Category Archives: Boston Celtics

Recap: Celtics beat Knicks as Kyrie miraculously doesn't change teams

In a nutshell
Remember when Madison Square Garden was lively and exciting? Neither do I! It was a slow, sluggish win after a wild day of basketball news. Just about every regular rotation player for the Celtics had a solid game against a Knicks team that was ravaged by a blockbuster mid-week trade. Final score: Celtics 113, Knicks 99.
What went right

Gordon Hayward (14 points, 5-8 shooting) threw down a STRONG alley-oop in the first quarter. It was a pretty lame 12 minutes otherwise, so it was nice to see some energy injected into the game. Jaylen Brown (11 points, 5-12 shooting) had a nice fast break dunk as well. Boston led 25-20 at the end of the quarter after trailing 13-4 early. It was a 56-47 lead at halftime.
Boston’s offense has undergone two notable changes in the recent weeks: 1) More cuts to the basket. 2) More drives to the basket. Jayson Tatum (13 points, 6-15 shooting) drove the ball aggressively throughout the first half, and Kyrie Irving (23 points, 9-20 shooting) made the most of an off-ball opportunity with a cut behind an unsuspecting defender. The NBA is in a three-point revolution, but points are still points and they’ll add up quickly if you can score them uncontested at the rim.

What went wrong

Should I be annoyed that the Celtics played down to the competition? As a Celtics fan, I fully understand the power of unproven players teaming up under unlikely circumstances to topple a formidable opponent. Regardless, this game was a little too sloppy. The Celtics have been pretty mediocre on the road all season – especially against bad teams – so I guess I can just be satisfied with the win.
Terry Rozier posted a 2-9 shooting night while getting cooked on defense. The Celtics have hit a nice stride where they can win games comfortably when everybody isn’t playing their best now that Brown and Hayward have started to come around, but I’m not too excited about Rozier slumping against the worst roster the Celtics have played against all season.

What the hell
Well, the pre-game media circus was really something, huh? I’m amazed at how much BS you can spoon feed people before they check what they’re eating. You’re telling me something happened between the Toronto game (where Kyrie grabbed his jersey and pointed aggressively at the “BOSTON” stitching) and now that made him want to leave? If you buy into misleading information that easily, then I have a border wall to sell you. I’ll throw in a DeMar DeRozan Lakers jersey for free.
Highlights

Terry throws it up & HAYWARD SLAMS IT DOWN (@AAANe_MAnews) #AAANortheast pic.twitter.com/3nqsjYmYSC
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 2, 2019

Jaylen Brown with the breakaway slam (@AAANe_MAnews) #AAANortheast pic.twitter.com/r12yMoxiSS
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 2, 2019

Jaylen Brown steal + one-handed slam (@AAANe_MAnews) #AAANortheast pic.twitter.com/UKc05fjgBm
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 2, 2019

Box score


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Your Morning Dump… Where shhhhhhhh, Jaylen Brown is playing incredibly well

