Earlier this week, following back-to-back blowout losses, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas lamented the fact that the C’s had lost their “swag.” He put it on himself to find away to help the team regain its identity.

Mission accomplished.

Earlier this week, following back-to-back blowout losses, Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas lamented the fact that the C’s had lost their “swag.” He put it on himself to find away to help the team regain its identity.

Mission accomplished.

Thomas overcame an off shooting night by hitting some big baskets in the fourth quarter as the Celtics put together a strong performance for a second straight night, leading to a 105-99 victory over the Pacers in Indiana, Boston’s first road win of the season.

Thomas shot just 4-for-13, but he hit 14-of-15 free throws to finish with 23 points. He joins Sam Jones (1965-66) and Kevin McHale (1986-87) as the only Celtics to score 20 or more points in each of the team’s first nine games of the season.

It was 99-94 with just over a minute left after Thomas hit two free throws. At the other end, Bradley snuck up on center Myles Turner at the 3-point line and stole the ball, then passed it to Smart in the middle of the court as he was falling out of bounds. Smart caught it in the air and, without coming down, fired it ahead to Thomas for a reverse layup under pressure that put the C’s ahead by seven with exactly a minute to play. Indiana never threatened thereafter.

For the second straight game, Brad Stevens elected to start Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart as Boston looked to avoid the disastrous starts that previously were a problem in embarrassing losses to the Nuggets and Wizards. The C’s did give up a lot of points in the opening eight minutes to the Pacers and trailed by seven after one period, but they led by three at halftime (48-45) and maintained that margin after three quarters.

Olynyk finished with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. Amir Johnson contributed 14 points and nine rebounds, and Bradley amassed 13 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.

The suddenly relevant James Young provided a spark off the bench with 12 points, hitting 5-of-6 shots (2-of-3 treys) in 16 minutes. Fellow sub Terry Rozier also played well, recording 11 points and six rebounds. Both played well on the defensive end as well.

“I thought the bench really got us going defensively after the — I think it was 27 points in the first eight minutes — after that we guarded at a pretty good level,” Stevens told reporters in his postgame press conference. “And I thought the bench all came in and did a pretty good job. James’ activity and Terry’s activity were obviously noticeable.”

Jeff Teague led Indiana with 20 points. He missed 11 of the 15 shots he took, but he did his damage from the line, making 11-of-12. Turner had 17 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three blocks.

The Celtics were still without Al Horford (who traveled with the team and might play Monday against the Pelicans) and Jae Crowder. The Pacers were missing Paul George (sprained ankle).

Stud of the night: James Young

Young looks like a different player from the one we’ve seen his first two seasons. He brought the energy — hustling on defense, diving on the floor for a loose ball, racing over to bat a rebound to teammate Avery Bradley for a 3-pointer, and making a pass to Isaiah Thomas and then flashing open and getting the ball back for an easy basket.

“Just a lot of hard work is paying off,” he told CSNNE’s Abby Chin before leaving the court. “I’m going to keep grinding every day like I have been. I’m not taking any days off. We’ll just see how it goes.”

Stevens said Young’s hard work is paying off with better shooting.

“He’s shot it at such a different level than he shot it two years ago when he got here as far as accuracy in workouts and practice and everything else,” Stevens said. “He’s certainly always a capable shooter with a beautiful stroke, but he’s really, really worked hard on becoming accurate. He either shoots it or moves it, and I thought with that group that was a good thing.”

As for Young’s defensive contributions, Stevens said: “I thought he was just active. We need him to be active, long and physical.”

Dud of the night:

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Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

The Celtics were very hungry for a win. 

After two consecutive lopsided defeats, the Celtics reverted to their old ways and put together their strongest defensive performance of the season in a 115-87 win at TD Garden. 

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics were very hungry for a win. 

After two consecutive lopsided defeats, the Celtics reverted to their old ways and put together their strongest defensive performance of the season in a 115-87 win at TD Garden. 

Isaiah Thomas scored a game-high 29 points, Kelly Olynyk added 19 points and 7 rebounds in his first start of the season and Avery Bradley finished with a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds). Seven Celtics scored in double figures. 

From the tip, the Celtics were aggressive in the opening minutes — grabbing a 19-8 lead. But New York came back when Carmelo Anthony caught fire and scored 12 first-quarter points to help push his team to within four points (31-27) after the game’s first 12 minutes.

However, the Knicks never held a lead throughout the second quarter but their rebounding certainly kept things close. New York dominated the Celtics on the glass — giving them plenty of chances but the Knicks only scored five second-chance points off of 12 offensive rebounds. 

With 4:44 left in the first half, the Celtics caught a break when Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony refuted a loose ball foul called by NBA official Tony Brothers. After he was handed an initial technical foul, Anthony continued to plead his case with Brothers which resulted in a second technical foul and was ejected from the game. Anthony finished the night with 12 points and two rebounds in 12 minutes. 

Following the ejection, the Celtics topped off an 11-3 run and finished the half with a 10-point lead (61-51). It was the first time the Celtics have allowed fewer than 54 first-half points in the past three games.

After the break, the Celtics picked up their intensity on the defensive end. The C’s were chasing down loose balls, fighting through screens and pressuring the ball. The grabbed a 17-point lead (86-69) and took an 86-73 lead into the final frame. From there the Celtics ran away with it, outscoring their opponent 27-24 in the final 12 minutes.  

For a complete box score, click here

Stud of the game: Isaiah Thomas

Thomas’ stellar first half (23 points) was the biggest reason why the Celtics held a halftime lead. Despite giving up 32 first-half rebounds, the Knicks couldn’t slow him down on defense as Thomas found his offensive rhythm and carried it into the second half. 

Dud of the game: Carmelo Anthony

With 12 points in 12 minutes, Anthony was poised to have himself a 20-plus scoring night and would have most likely kept the game competitive throughout the fourth quarter. However, tempers flared in the second quarter with official Tony Brothers, who he has a history with and poor judgement resulted in his ejection. The Celtics’ defense settled in shortly afterwards and their offense picked up, as well. 

When the game was won: Second-half defense

The Celtics were very assertive on defense. After halftime, they challenged jump shots, protected the paint and forced turnovers. Their defensive intensity forced 25 Knicks turnovers. 

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

For the first time this season, Brad Stevens will start Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk in place of Jae Crowder (left ankle) and Al Horford (concussion) against the Knicks on Friday. 

Stevens emphesized the importance of getting off to a strong start against New York and said that defense played a major part in his decision to start Smart and Olynyk.

“I thought we started pretty well in Cleveland but we haven’t started well the last two games,” Stevens said. “I think Tyler [Zeller] has actually done some really good things — I think he’ll be able to play off the bench well. I think that Jaylen [Brown] obviously has done some good things, he’ll be able to play off the bench well. But I know that with Marcus and Kelly I think that from my evaluation the other night they were probably our two best defenders in the game the other night so I’d like to start off with that mindset right out of the gate.”

The Celtics are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and have gotten out to horrendous starts. They’ve allowed 76 points combined in the last two opening quarters and surrendered their biggest loss of the young season on Wednesday — a 118-93 blowout against the Wizards. Although it’s still very early in the regular season, Stevens understands his team’s performace the past two games were unacceptable.

“I think I have to be able to take a step back and say there’s a lot of games to be played, we haven’t played very well the last couple,” Stevens explained. “We’re far from a finished product and we’re far from a full team. But at the same time these games come at you a million miles an hour and you only get one chance to play each of them. So you gotta put your best foot forward and we need to play better. May not ever guarantee the result you want but we need to play better basketball than we played the last few nights.”

Stevens also gave an update on Horford’s condition. There’s no timetable for when the Celtics big man will make his return but Stevens says Horford’s well being is much more important than figuring out when he’ll be back in action. 

“From what I understand and I don’t want to act like I’m a doctor but from what I understand, each concussion is unique,” Stevens explained. “It was diagnosed as a mild concussion but as long as their symptoms that occur than that continues the protocol, so that’s good. I’m thankful I’m coaching in an era where that’s the case. Most important thing is his health is prioritized. Mild or not, a concussion’s a concussion.”

Other Celtics notes — Horford spoke to the media shortly before tip-off and says he plans on traveling with the team for its two-game road trip to Indiana and New Orleans but is uncertain if he’ll be cleared to play. Friday’s game against the Knicks is the fifth consecutive game he’s missed since entering the NBA’s concussion protocol. 

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Brad Stevens is searching for ways to inspire his team this season. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)WALTHAM - Brad Stevens needs to grab hold of his team - and now.



MIKE PETRAGLIA

BIO | ARCHIVE


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WALTHAM – The Celtics have been without Al Horford for four games now. The likelihood that streak goes to five is very high as Brad Stevens said it’s doubtful that the big man still in concussion protocol will be able to take the court against the Knicks Friday at TD Garden. 

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Brad Stevens chats with Al Horford after practice Thursday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

WALTHAM – The Celtics have been without Al Horford for four games now. The likelihood that streak goes to five is very high as Brad Stevens said it’s doubtful that the big man still in concussion protocol will be able to take the court against the Knicks Friday at TD Garden. 

But the Celtics did get good news on the Horford front. Horford, who did not travel to Washington for Wednesday’s blowout loss, did return to the court with the team for practice Thursday. 

But the practice was not one of high intensity and he has not been cleared for contact or physical work. 

“He did some light stuff with us, so he was cleared to go through some of it,” Stevens said. “We didn’t do anything contact, physical, competitive, so I don’t know where that puts him in the protocol. I haven’t gotten the update of what’s next. But he is progressing, He’s feeling a lot better.”

Stevens and Horford spent about 15 minutes talking after practice Thursday. 

As for his chances of playing Friday?

“I don’t know, but I would say that would doubt it,” Stevens answered. “But I don’t know what the official diagnosis is, as far as I don’t know the official next step.”

 Jae Crowder has missed three games with a sprained left ankle. Crowder was not with the team at practice on Thursday. 

“I would doubt we see him until maybe next week when we get back home,” Stevens said. “That’s not for sure either, but that’s roughly the time line we’re looking at, best case scenario.”

It’s no secret the Celtics have been getting their collective doors blown off in the last two first quarters of their last two defenseless losses to the Nuggets and Wizards. Against Denver they allowed 24 first-quarter points to Emmanuel Mudiay and fell behind 42-23. Wednesday in Washington was even worse. They were blown out 34-8 and lost, 118-93. 

What are the chances Stevens breaks up the lineup of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson and Tyler Zeller?

“Well, the Cleveland game we played well right out of the gate,” Stevens began. “[Wednesday] we played poorly right out of the gate. And against Denver they really separated in the last six minutes of the first quarter, although we didn’t play great out of the gate. But it wasn’t like you could separate first group versus second group necessarily. We’ll give thought to lineup change. We’ll make the right thing for our team. But the bottom line is the guys that are playing are going to play because of our numbers in some part. But I think that’s certainly worth considering. But I think it’s also not like we’ve put together 48 good minutes.

“We have a lot of guys that haven’t done this yet that are playing. And I think that’s something we learn over time. And guys that – the best thing that we all can do is move on to the next play and do our jobs as well as we can. And certainly that happens as a result of when another team’s drubbing you, you see that any time in any sport. The best of the best can move past it, but everybody gets affected a time or two in a game like that in being frustrated.”

Stevens, who acknowledged he did not vote for President-elect Donald Trump, said he did hear the comments of Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who called Trump “brazenly racist” and blasted those who voted for him. Warriors coach Steve Kerr also ripped Trump. 

“I didn’t see Steve’s. I saw Stan’s. I have a lot of respect for those guys. I have a lot of respect for – again, I talked about how this, yesterday we talked about how the election is certainly an emotional topic,” Stevens said. “And I know Stan, and I know how tight he is with his family and his daughters. And I saw him reference that in that quote. And I understand – you understand anybody that is really emotional about it. The thing that I’d say is, like I said yesterday, we try our best to have dialogue in here about those things and move forward with the mindset of doing our best to use the platform to make positive.”

Stevens said he spoke with his team about the election on Wednesday before the shootaround. 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Trags and Ben talk about the defensive issues plaguing the Celtics right now, how the team needs to adjust, and whether the they are desperate enough to bring in Demarcus Cousins.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, while saying he is hesitant to discuss politics, felt strongly enough about the results of the Tuesday’s presidential election to reveal his view of Donald Trump.