The hottest team in the NBA? Well, that might just be the Boston Celtics.

The C’s destroyed the lowly 76ers, 108-89 on Monday night, which means as of the final buzzer, Boston (30-36) sits in a tie for the seven-seed in the East. Yes, the Celtics would now be in the playoffs if they were to start tomorrow.

Tyler Zeller posted a game-high 26 points in an incredibly efficient 28 minutes in which he shot 11-for-15. Avery Bradley also scored 20 for the Celtics who had all five starters finish in double digits as well as Jae Crowder and Gigi Datome off the bench. Boston product Nerlens Noel was the high man for Philly with 18 points.

For a full box score, click here.

A FIRST FOR BRAD STEVENS

Stevens now has his first five-game winning streak as a head coach in the NBA — and an impressive one despite capping it off against Philly. Maybe even more impressive? The C’s have now come out on top in 14 of their last 20. No matter how you spin it, this stretch has proved that Stevens can flat out coach. He just may get a team that has undergone several identity changes this season to sneak into the playoffs, so imagine the possibilities when Danny Ainge provides Stevens with the roster that we all expect one day.

HOME COOKING EARLY

The Celtics came out and took this one right from the jump, building a 20-point lead by the end of the first quarter. Boston shot an insane 66.7 percent from the field (16-for-24 shooting) in the period on its way to grabbing a 38-18 lead. In the process, Avery Bradley and Tyler Zeller scored 10 points a piece in the quarter on a combine 8-for-9 shooting. Seven Celtics scored and five Celtics combine for total 10 assists by the time the quarter came to a close.

CELTICS ARE HAVING FUN

The C’s aren’t just winning games, they are having a blast doing so. Just watch the Celtics’ bench during a game and it’s easy to see the infectious energy. More players were out and about with a smile on their face during pre-game media access and it’s undoubtably because the team is winning. 12 Celtics saw action in this game — everyone who was dressed played aside form Gerald Wallace — while 10 of them saw at least 13 minutes of action. Seven Celtics scored in double figures including all five starters. Stevens has his crew buying into real team basketball.

AVERY BRADLEY GAVE HIS MOST ROUNDED GAME

What has made the C’s so good of late is that they don’t have an individual star. Isaiah Thomas has been fantastic, but teamwork has sparked this win streak. However, if you had to pick one spark plug from Monday night it would be Bradley. AB finished with 20 points, 10 boards, six helpers and two steals in 35 minutes of action — just the second double-double of his career.

76ERS ARE BRUTAL

Yes, Sam Hinkie has a plan. But we’re not going to know if it has worked for another five years, so for right now we get to watch this awful 76ers team compete. I’ll give Hinkie the benefit of the doubt, it’s too early to say his plan has failed. At the same time, those who credit Hinkie’s genius need to check themselves, because Philly is yet to prove anything. Nerlens Noel looks like he could be a decent player, but we have no clue what Joel Embiid or Dario Saric are and we have no clue who the next lottery gambles will be come this summer or how they will develop. All we know for sure is that the 76ers as they stand before us are a complete dumpster fire.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

A Celtics coach is the focus of a college program’s search to fill its vacant position, and it’s not who you might have expected.

A Celtics coach is the focus of a college program’s search to fill its vacant position, and it’s not who you might have expected.

George Mason University is eyeing C’s assistant Jay Larranaga as a potential replacement for recently fired Patriots coach Paul Hewitt, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Jay’s father Jim Larranaga led George Mason to the 2006 Final Four during his 13 seasons at the helm of the Virginia-based school before accepting his current position as head coach of the University of Miami in 2011.

One of two holdovers from Doc Rivers‘ coaching staff (Jamie Young is the other), Larranaga deserves partial credit as Brad Stevens‘ top assistant for the C’s playoff push in the absence of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and most recently Isaiah Thomas. Prior to joining the Celtics‘ staff in 2012, Larranaga enjoyed success as the head coach of the NBA D-League’s Erie BayHawks and an assistant under Mike Fratello on the Ukraine National Team.

Larranaga was a candidate for the C’s head coaching position before Stevens’ hiring in 2013 and twice interviewed for the open 76ers job before Philadelphia hired Brett Brown that same summer.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

For only the second time in the Brad Stevens era — and the first time since Nov. 6-11, 2013 — the Celtics have won four straight games, defeating the Pacers 93-89 on Saturday night.

For only the second time in the Brad Stevens era — and the first time since Nov. 6-11, 2013 — the Celtics have won four straight games, defeating the Pacers 93-89 on Saturday night.

Four Celtics scored in double figures, led by Tyler Zeller (18 points, 7 rebounds), and Boston (29-36) pulled within half a game of the Charlotte Hornets for the Eastern Conference’s eighth playoff seed. The C’s now trail Indiana (30-35) by just one game for the seventh spot.

Brandon Bass, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder all added 16 points apiece, as the C’s knocked off a Pacers team that had won seven straight entering Saturday night’s game. The Celtics next face the struggling Philadelphia 76ers with a chance to capture their first five-game winning streak under Stevens.

For a complete box score, click here.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Well, that’€™s one way to follow up your best win of the season.

Well, that’€™s one way to follow up your best win of the season.

In what might have been the ugliest basketball game of the NBA season, the Boston Celtics narrowly defeated the Orlando Magic 95-88 Friday night at the TD Garden. After trailing for the majority of the game, the Celtics (28-36) overcame a 10-point defect in the second half. Evan Turner was unstoppable in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of his 30 points in the final minutes.

Elfird Payton led the Magic (21-46) with 20 points and 9 assists, while Nikola Vucevic had a double-double (16 points and 11 rebounds) in the loss. For the Celtics, Phil Pressey added a double-double, dishing out 10 assists and scoring 10 points.

For a complete box score click here. 

EVAN TURNER‘€™S AMAZING FOURTH QUARTER.

After missing his first five attempts, Evan Turner made all six of the shots he took in the fourth quarter. Turner scored 16 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 2 minutes left to go in the game. The much-maligned small forward was clearly in some sort of mythical zone, attempting and making a number of high-difficulty shots.

HORRENDOUS FIRST QUARTER

The Celtics started the game shooting 4 for 20 from the field. After the first five minutes, they held an impressive 6-3 lead, before the Magic went on a 15-2 run. Evan Turner missed all five shots he took in the opening minutes. The Celtics finished the first quarter shooting 31% from the field. Gigi Datome and Kelly Olynyk were able to salvage the dreadful quarter, each hitting a late three to pull the Celtics with in 4.

ELFRID PAYTON CANT SHOOT FREE THROWS

Marcus Smart, Evan Turner, and Avery Bradley all tried, but no one on the Celtics could stop Payton from driving to the basket. Payton shot terribly from the free throw line, finishing the game 4 for15. If he was even remotely effective from the charity stripe, the Celtics would have been blown out. It got so bad for the first year point guard that the Celtics briefly employed a hack-a-Payton strategy, fouling him intentionally. Despite his poor shooting from the line, Payton hit his fifth and sixth three pointers of the season.

FANCY PASSING WITH PHIL PRESSEY

Before the game on Wednesday night, Brad Stevens said Pressey was one of most reliable players on the roster. Tonight, he played a season high 27 minutes, dishing out 10 assists. Pressey had a couple of Rondo-esque assists, including a behind-the-back pass to Jae Crowder who knocked down the wide-open three. With Isaiah Thomas still nursing a sore back, the second year guard will play important minutes on Saturday against the Pacers.

JAMES YOUNG RETURNS TO LINEUP

After not playing in the last two games, rookie James Young returned to the floor late in the third quarter. Young made his first shot, before missing his next two. He then stupidly fouled Elfrid Payton well behind the three point line and was quickly removed from the game. Young finished with 3 points in just under 5 minutes.

With the win, the Celtics remain one and a half games back of the Charlotte Hornets for the eighth seed in the Eastern conference.On Saturday, the Celtics travel to Indiana to play the Pacers, who have won their past seven games and nine of their last ten. Indiana is currently the seventh seed in the Eastern conference.

 

 

Blog Author: 
Sam Packard

Brad Stevens is executing one heck of a Celtics season. (Getty Images)



There was no more room for moral victories.

There was no more room for moral victories.

As was the case against the Golden State Warriors two weeks ago, the Celtics played inspired basketball against the Western Conference elite, only to lose their hold on the lead in the final minutes versus the Memphis Grizzlies.

Only this time the C’s made shot after shot in the waning moments to pull out a thrilling 95-92 victory they desperately needed to stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race. In the final 1:40, Jae Crowder made a game-tying 3-pointer; Marcus Smart converted an alley-oop-and-one to grab a one-point lead; Tyler Zeller pulled down a defensive rebound between Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph before converting a pair of free throws for a three-point advantage; and Avery Bradley sank a step-back jumper over the league’s 2013 Defensive Player of the Year to seal the deal. It was a remarkable combination of effort and execution.

The win keeps the Celtics (27-36) within striking distance of the Miami Heat (29-35) for the East’s eighth playoff seed with three games against the Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers in four nights starting Friday. On Wednesday, Bradley led five Celtics in double figures with 17 points. Jae Crowder netted 16 points and Kelly Olynyk dropped 15 while Brandon Bass and Tyler Zeller added 12 apiece.

For a complete box score, click here.

FIRST-QUARTER FEISTINESS

The Celtics have climbed their way out of the bottom of the league’s defensive ratings to the middle of the pack in recent months, allowing 103.2 points per 100 possessions for the season, but they’ve ranked among the NBA’s best in the fourth quarter in 2014-15 — holding opponents to 98.4 points per those same 100 possessions in the opening 12 minutes.

That held true against the Grizzlies, as the C’s limited a loaded Memphis frontcourt of Jeff Green, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to a combined two first-quarter points on 0-for-4 shooting from the field. Outside of Mike Conley, who made four of his five shots in the game’s first 9:43, the Grizzlies shot 26.7 percent in the frame. As a result, the Celtics established a 23-18 advantage and played with the lead for much of the night.

BRANDON BASS IS A BEAST

Once the Celtics shipped Rajon Rondo to Dallas, Bass and his $6.9 million expiring contract joined the list of C’s most likely to join him on a plane out of Boston. Yet, the 29-year-old continued about his business, banging the boards, dropping midrange jump shots and two-handed dunking his way into an increased role in the absences of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. Since the All-Star break, Bass has averaged 13.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 31 minutes a night, posing the question: Is Bass a keeper?

JEFF GREEN WITH ENVY?

He may have been wearing a different uniform, but Jeff Green looked awful familiar in blue and gold, submitting the same sort of lackadaisical performance the Garden crowd had grown accustomed to over his three seasons in Boston. After receiving a warm ovation during the starting lineup announcements, Green treated the Celtics faithful to a 1-for-5 offensive performance in the opening half of his first game against his former team. Meanwhile, the likes of Evan Turner, Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko out-hustled him on the other end. For the record, the Celtics started 12-23 with Green this season and entered Wednesday’s game 14-13 without him.

AVERY BRADLEY: WORTH IT?

Much was made of Bradley’s four-year, $32 million extension over the summer, but after a slow start the (still only) 24-year-old has emerged as a leader of the C’s inspired effort in recent weeks. The longest-tenured member of the Celtics, he has averaged 16.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.0 steals since the arrival of fellow Tacoma, Wash., native Isaiah Thomas. With willing defenders Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder joining him in the backcourt and on the wing, he’s also returned to the sort of on-ball dominance for which he made his bones.

FOURTH-QUARTER FINISH

The absence of Thomas, who rested his sore lower back and elbow, seemed bound to catch up with the Celtics when the game got tight and baskets were harder to come by. His ability to knock down 3-pointers and get to the free-throw line has been the key to closing out games. So, without him, the C’s resorted to a closer-by-committee approach. Six different Celtics scored in the fourth quarter, including Phil Pressey, who collected five points and two assists in place of the injured Thomas. Somehow, the C’s pulled out a win against the second-best team in the Western Conference without their best player.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach