The Celtics entered Wednesday’s game against the Nuggets on an interesting note. The C’s dropped two home games in a row after returning home from a successful Western Conference road trip, but then beat the surprisingly surging Knicks on the road on Tuesday.
It was a pair of Jared Sullinger free throws with just 22.8 seconds remaining that put Boston up 102-100, and following a steal by Marcus Smart, the C’s held onto the lead for good to claim a 104-100 victory. The win improves the Celtics to 18-30 on the season.
Avery Bradley and Marcus Thornton (who came off the bench) led the Celtics in scoring with 17 each. Three other Celtics scored 14 points, while Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 23 points and eight assists. The loss drops Denver to 19-31.
Considering the Celtics’ record and the fact that the Patriots just won maybe the greatest Super Bowl of all-time with the game decided on the 1-yard line, this makes sense. After parading through town on earlier on Wednesday, members of the Patriots took to the court after the first quarter of the game to further celebrate the victory. It was by far the loudest ovation we’ve heard at the Garden so far this season, deservedly so. Cornerback Malcolm Butler, who had the game-winning interception, received the loudest applause after he was saved as the last introduction. Butler continued to receive chants from the crowd for the rest of the game. The Celtics are now the last major Boston sports team to win a title (2008) with the Bruins (2011), Red Sox (2013) and Patriots (2014) all winning since.
THE CELTICS CAME OUT HOT AT HOME
The season started with the Celtics often jumping out to big leads at home then blowing them late. More recently, however, the trend has shifted to the Celtics coming out flat and playing catchup all game. The C’s shifted back to their old ways on Wednesday and came out on fire, taking a 61-51 lead into the break. The home team shot 25-for-47 in the first half (53.2 percent) including 9-for-13 from downtown (69.2 percent). Thornton and Bradley led the way with 12 and 11 point respectively. Thornton connected on all three of his 3-pointers.
JARED SULLINGER DISCIPLINED
If you missed the story from before the game, Sullinger missed his second team walkthrough in just four days. Stevens took Sullinger’s starting role from him in both games, but did allow Sully to remain active off the bench. Sullinger’s excuse was that he was stuck in traffic on Storrow Drive from all the snow. After being in park for 45 minutes on Storrow Drive today, I believe him, but still no excuse when you’re in the NBA. Sullinger wound up playing a very effective 20 minutes in the end, scoring 14 points along with seven boards and four assists. Tyler Zeller got the start in his place.
MOVING MARCUS SMART TO THE STARTING LINEUP HAS BEEN A WIN-WIN
Smart has been a starter now for just two games, but both have been victories. The reason the move has been a win-win has not just been Smart’s success, but Jae Crowder’s new found success off the bench. After both scored 13 points apiece in Tuesday’s win over the Knicks, Smart and Crowder each had solid games again. Crowder scored 14 points in in 25 minutes and contributed six rebounds and had three helpers. Smart, on the other hand, was very well rounded. The rookie only had four points, but his contributions were felt in every aspect of the game. Aside from playing hounding defense, Smart tallied 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
JAMES YOUNG HAD ANOTHER SNEAKY GOOD GAME
Young is dubbed as a scorer — and rightfully so — but he has been effective on the court since seeing his minutes go up against the Knicks. Young finished with five points, four boards and three assists in 17 minutes on Tuesday, but improved against the Nuggets. Stevens bumped Young up to 20 minutes in this contest, and despite not shooting well again, Young would up with eight points while also dishing three helpers and collecting a pair of rebounds. The sneaky part? Young had a team leading plus-14 in +/-.
Jared Sullinger skipped Celtics‘ walkthrough on Wednesday and forced Brad Stevens‘ hand to move Sullinger back to the bench. Sullinger started Tuesday night and scored 22 points in a victory over the Knicks. However, Sullinger was benched on Superbowl Sunday’s home game against the Heat for the exact same reason.
“Similar to Sunday, he was late for walkthrough,” Stevens said as he was greeted in the hallway by former Celtic Jameer Nelson. “I don’t want to make any excuses, he won’t make any excuses. He missed walkthrough.”
So has Sullinger’s issue been addressed by the team aside from the benching?
“Absolutely,” Stevens said. “It’s the second time in two years, it just happens to be the second time in [four] days. Again, I said it the other day, I don’t think it’s an issue. You’ve just got to be here. Our precedence is set.”
Stevens mentioned countless times that Sullinger is “accountable” for his actions.
Stevens also said that he would leave the decision on whether or not to fine Sullinger up to president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge.
As was the case on Sunday, Tyler Zeller will get the start, but Sullinger will be active for the game.
Jessica Camerato of basketballinsiders.com joins the show to talk about Marcus Smart, the starting lineup, and trade deadline.
[0:04:13] ... I'll I wouldn't practice and. What we all kind of just for BrandonBass is six wanna see him get treated contenders it doesn't have to explain in terrible basketball games. We can't bring them back ... [0:16:48] ... Marcus Thornton there has operated bass. And I wouldn't be surprised he TayshaunPrince they'll put Brad Stevens seems to be completely enamored by him and loves everything he does. Well you know he's one of those players are kind of just does everything right even at his advanced stage you know doesn't have that same math was as he had runners with the pistons. But he's still a great guy to have on the team because unlike GeraldWallace who never played basketball right. You know he's played well he's very good defender but he turned on a special office he always had the wrong thing but he relied on as apt criticism on both sides of the court. TayshaunPrince a little bit different. He relies on his length. But yes to be Smart about how he's using that blank so. I think he's the Seve is the vets sees the savvy vet like that if you could look it up in the dictionary they're TayshaunPrince does is he does everything correctly. And he played like it showed he got traded is pulling crunch time two days after ... [0:20:30] ... this year Horford is good Millsap is good Jeff Teague is good KyleKorver is having the best shooting year ever. I don't know why the wide that's all there at fall apart during the playoffs because Kyle KyleKorver is gonna come back to earth personal. At 35 years old you don't have your best season of your career you Ray ...
Nothing like a game against the Knicks to bust out of a slump.
Led by Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger, who each played their best game in weeks, the Celtics snapped a three-game losing streak with a 108-97 victory in New York. Despite the last-place Knicks (10-39) making it a two-possession game midway through the fourth quarter, the C’s (17-30) led wire to wire, staying within four wins of the Hornets and Heat for the final two playoff spots in the East.
Bradley led all scorers with 26 points in a remarkable 11-of-14 shooting performance to go along with four assists. Sullinger busted out of a slump of his own, collecting 22 points (11-19 FG), nine rebounds and six assists. Marcus Smart started in place of Jae Crowder, and they netted 13 points apiece in their new roles. Brandon Bass added 12 points as the only other Celtics player in double figures. The C’s shot 54.5 percent as a team.
Evan Turner (5 points, 5 assists, 8 rebounds) helped hold Carmelo Anthony to 21 points on 23 shots. For a complete box score, click here.
If someone asks you about Sunday’s Celtics game, make sure to emphasize its “great personality,” because by no means was it visually pleasing.
In a low-scoring affair that saw neither team playing particularly well, the Celtics ‘ wearing their bizarre and unbecoming gray “Parquet Pride” jerseys ‘ fell 83-75 to the Heat at the TD Garden. The C’s struggled early and couldn’t regain the lead despite coming back to tie the game.
Without stars Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng, Miami relied heavily on their big men. Hassan Whiteside led all scorers with 20 points and nine rebounds while Chris Bosh added 18 points and seven rebounds. Avery Bradley and Tyler Zeller each netted 17 points to lead the way for the Celtics. Zeller started in place of Jared Sullinger, who was benched to start the game for arriving late to a pregame walkthrough. Marcus Thornton (15 points) was the only other Celtics player in double figures.
Even if there was some sort of bucket emporium that exclusively sold buckets and the team had a variety of currency options available, the Celtics still would not have been allowed to purchase a bucket. The C’s finished 13 for 41 from the field for an unimpressive 32.7 percent. Chris “Birdman” Andersen made as many 3-pointers as the Celtics, who made just one of their 10 attempts. Their inability to acquire aforementioned buckets, I’d argue, directly contributed to their 13-point deficit at halftime.
12 GOOD MINUTES OF BASKETBALL
Evan Turner may have started the game at point guard, but after missing his first six shots he quickly found himself on the bench. With Marcus Smart playing in his place to open the second half, the Celtics cut the Heat’s 13-point lead down to two. With the hyper-athletic lineup of Smart, Bradley and Jae Crowder in the game, the C’s increased their intensity and ball pressure on the defensive end. The Heat scored only 17 points in the quarter, turning the ball over seven times.
Bradley played extremely well, reminding Celtics fans why the team signed him to a four-year, $32 million dollar contract in the offseason. He scored 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting and added a pair of steals in the quarter. If Bradley is going to be a starter on the Celtics moving forward, he is going to have to play like this for more than 12 minutes at a time.
PUSH TO PLAYOFFS?
Don’t look now, but even after the departures of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and Brandan Wright, the Celtics are still in the playoff hunt. Sunday’s loss dropped the Celtics (16-30) to 3.5 games behind the eigth-place Hornets and a full four games back of the seventh-place Heat. With the season-ending injury to Brandon Jennings in Detroit and the general dysfunction in both Charlotte and Brooklyn, the C’s head-to-head record against the Heat may have a huge impact in the final standings. After Miami took the first two games, the Celtics do have a chance to even the series, as the two teams will play twice more this season.
While on assignment with the Maine Red Claws in the D-League on Saturday Night, Young scored 33 points, including an astounding nine 3-pointers.
The Celtics rookie was recalled before the game, and coach Brad Stevens mentioned that Young may see more minutes moving forward. With the entire team struggling from the outside, Young made his first appearance in the first quarter of a game this season. In his eight minutes, he did not provide the offensive spark Stevens was looking for. Young continues to struggle with his defense, and he did not see any playing time until the final moments of the fourth quarter. He finished with three points on 1-of-2 shooting.
WHY CAN’T THE CELTICS GET RIM PROTECTORS LIKE HASSAN WHITESIDE?
Whiteside was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the 33rd pick out of Marshall in the 2010 NBA draft. After a couple stints in the D-League and a few more seasons overseas, Whiteside signed with the Heat at the beginning of the season. Over the last month, the 7-footer has played his way into the starting lineup by averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds per game. Whiteside is also the elusive rim protector every team seems to be in the market for, averaging 3.5 blocks as well. Last week, he notched his first triple-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks in only 25 minutes on the floor.
Whiteside continued his amazing run on Sunday, dominating the C’s frontcourt with 20 points and nine boards. Whiteside has the longest arms I have ever seen and is able to score with ease in the paint. His presence down low created open looks for Chris Bosh, who scored 18 points of his own.