Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

At least the Celtics avoided a bad night turning into a really bad night.

The Celts might have lost their first-round pick, Marcus Smart, for an extended period of time due to a fourth quarter, left leg injury. (For more on Smart’s situation, click here.) But the C’s were able to avoid what would have been a demoralizing loss to a depleted Indiana team.

Down by two points heading into the final quarter, the Celtics rallied in the fourth to hang on for a 101-98 win over a Pacers club that has now lost five straight games. (For a complete box score, click here.)

THE PROMISE OF MARCUS SMART MAY HAVE TO WAIT

With the rookie being wheeled off the TD Garden floor on a stretcher, the reality of Smart’s first season was severely clouded. While continuing to struggle shooting the ball — having gone 1-for-6 from the floor after coming into the game with just a 30 percent percentage — he had shown flashes both defensively and in his offensive aggressiveness.

Smart came into the game averaging 21.5 minutes per game, suggesting a continued confidence from Celtics coach Brad Stevens. A heavier reliance will most likely be put on Marcus Thornton (who played just 7 minutes Friday night) and perhaps Phil Pressey, who totaled a season-high 12 minutes.

AT LEAST THEY DIDN’T GIVE IT AWAY (THAT MUCH)

One game after allowing Toronto 36 points off of turnovers, the Celtics made it a point of hanging on to the ball. Prior to the game, C’s coach Brad Stevens suggested that the issue in the previous contest was mostly due to the efforts of the Raptors. The results Friday night supported that take.

The Celtics didn’t commit their first turnover against the Pacers until there was 7:10 left in the first half. The ball security allowed Indiana to go the entire first half without a fast break basket.

When the Celtics did start turning it over again — allowing five miscues in the third quarter — that’s when Indiana started getting back into it. After trailing by as many as 13 late in the first half, the Pacers went on a 15-0 run early in the second half to claim a brief four-point lead.

KELLY OLYNYK IS PROVING TO BE A FIND

The second-year forward has proven to be one of the most consistent performers for the Celtics, coming into the game averaging 23.9 points and 13.6 rebounds per 48 minutes, shooting 57 percent.

In this case Olynyk’s efforts were much-needed this time around, with Indiana making no bones about their intentions. The Pacers scored 16 of their 26 first-quarter points in the paint, with Roy Hibbert (who was coming off an 0-for=7 showing), Luis Scola, and Chris Copeland owning the inside.

Thanks to Tyler Zeller, there were moments where Celtics big men not named “Olynyk” made their presence felt …

RAJON RONDO STILL IS LOOKING FOR MAX-CONTRACT VALUE

Although he has shown flashes of dominance this season, Rondo proved good, but certainly not great, this time around.

The point guard totaled eight points on 4-of-10 shooting (8 points), staying on the floor for 28 minutes. Rondo had averaged 34 minutes and 9.3 points per game prior to Friday night.

BRAD STEVENS DIDN’T DESIGN THE NEW UNIFORMS

Before the game, when asked about the new Celtics uniforms (which they will be wearing six times this season), the Celtics coach had this to say:

‘€œI think the biggest thing is, if our guys like them, I like them. The last thing I can do, and all of you who know me know this, is analyze fashion. Ask [Rajon] Rondo, a couple of our other guys, what they think because they have a much better eye then I do.’€

(Click here to see the new uniforms.)

For what it’s worth, another Boston head coach, Claude Julien, was also in attendance, watching the game courtside Friday night.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart was taken off the court on a stretcher with 11:07 left in the game at TD Garden against the Pacers after injuring his left ankle while going in for a lay-up against Indiana’s AJ Price.

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart was taken off the court on a stretcher with 11:07 left in the game at TD Garden against the Pacers after injuring his left leg while going in for a lay-up against Indiana’s AJ Price.

Smart had played 16 minutes, going 1-for-6 with two rebounds before the injury.

The entire Celtics team ultimately came out and gathered around Smart while he was being put on the stretcher, with the TD Garden crowd chanting the rookie’s name.

Smart came into Friday night’s game averaging 7.8 points and 21.5 minutes per game.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Brad Stevens is young for an NBA coach — having just turned 38 years old just more than two weeks ago. But that doesn’t mean he’s ready to declare himself fashion guru for the league’s next generation.

Celticsuniforms2Brad Stevens is young for an NBA coach — having just turned 38 years old just more than two weeks ago. But that doesn’t mean he’s ready to declare himself fashion guru for the league’s next generation.

The latest example of Stevens’ lack of attention to detail when it comes to deciding what to wear? His response regarding the Celtics‘ new uniforms.

“I have seen them now,” said the coach when asked if he saw the team’s new alternative uniforms, which will be broken out on six occasions this season.

“I think the biggest thing is, if our guys like them, I like them. The last thing I can do, and all of you who know me know this, is analyze fashion. Ask Rondo, a couple of our other guys, what they think because they have a much better eye then I do.”

The dates the Celtics will be donning the predominately gray uniforms will be: Nov. 28, Dec. 7, Jan. 2, Feb. 6, March 4, April 12.

@EmilyAusten photo

@EmilyAusten photo

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller

Through four games this season it has been pretty clear how Celtics coach Brad Stevens intends to use his big men — he’€™s going with the young guys up front.

Veteran Brandon Bass‘€™ minutes have essentially been cut in half, as he averaged 27.6 per game last season to just 14.5 so far this year. Some of the drop off can be attributed to the three-guard lineup that Stevens has been rolling out, but the big reason is simply younger players earning themselves more minutes.

Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are both coming off season-highs in minutes played against the Raptors on Wednesday, with 38 and 34 respectively, and the rotation is beginning to feel as if both will be playing right around 30 minutes a game.

In a game where Toronto was without both of its starting bigmen, Sullinger (19 points and 16 rebounds) and Olynyk (18 points and 13 assists) were able to feast, each finishing with a double-double.

But, another young big man has become lost in the mix — Tyler Zeller. Zeller has appeared in all four games, but is averaging just 6.7 minutes during three of those contests.

What about the fourth game?

An eight point, four rebound, two block performance against the Rockets — a game in which Zeller played 19 minutes.

The minutes likely were a product of Zeller being the best matchup against a force like Dwight Howard. Centers Brook Lopez and Jonas Valanciunas have missed games against the Celtics this season in contests against the Nets and Raptors, giving Stevens less incentive to get Zeller more time on the floor.

So will the coach simply use Zeller based on matchups this season?

“That’€™s one of those things that’€™s weighing on me, is how to put him in the best spot possible,” Stevens said of Zeller. “Because I think he can help us more than he’€™s playing minutes-wise right now. So I’€™ve got to figure that out.”

Although Stevens is still deciding on how get Zeller more minutes, he does know what kind of players he wants to surround Zeller with when he’s on the floor.

“€œI think he’€™s best with a skilled guy next to him because his rolls are his biggest strength, and his ability to run,” added Stevens.

The Celtics face the Pacers at home on Friday night where Sullinger and Olynyk will likely be the starters, and deservingly so. But, Indiana is a team that will be starting the 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert at center — a matchup that could mean we will be seeing Zeller on the floor more than we are used to thus far this season.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

The Raptors flipped a 34-48 record and a last-place finish in the Atlantic Division in 2012-13 into a 48-34 ledger and a division crown in Year 3 of the Dwane Casey coaching era. With headstrong 28-year-old point guard Kyle Lowry and burgeoning young shooting guard DeMar DeRozan in the fold, they cemented themselves as the Atlantic favorites for years to come.

The Celtics are hoping to replicate Toronto’s turnaround behind their own headstrong 28-year-old point guard Rajon Rondo and burgeoning young shooting guard Avery Bradley in the second year of coach Brad Stevens‘ tenure, and the Raptors are recognizing their effort.

“They’€™re definitely very talented,” DeRozan said after scoring 23 points on 25 shots in a 110-107 win in Boston. “They’€™ve got a great coach. They’€™ve got a hell of a point guard in Rondo. They’€™re still learning and still growing. You’€™ve got a talented kid in [Marcus] Smart, so they definitely have a chance and we definitely have to look for them, especially in our division.”

Including the preseason, the Celtics and Raptors have faced each other three times, twice battling to the final possession. The C’s outplayed Toronto in almost every facet of Wednesday’s game — shooting 51.3 percent from the field, grabbing 31 more rebounds and leading by as many as 16 points — but committed 28 turnovers, most of which were unforced.

When asked if he viewed the Celtics as a threat in the Atlantic Division, Lowry didn’t hesitate. “Yeah,” he said, even after dropping 35 points on 17 shots on their backcourt. “The way they play, they play so hard, man. You just have to tip your hat to how they play. They’€™re well coached, and they have some talented young pieces. They’€™ve got an NBA champion over there, so they’€™ve got some pieces and players who know how to get the job done.”

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

It was a chest-pounding night for Celtics rookie Marcus Smart. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)



After an unsuccessful two-game trip to Texas, the Celtics returned home to the TD Garden on Wednesday to face off against the Raptors. Toronto came into Boston as the Atlantic Division favorite, sporting a record of 3-1 with its only loss coming on the road in Miami.

Rajon Rondo couldn't lead the Celtics past the Raptors Wednesday night. (Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo couldn’t lead the Celtics past the Raptors Wednesday night. (Getty Images)

After an unsuccessful two-game trip to Texas, the Celtics returned home to the TD Garden on Wednesday to face off against the Raptors. Toronto came into Boston as the Atlantic Division favorites, sporting a record of 3-1 with its only loss coming on the road in Miami.

The Raptors would take a nail-biter from the Celtics, 110-107, Wednesday night as Jeff Green missed a potential game tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Contributing the most to the Celtics’ third loss would be 27 turnovers for Brad Stevens‘ team. (For a complete box score, click here.)

Here is what we learned in the C’s loss:

HOT START

The C’€™s came out blistering hot at home once again, connecting on their first seven field goal attempts and finishing the first quarter shooting 15-for-19 from the floor ‘€“ good for 78.9 percent.

The Celtics also held a rebounding edge of 14-2 over the Raptors at the end of the first frame, which translated to a 35-23 lead. The only thing seemingly keeping the Raptors in the game was their 12 points off of six Celtics’€™ turnovers.

THE CELTICS ATTACKED THE RIM

Starting big men Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas were out for the Raptors, and the Celtics clearly took advantage. Right off the bat Boston racked up 16 points in the paint during the first six minutes of the game.

SECOND AND THIRD QUARTER COLLAPSE

The Raptors fought their way back into the game during the second quarter by outscoring the Celtics 31-22. But most of the damage was done late. Toronto finished the quarter by scoring 20 points in the last six minutes of the half to go into the locker room down by just three points.

The Raptors got a buzzer-beater at the end of the third quarter to finally take the lead, 88-86. Kyle Lowry did most of the damage in the middle quarters; he had 23 points in the second and third periods alone and 31 total heading into the fourth.

RAJON RONDO TRIPLE-DOUBLE

Rondo had been in the neighborhood of a triple-double in all three of the Celtics’€™ previous games this season, averaging 8.0 points, 8.7 boards and 11.7 assists in those contests. He had his double-double half way through the third quarter with 11 rebounds and 10 assists, allowing Rondo to finally come through with his first triple-double of the season on Wednesday. He finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and matched a season-high with 15 assists.

STARTERS ALL SCORED IN DOUBLE FIGURES

The Celtics’€™ starters all contributed a balanced effort across the board in the game led by Jeff Green‘€™s 20 points. Jared Sullinger had 19, Kelly Olynyk 18, and Avery Bradley 16 to go with Rondo’€™s triple-double. Sullinger and Olynyk also both had double-doubles with 16 and 13 rebounds, respectively. Marcus Smart also contributed 12 points off the bench, playing key minutes down the stretch.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow