The Boston Celtics (25-35) defeated the New Orleans Pelicans (33-29) 104-98 Friday night.  After a close three quarters, the C’€™s pulled away in the final frame. Isaiah Thomas led the C’€™s with 27 points, while Brandon Bass and Evan Tuner added 17 and 16 points respectively.

For the second time this season the Celtics successfully contained The Brow. Although Anthony Davis had a double-double (29 points 14 rebounds), he had a limited impact in the second half. Eric Gordon (20 points), Omer Asik (10), Luke Babbit (12), and Tyreke Evans (11) also finished in double-figures.

For a complete box score click here.

ISAIAH THOMAS CONTINUES TO SHINE
Thomas had his most efficient game as a Celtic, shooting 8-13 from the field. Thomas was particularly proficient from beyond the arc; hitting 4 of his 6 three point attempts. Thomas scored 14 of his points in the fourth quarter, making three key three pointers to open the frame, which put the Celtics ahead for good. With Avery Bradley expected to miss the next two games, it will be interesting to see if Thomas cracks the starting lineup.

BAE CROWDER: SOLID STARTER
With Bradley sidelined due to a left elbow strain, Crowder joined the starting lineup. In 37 minutes, Crowder scored 11 points and grabbed 9 rebounds. Although he did not light up the box score in his latest opportunity to start, Crowder continues to play excellent defense, grabbing four steals on Friday.

WE LOVE ANTHONY DAVIS
Although he didn’€™t have his best performance, The Brow is still a joy to watch. Although he struggled to get to line, Davis still dropped 29 points and continually showed why he will soon be the best player in the game. Once he is able to consistently hit an outside jumper, he will be an unstoppable force in the NBA. Despite his somewhat underwhelming performance, WEEI still appreciates his enormous talent

KELLY OLYNYK WORKING HIS WAY BACK
After seeing limited action against the Jazz on Wednesday, tonight Olynyk played 22 minutes, scoring 8 points. Kelly struggled with his shot, going 1 for 9 from the field and, but did a nice job of getting to the line, hitting 6 of 8 from the charity stripe. Expect Olynyk to see more minutes as the Celtics continue their three-game road trip.

CELTICS PLAY TEAM DEFENSE
The Celtics held Anthony Davis to only 29 points; many of them scored during garbage time in the fourth quarter. The C’€™s did an excellent job in transition as well as on the defensive glass, grabbing 30 defensive rebounds. The Celtics also notched 8 steals, while forcing 18 turnovers.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

The Celtics backcourt just became a little less crowded.

The Celtics backcourt just became a little less crowded.

The team announced on Twitter, prior to their trip to New Orleans Thursday, that Avery Bradley did not make the trip and would be out against the Pelicans Friday night when they open a three-game road trip.

Bradley will miss the contest with a sprained left elbow, suffered Wednesday night during the first quarter of their win over the Jazz. After briefly exiting to the locker room, he returned, donned a black arm sleeve and finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. He played 36 minutes but still appeared to favor the left arm, as he did when he initially left late in the first quarter.

The Celtics announced Thursday afternoon on Twitter that Bradley did not travel to New Orleans with his team. The tweet included no word on whether he could potentially meet up with his teammates before the end of their three-game road trip.

Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart combined to help the Celtics set a new franchise record for fewest turnovers (3) in a game and figure to make up the slack until Bradley returns. Thomas, as he did on Wednesday, has been coming off the bench to provide a scoring spark. It’s not clear if he will continue in that role or replace Bradley in the starting lineup. Smart started the 16th game of his rookie season on Wednesday.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Put all those “Shaqtin A Fool” parties on hold for now.

According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, big man JaVale McGee will not be coming to Boston after all. Bulpett reported Thursday afternoon that his representative and the Celtics could not come to an agreement on a contract.

Put all those “Shaqtin A Fool” parties on hold for now.

According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, big man JaVale McGee will not be coming to Boston after all. Bulpett reported Thursday afternoon that his representative and the Celtics could not come to an agreement on a contract.

As a result, McGee remains a free agent center available for any team to scoop him up.

Earlier Thursday, Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported the Celtics and McGee were all but set on a deal that would land him in Boston as the Celtics try to make a stretch run for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Celtics certainly were not perfect Wednesday night. They shot miserably from the floor (33-of-88) and from the line (11-of-20).

But when you commit just three turnovers the entire game leading to zero points for the opposition, your margin of error is as wide as the Grand Canyon they couldn’t find with a jump shot. Or at least, it should be.

The Celtics set a new franchise record for fewest turnovers in a game with three since the NBA started keeping such records in the 1970-71 season. Think about that. That covers a period that included Jo Jo White, Tiny Archibald, Dennis Johnson and Rajon Rondo. Never had a Celtics team taken such meticulous care of the rock than they did Wednesday night in the heart-pounding 85-84 win.

“You only end up the game with three turnovers, you should win the game,” Marcus Smart said. “That’s what we did tonight. We turned the ball over a lot against [Cleveland]. We just wanted to come out and be strong with it and execute on the offensive and defensive end.”

Added Isaiah Thomas, “That was great. We were decisive, we played with energy and we made the right plays for the most part.”

Thomas had just one turnover in 27 minutes while Smart played a perfect game over his 40 minutes. The only other turnovers came from hero Tyler Zeller and Avery Bradley.

The Celtics committed just eight turnovers against Golden State on Sunday night and should’ve won the game but fell apart down the stretch offensively.

“That’€™s one of our five things that we have made a big deal for our team and moving forward,” coach Brad Stevens said. “We went into the game eighth in the league in turnover percentages which is good, and last time we allowed Utah back in the game because we threw the ball all over their gym and almost lost that game there. So we placed a huge priority on it, but it helps to have Isaiah handling the ball because he’€™s a hard guy to get it from.”

What makes this all the more impressive is they did it against one of the longest teams in the NBA, as Stevens calls the Jazz and one of the most defensive.

“I’€™m not worried about the misses,” Stevens said of the 37.5 percent shooting from the floor. “I’€™m worried about the execution as far as late we were a little off in what we were trying to do on the high pick, just because we haven’€™t been there together. And so we literally walked into the locker room, drew it up, and talked about it right after the game.

“Because we have a bunch of new guys and we’€™re not practicing, so we’€™ve got to get better on the fly and as we’€™re thinking about it. But the number one thing I walk out of here with is: Damn, their defense is good. Like that’€™s an outstanding defense, and it’€™s got the potential to be an outstanding defense for a long time, with that length.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

RT @JaValeMcGee34 pic.twitter.com/drzTAjwRC7

— P️️’†•ï¸3’ƒ£®®3’ƒ£ (@JaValeMcGee34) March 5, 2015

RT @JaValeMcGee34 pic.twitter.com/drzTAjwRC7

— P️️’†•ï¸3’ƒ£®®3’ƒ£ (@JaValeMcGee34) March 5, 2015

When last we saw JaVale McGee as a starting NBA center, the 7-footer was a 23-year-old averaging 11.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 27.4 minutes a night. The Celtics would sign a rim-protecting big man with that kind of talent in a nanosecond. Except, when last we saw JaVale McGee as a starting NBA center, the 20-win Washington Wizards dumped him on the Denver Nuggets for an oft-injured, 29-year-old Nene in 2011-12 — not exactly a ringing endorsement of the uber-athletic former first-round pick.

Since then, McGee signed a four-year, $44 million contract, only to find himself relegated to the bench behind the likes of Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos and Jusuf Nurkic for reasons both within (effort) and beyond (left tibia stress fracture) his control. After appearing in just 22 games for Denver over the past two seasons, the Nuggets had to sweeten the pot with a first-round pick just to dump his salary on the Philadelphia 76ers, who subsequently waived him six games into his short-lived Philly tenure.

Yet, the Celtics still leapt at the chance to sign the 27-year-old version of McGee. According to ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman, the C’s are nearing a deal that will lock him up through next season. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed the report on CBS Sports Radio Thursday morning.

“He’s been paid a lot of money in our league,” said Ainge. “He’s had some injuries, but he hasn’t lived up to his potential yet. We’re hoping that he can under [Celtics coach] Brad [Stevens]’ tutelage, and I think he’s in a good place emotionally and mentally. I think he really wants to get his career on the right path.”

The Celtics beat out “10 teams, mostly playoff contenders,” for McGee’s services, if only because they offer opportunity few other competitors cannot. Terms have not been disclosed, but assuming his contract is comparable to the career resurrection offer the C’s made to Evan Turner (2 years, $6.7 million), why not take a flyer on a guy who has averaged 15.2 points, 10 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per 36 minutes for his career?

It’s important to keep in mind McGee has not been a good NBA basketball player for some time now, particularly on the defensive end, where opponents have made nearly two-thirds of their shots around the rim against him over the past two seasons. Three teams have given up on McGee in his mid-20s, and he’s become of a “Shaqtin’ a Fool” legend. None of that gives any indication he’ll help the Celtics this season.

Still, over the past two years, Stevens has shown the ability to harness potential, squeezing value out of Turner and Jordan Crawford, even if neither plays much of a role in the rebuilding process. The Celtics still have two early second-round picks from the 76ers as a result of the Crawford trade and likely view McGee’s signing as a similar low-risk acquisition that won’t prevent them from cutting ties with him down the road.

Meanwhile, McGee will have every opportunity to compete for minutes on a Celtics team that currently features Tyler Zeller as the only legitimate center on the roster. Add Jared Sullinger’s season-ending injury and Kelly Olynyk’s health issues, and McGee could suddenly be a rotation player for the Eastern Conference’s eight seed. Two weeks ago, nobody could have guessed Isaiah Thomas would be throwing alley-oops to JaVale McGee during a playoff run in Boston, but here we are. For better or worse, this ought to be fun.

“There are a lot of growing pains with a lot of young kids,” added Ainge. “They don’t go about it right. They don’t go about their career correctly. They’re into the NBA lifestyle as opposed to being a pro, working, trying to improve yourself and having a long-lasting career. I’m not sure what’s gone on with JaVale and why he hasn’t reached his potential, but I know he has a lot of potential and I do think that coaching personalities, team philosophies, team style of play and opportunity are usually what it takes for young kids to succeed.”

The experiment didn’t work for any of McGee’s four coaches over his previous four seasons, but this is the NBA, where athletic 7-foot free agents with plenty of tread left on their tires get signed in no time.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

If there was one person in the building not surprised by the brilliant adjustment made by Celtics coach Brad Stevens on the game-winning inbounds play from Marcus Smart Wednesday night, it was Gordon Hayward.

He was, of course, a star player for Stevens at Butler University when the Bulldogs went to back-to-back national title games, losing to Duke and UConn. Hayward was also the man who scored what appeared to be the game-winning basket with 1.7 seconds left, giving Utah an 84-83 lead.

Then the Celtics called timeout. They wanted Smart to inbound the ball. But the rookie was having all sorts of problems getting the ball. Another timeout. Then Stevens diagrammed a play to get the look that would free Tyler Zeller at the rim, if Smart could get the ball in.

“They switched the play before when Marcus couldn’€™t get it inbounded with Hayward and (Derrick) Favors,” Stevens said. “So, we wanted to try to get that switch again, so we just ran a little action to get that switch again and then (Rudy) Gobert was on the ball so he wasn’€™t at the rim. So we were hoping to slip and catch it a little bit cleaner and lay it in, but, you know, that was the goal ‘€“ and it ended up being okay.”

Was Stevens surprised that Gobert was on the ball?

“That’€™s a hard call, and I think that with Marcus Smart taking it out and Gobert on the ball it’€™s hard to deliver a good pass,” Stevens said.”If Gobert tips it the game’€™s basically over, unless it tips right to us. So it’€™s easy to second-guess that stuff but I won’€™t because I saw how long Marcus had to throw over just to get the pass to where it was. It’€™s another reason why we had to throw the ball in the air, though.”

Zeller caught the ball, gave a quick pump fake and delivered the game-winner as time expired.

‘€œIt was a great pass,” Hayward said of the Smart entry pass from midcourt. “That’€™s what Coach Stevens does. He’€™s excellent in those situations of coming up with a play, I know it better than anybody. It’€™s a great play, great design, they knew we were switching. The pass had to be perfect to get over Rudy (Gobert) and Rod (Rodney Hood) and it was and then he (Zeller) made a good finish too. Credit them with their finish too, but that’€™s not where we lost it though, we should have been better.”

While Zeller was remarkably calm after the winning shot, Stevens couldn’t resist showing off his incredibly dry sense of humor.

“He just wanted to enjoy 1.7 seconds at the rim and being the biggest guy, I think, for once,” Stevens said. “He fumbled it a little bit, but we always say with 1.7 you have two dribbles. So we know there’€™s time to fumble the ball, regain yourself, and get it back up.

“He’€™s a very businesslike person, he is an everyday guy, he works really hard, he has a good sense of humor and he’€™s a good guy. But with some guys you might be concerned about them hitting a last-second shot and how they’€™re going to react the next game; I’€™m not concerned with him.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia