Nov 18, 2016; Boston, MA, USA;  Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) tries to get between Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been Isaiah Thomas or nothing this season for the Celtics. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The imagery was too rich. Moments after Friday’s 104-88 wipeout at the hands of the Warriors, fire alarms were going off all around TD Garden. Fire trucks had trouble getting down the side streets leading up to the Garden to turn off the annoying sounds that delayed Brad Stevens’ postgame explanation of the mess. 

Turns out, a grill on the fourth floor malfunctioned and overheated, setting off the 20-minute disruption. 

If only fixing the Celtics were that easy. But we’ll try. 

1. Shorten the bench. From early on in camp, the thought was that having a deep bench could strengthen rotations for Brad Stevens. It hasn’t worked that way. The bench is not producing enough and is getting constantly outdone by the opposing group of reserves. On Friday, three players on the bench had at least 23 minutes. Part of that was because of garbage time in the fourth and part of it was traveling to Detroit after the game for a back-to-back Saturday. A good three or four man rotation off the bench is the sweet spot for most NBA teams and the return of Jae Crowder and Al Horford should help that. 

2. Pray for health. The Celtics have been admittedly hard hit by injuries early in the season. Crowder (left ankle) and Horford (concussion) have missed most of the season while Marcus Smart dinged his left ankle Friday night. Crowder and Horford should return on the trip while the prognosis for Smart does not seem dire. When you’re missing two-thirds of your starting front court, there is going to be a problem.  The Celtics have been using this as a bit of crutch but it’s been a legitimate issue that has stunted their ability to improve early on. 

3. Bench Kelly Olynyk. He spaces the floor but at some point, when you’re 0-for-5 as a finesse big man and have grab three rebounds in 17 minutes, the message needs to be sent. The Celtics can’t afford his finesse game right now. They need bigs who will get dirty. Olynyk is heading back to the bench and he should probably stay there until the 7-footer shows the ability and determination to help on the inside. Stevens certainly sounds like he’s going to try and support Olynyk on board for as long as he needs him. “Kelly, I thought, has always done a lot of good things for us. There’s some tough match-ups out there [Friday] and I think that he’s had better games; he’d be the first to tell you. But he’s been a good player for us.”

4. Press more and create transition. This is a team with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Smart. When they’re on the court, they should limit their half-court exposure and use their quickness to their advantage. With Crowder and Horford out, Stevens tried going with Jaylen Brown and Tyler Zeller to match up big for big. That didn’t work. They went to Smart to guard much bigger bigs. Not a bad idea considering he’s the healthiest low-post defender. In half-court, trapping more couldn’t hurt. They desperately need to create turnovers and transition offense for easy baskets, a category they dominated last spring when they made a run to 48 wins. 

5. Get to the basket. The Celtics are taking 30 threes a game, making 10 of them. The instant gratification from that is great. Here’s the problem: They’re not drawing fouls on the opposition and, outside of Isaiah Thomas (9/9 Friday) they’re not getting to the free throw line. Thomas is fifth in the league getting to the line, averaging 10 free throws a game, making 9. The inside game of the Celtics is lacking and that takes some dirty work. Do the dirty work, get to the line and rebound. All of that happens when there’s more of an inside commitment. 

Attitude problem:

Isaiah Thomas finally had enough after Friday’s 104-88 embarrassment on national TV to would-be Celtic Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors. 

The Celtics were humiliated 31-9 in the third quarter, a period that featured an 18-0 run by the Warriors. The Celtics were an abysmal 2-of-17 from the field and 1-of-9 from 3-point range. 

Al Horford or no Al Horford, Jae Crowder or no Jae Crowder, those numbers are appalling.

“We know we have two of our key players out and that’s no excuse but we were in the game for one half,” Thomas said. “Everybody seen that third quarter open it up. So if you take away that third quarter and play as close to 48 minutes as possible, we’d still be in the game. You can’t let a team like that go on a run like that and expect to come back.

And what’s more concerning is the lack of consistency the Celtics have shown over a 6-6 start to the season. Opposing teams aren’t just snubbing the Celtics like Durant, they’re rubbing their noses in it like Durant’s front court colleague Zaza Pachulia, who did a dance after a 17-footer that capped the 18-0 spurt. That shot made it 79-51. 

“Yeah. At that point, the game is turned around,” Thomas said. “I guess we we gave up. I mean, coaching staff as well. We started subbing, it was bad. Especially, I only played 27 minutes. We gave up.”

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

It’s one thing to be getting beat. It’s another to be giving up. The Celtics spent much of last week talking about how the team must learn to take a punch and punch back. They can’t be taking abuse and not responding. They can’t be hanging their heads when things aren’t going well. They’re doing all of that right now.

And now their star player is calling out the coaching staff for quitting on the game. Nearly at the same time last year, Jae Crowder had a similar critique about rotation issues last year and the team responded by winning five of their next seven games. It was after an ugly 110-91 loss in Orlando that dropped the team to 9-8. That was criticism of strategy. What Thomas is suggesting is criticism of faith. 

The Celtics of last season had a lot more heart and determination than this one is showing right now. And everyone on the team knows it. They took Golden State to overtime and lost in Boston in December and they beat the Warriors in Oakland to end their record home-court winning streak. Friday night, they looked no where close to being that same team. 

“We couldn’t score and they did,” Thomas said. “That’s what we did well last year with them. Even though they went on runs, we held our own and we were able to score right back on them. That’s what happens against a really good team like that: If you stop scoring, they’re definitely going to continue to score, because they have so many options.”

Brad Stevens had to coach with the thought that the Celtics will be in Detroit Saturday night playing a game. The players took any decision-making out of his hands when they fell down by 29. Yes, they cut it to 11 points with 90 seconds left but by then it was too late.

“I think that it’s a long year, everybody knows it’s a long year; we’ve got 70 games left,” Stevens said. “We haven’t played a game yet without two of our top eight rotation guys missing. So everybody’s got a pretty good mindset about that. They realize that there are areas that we need to continue to improve, but at the same time we’ve got a really tough stretch coming up and I think we’re going to approach it positively.”

All of that is true. But there could be a much more serious problem under the surface. When one of your core leaders says the team collectively gave up, there is the sense that there is no fight in the team. How many times have you heard teams collectively talk about fighting to the end or battling even when the team was blown to smithereens on the field of play? Bill Belichick famously said after the 41-14 blowout loss to Kansas City in 2014 that all he was looking for in his team in the second half of that game was fight. How did the team fight? That’s exactly what’s missing from this Celtics team right now. 

“We panicked too fast. Any game is winnable,” Thomas said. “As fast as you can get up, as fast as you can make a comeback. We have a game tomorrow, we have to turn the page. But we gotta be more consistent as players and as coaches.”

Thomas said he “didn’t really notice” the crowd booing Kevin Durant. That’s probably because the Celtics have far more pressing issues than worrying about hurt feelings because a free agent didn’t sign with them four months ago.

“Just turn the page,” Thomas said. “The best players have the shortest memories, whether good or bad. Once you go to sleep, wake up tomorrow, you forget about this loss. But I believe we gave up. For whatever reason, they hit us and we didn’t hit back.”

It’s been Thomas or nothing this year on offense for the Celtics. That clearly is not a viable plan going forward. Friday night, he scored 18 points on 4-of-12 shooting, his first sub-20 point game of the season. This came just 48 hours after Thomas scored 20 points in the final six minutes of a 90-83 win over the woeful Mavericks. Thomas had eight points through three quarters. Friday is what happens when you rely on a player on an off night and nobody steps up. 

 “Well, I mean he’s done it – he’s done it so many times. But I was afraid that we were really going to have to gut this one out and figure out a way,” Stevens said after Wednesday’s game. “Even with our start, and then the start of the second quarter kind of put us in a little bit of a – we definitely stagnated quite a bit. But I thought we looked a little heavy-legged, and I thought that our guys fought through it. And credit those guys for figuring out a way to defend the whole way through and ultimately making enough shots to win. Certainly Isaiah’s fourth quarter was tremendous.”

Before Friday, the Celtics had shown signs of playing better defense, holding Dallas to 83 points in a 90-83 win Wednesday night.

“We talk together…we had a team meeting…those last couple games we’ve been blown out by 30 and 20…that wasn’t the way the Celtics play, it’s not the way this team plays and we had to come back and look ourselves in the mirrors and explain to ourselves,” Smart said .”Everybody came out and said what they thought was going on and we had to be truthful to ourselves.”

When the Celtics were blown off the court in Washington, Smart and the players got together for a players-only meeting to hammer things out.

“One practice after the Wizards game, and it was no coaches just us, and like I said we had to look ourselves in the mirror and come to the conclusion that it is us and we’re the ones playing and that we have to get it together,” Smart said.  

Might be time for that again. 

Closing out Durant:

Kevin Durant finally made his appearance Friday night in Boston and drew the ire of Celtics fans every time he touched the ball. He responded with 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting and a remarkable plus-32 (which was as high as plus-41 in the third quarter). 

What do you think of Durant’s coach think of the superstar getting the reaction he did?

“It’s just the beer talking,” Steve Kerr quipped. 

Added Klay Thompson, the man rumored to be in trade discussions involving the Celtics, “That is normal at this point. Boston fans are very passionate, doesn’t matter what sport, they love their Celtics. They might’ve felt like he burned them but that’s okay. Like I said, they are passionate…I’m sure KD enjoys it. He is a competitor and we enjoy our one trip here a year.”

And the man himself?

“I didn’t care,” Durant said. “I’m always motivated to play, so no, I was cool.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia



The Celtics have a bad drought that costs them big time against Kevin Durant and the Warriors Friday night at TD Garden. WEEI’s Mike Petraglia and Josue Pavon have your recap of a 104-88 Warriors win over the Celtics.

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Blog Author: 
WEEI

The Warriors reminded the Celtics on Friday why they’re one of the best offensive teams in the league en route to a 104-88 blowout win over the Celtics at TD Garden. 

Klay Thompson scored a game-high 28 points, while Kevin Durant flirted with a triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) and silenced the boos from the Garden’s faithful.

Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson

The Warriors reminded the Celtics on Friday why they’re one of the best offensive teams in the league en route to a 104-88 blowout win over the Celtics at TD Garden. 

Klay Thompson scored a game-high 28 points, while Kevin Durant flirted with a triple-double (23 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists) and silenced the boos from the Garden’s faithful. Early on, boos rained down every time Durant touched the ball but that didn’t seem to phase him or his teammates by the second half when the Warriors took control of the game and handed the Celtics their sixth loss of the season. 

Isaiah Thomas scored a team-high 18 points and Avery Bradley finished with a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) for the Celtics.

For a complete box score, click here

The Celtics closed out the first quarter with an 11-4 run, pulling them to within two points (29-27) before the Warriors found their offensive groove — finishing the half shooting 50 percent from the floor. The Celtics’ offensive rhythm came in spurts throughout the second quarter. Whenever the Warriors tried to pull away the Celtics responded with small scoring runs that kept the game close. 

The C’s were getting back defensively on the Warriors’ fast break but couldn’t put together a strong enough offense to give themselves a lead before the end of the half.  However, the Warriors did an excellent job of scoring off of the Celtics’ missed attempts in and outside of the paint. 

Although the Celtics weren’t too far behind at halftime (55-48), it sure felt like it in the second half when the Warriors went on a 24-3 run and grabbed a 28-point lead.

Golden State drained in five 3-pointers, while shooting 56.5 percent and forced five Celtics turnovers throughout the game-changing quarter.  The Warriors outscored the C’s 31-9 — giving them a 29-point lead, heading into the fourth quarter.

Despite scoring 31 points in the fourth quarter, it was too little, too late for the Celtics as they’re now a .500 team (6-6) before they head to Detroit to take on the Pistons Saturday night.

Stud of the night: Klay Thompson

With all the buzz surrounding Durant and how he would perform against the Celtics, Thompson put together one of his best games of the season. He finished with 28 points on 12-of-21 along with five rebounds and three assists. 

Dud of the night: Isaiah Thomas

Although he finished with a team-high 18 points, Thomas had a rough shooting night against the Celtics. Half of his points came from the free-throw line — where he made 9-of-9 — but he shot 4-of-12 from the floor, including 1-of-6 from deep. 

Reason why the game was lost: Warriors’ 31-9 third quarter

Golden State’s offense entered the second half completely dialed in and ran the Celtics out of their own building. Kicking off the half on a 24-3 run, the Warriors slammed the door on the Celtics’ hopes of keeping the game close before the final frame as the Warriors outscored the C’s 31-9 in the third quarter. Golden State also buckled down defensively and held the Celtics scoreless for almost half of the third quarter while their offense ran off with a huge lead (86-57) entering the fourth quarter. 

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon


To Warriors coach Steve Kerr, the decision by Kevin Durant was all business over the summer. 

Specifically, two years and $54.3 million worth of business is what Durant signed for in Golden State, turning down the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and Tom Brady in The Hamptons. 

The Warriors head coach said before Friday night’s game that while he understands the disappointment of many Celtics fans that their team was able to pair Durant and Horford with Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley for a run at a title, they should also not take his decision personally. 

That won’t be the case as Celtics fans turned out early and began booing Kevin Durant when he took the floor for warmups 15 minutes before tipoff. 

“My guess is it’s all in good fun, right? You come to a game, you’re Celtics fan, you know that you were close and didn’t get him. So, what do you do? You boo him,” Kerr said with a smile.

“But I think most of that stuff is tongue-in-cheek. People come to the game to be entertained and let their emotions out. I don’t think there will be heartfelt boos. I would be shocked. Maybe it’s different in Oklahoma City. 

“He did what he did, made a decision for himself and he lives with whatever comes his way. It would be pretty surprising to hear much venom tonight. He almost came here but he came to Golden State. We’re cheering.” 

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

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The Celtics could be very close to getting two-thirds of their starting front court back.

Al Horford, who missed his ninth straight game Friday night with a concussion, will travel with the Celtics on their three-game road trip, which begins Saturday night in Detroit.


The Celtics could be very close to getting two-thirds of their starting front court back.

Al Horford, who missed his ninth straight game Friday night with a concussion, will travel with the Celtics on their three-game road trip, which begins Saturday night in Detroit.

Also on the trip will be Jae Crowder, missing his eighth straight game Friday night with a sprained left ankle.

“Al had, by far, his best day [Thursday],” Brad Stevens said before Friday’s game with the Warriors. “He did on some 3-on-3, some 1-on-1, went up and down [the court]. Felt pretty good. Hopefully, barring no setbacks, we’re closer than further with him.”

With Horford and Crowder out against the front court of Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia, the Celtics are in the position of possibly having to put 6-foot-4 Marcus Smart in a mismatch.

“We’ll mix up matchups all over the place. I think some [switching],” Stevens said. “Obviously, the biggest thing is you can’t get caught up in is you’ve got to have a body, you’ve got to be on them. You have to be able to contest their shots. They’re going to hit some shots other people don’t hit. You’ve got to be able to go down and score. That’s what you have to do when you’re playing a team like this.”

JBL_CMYK_NoHarmanNoRBallWEEI is how you listen to Celtics coverage. JBL cutting-edge wireless headphones and speakers are how you feel like you’re there. As the official Sound of the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas and the NBA, JBL is Made for the Biggest Stage.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

He had to know it was coming.

Kevin Durant (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

Kevin Durant (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

He had to know it was coming.

Once Kevin Durant emerged for the shootaround at TD Garden prior to Friday night’s tilt between his Warriors and the Celtics, the questions started flying. Why the star forward has already addressed how the Celtics courted him this offseason, this would be the first time he would be coming face-to-face with the team he designated as an almost, but not quite.

“Do we really want to open this back up?” Durant said at one point during his gathering with the media. adding, “I have much respect for everybody on their team. I know AB, I know Isaiah. Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and those guys came and we had a nice talk. They were very impressive. The city of Boston is one of the best cities in the league. I really respect how they approach the game and how they play the game.”

So, how close was he to picking the Celtics?

“I met with them, they were really good. I was really impressed by them,” the forward said. “It’s hard for me to say how close each team was. I’m not going to go into that. But they were very impressive.” And what about that presentation in the Hamptons, which included Celtics players, front office types, ownership and even Tom Brady? “It was pretty good,” he said. “I’m not going to go into depth everything they said, but it was pretty good.”

Durant comes into Friday night playing for a Warriors club that is second in the Western Conference, standing at 9-2. He is sixth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 27.7 points per game, just slightly ahead of teammate Steph Curry (27.2). The Celtics, meanwhile, are in sixth-place in the Eastern Conference at 6-5, and will head into the showdown with the Warriors without both Al Horford and Jae Crowder.

“I don’t know. I expect them to cheer on their team like they always do,” said Durant when asked about what type of reception he expected from the TD Garden crowd. Outside of that, I don’t know. I’m trying to lock in and focus on our team, our game. The fans are going to be the same, they’re going to enjoy the game. As the game goes along they’re going to boo, they’re going to cheer. It is what it is.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Kevin Durant feels it’s time for the Celtics and their fans to just get over it.