Unfortunately for the Boston Celtics, three is the magic number. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Celtics were unable to win what would have been a season-high fourth game in a row.

Unfortunately for the Boston Celtics, three is the magic number. On the second night of a back-to-back, the Celtics were unable to win what would have been a season-high fourth game in a row.

The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Celtics 96-93 on Saturday night. Playing their fourth game in five nights, the C’€™s (19-31) were unable to sustain a comeback attempt that brought them within one point in the final minute. Brandon Knight led all scorers with 26 points and sealed the game with an impressive step-back jumper in the final 10 seconds.

The Celtics struggled to deal with the absurd length of the Bucks (28-23). The Celtics were unable to establish their motion offense, and instead settled for contested jumpers. They shot 42 percent from the floor and an abysmal 24 percent from 3-point range. Avery Bradley, Tyler Zeller, Marcuses Smart and Thornton each had double-figure points in the loss.

For the complete box score, click here.

Greek Freak Freaks Greeks; Potential best player in NBA history

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the most intriguing player in the NBA. The 6-foot-11 20-year-old is STILL growing, is a dynamic ball-handler, and has the ability to euro-step and dunk from the 3-point line. Coming off a career-high 27 points against the Rockets, the talents of the Greek Freak were on full display against the Celtics. Finishing with a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds), Antetokounmpo impacted almost every aspect of the game. His length was most impressive, as he bothered Celtics shooters the entire night. I fully expect Giannis to win the Slam Dunk contest next weekend and slowly evolve into the best player in the universe.

Brandon Knight is underrated

In the point guard-heavy NBA, Brandon Knight is not a household name. After being drafted eighth by the Pistons in 2011 out of Kentucky, Knight had a disappointing couple of seasons in Detroit. In Milwaukee, though, Knight has drastically improved his game. Last season he averaged a career-high 17.9 points per game and continues to do a solid job leading the surprisingly good Bucks offense. Saturday, he had a very impressive first half, scoring 18 of his 26 points.

Sullinger stays in the paint

To the delight of Celtics fans everywhere, Jared Sullinger only attempted 3 three pointers tonight (Although, his shot in the final 2 minutes was particularly reprehensible) For the majority of the game, he chose to plant his excess posterior in the paint. In the first half, he was the best C’€™s player on the floor, scoring 12 points and grabbing 5 boards. Recently, Sullinger has been doing an excellent job passing the ball, but only finished with 2 assists in tonight’€™s game.

Tayshaun Prince returns to the rotation.

After being sidelined with a hip injury, Brad Stevens- favorite savy vet- returned to the rotation with excellent results. When the Celtics went small, Prince played the four, notching 8 points in 19 minutes off the bench. Tayshaun’€™s return meant that rookie James Young, who had seen his minutes increase in recent games, did not see the floor, finishing with a DNP-Coach’€™s Decisions.

Marcus Smart continues to improve on offense.

After a couple low scoring performances, Smart finished with over 10 points for only the tenth time this season. In the first quarter, the rookie continued his assault from beyond the arc. He opened the game by knocking down 2 for 4 from deep. Smart has also shown remarkable improvement running the offense, particularly in the pick and roll. He finished with 13 points but only 1 assist.

 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

After the Celtics secured a third straight victory and sixth win in their past 10 games, everyone’s wondering what’s gotten into them since the departure of Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green.

“Guys in here are trying to win,” said Jae Crowder, the only one left from the Dec. 19 Rondo deal. “A lot of people counted us out, so we have a lot of pride in this locker room, and the city has a lot of pride, so we want to keep playing for those guys, playing for ourselves and playing basketball the right way to give ourselves a chance.”

The Celtics own a similar record after the Rondo trade (10-16) to before it (9-14), but since the Green deal was finalized on Jan. 12, the C’s are 7-7, including the first three road wins against Western Conference teams of the Brad Stevens era. For better or worse, this hodgepodge of young talent and expiring contracts is playing to win.

But some within the Celtics locker room are waiting for the other shoe to drop, or at least it sounds that way.

“It’s been great,” said Marcus Thornton, who netted 16 points off the bench in Friday’s win over the 76ers, of the team chemistry since a series of trades also saw Brandan Wright come and go. “It’s still not over yet. Feb. 19 is still a long time from now, so we’ll see how that goes, too. For the time being, everybody’s just here playing.”

Feb. 19, of course, is the NBA trade deadline, and Thornton seemed awful familiar with that date. “No, I’m not thinking about that,” he countered. “Whatever happens, happens. I would like to stay here. Who wouldn’t? We’ve got a good thing going, but like I said, it’s not controllable. I can’t control it, so whatever happens, happens.”

Thornton owns an $8.6 million price tag this season, joining fellow veterans Tayshaun Prince ($7.7 million) and Brandon Bass ($6.9 million) as attractive expiring contracts. The Celtics are winning games because of that trio, and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge might prefer they help another team in that regard.

So goes the battle for Brad Stevens and this band of merry Celtics, who staved off a 76ers comeback for another victory and pulled within two games of the Nets for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff seed.

“We’€™ve been good in those moments in really the most part of the month,” said Stevens. “And we had a little bit of an adjustment, obviously, after Rondo was traded and Jeff was traded, but in close games — or, you know, we’€™ve had to come back in a couple of these games — I feel like for the most part it’€™s been a positive in the last eight minutes of games. So, that’€™s encouraging from where we started the year.”

Growing, morphing, evolving, it’s all part of the process of these Stevens Celtics, whatever that may be.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

It hasn’t been pretty, but the Celtics are riding a three-game winning streak.

Marcus Thornton

Marcus Thornton

It hasn’t been pretty, but the Celtics are riding a three-game winning streak.

