The Celtics own as many as eight draft picks in June 2016 — only one of which is their own — and the unprotected selection from the Nets is legitimately one of the most fascinating storylines in the entire NBA this season. We’ll regularly update the status of those selections, speculating when and who the Celtics will pick.
Just as there will be what-ifs when it comes to the C’s end-of-season record, the same will be true for the Nets. Now that their season series is complete, we can surmise how vital those two Boston losses to Brooklyn will prove to be come April. Currently, had the Celtics swept the Nets (10-25) rather than split their four-game set, Boston would have as many wins as the No. 2 seed and Brooklyn would have as few wins as the Lakers.
Regardless, Jarrett Jack‘s season-ending ACL injury likely ensures the Nets will finish no worse than third in the lottery, which means the C’s should have a 15.6 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick. And if they aren’t lucky enough to win the Ben Simmons sweepstakes, Brown or Brandon Ingram are the next-best wings.
On the bright side, losses to the Lakers and Nets currently give the C’s a mid-round pick. Because four wins separate the league’s sixth-best team (Bulls) from its 18th (Rockets), every win or loss this season has increased draft repercussions. Then again, R.J. Hunter has been a more valuable asset for the Celtics than Terry Rozier, even though the former was taken 28th and the latter 16th, so those games may not amount to much anyway.
While there’s still a chance the Mavericks will miss the playoffs out West, win the lottery and keep this selection with its top-seven protection, it’s looking more and more like that, not only will the Celtics get this pick, but it will fall late in the first round. With the Grizzlies and Rockets struggling to stay above .500, the Mavericks (21-15) keep plugging away, as Dirk Nowitzki continues to keep Father Time at bay with a one-legged fadeaway.
After starting the season 1-30, the 76ers are 3-3 in their last six games, showing a bit of promise and raising the possibility the Lakers or Nets could sneak into the league’s worst record. Adding some veterans and splitting playing time between Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor has helped make the Sixers ever-so-slightly competitive. Even still, the C’s are guaranteed one of the first few second-round picks, so now is probably a good time to mention Jordan Mickey just won D-League Player of the Month honors in December, whatever that means.
It’s time to give up hope the Wolves (12-24) will make the playoffs and deliver a fourth first-round pick, but at least Danny Ainge will have another early second-round selection with which to play. How much that benefits the Celtics in what DraftExpress guru Jonathan Givony has described as “really weak” draft remains to be seen.
The Heat (21-14) might be the second-best team in the East, which creates problems for the Celtics both on and off the court. I’ll be surprised if Allen doesn’t climb the draft rankings, but if he falls to the late second-round, why not take a flier on a Duke shooter who clearly shined on the big stage in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
If the Celtics hold on to all eight picks in the 2016 NBA draft, by the end of the evening, even the most ardent of Celtics fans will need him some booze-a, too. Ba-dum ching. We’ll be hear all season, folks.
And, yes, we’ve got the Celtics drafting international players left and right. Where else are they going to stash eight — EIGHT — draft picks? I’d be curious how many scouts they’ll have overseas, and are they looking for one to be stationed in Italy?
The Pistons outscored the Celtics 33-19 in the fourth quarter, grabbed their first lead of the evening and defeated their hosts in TD Garden, 99-94.
In the final frame, Detroit drained 4-of-6 3-pointers and shot 7-of-8 from the free-throw line, grabbing a six-point lead in the last four minutes. A 7-0 run by Isaiah Thomas briefly regained the lead, but it wasn’t enough. In the end, Pistons rookie Stanley Johnson’s crucial 3-pointer put the game away for good.
The Celtics had a couple chances to pull out the win, but costly fouls and missed free throws sealed their fate. Isaiah Thomas missed one of three attempts, and Marcus Smart also missed a free throw before committing a loose ball foul on the opposite end, giving the Pistons another pair of freebies and a four-point advantage with 29 second left.
As a result, the Pistons (20-16) leapfrogged the Celtics (19-16) in the standings for seventh place.
All five starters scored in double figures, led by Isaiah Thomas (22 points) and Amir Johnson (17 points, 11 rebounds). Former Boston College standout Reggie Jackson‘s 24 points led the Pistons.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas.
After a 1-for-15 start, Thomas made his final five shots and scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to go with his 10 assists. After the Pistons opened up a six-point lead in the fourth quarter — their biggest of the night — the Celtics’ offense needed a lift, and he delivered. Detroit did an excellent job collapsing on Thomas all night until Thomas’ big scoring outburst — 13 points in the final 3:49.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Marcus Smart.
On a night when the Celtics needed his lockdown defense, Smart struggled to keep up with Pistons duo Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (20 points). Offensively, he was atrocious, scoring two points on 1-for-10 shooting. He also made costly mistakes in the final two minutes, fouling Jackson with 1:52 left, missing a crucial layup with 53 seconds remaining and committing his fourth foul on a loose-ball play with 29 seconds left, when a pair of Aron Baynes free throws stretched Detroit’s lead to four.
VINE OF THE NIGHT:
WHINE OF THE NIGHT:28 fouls.
The Celtics’ 28 fouls handed the Pistons 36 free throws. They made 23. Those fouls propelled Detroit, especially in the fourth quarter, sparking their offense and keeping them on the C’s heels.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 44.6 percent.
The Pistons finished 33-of-74 from the floor (44.6 percent) and made 10 3-pointers on 27 attempts — the first time the C’s allowed double-digit 3’s since Detroit made 11 against them at The Palace on Dec. 16. The Celtics did little to slow the Pistons in the fourth quarter, when they made 11-of-20 attempts.
@ OF THE NIGHT:
Not gonna win many games when Thomas & Smart are a combined 7-for-30. Surprised C’s led for as long as they did.
In their fourth and final meeting against the lottery-bound team whose first-round pick they own, the Celtics salvaged a 2-2 series record against the Nets this season with a 103-94 victory against Brooklyn.
Jae Crowder scored a career-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds and three steals, helping the C’s improve to 19-15 on the season — good for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Of course, had they took care of business against the Lakers and Nets at home over the weekend, they’d be sitting pretty as the No. 3 seed, but no dice.
Isaiah Thomas collected 19 points and seven assists, Evan Turner added a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) and both Amir Johnson and Jared Sullinger added a dozen points. Thaddeus Young led Brooklyn (10-24) with 23 points and 15 rebounds. More importantly, the Nets gained a game on the victorious 76ers (4-33) for the league’s worst record.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Jae Crowder.
In the game’s opening 11 minutes, Crowder scored 14 points on seven shots, propelling the Celtics to a 37-22 lead after the first quarter. Brad Stevens tweaked the starting lineup, starting Evan Tuner for the injured Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk for the struggling Jared Sullinger, in hopes of igniting the offense. And it was mainstay Crowder operating in the space created by Olynyk and the playmaking of Turner and Isaiah Thomas. And when Brooklyn cut the C’s lead to single digits in the fourth quarter, Crowder’s 3-pointer and traditional three-point play kept the Nets at bay.
As Stevens searched for answers following two terrible losses to the Lakers and Nets, he sat Lee on the bench for the entire evening. Lee arrived in Boston as a two-time former All-Star who seemingly had plenty left in the tank after playing important minutes for the Warriors during their finals victory, but he’s had trouble finding a role on the C’s. His defense has never been considered strong, so when he’s not offering offense, Lee isn’t much help.
VINE OF THE NIGHT:
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Distant future?
Can the Celtics improve as a 3-point shooting team? Or is this all they are? They entered Monday’s game shooting 32.7 percent from beyond the arc. Only four teams are worse: The Nets, Grizzlies, 76ers and Lakers. Three of those might be the league’s worst teams, and the Grizzlies rely on tremendous post play. The Celtics rank seventh in 3-point attempts per game (27.6), so if the 3’s ever started falling, the C’s offensive issues could be resolved, but will they ever fall? The Celtics shot sub-30 percent from distance yet again, despite a number of wide-open looks.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: Seven.
Not too many teams can make 24-of-27 free throws, grab 16 offensive boards and still lose by nine. But the Nets aren’t many teams. They shot just 37.6 percent, but the Celtics survived Brooklyn’s second-chance opportunities by limiting their turnovers to seven and holding the Nets to just four points on those giveaways. Conversely, the C’s scored 20 points on Brooklyn’s 14 turnovers, led by Crowder and Marcus Smart’s ball-hawking skills.
‘I’ve gotten into it. I really do like the idea,’ Celtics president of business operations Rich Gotham told The Boston Globe on Monday. ‘I think if you can find a way to sort of differentiate the game and make it fun for fans, that’s a great thing. And the Winter Classic certainly does that. Even when Fenway stages certain events, like football games, it just makes it more special for people involved and the fans. I think if you can do it, great. At the same time, my job requires me to be pragmatic, so you’d need to look at the hurdles.’
Gotham and Red Sox counterpart Sam Kennedy have discussed the possibility, according to the Globe, although there are a number of obstacles that may make it a long shot. Due to the obvious weather concerns, the game would most likely have to be played at the beginning or the end of the NBA’s regular season, when the Sox could also be using the facilities.
For the second game in a row, the Celtics‘ lost at home against one of the league’s bottom feeders in what was one of the most disappointing defeats of the season.
The Nets beat the Celtics, 100-97, and considering Boston owns Brooklyn’s first-round pick, the C’s didn’t do themselves any favors by suffering their second loss at the hands of Brooklyn in 2015-16. The two teams face each other again in Brooklyn on Monday.
Throughout a dreadful third quarter, Celtics coach Brad Stevens tried every lineup combination he could think of to spark some sort of offensive rhythm — but nothing seemed to work. The Nets (10-23) outscored the C’s 25-16 in the third quarter and carried a 10-point lead into the final frame. Behind an 11-2 run, the Celtics tied the game at 83. The Nets then responded with their own 9-2 run, forcing the Celtics (18-15) to play catch-up until the final minute, when the C’s crawled back to make it a one-possession game.
With 10 seconds left, Marcus Smart stole Brooklyn’s inbound pass, setting up a fast break that set up an open look for Jonas Jerebko, whose game-tying 3-point attempt from the corner bounced off the rim. Smart saved the ball from going out of bounds, but Jae Crowder couldn’t get a shot off before the game clock struck zero.
Brook Lopez‘s monster double-double (30 points, 13 rebounds) led the Nets. Joe Johnson added 20 points, and Thaddeus Young had 16. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 24 points, Crowder scored 16 and Evan Turner finished with 12. For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
The Celtics could not find an answer for Lopez. After the C’s erased a 10-point deficit in less than four minutes, Lopez scored nine of Brooklyn’s 19 fourth-quarter points. The Nets center scored a season-high 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting, grabbed 13 rebounds and finished with a game-high plus-17 rating.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Jared Sullinger.
The Celtics’ best rebounder, Sullinger ended the game with more turnovers (5) than rebounds (4). He scored just seven points in 18:15 and was a minus-8 on the night.
The Celtics scored 16 third-quarter points on 6-for-22 shooting. In other words, it was ugly. Although the C’s cut Brooklyn’s lead in the fourth quarter, it was the third quarter’s hideous display of shooting against the lowly Nets that stood out the most. The Celtics could’ve used one of their best shooters in the second half, but Bradley played just 10:31 of the first half before leaving the game with a left hip injury.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 21.9 percent.
When the Celtics were desperate for buckets, they resorted to chucking 3-pointers instead of trying to get to the hoop. It’s not the worst strategy, except when you shoot 7-for-32 from distance. Isaiah Thomas (2-for-9 from 3) and Jonas Jerebko (1-for-4 from 3), in particular, just couldn’t get the 3’s to fall.
@ OF THE NIGHT:
The Celtics still don't seem to have figured out that they're not talented enough to beat the league's worst teams with substandard effort.