It was not the prettiest evening of basketball Indiana’s ever seen, but the Celtics gave themselves a shot.

It was not the prettiest evening of basketball Indiana’s ever seen, but the Celtics gave themselves a shot.

That shot was soon swallowed by a stifling defense that left Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley no breathing room on the final possession. Bradley’s 3-point attempt fell well short, and the C’s lost, 100-98. They dropped to 1-3 on the season with a brutal stretch over their next six games: Wizards, at Bucks, Pacers, Hawks, at Thunder and at Rockets.

Thomas led the C’s with 27 points and seven assists, and Bradley added 21 points despite an injured right index finger. Joe Crowder (12 points), Evan Turner (11 points) and David Lee (10 points) also reached double figures. Paul George led the Celtics with 26 points, 10 rebounds and a wide-open 3 that broke a 93-93 tie with 2:13 remaining.

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

STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas.

In the second quarter alone, Thomas scored 14 points on seven shots — including seven of the C’s final nine points of the half — to keep the anemic Celtics‘ offense alive enough to avoid a double-digit deficit at the break. Starting at point guard for the first time in his Celtics tenure, Thomas acted as a playmaker in place of the injured Marcus Smart (big toe sprain), carving through the defense and finding shooters on the wings and cutters in the lane.

DUD OF THE NIGHT: Amir Johnson.

It’s a tough call between Kelly Olynyk, Terry Rozier, Tyler Zeller and Amir Johnson, who finished a combined 0-for-13, but we’ll go with Johnson. In his first start of the season, Johnson missed both of his shots and committed a pair of turnovers while grabbing four boards in 20 minutes. I’m a big proponent of Johnson starting because of his rim-protecting and floor-spacing ability, and there may be a reason he struggled against the Pacers. Johnson favored his left leg limping to the bench early, and while he returned for a bit, he didn’t play the final 15-plus minutes.


R.J. Hunter got the first action of his NBA career, and dad Ron Hunter wasn’t happy his son got the rookie treatment on this call. Hunter knocked down the first shot of his young career, and while he committed four fouls in 12:41, he played solid defense. Good things seemed to happen when Hunter was on the floor, and he finished a plus-eight.

WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Depth perception.

Stevens played all 12 of his available players in the first two quarters, and as Tommy Heinsohn mentioned at halftime, the Celtics seemed disjointed as a result. Only after Stevens cut the rotation down did the C’s find a rhythm. And all of this came with Smart sidelined. Stevens has some tough calls to make, but sooner or later he’s going to have decide which bigs and which guards he wants to use in a regular rotation — and stick with them.

STAT OF THE NIGHT: 21 offensive rebounds.

The Pacers grabbed 21 offensive boards on 46 missed shots, a big reason they were able to score 100 points and beat the Celtics while shooting just 38.5 percent from the field. Throw in 19 turnovers by the C’s, leading to 22 Pacers points, and Indiana had a total of 40 extra possessions. It’s actually amazing the C’s only lost by two points.


Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

If the Celtics were going to commit another turnover before the half, at least they made it the greatest one ever.

With a second left before the break, Celtics forward Jae Crowder tried to find Jared Sullinger with a fullcourt inbounds pass, except he found the bottom of the cup instead. The NBA should probably make a rule that if anyone ever does this again, everyone calls it a night — Celtics win. A proverbial mic drop. Instead, it was Pacers ball.

The turnover marked the C’s 13th of the half, and Indiana took a 49-43 lead into the locker room.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach
Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

The Celtics will face the Pacers in Indiana tonight with a new look to their starting lineup.

Guard Marcus Smart will miss tonight’s game due to a sprained left big toe, according to team officials. Isaiah Tomas will get the nod in place of Smart. It will be Thomas’ first regular season start as a Celtic.

Celtics officials announced Smart’s injury Wednesday afternoon from Indiana.

Boston Herlad’s Steve Bulpett tweeted out the following on Smart’s status:

Team officials also announced that Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson will start in place of David Lee and Tyler Zeller.

And Avery Bradley is listed as questionable (right hand). Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters that it’s more than likely he will play but hasn’t ruled him out against tonight’s game against the Pacers.

Blog Author: 

It’s way too early to panic.

But in his first three games in Boston, David Lee is averaging 5.3 points and shooting 25 percent from the floor. The Celtics suffered two losses against two good teams (Raptors and Spurs) last week, and haven’t gotten much offensive production out of their newcomer.

Lee isn’t making excuses. He acknowledged his shortcomings after Sunday’s loss against San Antonio.

“I’m out here thinking more than I’m playing, and that’s by no means an excuse,” Lee said Sunday. “I have to be better finishing the ball. That’s what I do. I think I’ve shot 50 percent or better for the last decade. If I’m a betting man, I’m thinking I’m going to snap out of it here.”

For his career, Lee has shot 53.2 percent from the floor. Just last season, Lee averaged below double digits in points for the first time since his rookie season. But still managed to shoot 51 percent in 18 minutes.

Expectations were somewhat high when the Celtics acquired Lee. Fresh off winning an NBA title as a backup on the Warriors, Lee was coming into a great situation. No one thought he would go back to being the All-Star he was a few years back, but in a starter’s role with a young Celtics core, it was fair to expect improvement from last season. At age 32, he still has plenty of basketball left in the tank.

On Sunday against the Spurs, Lee scored two points on 1-of-7 shooting, missed a jump shot and failed to tip in a rebound (twice), then Tim Duncan stuffed his shot so badly that it left him sitting on TD Garden’s new parquet floor. It was a rough game for Lee.

He did managed to pull down eight rebounds — he’s averaging 6.3 in three games — but his offense is sorely missed right now. Alongside Tyler Zeller, who’s averaging the same as Lee (5.3 points), Jae Crowder has been the only consistency in the front court (9.3 points, 4.7 rebounds).

What’s most concerning is the fact that Lee is missing the shots normally makes, however, he’s also not taking a lot of shots. He has scored 16 points on 20 attempts in his first three games. If he’s going to improve his offense, Lee has to take a lot more shots.

But again, it’s still early. The Celtics are getting familiar with each other. And Lee said he’s not concerned about the team’s slow start.

“It’s just about learning where everybody’s strengths are and how we can make each other better within our offense,” Lee said. “Not only ourselves, but make each other better. It’s only going to come from playing games, and we’re three games in and we still have a lot of work left to do. This team is a hard-working one, so I’m not worried.”

Lee and the Celtics will look to bounce back Wednesday night against the Pacers in Indiana.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Add this to the Celtics‘ list of unsurprising moves: James Young and Jordan Mickey have been inside to the Red Claws, Boston’s D-League affiliate in Portland, Maine.

James Young

James Young

Add this to the Celtics‘ list of unsurprising moves: James Young and Jordan Mickey have been inside to the Red Claws, Boston’s D-League affiliate in Portland, Maine.

The first of the C’s three draft picks received in return for trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, Young has been inactive for the first three games of the season. He averaged 21.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and two assists in 32.9 minutes over 17 games during 11 trips back and forth from Maine last season.

“I guess it’s something that I remind myself, but James is still only 20, and as a matter of fact, he recently turned 20″ Celtics president Danny Ainge said on media day when asked about Young’s progress. “I think he would have been one of the top 10 youngest guys in this year’s draft. I think James has made great strides. He had a terrific year last year in the D-League. I had numerous coaches tell me he was one of the best prospects they’ve ever seen in the D-League at age 19 last year.”

This marks Mickey’s first assignment to the D-League after being drafted No. 33 overall in June and receiving the heftiest contract for a rookie second-round pick in league history. He played two minutes at the end of the season-opening win over the 76ers — collecting two points, two rebounds and one assist in the process — but has been inactive since fellow rookie R.J. Hunter returned from illness.

In an odd bit of statistical nonsense, Mickey currently leads the NBA in offensive rating (243.1 points per 100 possessions), and that’s not likely to change soon. Although, both Young and Mickey will be recalled and re-assigned to the Red Claws more times than you can count on two hands this season, so get accustomed to it.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

In Stevens We Trust? (Jared WickerhamGetty Images)

As expected, the Celtics will not reach contract extensions with big men Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller before Monday’s deadline,

Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger

As expected, the Celtics will not reach contract extensions with big men Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller before Monday’s deadline, according to The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach.

The NBA salary cap is expected to expand $20 million next summer, so Sullinger and Zeller have no reason to sign a team-friendly extension based on the league’s current salary structure. Likewise, the C’s have little incentive to sign Sullinger and Zeller to player-friendly deals now, because of the former’s conditioning issues and the latter’s inconsistent production.

Consider that fellow 2012 NBA Draft first-round pick Jeremy Lamb, who couldn’t crack the regular rotation in Oklahoma City for his first three seasons, is reportedly signing a three-year, $21 million contract extension two games into his Hornets career. Sullinger and Zeller should receive an average annual value of $7 million next summer if they respectively eat a handful of Big Macs for lunch every day and fall to fifth or sixth on the C’s frontcourt depth chart this season.

More likely, both will be seeking double-digit millions per season next summer, and by not offering them that kind of cash flow right now, the Celtics can monitor their progress closely now and maintain significant salary cap flexibility in 2016, when both become restricted free agents and represent $12.2 million in combined cap holds come July 1.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach