The Celtics got out to an early double-digit lead against the visiting Raptors, and an engaged Jeff Green was a big factor. This remarkable chase-down block of Lou Williams highlighted was one of three blocks for Green to go along with seven points and two assists in the opening frame. The Celtics led 35-23 after one.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Raptors power forward Amir Johnson and Center Jonas Valunciunas will not play Wednesday night against the Celtics.

Johnson has already missed two games with an ankle injury and did not make the trip with the team to Boston. Valanciunas injured his head after an inadvertent collision with the open hand of Thunder point guard Sebastian Telfair  (Video Below). Valanciunas was forced to leave the game earlier in the night due to an injury to his hand.  After the game, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said the Lithuanian 7-footer was “all messed up.” Valanciunas was initially listed as probable, but was ruled out about an hour before tipoff.

With Johnson and Valaciunas on the sidelines, expect the Raptors to rely on perimeter players Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross. This should be an advantage for the Celtics, who excel when defending guards, yet struggle with taller, longer players on the interior.

Tyler “Psycho T” Hansbrough will start in place of Valaciunas, but also look for former Celtic  — and personal NBA2K favorite — Greg Stiemsma to get a lot of burn Wednesday for the Raptors. In my humble opinion, Stiemsma’s presence on the floor is a victory for  both the Celtics‘ defense and the general viewing public.

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

Multiple NBA executives believe the Lakers will target Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo in free agency this summer,

Multiple NBA executives believe the Lakers will target Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo in free agency this  summer, according to SI.com’s Chris Mannix.

Rondo’s contract expires at the end of the season, and he has publicly stated his desire to test the market while maintaining Boston remains his first choice. The four-time All-Star doesn’t like change, and the Celtics also can offer more money and one more year than any other team, all of which seems like a recipe for Rondo staying in green.

However, the Celtics drafted a point guard with the No. 6 overall pick and are years from contending in the Eastern Conference, making the decision to sign their 29-year-old captain to a max contract a difficult one, even if he appears healthy.

Enter the Lakers. The C’s rivals will have the cap space to offer Rondo significant money this summer, and the possibility of competing for a playoff spot next season alongside Kobe Bryant — an unabashed fan of the Celtics star — could be an intriguing possibility for Rondo come July, particularly if Mitch Kupchak can lure other pieces to the City of Angels.

However, Rondo can see the Lakers’ long-term prospects just as well as everybody else in basketball circles, and the outlook in Boston seems rosier. He’s seen what becomes of aging legends on proud franchises. After all, the article in which Mannix cites his NBA front office sources focuses instead on the potential of the Lakers trading Bryant.

Take a deep breath, Celtics fans. This isn’t Rondo’s first rumored departure from Boton, and it won’t be the last.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach
Sam and Ben talk with Greg Dickerson about how fun this year's Celtics team is to watch as well Jeff Green trade ideas.

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. Warriors (3-0)

Klay Thompson continues to score on and off the court. He dropped 41 points on the Lakers, signed a four-year max contract extension and, as recently reported, started dating Instagram celebrity Hannah Stocking. Personally, I would be more impressed if it was revealed Thompson was dating #AlexFromTarget. That dude got over 500,000 Twitter followers in about three days, which is damn impressive.

2. Grizzlies (4-0)

The Grizzlies are all about attitude, and it shows on the defensive end of the floor. They beat the Hornets 71-69 then held the Brow and the Pelicans to only 81 points. The Mike Conley injury is cause for concern, but the video of Tony Allen randomly smacking a cameraman is hilarious.

3. Spurs (1-1)

Even though they haven’t been spectacular during their first two games, the Spurs still are the reigning champs. Interesting storyline to pay attention to. The Spurs did not sign Kawhi Leonard to an extension before the deadline on Friday, allowing him to become restricted free agent at the end of the season. If I am Danny Ainge, I am offering Sugar K Leonard anything up to and including my daughter’s hand in marriage to get him to sign in Boston. Although there is little chance Pop and the Spurs let him go, a man can dream.

4. Rockets (5-0)

The Rockets have wins over the Lakers, Celtics, Jazz and 76ers. Four teams that will be featured in the latter half of this post. Next week they play the Spurs and the Warriors, so enjoy your time in the top five, Houston! Random interesting fact about Trevor Ariza, He has scored zero mid-range points this season. All 69 of his points have come off 3-pointers and layups/dunks.

5. Mavericks (2-1)

Dirk is an absolute machine. Not only can he can score at will from anywhere on the floor, but he apparently has the best flow on the Mavericks. I think he is my favorite non-Celtic in the league. On the opposite note, Chandler Parsons is quickly emerging as one of my least favorites.

FIVE WORST

5. Jazz (1-3)

After my last rankings, I was chastised for failing to mention Utah’s Rudy Gobert. I’ll just leave this here.

4. Magic (0-4)

The Magic are the Tennessee Titans of the NBA, and by no means is that a good thing. Right now the franchise is completely irrelevant. The big NBA nerds will try to convince you that Elfrid Payton is really fun to watch, but I refuse to watch to find out for myself.

3. Pistons (0-3)

After “The Manimal” Kenneth Faried said Josh Smith shot the Pistons out of a game, Smith responded by saying, “I don’t respond with nobody with dreadlocks who plays basketball. He’s a clown. Quote me on that.” While I respect the age-old practice of calling someone a clown and I am a HUGE fan of a irrational hatred of dreadlocks, its hard to take Smith seriously when Faried was absolutely right. Josh Smith shot the Pistons out of the Nuggets game, and he will continue to shoot his team out of games all season.

2. Lakers (0-5)

The Lakers have a real chance of opening the season with 10 straight losses, and there is no hope in sight. Over their next five games they play the Hornets, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Warriors and Spurs. Kobe still is a selfish and insufferable dink. Julius Randle is out for the season. Carlos Boozer is playing terribly. Linsanity more like OrLINary! Am I right? NAILED IT!

1. 76ers (0-4)

I need Nerlens Noel in Celtics green, and I needed it yesterday.

Follow Sam Packard on Twitter @SPackGuy.

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard
Celtics guards Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart wreak plenty of havoc. (Glenn James/Getty Images)

Celtics guards Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart wreak plenty of havoc. (Glenn James/Getty Images)

With the exception of two brief offensive substitutions, Celtics coach Brad Stevens fielded the guard trio of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart for the final nine minutes of Monday’s 118-113 loss to the Mavericks, and they wreaked more havoc than the “¡Three Amigos!” in Santa Poco.

The Celtics scored 29 points down that stretch, and one of those three either scored or assisted all of them, pulling the C’s within one with 39 seconds remaining after trailing by as many as 31. Bradley scored 14 of his career-high 32 points during the run, Rondo collected six of his 15 assists and Smart submitted highlight after highlight in what can only be described as atomic excitation.

It was all thrilling basketball, and a sure sign Stevens will experiment further with this trio.

The early returns statistically are a mixed bag. The Celtics have been outscored 62-60 in 24.6 minutes with Rondo, Bradley and Smart on the floor. Opponents own a 68.7 true shooting percentage against that group (20-39 FG, 9-15 3P, 13-14 FT), a number that doesn’t seem sustainable over a larger sample size.

Regardless, encouraging signs exist in those same 24.6 minutes. The swarming defensive pressure that trio forces upon opposing backcourts has translated into nine steals and 13 forced turnovers, resulting in 10 more field goal attempts for the Celtics in that span. They are outscoring opponents 17-7 off turnovers, and 26-4 on the fast break with Rondo, Bradley and Smart sharing the court.

While they may be a minus-2 as a trio now, these numbers will translate into positive production soon enough. The hysteria they created in the last nine minutes of Monday’s loss proved as much. All you really need to know is Rondo, Bradley and Smart have shared the court in two of the C’s three games — the season-opening statement win against the Nets and the near miracle comeback against the Mavericks — and never saw the court together in an abysmal loss to the Rockets in between. They are a disruptive force.

At the very least, they won’t die like dogs; they’ll fight like lions, because they’re The Three Amigos.

A video posted by @brohrbach on

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

For the second straight game, the Celtics dug themselves a deep early grave and spent the rest of the night trying to climb their way out.

For the second straight game, the Celtics dug themselves a deep early hole and spent the night trying to climb their way out. This time, though, they nearly escaped Texas with a win.

After losing by double digits to the Houston Rockets on Saturday, the Celtics fell behind by 31 in the first half against the Dallas Mavericks, only to slice the lead  to one in the final minute. But the C’s couldn’t convert despite multiple chances to tie the game, ultimately losing 118-113 to the NBA’s highest-rated offense.

Jeff Green scored a game-high 35 points, and Avery Bradley added a career-high 32. Rajon Rondo collected seven points, nine rebounds and 15 assists in the loss. Marcus Smart added seven points, six rebounds and three assists in his homecoming, submitting his most impressive performance in his young Celtics career.

Chandler Parsons led the Mavericks with 29 points, and Dirk Nowitzki chipped in with 27.

GREEN ENGAGED EARLY

Green got the night started with a steal and a dunk. He followed by knocking down his first 3-point attempt of the night, matching the C’s total from beyond the arc on Saturday. And Rondo found Green on a backdoor alley-oop to give the streaky forward the team’s first seven points. Generally, Green’s best performances come when he contributes from the start, and Monday was no different.

MAVERICKS DOMINATED FIRST QUARTER

The Celtics allowed 40 points in the first quarter just once last season — to the Houston Rockets last November — and hadn’t done so since Jan. 28, 2005 before that. It only took three games this season to match that feat, allowing 40 to the Mavericks in the opening quarter. Dallas scored half of those points in the paint and shot 73 percent in the frame, including 5-of-7 from distance. Chandler Parsons led the effort with 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting.

WEST IS BEST

The Western Conference finished 6-1 against the Eastern Conference in the NBA’s first week of games, and the Chicago Bulls needed a last-second shot against the Minnesota Timberwolves for the East’s lone win. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban estimated 10 teams in his conference could win 50 games, and if the sharks out West continue to circle the tanking East and make chum of teams like the Celtics, he might be right. And, yes, that was an awful roundabout way to go to include Mark Cuban and Shark Tank in the same sentence.

CELTICS SHOW SOME FIGHT

Trailing by as many as 31 points in the second quarter and 67-41 at the half, the Celtics could easily have packed their things and called the Texas two-step through Houston and Dallas a complete failure. But Brad Stevens‘ charges went down swinging, cutting the Mavs’ lead to eight with a 28-10 run to start the third quarter. Rondo had five points and four assists in that span.

THREE’S COMPANY IN THE BACKCOURT

The Celtics clawed their way back within a single possession in the final minute on the backs of Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. For the third straight game to start the season, Rondo nearly submitted a triple-double, and his assist numbers climbed well into the teens by the fourth quarter. Bradley scored 23 of his career-high 32 points in the second half. And Smart submitted a series of highlight-reel plays in the final minutes of his homecoming effort, including a remarkable put-back and a behind-the back pass to Jared Sullinger that cut the lead to six with four minutes left. Early returns this season on the C’s potentially dangerous three-guard lineup are impressive.

18 regular season, 10 playoffs

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Somewhere between TD Garden and the Texas state line, the Celtics lost their way.