Say hello to the new Big Three.

Say hello to the new Big Three.

In an absolutely wild game, Isaiah Thomas (28 points), Jonas Jerebko (16), and Jae Crowder (14) led the Celtics to a 106-98 home win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. Forget starting the season on the roster, this newest Celtics trio — all acquired by midseason trade — didn’€™t even crack tonight’€™s starting lineup.

The Celtics overcame a 16-point deficit and a nine-minute stretch in which they were outscored 25-1. All five Hornets starters reached double figures, led by Mo Williams‘ 31 points. Avery Bradley also contributed 19 points for the Celtics, including two put-back dunks in the final minutes that sealed the game for the C’€™s.

The victory marks the third straight for the Celtics and seventh in their last 10, pulling them into a virtual three-way tie with Charlotte and the Indiana Pacers for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

For the complete box score, click here.

ISAIAH THOMAS ATTACKS THE RIM

In his first three games with the Celtics, Thomas averaged 20.3 points a game off the bench. While he is not the most efficient player (9-22 FG), he is the only player on the team with the ability to create his own shot, getting into the lane with ease. In the first half, the referees were reluctant to use their whistles, so Thomas’€™ aggressive drives ended in missed baskets or turnovers rather than free throws. In the second half, he continued his assault on the rim and got much better results, scoring 21 of his 28 points in the final 13 minutes. Thomas also dished out seven assists.

STEVENS GOES SMALL

With Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger both inactive, it was unclear who would step up on the Celtics’ frontline. Brad Stevens decided to go small, playing Jerebko at center and Crowder at the power forward down the stretch. The pair did an excellent job of containing Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller while limiting the Hornets’ points in the paint. Offensively, Jerebko and Crowder complemented Thomas quite nicely, making big plays in the pick-and-roll and knocking down a number of key 3-pointers. The pair combined for 30 points and 16 rebounds.

CELTICS ARE PLAYOFF CONTENDERS

There is currently a five-team race for the honor of being swept by the Hawks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Entering Friday’s game, the Celtics, Pacers and Pistons effectively trailed the Nets and Hornets by one game for the eighth seed. With the win, the C’s now own the exact same record as the Hornets (23-33) and are 1-2 in the season series. The two teams play for a final time in Charlotte on March 30.

MARCUS SMART STARTS HOT, QUICKLY COOLS

With Sullinger out for the rest of the regular season, Smart has assumed the role of last player announced during pregame introductions. The rookie guard responded well to the new honor and responsibility, making his first four shots and scoring 10 points in the opening quarter. Despite this hot start, Smart simply stopped shooting in the final three quarters. He missed his next three shots and was generally a non-factor offensively.

MO WILLIAMS, MO PROBLEMS

It didn’€™t matter which of the C’s many guards was trying to stop him, Williams was dominant. He finished with 31 points, including 13 in the third quarter. When Williams went to the bench towards the end of the third quarter, his team had an 11-point lead. When he returned with his team up one, he struggled to re-find his stroke. Williams did his best to keep the Hornets in the game, scoring seven in the final minutes, but was unable to match the effort of the new Big Three.

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

An increasingly uncommon sight: Rajon Rondo draws contact. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)The Rajon Rondo trade is looking better and better.



Gigi Datome is the new Gino Time.

Jonas Jerebko

Jonas Jerebko

Gigi Datome is the new Gino Time.

The newly acquired Italian entered the game with 3:46 left in a 115-94 blowout victory against the Knicks, but it was his former Pistons teammate Jonas Jerebko who started the Celtics‘ dance party. The 27-year-old Swede scored 20 points for the first time in almost a year, draining four of the C’s 14 3-pointers on the night while adding five rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.

Additionally, Evan Turner recorded the first triple-double of his career (10 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists). Isaiah Thomas added 19 points and seven assists during his first Boston appearance in a Celtics uniform. Jae Crowder (18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists), Marcus Smart (16 points, 4 assists) and Avery Bradley (12 points) also reached double figures.

The Celtics improved to 22-33 with their second straight win, keeping pace with a crowded Eastern Conference field vying for the eighth seed. For a complete box score, click here.

ISAIAH THOMAS IS THE CELTICS’ BEST PLAYER

We’re three games into the Isaiah Thomas era in Boston, and it’s already apparent he’s the best player on this Celtics roster. Two minutes into his Garden debut, he buried his first shot attempt as a member of the C’s in their home building. It was a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics a 21-19 lead. A minute later, he connected on his second attempt — a driving layup. And that’s Thomas. No Celtics guard attempts as many shots at the rim (3.2 per game), and no Celtics player attempts as many free throws (4.7 per game). Likewise, he leads the C’s in both 3-point attempts (4.6 per game) and 3-point percentage (39.2). He is no Paul Pierce, but Thomas is the C’s most dynamic scorer since their former captain.

CELTICS STILL CAN’T PLAY DEFENSE

The C’s defense isn’t so much mean as it is the median. They rank 15th in defensive rating this season, allowing 103.3 points per 100 possessions. And they’ve been worse this calendar year, ranking 22nd (104.4 points per 100 possessions) since New Year’s Day. The Knicks took advantage early, shooting 52.4 percent and grabbing a 25-23 first-quarter lead. Six Knicks attempted shots in the frame, and six Knicks shot 50 percent or better — led by Tim Hardaway Jr.’s eight points on 4-of-5 shooting. It could’ve been worse, too, had New York not missed all six of their 3-point attempts and two of their three free throws in the opening 12 minutes. The C’s cracked down on defense in the second half, putting together a 20-0 run that spanned 5:40 from late in the third quarter to early in the fourth and put a close game out of reach. Still, they were facing the NBA’s worst team.

CENTERS OF INATTENTION

Since Kevin Garnett‘s departure, the Celtics have long made centers with any semblance of skill look like Wilt Chamberlain, but sans Jared Sullinger their paper-thin frontcourt is even turning ordinary bigs into extraordinary talents. Knicks center Jason Smith had his double-double early in the third quarter and even went on triple-double watch for a bit. Entering Wednesday, Smith had made 386 appearances over seven NBA seasons and collected 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in a game exactly once. He had those numbers with a quarter still to play agains the C’s.

HIS NAME IS JONAS

With Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk nursing injuries, suddenly the newly acquired Jerebko has been thrust into the C’s rotation, and he seized the moment. In a span of 57 seconds, Jerebko scored seven points to help the C’s keep pace with the Knicks midway through the second quarter, and it was his buzzer-beating 3-pointer that put the Celtics up 80-72 entering the final frame. As a second-round pick in 2009, the 6-foot-10 Swede started 73 games for the Pistons, averaging 9.3 points and six rebounds during a promising rookie season. Since then, though, injuries have played a role in him not living up to that promise, but perhaps Brad Stevens can help him recapture it.

E.T. PHONE HOME

It took 202 games, but Turner finally dialed in his first career triple-double. Signed through next season at an average annual value of less than $4 million, Turner continues to pay dividends as a late-summer signing. As Stevens admitted, “I couldn’t take him off the floor,” playing his versatile wing 18 straight minutes during their second-half run.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach


It was announced following the All-Star break that Jared Sullinger would miss the remainder of this season with a stress fracture in his left foot. Injuries happen in sports, but these type of injuries alway seem to happen to Sullinger.

This will be the second season in Sullinger’s three-year NBA career that he will have to shut it down early. The cause for even more concern is that both injuries (back surgery in 2013 and now his foot injury) can be attributed to Sullinger’s poor conditioning. This is something the power forward (listed at 265 lbs) is aware of, and plans to address.

“A little bit of everything,” Sullinger said of his goals during his recovery process. “[I want to] change [my] physique, change the way I look — that’s the biggest thing is just change the way I look. I’m tired of looking on camera and just seeing how I look, seeing how I play during extended minutes. Conditioning’s going to be a big factor, but it’s just going to be hard because all I can do is ride the bike. So we’re going to find ways to get me in the best shape as possible.

“Getting in shape is going to be the biggest thing just because stuff like this can reoccur. You don’t want it to reoccur, [I’ve] just got to get in better shape.”

So does Sullinger regret not taking his conditioning seriously enough in the past?

“I got in better shape,” he said about his last offseason. “It’s just there’s another level to it. There’s always another level [of getting in shape] for everybody. I’ve just got to take it to another level now. This year I came back in better shape, but obviously it wasn’t good enough. And now I’ve just got to get back to the grit and grind, the usual, to kind of break my body down just to build it back up.”

Sullinger will remain in Boston for the remainder of the season and continue working with team trainers and studying film with an eye on next season.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow


Isaiah Thomas was only traded to the Celtics last Thursday, but he has made a huge impact since arriving. He helped keep the C’s in a close battle with the Lakers before being ejected on a questionable call, and then was the difference maker down the stretch in a big win over the Suns — the team that traded Thomas away.

Wednesday, before the Celtics squared off against the Knicks, Thomas spoke to the media at the TD Garden for the first time since the trade. So what was the first thing on his mind while arriving at the Garden after playing in Phoenix?

“It’s cold in here. It’s cold everywhere in Boston, I came to realize,” Thomas said with a grin.

As for some advice from his teammates on playing in Boston, the 5-foot-9 guard had a bit more to offer.

“Shavlik [Randolph] was saying it’s going to be different from everywhere you’ve played in your NBA career,” he said. “I’m excited about it. I’ve played here as a visitor so I know a little bit about the crowd and how energetic they are and how supportive they are. So I’m excited for it.”

Excited was the best word to describe the demeanor of the new Celtic.

“Oh, I don’t know … I’m just excited,” he said again when asked what he thought his reception would be upon getting in the game. “I don’t know. They might cheer for me … hopefully. I’m excited to get my home debut and hopefully we can get a win.”

As for Thomas’ role with the C’s, coach Brad Stevens says he expects to continue to bring Thomas off the bench for the foreseeable future. But Thomas sees himself as a player that can adapt.

“I can fit in with anybody,” Thomas said. “You give me a ball and a basketball hoop, that’s where I’m comfortable at — and you can probably say the same thing about all these guys in this locker room. They’ve made the transition easy, the coaches have made the transition easy, everybody has. So it’s easy to fit in when guys accept you.”

As for coming off the bench specifically? Thomas kept it short and sweet.

“Whatever [Stevens] needs me to do.”

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

On Sunday the Lakers were able to edge the Celtics in overtime, earning just their 14th win of the season. After scoring 25 points in the victory, Jeremy Lin was being interviewed before teammates Nick Young, Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer€”€” crashed in and began celebrating excitedly.

Kobe Bryant, who has been out with injury, didn’t see the footage until Jimmy Kimmel showed it to him on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” (skip to 1:30 mark in video above). When he saw it, Bryant sat in his chair glaring, but without saying a word.

And Bryant wasn’t the only one to react this way. Lakers coach Byron Scott said he was “angry” and “very disappointed” in his players’ behavior.

“Kobe’s reaction was pretty much my reaction when I was watching it,” Scott said to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes after Tuesday’s practice. “I was just shaking my head like, ‘I can’t believe this.’ ”

He also addressed the incident with his players and told them he was disappointed, but he didn’t discipline any of them as he believes “the matter is resolved” after just talking to them.

“That’s not us as Lakers,” Scott said. “That’s not how we act. It showed a lack of professionalism.”

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

After dropping a tough game to the Lakers in overtime on Sunday, the Celtics were able to let some of that frustration out against the team that traded them Isaiah Thomas just four days ago.

After dropping a tough game to the Lakers in overtime on Sunday, the Celtics were able to let some of that frustration out against the team that traded them Isaiah Thomas just four days ago.

In a blowout turned thriller, it was Thomas who had the most frustration to vent after being traded by the Suns and then being ejected from his first game as a Celtic. He did just that, leading the C’s (21-33) over the Suns (29-28) 115-110. Thomas had a late 4-point play followed by an acrobatic finish at the rim that essentially sealed a Boston win after Phoenix had cut the deficit to just a single point.

Avery Bradley led the way for the Celtics with 22 points (14 in the first quarter) while Thomas had his second 21 point game off the bench in as many games for the Celtics. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight were at the head of the charge for the Suns, scoring 21 and 20 points respectively.

For a complete box score, click here.

ISAIAH FACTOR

In a pick-and-roll league, having a pick-and-roll player like Thomas is crucial. The Celtics now have an offensive threat; a player that draws double teams because he can come off of a pick and make a quick decision to pass, shoot or drive to the rim. At 5-foot-9 he’s small in stature, but his value to the Celtics going forward is enormous. Not to overreact to someone who figures to be just a piece of Boston’s future success, but if Thomas’ skill set is so obvious in just a couple of games with a depleted squad, just wait until he’s not the focal point of the opposing defense. You can see why Danny Ainge has been chasing Thomas these past couple years. He was an absolute game changer down the stretch of the only game we’ve had the pleasure of watching him finish in green. Aside from his 21 points and seven assists, Thomas led his team by a wide margin in plus/minus, finishing as a +21 in his 27 minutes of play.

CREDIT AVERY BRADLEY

In WEEI.com’s recent Celtics roundtable I wrote that Bradley was the one guy that needed to improve his play. Maybe he’s been reading Green Street during his down time on the road trip? AB has been fantastic of late. He came out and set the tone early and then had a huge steal and 3-pointer late to help seal the victory. And he did it all while hounding the athletic backcourt of Bledsoe and Knight — finishing with six steals to go with his 23 points.

WHERE’S THE BIGS?

With Kelly Olynyk still recovering from an ankle injury and Jared Sullinger now out for the rest of the season, size is tough to come by on the Celtics’ active roster. Brandon Bass and Tyler Zeller both started in the front court, playing 30 and 36 minutes respectively, but those were the only two big men that played. Shavlik Randolph and Jonas Jerebko both were DNP’s, which meant a lot of small ball. Jae Crowder (12 points, seven rebounds, four assists) played a lot of power forward during his 29 minutes on the floor, as did Gerald Wallace who logged 15 minutes.

HOT FIRST HALF

Remember when the Celtics had eclipsed 100 points by the end of the third quarter in an opening night win over the Nets? Well, that’s the only other time this season the C’s had scored 67 points in the first half — until they matched that number on Monday. They did so by shooting the lights out from downtown. The Green shot 10-for-17 from beyond the arc in the first half in Phoenix (and that number includes two deep heaves from Thomas at the end of each quarter — both misses). Bass also dominated the interior leading all first half scorers with 15.

CLASSIC COLLAPSE (UNTIL THE ISAIAH FACTOR)

If you’ve been following the Celtics this season then you saw this one coming. After building a lead of as many as 20 points in the early third quarter, the C’s found themselves leading by just one late in the fourth. This time, however, their newcomer was able to bail them out and closeout the win.

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow