Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston makes his glorious return to the WEEI Celtics Podcast to discuss small-ball, Jae Crowder’s candidacy for Most Improved Player, Kelly Olynk’s sweet #ManBun, and Isaiah Thomas…the All-Star? The WEEI Celtics podcast is hosted by Sam Packard and Jared Weiss.

It was a game of two halves. And an overtime.

The Celtics overcame a 17-point deficit and forced an overtime period — where they fell short in a 118-113 Mavericks win.

The Mavericks took a 29-16 lead into the second quarter and extended it to 17 points — their biggest lead of the night. Dallas shot 48.8 percent in the first half. The Celtics rallied in the third quarter, outscoring the Mavericks 33-18 and went into the fourth quarter up, 72-70. Isaiah Thomas, who scored two points in the first half, found his offense in the third quarter by scoring 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

In the fourth quarter, Dirk Nowitzki caught fire — he scored 14 of his 31 points and propelled the Mavericks to a five-point advantage after converting a four-point play with 1:27 left in the game (89-94). However, the Celtics didn’t quit. They went on a 6-4 run to set up a chance for them to tie the game, down by three (98-95). With 14 seconds left, Jae Crowder was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and converted all three free-throws to send the game into overtime.

The Mavericks needed four 3-pointers in the extra period to fend off the Celtics. Dallas finished the night 16-for-34 from distance — where they shot 47 percent on the night.

 

Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart each scored 20 points to lead the Celtics, Avery Bradley added 19 points and eight rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki‘s 31 points led the the Mavericks. Deron Williams scored 20 and Zaza Pachulia grabbed a game-high 19 rebounds.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Marcus Smart.

Smart did a little bit of everything. He scored (20 points), grabbed rebounds (eight rebounds) to help get the fast break going (31 fast break points) and finished the night with two steals. Smart hit a big 3-pointer in overtime pull the Celtics to within one point before Williams and Nowitzki hit back-to-back 3’s to push the Mavericks lead up to four.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Amir Johnson.

In a game where Pachulia pulled down 19 rebounds, the Celtics could have used some help from their 6’9″ big. Johnson finished the night with just two rebounds and a turnover in 13 minutes. When the Celtics made their second-half comeback, coach Brad Stevens knew he wasn’t going to get much from Johnson so he kept him on the bench.

VINE OF THE NIGHT: Clutch Crowder

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Guarding Dirk 

After the Celtics grabbed their first lead in the third quarter, the Mavericks turned to Dirk Nowitzki and he delivered — he scored 21 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter and overtime periods. When it came to defending Nowitzki, the Celtics often found themselves caught in a switch, which led to easy jumpers for Dirk. Nowitzki knocked down shots over Smart, Bradley or another undersized defender which led to easy shots or trips to the free-throw line. 

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 16-for-34

The Celtics couldn’t stop the Mavericks from knocking down 3-pointers, especially in the overtime period. Dallas drained a handful of contested 3-pointers but the Mavericks knocked down a lot of open jumpers from downtown. The Celtics back court were caught behind screens and often late on defensive switches, which led to open looks for the Mavericks. Drik Nowitzki (3-for-5), Chandler Parsons (4-for-6), Wesley Matthews (3-for-8), Devin Harris (2-for-5) Deron Williams (2-for-5) and Raymond Felton (1-for3) all took turns knocking down jumpers from deep. 

@ OF THE NIGHT:

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon
Jae Crowder

Jae Crowder

The Celtics began their three-game road trip on a positive note by beating the Wizards 119-117 in Washington D.C. on Saturday.

The Celtics outscored the Wizards 65-56 in the second half, erasing an 11-point deficit and grabbed a four-point lead (114-110) with 30 seconds left in the game. With 22 seconds left, John Wall was fouled shooting a 3-pointer. After missing his first attempt, NBA official Tony Brothers handed Jae Crowder a technical foul for yelling towards the Wizards bench. Wizards guard Gary Neal converted the technical foul shot and Wall made 2-of-3 to pull the Wizards to within one point.

After Amir Johnson split a pair from the foul line with 15 seconds left, Garrett Temple converted a pair of freebees to tie the game at 117. Out of a timeout, Celtics executed a back door cut play to Crowder for the go-ahead layup. Wall only needed 3.9 seconds to go coast-to-coast, but he missed an uncontested layup that would have sent the game into overtime.

After the game, Crowder told CSNNE that it was Wizards coach Randy Whittman who initiated the exchange of words that resulted in him getting the technical foul. Whittman did not comment on the incident.

Isaiah Thomas (36 points) and Jae Crowder (22 points) combined for 54 points to lead the Celtics. John Wall scored a game-high 36 points and Marcin Gortat (18 points, 11 rebounds) had a double-double for the Wizards.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Jae Crowder.

Crowder has been playing at a very high level lately and Saturday night was no different. Crowder scored 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including 2-for-5 from deep to go with his eight rebounds and six assists. In his last four games, he’s averaging 21.2 points, six rebounds and shooting 55.2 percent from the floor.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Avery Bradley.

Despite knocking down the clutch 3-pointer that gave the Celtics a four-point lead with 30 seconds left, Bradley struggled to find his shot throughout the night. He finished the night with nine points on 4-for-13 shooting, including 1-for-6 from distance.

VINE OF THE NIGHT: Clutch Crowder

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Tony Brothers.

Crowder’s late-game technical foul could have ultimately costed the Celtics the game. Although Crowder made the mistake of talking back to Wizards coach Randy Whittman, NBA official Tony Brothers’ call was a bit extreme. Crowder never received a warning from the veteran official, and the controversial call led to the Wizards eventually tying the game before Crowder’s go-ahead layup put the Celtics up for good.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 32-for-36.

The Celtics were constantly making trips to the free throw line and it paid dividends. They shot 11-for-12 in the fourth quarter — 32-of-36 on the night (89 percent), including 3-for-4 in the final minute. If the Celtics can reach this plateau more often, it will better their chances of edging out wins in close games. The C’s shoot 77 percent from the line on 22.7 attempts this season.

@ OF THE NIGHT:

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

The Celtics dominated the Phoenix Suns en route to a 117-103 win, Friday Night at the Boston Garden.

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

The Celtics dominated the Phoenix Suns en route to a 117-103 win, Friday Night at the Boston Garden.

The Suns, who entered the game with the league’s worst rated defense, were both unwilling and unable to stop the Celtics from scoring the basketball. The Celtics capitalized on the Suns sloppy play and frequently found themselves with wide open shots.

After a relatively close first quarter, the Celtics blew the game open at the end of the second. Led by an outstanding shooting performance by Olynyk, the C’s outscored the Suns 22-5 in the final 5:28.

In the second half, the Suns were unable to cut the deficit to lower than 15.

Kelly Olynyk scored a game-high 21 points. Isaiah Thomas added 19, while Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder both scored 17.  Coming off the bench, Marcus Smart recorded a nice garbage-time triple-double with 11 rebounds, 11 assists, and 10 points.

After losing four straight, the (21-19) Celtics have now won two in a row. The team will attempt to extend the streak, when they travel to Washington to play John Wall and the Wizards on Saturday night.

For a complete box score, click here.

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Kelly Olynyk’s Flow

Despite Bun vs. Flow splits that would indicate he performs better with his hair up, Olynyk took the court tonight sans bun. While the hair-based statisticians on Twitter were initially skeptical, Olynyk remained aggressive. During the final 3 minutes of the second quarter, Kelly outscored the Suns 13-2 by himself. He knocked down three consecutive three-pointers, before adding two acrobatic lay-ups. For a brief moment, the TD Garden crowd was even chanting his name. Olynyk also finished wit nine rebounds.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Evan Turner Does Nothing

In a game in which the Celtics seemed ready and willing to attempt any and every shot, Turner shockingly had only one attempt in 25 minutes. For someone who has nicknamed themselves “The Logo,” you would expect more pomp and certainly more circumstance. It’s not like Turner had an impact elsewhere on the stat sheet, as he finished with only one rebound and two assists.

VINE OF THE NIGHT: Kelly’s Sweet Moves

Shockingly, no one Vined tonight’s game. Here is a Sweet Kelly-O throwback.

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Not Enough Garbage Time

With the game pretty much in hand at the end of the third quarter, Celtics coach Brad Stevens kept to his usual nine-man rotation. Avery Bradley, who is recovering from a hip injury that sidelined him for three games, played an outrageous 38 minutes, while James Young and RJ Hunter didn’t enter the game until there was  one minute to play. 

STAT OF THE NIGHT: Assist Percentage

The Celtics recorded 30 assists on their 42 made field goals, which is good for a 71 percent assist percentage. This is an absurd number, as Stevens has previously mentioned that anything over 60 percent is above and beyond. 

@ OF THE NIGHT: Chris Forsberg paints a pretty scene. 

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

All they had to do was go small.

All they had to do was go small.

In the final five minutes of the game, with Jae Crowder playing power-forward, the Boston Celtics dominated the Indiana Pacers en route to a 103-94 victory. In final stretch, the C’s small-ball line up outscored the Pacers 17-4. The Celtics were able to retake the lead after scoring 6 points after three consecutive steals.

After the Pacers opened the game by scoring the first eight points, Boston completely outplayed the Pacers, responding with a 26-6 run of their own.

Jae Crowder had an excellent first half, scoring 19 of his 25 points in the first 24 minutes. Crowder also played excellent defense on Pacers’ star Paul George, who was limited to only 4 points.

George’s struggles did not continue for long, as he started the second half very aggressively, scoring 17 of his 23 points in the third quarter.

As the Pacers clawed their way back into the game, the Celtics offense began to falter. Over a 12-minute stretch spanning from five minutes left the third to five minutes left in the fourth, the C’s scored only 11 points.

With 5:08 left to play in the game, after the Pacers took an 90-86 lead, Brad Stevens went with a small-ball line up of Amir Johnson, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, and Isaiah Thomas. The Pacers only scored 4 points for the rest of the game, turning the ball over six times.

The win snapped the (20-19) Celtics four game losing streak and was only their second of the calendar year. The team will try to build on their momentum when they take on the struggling Phoenix Suns on Friday Night in Boston.

For a complete box score click here.

STUD OF THE NIGHT Amir Johnson

This was Amir Johnson’s best game as a Celtic. He was dominant force for the entire game. Johnson opened the game by grabbing nine rebounds in his first ten minutes. Johnson did a great job on the offensive glass, generating an extra eight possessions for the Celtics. He finished with 18 rebounds, 17 points, and 6 assists.

DUD OF THE NIGHT Marcus Smart

Smart has really struggled offensively since returning from injury. Tonight he took a number of questionable shots, scoring only five points in 30 minutes. Smart really struggled from beyond the arc, missing all four of his three point attempts.

VINE OF THE NIGHT  Swedish Hakeem

WHINE OF THE NIGHT  Jared Sullinger

After a solid performance against the Knicks on Tuesday, Sullinger really struggled tonight. He had a number of lapses on defense and only played 20 minutes. 

STAT OF THE NIGHT IT and Crowder’s FG%

Thomas and Crowder combined to shoot 20 for 33 from the field including 7 of 12 from the three point line. The two accounted for more than half of the Celtics points, finishing with 28 and 25 points respectively. 

  @ OF THE NIGHT  Three-headed pit bull

 

 

 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

“Spread love it’s the Brooklyn way…”

A photo posted by evan turner (@slumdog_mi11ionaire) on

Before Wednesday’s night game against the Indiana Pacers, I asked Celtics forward Evan Turner a couple of questions about the Celtics loss to the New York Knicks. Turner, who is known for delivering some hilarious responses, instead responded with some generic athlete-speak, so I decided to ask him some questions rap related that had been on my mind ever since he donned a COOGI sweater after the C’s game in Brooklyn. Below are his responses.

On the advantages of smaller line-up:

‘€œIt makes us hard to guard. Obviously we can get out and run. We can switch more, teams see us switching and it throws them off a little bit.  With Jae playing the 4, theres so much pick-and-roll for the guard, making the big man switch, you get Isaiah on somebody on a mismatch, which is key.”

On Marcus Smart defending Kristaps Porzingis

‘€œThere were a few calls that weren’€™t fouls. Usually the aggressor doesn’€™t really get called, but yesterday Marcus did a great job on Porzingis. He got three fouls right away of being aggressive and being the more physical individual.’€

On Bigge and Tupac

“My dad was a Tupac fan and my brother was a big Biggie fan. I always just liked the music. Getting older and understanding it even more. I like Biggie, Biggie’€™s flow is obviously crazy. You can still play that music right now, its crazy. Pac was more of an icon with regards to his lyrics and rapping about the people, he was more of an activist. With whats going now, nowadays in life you need a voice like that.’€

*Editors note: I am kicking myself for not asking Turner a follow up question about the need for more political activism. Rather, as an noted Biggie stan, I quickly retorted that at the same time Pac was making socially conscious songs like “Brenda’s Got a Baby” he was also releasing violent diss tracks like “Hit ‘Em Up.” Turner used this as an opportunity to reflect on the nature of art.

On Art

“Music is a reflection self and reflection of your mood. You might blog about something or tweet or whatever else and you might feel way different ten minutes from now. It’s an art and people are going to say how they feel. I am sure Picasso had 100 different ways of painting or moods and stuff like that, and this is how it goes. To a certain extent you can never really take it too literal.”

I concluded by asking Turner his five favorite rappers of all-time. His response: Eminem, Jay-Z, Drake, Biggie and Tupac. The Logo didn’t stop there, explaining that he would also give five that most others wouldn’t say. He then proceeded to name five of the most popular rappers ever, most of which happen to hail from his hometown of Chicago. His non-traditional list: Lupe, Common Sense, Yeezy, Nas and J. Cole.

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

The Knicks handed the Celtics their fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games with a 120-114 decision at Madison Square Garden. The C’s (19-19) fell to .500 for the first time since Nov.

The New York Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics 120-114 on Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden. The loss is the Celtics fourth in a row and their sixth in seven games. The (19-19) Celtics fall to .500 and are now 9th in the jammed packed Eastern Conference.

Carmelo Anthony and rookie Kristaps Porzingis dominated the first half, combining for 28 points in the first quarter. The seven-foot Porzingis hit three of his first four attempts from three, including one from Steph Curry range of 25 feet. Anthony did an excellent job playing off the ball, knocking down five of his first shots. The pair finished the half with 37 points on a extremely efficient 64% shooting.

Surprisingly, neither Carmelo or Kristaps had a large impact on the second half of the game. Carmelo, who sprained his ankle after running into a referee in the second quarter, was only able to play 19 seconds in the third quarter before pulling himself out of the game.

To start the half, Brad Stevens decided to play small ball, putting Marcus Smart in for the struggling Kelly Olynyk. Smart, who was giving up nearly a foot to the Latvian MonStar, did an excellent job playing physical aggressive defense. Porzingis only played only 8 minutes in the second half, after he picked up two early fouls to begin the quarter.

The small lineup of Smart, Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Amir Johnson was able to slowly pull the Celtics back into the game. Isaiah Thomas took advantage of the extra space on the floor by repeatedly attacking the paint and getting to rim. He scored 16 of his game-high 34 points in the quarter.

Without Carmelo or Porzingis, Aaron Afflalo carried the Knicks in the second half, scoring 10 points in both the third and fourth quarters, while Jerian Grant and Robin Lopez were also in double-figures.

Perhaps due to the aggressive defense of the small ball lineup, the Celtics also found themselves in foul trouble late in the game. Marcus Smart finished with five fouls as the Knicks shot 27 of 30 from the free throw line.

The Celtics take on the Indiana Pacers in front of a national audience on ESPN on Wednesday night, as they take on Paul George at the (22-16) Indiana Pacers.

For a complete Box Score, click here.

STUD OF THE NIGHT Jared Sullinger

Like a classic TRL Video, Isaiah Thomas is now retired from winning the Stud of the Night Award. He was obviously the Celtics best player on the court, but I don’t know how much more there is to say about his contribution to the team.

Instead, I will bequeath Jared Sullinger the Stud of the Night. Sully grabbed six boards and added twelve points in the fourth quarter and was one of the major reasons the Celtics were able to hang in the game.

DUD OF THE NIGHT Kelly Olnyk

Olynyk is a perfect microcosm for the Celtics season. He has the potential to be very good and often flashes moments of brilliance, but ultimately he is not consistent enough and is prone to ugly performances.

Tonight we got the bad Kelly. He got abused early by Porzingis and was unable to get anything going offensively. He had three fouls and committed one really stupid traveling violation. He did not play in the second half.

VINE OF THE NIGHT Amir Johnson stars in “Shoe Tomfoolery”

WHINE OF THE NIGHT Tonight Evan Turner attempted five three-pointers. Even though Turner is notoriously bad from deep, I have no problem with his shot selection. I think he generally makes the smart basketball play and only takes them when he is open. Only his final missed three, The Logo decided to admire his shot and hold his follow through rather than getting back on defense. This resulted in Derrick Williams scoring a momentum killing wide open dunk in transition.

STAT OF THE NIGHT Knicks Shooting Percentage The Knicks shot 67% in the first quarter and 72% in the fourth. To quote a famous guy, “Its hard to win games when the other team is quite good at putting the ball in hoop at an efficient rate.”

@ OF THE NIGHT

Blog Author: 
WEEI