wednesday’s loss to the Wizards, click here

Horford’s numbers this year have been very good (15.3 PPG, 6.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists). That cannot be disputed. But to Stevens point before the game, sometimes the stats don’t tell the story. And remember, some of this is also on the coaches, like earlier in the season when Stevens took responsibility for Horford not getting his shots

Wednesday was not about the what but the when. The Celtics, without starters Bradley and Johnson and reserves Brown, James Young and Tyler Zeller, needed Horford to step up his game and take over in the paint. They needed an attitude. 

On a night when the Celtics were playing a fast-riser in the East at home a night after a gut-punching loss in Toronto, they needed their big man to play big. Jason Smith outplayed Horford Wednesday night. Who you ask? You know, the ninth-year reserve out of Colorado State. With nine minutes left, Smith had 13 points and five rebounds in 14 minutes while Horford had 9 points and six rebounds in 25. 

But by that time, the Celtics were close enough to let Isaiah Thomas do what he always does and that is dominate the fourth quarter. He scored 13 of Boston’s first 19 points in the final quarter and electrified the crowd, which included dapping with Mayweather courtside after one of his five threes on the night. 

There were issues Wednesday, namely the Celtics committing 10 turnovers in the first half, offsetting the team’s 9-for-19 sharpshooting from 3-point range. 

John Wall, fresh from his December Eastern Conference player of the month honor, entered the game averaging 23.2 points and 10.3 assists per game. Bradley Beal came to town averaging 22.1 points. Together, their 45.3 points per game were eight points higher than Isaiah Thomas (27.9) and Marcus Smart (10.2). 

Of course, the Celtics were without the 18 points-per-game from Bradley, who was missing his third straight game with a sore right Achilles. 

“Welcome to the NBA. It’s fun,” Stevens said, referring to playing the Wall-Beal combo a night after Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The Celtics hung in there Tuesday against the Raptors before falling apart at the end. Stevens was asked how he thinks the Celtics match up with the elite backcourts when Bradley is healthy.

“I don’t really get caught up in ranking guys or looking at their stats or anything else,” Stevens added. “I really like our guys. I love the way they complement each other. I like what they do on the court. I love their will to prepare and compete. Certainly, as you get ready for games like this, you see the same things out of these backcourts. You’ve got to get ready for them. Wall and Beal are special talents. Wall the reining player of the month and Beal has really come on of late.

“I just think it’s continuity and getting used to each other from a staff standpoint, from a players standpoint. This team is way too talented and way too good not to be a major, major factor when it’s all said and done. They’re playing great. I think Scott’s done a great job of putting in things that really showcase Wall and Beal. And then Porter’s had a tremendous year. And their frontcourt has always given us issues.”

Before Wednesday’s game, Stevens also hinted at the difficult position that Horford and the Celtics’ frontcourt faced against Washington.

“I think I go into every game trying to think about the best way to get guys the appropriate amount of rest while still maintaining a good attack at all times on the court,” Stevens said. “We’re going to be a little bit smaller in a lot of ways. You’ve got Jae and Gerald but basically the rest of the guys are 4s and 1s and so you’ve got a unique, kind of position-less team. So we’re going to have to play in a very fluid, flow type-of-game with that type of group.” 

 

Here are some other nuggets from Brad Stevens on Wednesday: 

On Gerald Green’s production? “I thought he did a lot of good things [vs. Raptors] but he’s been pretty consistent with that ever since he started playing [recently]. Obviously, we’re not asking him to be the guy with the ball a ton but when he has it, to be a threat. And he’s always a threat, and he’s always a threat when he’s got the ball.”

Will an improvement in rebounding come from the current roster or from the outside?

“It’s a good question. I think that, from my standpoint, from my seat, I look at how can we block out a little bit better, how can we pursue the ball a little bit better? How can we rotate guys a little bit better to have better match-ups, whatever the case may be. Do we need to switch more, even though we’re switching a lot, because that keeps the ball in front of you and let’s you block out at the very least. But I’ve said it all year, we’re not going to win many rebounding battles. If we can manage it, then we have a chance to win.

“On nights like [Tuesday] night, those are just exponentially more difficult to overcome because of the level of guard play [in the league],” Stevens said. “I trust all 10 guys that are available. I trust them to help us win.”

 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Celtics are about to find out just how good their bench is.

Brad Stevens opened his Wednesday pre-game media briefing with a painful grin, acknowledging the injury bug that has hit his team this week.

Dec 7, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA;  Boston Celtics forward Jordan Mickey (55) against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic 117-87. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics forward Jordan Mickey (55) makes his first NBA start Wednesday against Washington. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics are about to find out just how good their bench is.

Brad Stevens opened his Wednesday pre-game media briefing with a painful grin, acknowledging the injury bug that has hit his team this week.

“It’s a long one. James Young is out. Avery Bradley is out. Tyler Zeller is out,” Stevens began. “Amir Johnson sprained his ankle in the first half [Tuesday]. He’s out. And then Jaylen Brown twist his ankle, sprained his ankle, Monday in practice and then played, felt pretty good, but aggravated it and felt sore today and he’s out.

“So who do we have in? I’m 99 percent sure which I’m going to go. I think we’re going to go with Jordan Mickey, with Al [Horford].”

Mickey, the second-round pick in 2015 out of LSU, is making his first NBA start. In nine games this season, he’s averaging 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in just over seven minutes a game off the bench. In 25 career games, he’s averaging 1.7 points. So, why Mickey for Johnson?

“Keeping the second unit where it is,” Stevens explained. “I like where Jordan is with regard to how he impact with that first unit, rolling to rim and rebounding and defending and those types of things.

“I think the biggest thing is being around him for a year and a half. It’s not just practice, it’s watching him play and do individual workouts. It’s the way he goes through walkthrough, it’s his focus and attention to detail and hey, we’re going to need everybody that’s available to help us tonight. So, I think anytime you get a chance, especially when you talk about how we play with the first group, he’s a good fit for that. Amir’s largely rolling [to the basket] for us. Amir is defending in pick-and-roll and defending from a rebounding angle and everything else. We’re going to need that out of Mick.”

And by the sounds of it, Wednesday might not be a cameo for Mickey, as Johnson’s ankle seems to be a significant injury.

“Sounds like Amir’s [ankle] was pretty swollen earlier [Wednesday]. I’d say that he’s doubtful for the weekend. And Jaylen, I have not heard, from a severity standpoint. But it wasn’t made out to be quite as bad as Amir’s but he’s sore today.”

As for Bradley, who’s missing his third game with a sore right Achilles, Stevens said the soreness is persisting.

“He worked out [Tuesday] and woke up [Wednesday] sore,” Stevens said. “That’s my medical evaluation.”

Will he Bradley be back Friday in Atlanta?

“I have no idea,” Stevens replied. “I have no idea what that means, how sore. I haven’t asked any questions after I got out [vs. Washington].”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Rick Pitino set the standard when it comes to escaping Boston sports fans and never looking back. (Matt Cashore/USA Today Sports)You know who was Roger Goodell before Roger Goodell?



This was supposed to be as inspirational as a mid-January game could be.

Beat the Raptors, draw even with Toronto for second seed in the Eastern Conference, and prove yourselves to closer to Cleveland than ever before. That was the plan for the Celtics.

DeMar DeRozan torched the Celtics for 41 points Tuesday night. (Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports)

DeMar DeRozan torched the Celtics for 41 points Tuesday night. (Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today Sports)

This was supposed to be as inspirational as a mid-January game could be.

Beat the Raptors, draw even with Toronto for second seed in the Eastern Conference, and prove yourselves to closer to Cleveland than ever before. That was the plan for the Celtics.

The plan fell apart with one Raptors’ fourth-quarter flurry. Toronto boosted its lead over the Celts in the conference standings to two games after completely dominating the final seven minutes of what would end up as the Raptors’ 114-106 win over Brad Stevens’ club in Toronto.

(For a complete recap of the loss, click here.)

The Raptors would out-score the C’s, 34-22, in the fourth quarter. But the ultimate dagger would reveal itself in the form of a 23-6 run by the hosts to close out the Tuesday night loss, leaving the Celtics just one game ahead of the Hawks for the conference’s third spot.

The frustration that came with the Celtics blowing a 16-point, third-quarter lead was just a small part of the equation. The big picture reality should have been much more painful.

While Toronto’s backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were taking over the game down the stretch, the Celtics were left defaulting to their fourth-quarter superstar Isaiah Thomas. This time, however, Thomas couldn’t keep up. Simply watching the collapse unfold, you could get that feel that something was missing for the Celtics.

The easy elixir would be remembering that the Celtics’ second-leading scorer, Avery Bradley, wasn’t available due to an Achilles tendon injury. But Bradley isn’t exactly that kind of create-your-own shot, end-of-the-game presence the likes of the Toronto duo (and Cleveland’s backcourt) deliver.

Part of the frustration should also emanate from Al Horford. The player the Celtics are paying to be an All-Star, go-to guy, is good but hardly great. Horford is having a Horford season, averaging right around the same points per game as he has the previous two seasons (15.4). In this game, the power forward netted 14 points while grabbing rebounds. Not bad. But the lack of either an above-average inside presence (Toronto center Jonas Valanciunas had 23 rebounds) or any kind of offensive dominance left the Celtics needing more.

Horford is a nice player, as are Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder (who was not very formidable in scoring nine points). Still, something is missing.

If you want to keep raising the blood pressure understand DeRozan, the player who finished with 41 points and is neck-and-neck with Thomas in scoring at 27 points per game, signed a contract that pays him around the same amount per season as Horford. While it is clear the forward is a nice fit for this Celtics team, he is not the type of guy who is going to put the C’s over the top.

That’s was a reality that was put on display in Canada Tuesday night.

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Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics continue to live and die by the 3. 

It’s been their m.o. throughout the 2016-17 season and ended up being the difference in their 117-108 victory over the Pelicans. The C’s have now won four consecutive games, including 10 of their last 12.

Luckily, the Celtics have been living well from deep. Throughout their last three games, the C’s shot 51.4 percent on 53-of-103 attempts from outside. 

Fresh off their win against the Sixers — where they drained 19 3-pointers, a new franchise record — the C’s carried over their streak of hot outside shooting against the Pelicans. Boston flirted with the franchise’s 3-point record while shooting 50 percent from the floor on 18-of-36 attempts from deep.

Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart were on fire — they combined for 11-of-18 from 3.

Led by Anthony Davis’ 13-point first-quarter, the Pelicans grabbed a 10-point, first-half lead before the Celtics found their offensive momentum. The Pelicans big man finished with a monster double-double (36 points, 15 rebounds) but his big-time performance was no match against Celtics’ outside touch combined with a 38-point night by Isaiah Thomas, who has stretched his streak of scoring 20-plus points to 12 consecutive games — the longest streak in the league. 

(For a complete recap of the Celtics’ win, click here.)

The Celtics caught fire after halftime — they knocked down 5-of-9 from behind the arc and grabbed a 14-point lead (75-61) midway through the third quarter. They outscored New Orleans, 36-20, in the third quarter and began the final frame with a 20-point lead (93-73). The C’s knocked down 9-of-18 from downtown in the second half. 

Smart, who got the start over Avery Bradley (sprained Achilles), put together his best shooting night of the season. Smart knocked in a season-high 5-of-7 from outside and finished with 22 points to go with his 6 assists, 5 rebounds and three steals. He was locked in on both ends of the floor and triggered excellent ball movement throughout his teammates on the offensive end. 

However, it’s going to be interesting to see how the Celtics will perform when the 3-pointers aren’t falling. The C’s are shooting 36.5 percent from outside this season — good enough for ninth in the league — yet, there isn’t one player in the team’s rotation who is afraid to attempt a 3-pointer, even Amir Johnson will rarely pass up an open 3.

They may find out how tough it is to win a game without making 17 or 18 3-pointers, like they’ve done the past three games, in Toronto when they take on the eastern conference’s second-best team in the Raptors (24-11) on Tuesday night.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon