Brad Stevens isn’t the kind of coach to throw chairs or even raise his voice to get his point across when he’s ticked off at his team.

But Wednesday night, after a complete and utter no-show in the second half of a 109-94 loss to the undermanned Thunder at the Garden, Stevens came as close to publicly calling them out as you’ll see from the mild-manned coach.

“Well, I think it was, first of all, their energy and their togetherness, and their energy ‘€“ again ‘€“ and their passion was obvious and evident. And I don’€™t know if it was the fact that we missed a couple of shots that got us out of a rhythm, but the bottom line is we didn’€™t guard them at all in the second half. And they had a lot to do with that. They ran good stuff, and they made shots.”

Former Boston College sharpshooter Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow (28 points each) picked up the slack for a team missing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The Thunder, who trailed 51-42 at the half, outscored the Celtics, 67-43, in the second half, as Boston allowed Oklahoma City to shoot 62 percent (26 of 42).

“Credit to them,” Stevens said. “We talked about guys like Morrow; if you ever leave Morrow, he’€™s going to score,” Stevens began. “If you ever get hit on a screen and you’€™re lost, he’€™s going to score. And he scored a lot. And we let the bigs run down the lane and dunk it a couple times. I mean, 67 points in a half is pretty poor.”

Did the Celtics relax too much against a team that was missing its two big guns and playing its third game in four nights?

“Really talented. Just really long and athletic. I told everyone before the game ‘€“ at least I thought I did ‘€“ that I thought it was going to be really tough for us.

“I don’€™t really consider other peoples’€™ schedules in it. If I’€™ve learned anything in my short time in the NBA it’€™s that all that stuff is just food for thought, and it doesn’€™t always show itself true. I mean, I thought we played with way better energy Saturday night than we did in the second half today, and we were on the second of a back-to-back. So I don’€™t really get into that or think about that. I think you can muster up the energy to play a basketball game any night. And credit them, they did and we didn’€™t. We got out-performed big-time in the second half. In the first half we were pretty good. I don’€™t know why we were so’€¦.we were a sieve on defense.”

Jackson’s three at the end of the third quarter seemed to take the air completely out of the Celtics, as a one-point deficit turned into four heading into the fourth.

“I think it may add to their outlook, but it shouldn’€™t,” Stevens said. “I mean there’€™s so many possessions in a quarter; it shouldn’€™t impact you a whole lot. So again, very rarely do I feel like we were just out-efforted in a half. And we weren’€™t in the first, but we were in the second.

“Maybe they took it. I don’€™t know if we matched it. But at the same time, I don’€™t want to take away from them. So I thought they turned it up to a different level; you could hear their bench down at our bench. I thought that they were clearly ‘€“ I thought Lance Thomas probably made a couple of the biggest plays in the whole game, just by getting loose balls and coming up with rebounds and just running through guys. And, hey, that’€™s what you have to do to win.”

After racing out to an 18-3 lead to open the game, the Celtics were outscored 106-76 the rest of the way. Is that a teaching moment for Stevens?

“I think the leads are so overrated,” Stevens said. “We talked about that last week, whether it’€™s a lead at home or on the road if you’€™re ahead or behind, I think you’€™ve got to play the whole 48 minutes. It’€™s a good question but you know, I don’€™t need to learn it and there’€™s only a couple guys that have been in the league less than me, so hopefully it’€™s not something you have to learn. And the young guys I guess you do, but there aren’€™t very many of them.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Those 2007-08 Celtics share a bond that won’t be broken, so it wasn’t surprising to see Leon Powe waiting in the visiting locker room for Thunder center Kendrick Perkins to get dressed.

“Sometimes you just need a reality check,” said Perkins, who has worked through his share of ups and downs in Oklahoma City, coming off the bench in Wednesday’s 109-94 win over his former team. “Sometimes people you love just have to put you in place and talk to you, and that’s all you need at times, is just that one person to talk to.

“I go to a lot of people, man,” he added. “I talk to [Kevin Garnett] a lot. I talk to [Rajon] Rondo a lot. KG is the one who tells me the truth all the time. He’s going to tell me the truth whether I want to hear it or not.”

Rondo wouldn’t share exactly what he and he and his former teammate discuss. “I can’€™t really say what we talk about, really. He told me some things, too, but I won’€™t put him on blast.”

Perkins is a little more forthcoming about their relationship. They became best friends as the young tandem that filled out a starting five that featured Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, so when Perkins was dealt to OKC for Jeff Green at the 2011 trade deadline, it taught them both a less in NBA business. Still, they remain thick as thieves.

Naturally, as Perkins and Rondo approach unrestricted free agency for the first time in their careers, their conversations occasionally focus on the future. “I think it’€™s a great place for him,” Perkins told reporters prior to the game. “I think he wants to stay here. We talk on the regular, and I think he should stay. If I was him, I’€™d stay.”

Rondo didn’t disagree. “That’s about accurate,” said the Celtics captain. “From Media Day in the beginning, that’€™s what I said initially, so … my perspective hasn’t changed, and I love being a Celtic.”

Asked if Rondo was enjoying the spotlight with his own supporting cast, showcasing his talent without Garnett, Pierce and Allen sharing the stage, Perkins said, “I think he is. This is a great opportunity for him, the way he’s been playing, flirting with a triple-double. He’s just got to teach. It’s a learning process, but he’s got some nice pieces around him. He’s just got to keep building and playing well. It’s a good situation for him.”

Indeed, Rondo is averaging 11.3 assists, 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds in six appearances this season, showing he’s capable of starring in the show, even if he isn’t yet satisfied after returning from the broken bone in his left hand.

“This is around Game 6 for me, so it’€™s still kind of preseason, but everything counts, so I’m still trying to get my rhythm, my wind, and my timing with my teammates,” he said. “So, I’€™m still a long way from where I want to be.”

Whether or not the Rondo-centric Celtics become a long-running production in Boston remains to be seen, but Perkins raved in his review after his first viewing of the latest version of the C’s.

“I think they’re at the level now where they should be looking to make the playoffs,” he said. “They’ve got a pretty decent squad — pretty solid for the East.” Considering Perkins becomes an unrestricted free agent in July and the unbreakable bond he shares with Rondo, the possibility remains he could return this summer, reversing roles as the elder statesmen on a Celtics team once again hoping to restore glory in the Garden. “If the opportunity presents itself, I will, but you never know,” Perkins added. “It’€™s not on me. You have to be wanted to come back.”

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

The Celtics are tough to figure out.

Rajon Rondo's 20 points couldn't stop a Celtics meltdown. (Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo‘s 20 points couldn’t stop a Celtics meltdown. (Getty Images)

The Celtics are tough to figure out.

Coming in riding a two-game win streak, the C’€™s raced to a 15-point lead in the first quarter but then struggled against a star-less Thunder team that picked up its first road win of the season by a score of 109-94 (click here for box score).

The win for Oklahoma City was reminiscent of Boston’€™s short-handed victory against the heavily favored Bulls on the second night of a back-to-back. The Thunder did not look like the team that lost Tuesday night in Milwaukee, beating the Celtics in convincing fashion.

Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow led the Thunder with 28 points each. Morrow came off the bench and was quiet much of the game until exploding for 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Here are five things we learned in a game that dropped the Celtics back below .500 (3-4):

ANOTHER RAJON RONDO RETURN

After sitting out the entire preseason with a broken left hand, but returning in time for the season opener, Rondo unhappily missed the team’€™s trip to Chicago this past weekend. It was decided during last Friday night’€™s game that Rondo would have minor surgery on Saturday morning to remove screws that were still in his hand from the initial surgery.

The point guard was able to practice on Tuesday, and was back in the starting lineup against the Thunder on Wednesday without missing a beat. Rondo finished the game with . . . wait for it . . .

ANOTHER NEAR RAJON RONDO TRIPLE-DOUBLE

It’€™s getting to the point where we might be on Rondo-triple-double watch every single game. He had 10 points to go along with eight rebounds and six assists at the half.

After posting a triple-double at home last Wednesday against the Raptors, Rondo was just one rebound away this time. He totaled 20 points, nine boards and 12 helpers by the end of the game.

ANOTHER MISSED GAME IN BOSTON FOR KEVIN DURANT

Durant suffered a fractured foot in October and is currently in the middle of his 6-8 week recovery. But missing games in Boston has been a theme throughout Durant’€™s career.

Coming into this season, Durant was somewhat of an iron man in the NBA. He missed just six total games in the past five years. But Wednesday marked the third time in six years that the reigning MVP sat out a game in Boston. 

ANOTHER HOT START AT HOME

Before the first quarter was halfway through, the Celtics held a lead of 18-3 over the Thunder, who at that time were shooting 1-for-10 from the field with no rebounds as a team.

The Celtics cooled off, though. They finished the frame with just 24 points, making it the only first quarter at home in which the C’€™s have failed to put 30 points on the board so far this season.

The Celtics were outscored 106-76 after their quick start.

FAILED REDEMPTION

The Thunder were without both Durant and All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, not only on Wednesday, but last season when they played in Boston.

But Brad Stevens remembers that the Thunder were no easy opponent last year, even without their stars: “This is the same group that beat us by 20 last year,” Stevens said after Tuesday’€™s practice.

Unfortunately for Stevens, he got nearly the same result this year.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

In the NBA, the worst place to be is the middle of the pack. If you are not contending for a championship or tanking, in my mind, you are not relevant. Because of this, each week I will rank the top five and bottom five teams in the league. The rankings are based entirely on my own observations and opinions, so please feel free to call me names in the comments section.

FIVE BEST

1. Raptors (7-1)

First off, I am a Drake fan. I generally like his music, but more importantly he played Jimmy on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” For some reason, I watched Degrassi on The N, the teenage version of the kids channel Noggin, religiously in middle school. I knew Drake before he was Wheelchair Jimmy, when he was just Jimmy Brooks, the basketball-playing eighth-grader who was trying to have sex with his girlfriend, Ashley. I was there when Ashley took ecstasy and made out with resident bad boy Sean, right in front of Jimmy’s face! I feel for Jimmy, therefore I will forever like Drake.

Also, The Raptors are a really good basketball team. I watched Kyle Lowry drop 35 on the Celtics and will his team to victory. DeMar DeRozan ain’t bad, either.

2. Rockets (6-1)

Last week I predicted the demise of the Rockets, chiding their soft early schedule. Then they came out and beat the Spurs by 17. James Harden did this to Aron Baynes.

3. Grizzlies (7-1)

The Grizz have lost only one game and are leading the league in points allowed per game. Mike Conley‘s ankle injury doesn’t seem to be serious, and Marc Gasol used to look like this:

 

4. Warriors (5-2)

In the first week of the season, Klay Thompson was the Western Conference Player of the Week. This week, it was Stephen Curry. The Splash Brothers are wetter than an Otter’s pocket.

5. Heat (5-2)

In its first seven games, Miami already has played three back-to-backs. Wade has payed in all seven games and is averaging close to 32 minutes, 20 points and seven assists a game. Chris Bosh is doing well as top banana, and last Sunday Luol Deng scored 30 against the Mavericks. With LeBron leaving, I may consider rooting for the underdog Heat, then remember I made the foolish decision to name my podcast We Hate Dwyane Wade. 

FIVE WORST

5. Pistons (2-5) A Pistons fan on Reddit recently had a brilliant idea for a Josh Smith trade: a candy necklace. He argued, “A candy necklace will miss many less shots and probably has a higher IQ. Only problem I see is that I don’t think anyone will be willing to make that trade with us.”

Smith has managed to shoot an abysmal 35 percent from the field this year. He is the poster child for crap basketball and will probably give SVG diabetes. I know this makes little sense medically, but Josh Smith makes no sense. One of the bunkest players in the league.

4. Nuggets (1-5) The Nuggets are so bad that they took to trolling LeBron by refusing to acknowledge him on Twitter. I fully support this tactic, much easier than playing better.

3. Pacers (2-6) The Pacers probably are the most depressing franchise. With Paul George out, there is really no reason to watch their games. Unless your idea of fun is Chris Copeland leading an NBA team in scoring — if so, then by all means.

2. Lakers (1-6) The Lakers finally won a game, and Ed Davis wants Sir Charles to resume eating.

The “eat only when the Lakers win” would be a really effective and incredibly dangerous dieting strategy. Right now all Lakers fans have to be happy about are unfounded Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo rumors.

Kobe, your thoughts on the Lakers season?

1. 76ers (0-7) At the very least, the 76ers are entertaining on social media. K.J. McDaniels didn’t have to swat that ball 20 rows into the seats, but he did it for you and me. Also, glad to see that Joel Embiid is back. In attendance for the Eagles game on Monday night, Embiid accurately declared that the #PanthersAintSh*t. Unfortunately, his handlers must of gotten to him and the tweet was deleted. FREE EMBIID. NO JUSTICE NO PEACE.    

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard
How have the Celtics looked after a couple weeks? Could they be a playoff team? These questions and more...

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WALTHAM — The Celtics held practice at their training facility in Waltham on Tuesday as they prepare for a three-game homestand, beginning Wednesday night against the Thunder.

WALTHAM — The Celtics held practice at their training facility in Waltham on Tuesday as they prepare for a three-game homestand, beginning Wednesday night against the Thunder.

The most noteworthy news from practice was the fact that Rajon Rondo practiced in full after missing last Saturday’s game in Chicago to have screws removed from his surgically repaired left hand. Although minor, this certainly was not a procedure that was planned far in advance — nor did Rondo seem happy about missing the game.

“Danny [Ainge] made a decision at halftime [of Friday'€™s victory over the Pacers], I had no idea,”€ said Rondo when asked when it was made official he wouldn’€™t be joining the team on their flight to Chicago Friday night.

After Friday’s game was when Rondo was notified he would be staying back in Boston to get the screws removed. Even without Rondo, the Celtics defeated the Bulls, 106-101.

“€œ[I] came in very pissed off, but, you know, the team got the win. … I just wanted to go travel with my team and play against Chicago,” Rondo said.

Rondo added he thought he would have had the surgery on Sunday — an off day.

“Well, I thought we would have the day off Sunday anyway, and I thought I could do it Sunday, but they [Ainge and team doctors] make the decisions,”€ Rondo said.

According to coach Brad Stevens, the surgery was a success.

“From everything I gathered, it was a quick in-and-out, as far as getting into his hand, taking the screws out and they anticipated him being back and full-go today and he was,” Stevens said.

As for Wednesday’s game, the Celtics point guard should be good to go.

“It’s a little sore, but nothing I can’t play with,” said Rondo.

Other practice notes:

— Marcus Smart watched practice in a compression boot after severely spraining his ankle in Friday night’s win. Smart had a very noticeable limp as he walked back into the training room after observing from the sidelines, but he is still at least a couple of weeks away from getting back on the court in a real game.

“I just told him, you know, to stay positive and, you know, stay around the guys and keep your spirits up,” Rondo said.

— Marcus Thornton left practice with a twisted ankle.

“Yeah, he walked off,” Stevens said. “€œI’€™m not concerned with it being a long-term thing right now. Everything that he’€™s told me, it sounds more of a day-to-day type thing.”€

— James Young was not at practice due to a personal matter, but is expected back in time for the game on Wednesday.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

Let’s face it: This is the season of Rajon Rondo. As interesting as it is to evaluate the frontcourt progress of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley‘s offensive potential and Jeff Green‘s surprising consistency, the biggest questions the Celtics must answer all involve Rondo. Just how good is he? Will he be traded? What can they get in return? In a weekly feature on Green Street, we’ll take stock of the Celtics captain’s status every Tuesday.

RAJON RONDO TRADE VALUE

When asked if Rondo looked like the player who earned four straight NBA All-Star Game nods from 2010-13, one of the players he’ll battle for a fifth trip to the exhibition didn’t hesitate.

“He had a triple-double tonight,” Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said after Rondo collected 15 assists, 13 points and 10 boards in a 110-107 loss to Toronto. “That’s pretty good, ain’t it?”

It’s true. The most telling indicator of Rondo’s return to health has been his ability to hover around a triple-double on a nightly basis. He’s posted averages of 11.2 assists, 9.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 33.2 minutes over five games. Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to post those numbers over a full season (he did it twice … while averaging 30 points), so it’s unlikely he’ll maintain that pace through 82 games. Regardless, he’s been remarkable.

While the shooting stroke that produced one of the game’s most effective mid-range jumpers just prior to his injury has yet to return (Rondo’s 43.8 true shooting percentage currently ranks among the league’s worst for starting guards), he currently leads the NBA per game in assists (11.2), assist opportunities (21.0) and points created by assist (26.4).

Through six games, the Celtics rank second in points per game (106.3), fourth in pace (96.3 possessions per 48 minutes) and seventh in offensive rating (110.5 points per 100 possessions), and their success can in large part be attributed to Rondo’s orchestration on that end.

Defensively, though, the Celtics rank among the league’s six worst units, allowing 110.1 points per 100 possessions, and they’ve only been slightly better (107.8 defensive rating) with Rondo manning the point. Still, his 1.6 steals per game and 22.6 defensive rebound percentage place him in the league’s upper echelon in both categories, regardless of position.

Overall, Rondo has returned to All-Star form, and the rest of the league has taken note.

Value: High

Would the Cavaliers trade All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving (left) for Celtics captain Rajon Rondo? (Getty Images)

Would the Cavaliers trade All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving (left) for Celtics captain Rajon Rondo? (Getty Images)

RAJON RONDO TRADE IDEA

Over the past week, the notion of swapping Rondo for Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving gained steam when retired All-NBA wing Tracy McGrady suggested the deal on Twitter.

At the time, Irving and Cavs teammate LeBron James had just exchanged words following a 101-82 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, and the 22-year-old two-time All-Star answered with an assist-less performance in a losing effort to the Jazz. Somehow, Irving strung together 760 dribbles, 158 touches and 36 shots without an assist, according to ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh.

Meanwhile, Rondo continues to orchestrate the offense by deconstructing the defense. His assists have translated into 24.4 points per game for fellow Celtics starters Bradley, Green, Sullinger and Olynyk. Imagine what he could for James, Kevin Love and Cleveland’s other wings.

Except, Irving is six years Rondo’s junior, and the Cavs handed him a five year, $90 million extension this summer. He responded with 44 points (62.7 TS%), 15 assists and nine rebounds in a pair of wins over the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans. Results for the Cleveland experiment may be inconclusive in the incubation period, but the Cavaliers are going to give Irving more than a month in the new system before deeming it a failure.

Still, it’s worth watching the relationship between Irving and James, because the four-time NBA MVP gets what he wants. Should Rondo end up on LeBron’s wish list come Christmas, Celtics president Danny Ainge would pull the trigger on that deal faster than Wild Bill Hickok.

Idea: Not bad

It's time now to ask the Magic 9-Ball.

It’s time now to ask the Magic 9-Ball.

RAJON RONDO TRADE ODDS

At least publicly, Rondo appears fully invested in Year 2 of the rebuilding process. He spent the summer studying his teammates’ tendencies alongside coach Brad Stevens, and the pair honed an offensive game plan that has produced remarkable results six games into the Celtics season.

The Celtics (3-3) are currently a playoff team, even if they’re one loss from the lottery, and the once daunting November schedule suddenly doesn’t seem so brutal. If the current state of affairs remains status quo, the Celtics are more likely buyers than sellers at the deadline.

But NBA fortunes change awfully quick, and next week will tell a different story. Just ask the Oklahoma City Thunder, who arrive in Boston Wednesday sans Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Odds: 50-1

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

The Celtics assigned forward Dwight Powell to the Maine Red Claws. He is expected to participate in the D-League affiliate’s scrimmage on Sunday night.