They nearly blew a 26-point lead to a listless Sixers squad, but pulled out a 107-96 win on the strength of another 3-point barrage from Marcus Thornton. The veteran reserve connected on back-to-back triples to maintain a cushion after Philadelphia cut it to a one-possession game midway through the fourth quarter. The C’s (19-30) remain within striking distance of the eighth-place Heat (21-28), who visit the Spurs late Friday night.

Thornton (16 points) joined five other Celtics in double figures. Jared Sullinger led the effort with 22 points, eight rebounds and a career-high seven assists. Avery Bradley (18 points), Tyler Zeller (16 points, 9 rebounds), Brandon Bass (13 points) and Jae Crowder (11 points) rounded out the C’s double-digit sextet. Luc Mbah a Moute’s 18 points led a 76ers (11-40) squad that was without Michael Carter-Williams.

For a complete box score, click here.

ON THEIR GUARD

With Michael Carter-Williams out with a right toe injury and Tony Wroten (partially torn right ACL) sidelined for the remainder of the season, the Sixers started undrafted rookie JaKarr Sampson at point guard alongside 2014 second-round pick K.J. McDaniels in the backcourt, and the Celtics took advantage early. In a span of 77 seconds, Bradley made his first three shots ‘€” including a 3-pointer ‘€” on passes from Smart, Turner and Sullinger, giving the C’s an early 7-0 lead. Bass’ layup on their next possession pushed the lead to nine and forced a Philadelphia timeout.

A LITTLE HELP

Here’s something you may not have known: Despite dealing Rajon Rondo, the Celtics entered Friday’s game assisting on 62.4 percent of their field goals, ranking seventh in the NBA in that regard — behind only the playoff-bound Hawks, Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Wizards and Bucks. (Even more remarkable: The 76ers rank eighth.) In the first half against Philadelphia, the C’s recorded an assist on 17 of their 23 field goals (74 percent) and took a 60-42 lead into halftime. Evan Turner, who has led the Celtics in assists since Rondo’s departure, had five dimes by the break.

THE 76ERS AREN’T VERY GOOD

Even with Carter-Williams — the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year — the 76ers are league’s three worst teams. How the Knicks and Timberwolves have won fewer games remains one of life’s great mysteries. Only one member of Philadelphia’s starting five played in the NBA last year, and that was Luc Mbah a Moute, who has played for four teams in the past 22 months and was a throw-in to the Thaddeus Young trade. The Sixers’ front office is actively attempting to lose games, and Carter-Williams’ absence makes that a foregone conclusion. What’s Phil Jackson‘s excuse?

TURD QUARTER

Treating the 76ers like The Bride at the beginning of “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” the Celtics pulled a Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and inexplicably left the church before finishing the job, allowing Philadelphia off the mat. While the C’s shot 21 percent in the third quarter (4-19 FG, 1-6 3P), the Sixers stormed back to within six, shooting 47 percent in the frame and outscoring the hosts, 27-15. Luckily, Philly is no Uma Thurman.

DID IT 1-FOR THE ROOKIES

While the Celtics received contributions from up and down the roster, their two rookies struggled to find the bottom of the net. Marcus Smart (1-6 FG) and James Young (0-3 FG) made just one of their nine combined attempts and totaled just three points as a tandem. While Young’s 0-fer came in a dozen minutes off the bench, Smart played a team-high 37 minutes, contributing in other ways as a starter (8 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals).

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

When Marcus Smart was selected No. 6 overall in this past June’s NBA Draft, many believed it would be to replace Rajon Rondo. The rookie had a slow start to the season that included an ankle injury and even limited minutes at times when he was available.

Rondo was shipped to Dallas on Nov 18, and since then Smart has continued trying to earn the trust of his coaches and teammates. On Feb 3 all of his hard work paid off when Brad Stevens named him the starting point guard for the Celtics. Smart’s playing time has gone up in each of his last five games, but he has set a career-highs in minutes in each of his two starts at the point.

In 37 minutes on Tuesday in New York, the Oklahoma State product poured in 13 points while also grabbing four rebounds, three assists and two steals. The next night, in 41 minutes of action while hosting the Nuggets, Smart only managed four points, but had maybe one of his most impactful games. Despite his lack of scoring, the 20-year old racked up 10 boards, dished out eight assists, and plucked three steals in the process.

“I just try to come out there and play hard,” Smart said of his new starting role. “Not worry about all the other things and just let my game come to me and let the rest fall into place.”

“I’m trying to push the ball and keep the pace up. I’m trying to attack the defense before they get set,” he said of his job as a facilitator.

Development with the ball in his hands is great, but may take some time. For now, defense is Smart’s calling card.

“I think you feel so good and comfortable with him defensively in the game,” Stevens said of Smart following Wednesday’s game. “I thought he did fine offensively. He had eight assists to two turnovers. He didn’t shoot a high volume of shots. I can’t think of many times where he made many mistakes defensively.

“He’s playing pretty well — without impacting the stat sheet too much, which is a good thing,” Smart’s coach concluded regarding his impact.

Even Smart’s peers around the league are taking notice of his abilities.

“I think he’s pretty good,” Denver point guard Ty Lawson confirmed following the game. “He’s tough. He’s pretty strong. He’s going to be a good defender in this league.”

But what’s the biggest impact of the C’s lineup change so far? Marcus Smart is a winner. The Celtics are 2-0 so far when he starts at point guard.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

Would Marcus Smart be better off next season with playoff experience or another top-10 pick by his side? (Getty Images)



After Jared Sullinger missed a pregame walkthrough on Wednesday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens benched his starting power forward for

Sandwiched between a successful West Coast trip and a wire-to-wire road victory against the Knicks, the Celtics lost a pair of home games to the Rockets and Heat.