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I’m having fun out there,” he said. 
And that more than anything else, speaks to the comfort level that Brown is steadily trending towards as he continues to adjust to coming off the bench after spending most of last season and the early portion of this season with the first unit. 
Brown led all scorers on Wednesday with 24 points, the second time this season he has tallied 20 or more points in back-to-back games. 
He’ll look for the three-peat on Friday when the Celtics hit the road to face the New York Knicks. 
To hear Brown talk about being happy on the floor, is great not only for him emotionally but it’s also a positive for a Celtics team that will need him to continue his strong play if the team’s goal – get to the NBA Finals – has a legit shot of coming to fruition. 
NBC Sports Boston — Celtics winning and Jaylen Brown is ‘having fun out there’
I’m going to take a break from our regularly scheduled, Anthony Davis rumor-filled Morning Dumps to talk about the oft-maligned, under appreciated Jaylen Brown.
The most we’ve really talked about Jaylen all year is when Jackie MacMullan psychoanalyzed him back in December. Her deep dive, as always, was incredibly insightful, wonderfully written and uniquely engaging, but as I read it I couldn’t help but think aloud, “oh man, this is going to wreck Jaylen Brown the basketball player.”
Obviously I’m not in the dude’s head so I can’t sit here and proclaim I was right, but Brown, already displaying unevenness in his play, went into a tailspin just after the article was published. Jaylen is a thinker — that shows in his thirst for knowledge outside of basketball, but it also shows at the free throw line where the game slows down, but his mind clearly doesn’t. He had to have read that article, where his teammates, coach and general manager all took turns discussing Jaylen’s idiosyncrasies, his potential as a basketball player and what sometimes holds him back. I think it messed with him, and we can all agree something wasn’t right when he then hit the court.
But lately? As the Davis rumors swirl, the Kyrie rumors swirl with them, and as the basketball world wonders whether Danny Ainge has the cajones to throw future all-star Jayson Tatum into an AD trade offer, Jaylen Brown is getting comfortable.
And what does comfortable look like? It looks like a future all-star in his own right. It even looks like, on the right night, a trade piece on par with Tatum in an AD trade or, if AD comes and Tatum goes, it looks like the third piece of a Celtics Big 3 in the 2020s.
Let’s be honest, Jaylen is doing some things on offense we wish Jayson Tatum would (and maybe we just wish he could because he can’t yet) do: Use strength, athleticism and quickness to get to the rim and draw contact. It just so happens that JB is now finishing at the rim with more consistency. If he’s not taking shots at the rim, he’s taking shots from the beyond the arc. And lately, they’re going in with the type of regularity they did during last season’s playoff run. When’s the last time you saw Brown take a long 2?
I’m going to stop here, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m calling Jaylen Brown the Celtics crown jewel, either in terms of what the Cs future looks like, or maybe the Pelicans’ future, but as we glom onto the Anthony Davis, Kyrie and Tatum stories, let’s show love for Brown the same way we complained about him earlier in the season.
Last thing… Tim Bontemps wrote about Gordon Hayward’s need to take a step forward in order for the Celtics to get where they need to go. Obviously, that would be great, but what if Jaylen Brown is taking that step in his place? I’d argue that if we get this Jaylen more often, the Cs are a Finals threat with or without the old Hayward.
Related links: 
Herald — Jaylen Brown steps up, leads Celtics
On page 2, where January turns to February, and the road beckons

The Celtics were home nearly the entire month, save one somewhat disastrous three-game stretch and a game in Atlanta that Kyrie Irving was forced to help the team claw through to avoid another embarrassing stretch.
The rest of the month? Smooth sailing on the parquet floor. The Celtics went 10-1 at home in January, including a rousing win over the Toronto Raptors. Their only loss was a four-point defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, who have been obliterating opponents — their net rating over the last 10 games is a staggering 18.0. Boston’s net rating in the month of January: A sterling 9.8.
But the home and road numbers paint two very different stories this season. The Celtics are 21-6 at TD Garden and 11-13 away from it. At home, Boston’s net rating is 10.6. On the road? 2.2. The Celtics have yet to record a marquee victory in another building, which is a strange juxtaposition against last year when the team’s road record was actually slightly better than their record at home.
“I have no clue,” Marcus Smart said. “I think if we knew what that was we wouldn’t be having these woes and these struggles. But it’s part of the game, and I think that’s what it is if I had to get a reason I’d say it’s just part of the game. We play 82 games in the regular season. It’s a long season and things happen.”
Mass Live — Boston Celtics don’t understand reason behind home/road disparity
The Celtics played 11 home games and 4 road games in January. That was helpful, because the Cs are 21-6 at home and 11-13 on the road.
You know what’s not helpful? The Celtics don’t have another month with more home games in it than road games. So they better figure this thing out.
I’m hoping the Celtics current run of 7 out of 8 wins has less to do with an absurd 7 of those 8 games being at the Garden and more to do with the Celtics just happening to figure their shit out during that same time period.
January was about as friendly a scheduling month as a team gets in the Association. February and March especially will be less forgiving.
And finally, the Cs are off tonight, but it’s a good one to scoreboard watch

First off, disregard Nets/Spurs, I was too lazy to cut that one out. I think you can also disregard Pacers/Magic, because even if Indiana wins that one, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Cs will leapfrog them in the standings soon enough.
But one of Toronto and Milwaukee is going to lose tonight, and the Sixers are probably going to lose, too. By night’s end, the Celtics could move into the 4th spot in the east and within a half game of the third seed.
It’s also just a really fun double-header on TNT tonight.
Enjoy the hoops.
The rest of the links:
NBCSports Boston — How can Celtics get Starter Terry production when Kyrie is healthy?  |  Celtics have no problem taking sting out of the Hornets  |  Jayson Tatum’s focus amid trade rumors? ‘Control what I can control’
Herald — Celtics notebook: Jayson Tatum takes trade rumors in stride  |  Wading through the real and the drama with Celtics, AD and Kyrie
Mass Live — Terry Rozier says Boston Celtics get caught watching Kyrie Irving put on a show  |  Boston Celtics 126 – Charlotte Hornets 94: Celtics cruise to blowout after monster third quarter


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Recap: Celtics pull wings off Hornets and eat them to snap losing streak

IN A NUTSHELL
This game was as close to a true must-win as the Boston Celtics have had this season thus far, because four straight losses gets to be A Thing, and not just in the alarmist Boston sports media landscape. Playing a defensive-minded Charlotte Hornets team also served as a dress rehearsal for the true test against Philadelphia coming on Christmas Day.
After a closely fought duel in the first frame between Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, Boston began pouring on the punishment from both ends of the floor in the second and didn’t look back. The final winning score, 119-103, wasn’t remotely reflective of the beatdown they unleashed against the Hornets in a much-needed, well-executed team win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Kyrie started off on a breakneck kick, with seven of Boston’s nine unanswered points in the opening minutes en route to 17 in the quarter (and 25 for the game). But the primary reason for the Celtics’ success was—BRACE YOURSELF FOR THIS SHOCKING REVELATION—returning to lineup arrangements that fueled the 8-game win streak.
There now exists too much evidence to downplay the potency of the Irving/Smart/Tatum/Morris/Horford starting five, as well as the success Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward have off the bench. (I’ve given the latter a hard time in some moments, but he’s accepted the benching without an iota of public complaint and continues to show assorted signs of resurgence, like a strong two-handed dunk in that second quarter.) Other points:

The Celtics forced Kemba Walker to work mostly alone, with Jeremy Lamb offering the only other meaningful offensive contributions. (Part of that is Charlotte’s clunky roster, but Kemba aside, they played massively out of whack by any standard.)
That 2nd quarter was the Cs’ highest-scoring frame of the season, with 39 points. At times, the lead eclipsed 30 points.
Team rebounding looked more like what it should be, a mercy after two brutal humiliations and the creator of many second-chance field goals in this game.
Horford looks like his old self and proved once again how, in many ways, he is the stabilizing spine of this Celtics team.
But Marcus Morris is currently one of this team’s most consistent two-way players, and deserves plenty of credit for bringing his own brand of muscle to the starting lineup.
Jayson Tatum continues his low-key murder streak with another 17-point performance.

WHAT WENT WRONG
Just small points:

Hayward’s shooting is still incredibly inconsistent.
Brown got in unfortunate early foul trouble that limited his playability and shot poorly, in the precise inverse of his Milwaukee performance.
Also, his attempt at a lob to the Timelord…did not go well. (Couldn’t find video, or this’d be in the section below.)

WHAT THE HELL
Williams’ face, in particular, after the Hayward slam is hysterical:
GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
The aforementioned Hayward jam:
Kyrie gunning:
Uncle Al and Kyrie working their magic:
For posterity, just felt like I couldn’t not include this beautiful image:

Box score


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Recap: Bucks clobber offensively challenged Celtics

IN A NUTSHELL
The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks developed a mini-rivalry during the 2017-18 season, mostly in the playoffs, so this was an intensely physical and borderline chippy game.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work in the Celtics’ favor. Despite fiery opening minutes, strong intermittent rallies and a spirited (and team-high; 21 points) scoring performance by Jaylen Brown, Milwaukee established a lead about a third of the way through Q1 and never looked back, ending up with a 120-107 victory and serving Boston their third loss in a row.
WHAT WENT RIGHT

Jaylen Brown was absolutely outstanding in the second half; it may have been his best sustained performance this season.
Jayson Tatum didn’t have a great shooting night but made up for it with multiple drives resulting in trips to the line.
Boston got lucky on some very questionable goaltending calls against Giannis. If I were a Bucks fan those would have me livid regardless of score or final result. I am not, so they don’t.
Semi Ojeleye did fairly well in his first spot start, even if his offense wasn’t sustainable.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Giannis got to the line approximately, like, 69,420 times or so, and made 75 percent of those shots.
Offense was not always easy to come by for the Celtics in this one. To say the least. That said, most of this was shots simply not falling; the plays and passing and shots were not particularly bad.
Unless you were Gordon Hayward or Kyrie Irving. The whiteboy’s first start since his demotion to sixth/seventh man did not go well at all, and Kyrie couldn’t get into rhythm.
Defensively…just…woof. The murderous out-rebounding that was shocking but seemingly aberrant in the Phoenix game two nights ago happened yet again. This team needs Al Horford back.
Not having an answer for Antetokounmpo is one thing. Nobody does, really. The key to beating the Bucks lies in letting Giannis cook and neutering everyone else, as the Celtics did during every home game of the 2018 playoffs. Not having an answer for Khris Middleton is even acceptable, but no answer for Thon Maker’s three-point shooting isn’t.
Lacking a solution to keep Tony farking Snell from being wide open to score in double figures is absolutely horrific.

WHAT THE HELL/ASSORTED WEIRDNESS

I hate Tony Snell.
I do, however, appreciate how Milwaukee has abandoned its puzzling attachment to all white centers ever, which was a constant aspect of that roster for like the past four years. They also realized how big a mistake it was to pay Matthew Dellavedova, albeit three seasons too late.
Yabu’s purple hair was better than the platinum blond.

GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
JAYLEN SMASH GREECE WORSE THAN FISCAL INEPTITUDE:

JAYLEN BROWN WITH THE STARE DOWN (@AAANe_MAnews) #AAANortheast pic.twitter.com/XpYJsDQ04X
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 22, 2018

Kyrie and Hayward looking as good as they always should:

That pass by Kyrie pic.twitter.com/VlG0md9W3A
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 22, 2018

Box score


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Recap: Celtics win streak ends with a dying screech against Pistons

IN A NUTSHELL
The Celtics’ recent win streak exists in part because of schedule strength. It would be disingenuous to say otherwise. So when the Detroit Pistons came out looking tougher and much more assured than most teams have of late against Boston, you can’t be particularly surprised, especially when you add the factor of this being the second night of a back-to-back. Honestly, it would’ve been understandable—albeit still a bummer—if this had been treated as a scheduled loss of sorts.
It didn’t look like a scheduled loss in the first half, but turned into one about halfway through the third quarter. The Pistons were hungry in the wake of a grueling six-game losing streak, and decided to end it by sending the Celtics home with their first loss in 9 games, 113-104.
WHAT WENT RIGHT

I’d call the whole first half a good thing for Boston, even though it ended with a 57-56 Detroit lead. They punched back with a mini-run whenever Detroit threw a haymaker and were never behind by more than 7 points.
Kyrie Irving (26-8-4 with 3 steals) played well for the entire game until the result was a foregone conclusion, as did Jayson Tatum.
Aron Baynes did as much to stop Andre Drummond as possible, looking better than he did last night by a considerable margin.

WHAT WENT WRONG
Know how I said they were never down by any large margin in the first half? Not so at all in the second. Detroit had a 16-point lead at one point, and turned up the intensity to a degree the tired Celtics couldn’t match.

The Pistons offense is now more contingent on Griffin than any other player, now that he’s been fully integrated into the flow of things for Detroit. If a squad can’t shut him down or shut everyone else down around him, they’re in trouble.
Boston didn’t defend Griffin well at all, and let him get to the line practically at will during the second half. The Cs also let Detroit role players like Reggie Bullock score at an embarrassing rate.
Drummond, as per usual, was a massive problem on the boards for the Celtics.
The reserves had a bad night, including Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Rob Williams.
Marcus Smart had an excellent night offensively and struggled on the other end, albeit while consistently trying; he tried so hard he got into early foul trouble.

WHAT THE HELL

Blake Griffin’s beard grosses me out for some reason. It looks like the kind of beard that’s intended to disguise a grotesque chin. Did his chin mutate into a strange being? WHAT IS HE HIDING? We have a right to know…
Luke Kennard’s existence continues to baffle me.

GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
Kyrie making the desperation circus shot look easy:

Got the steal and the points! pic.twitter.com/sbYANNDeoY
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 16, 2018

Tatum takes the entire Pistons defense by surprise with a smash off the Kyrie fastbreak and assist:

Tatum with the FLUSH pic.twitter.com/BmHlOvdkYH
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 16, 2018

Box score


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Your Morning Dump… Where Terry Rozier wants to make the most of his free agency

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I’m going into my fifth year after this, so I would love to start,” Rozier said. “Nothing is wrong with being the sixth man coming off the bench, but I don’t really look at myself as that. But that’s not my main focus. Of course I want to win. I’ve been a winner all my life, coming through your program and then being with the Boston Celtics.
“I like winning. I don’t know how I can adjust if I try to take a starting job somewhere but I’m playing for an awful team and we’re not winning no more. It’s just something that I don’t think that I can adjust to — being around people that’s OK with just losing.”

“At the same time, it’s like, I still want to keep my options open,” Rozier said. “I feel like I’ve seen a lot in these four years how much a business this is. I think I should get everything I deserve.”
NESN
Jumping from a bench role on a winning team to a starting role on another would almost be too good to be true for any NBA player. Rozier had the opportunity of a lifetime to prove his worth by starting in place of an injured Kyrie Irving, where he almost helped the Celtics get to the NBA Finals. It’s a great resumé-builder, but will it help Rozier reach his goals? Can he realistically sign a lucrative deal, earn a starting spot somewhere, and contribute to a winning team? It’s possible, but it seems improbable.
As of right now, Rozier’s stock is fairly low. Whether or not it’s still “too early” to judge the Celtics, 20 games are enough to leave an impression. Teams with Rozier on their wishlist might feel hesitant because they don’t know exactly which version of Rozier they’re getting. Something about being in the starting lineup seems to flip a switch that transforms him from a mediocre bench player to an above average starter, so it might just depend if you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of person. That’s assuming teams will take a long, objective look at his body of work.
My prediction: not every team will do that. Jabari Parker is making $20 million this year, mind you. Who’s to say that Phoenix won’t throw the family fortune at Rozier to lock him up for a few years? Maybe they’ll get into a bidding war with Philadelphia, who are desperate to find a functional replacement for Markelle Fultz. The unpredictable Kings could make a move, too. Teams will find a way to use up their cap space one way or another, and if it isn’t used on star talent, it’ll get soaked up by players like Rozier who could theoretically energize any starting lineup. I wouldn’t rule out a return to Boston, although it would be hard to imagine him turning down the money that other teams can offer. A deadline trade wouldn’t surprise me, either.
Rozier spoke with Rick Pitino on his former coach’s podcast here.
On page 2, Mike Gorman signs for three more years

Mike Gorman just announced that he just signed a brand new 3 year deal with NBC Sports Boston. One of the best in the business is sticking around for a while.
— Toucher and Rich (@Toucherandrich) November 28, 2018

This is the best news any Celtics fan could ask for. Whether or not the product on the court is tolerable (it usually is), having Mike Gorman on the broadcast is a guarantee that watching the Celtics will be enjoyable. It feels like a long time since the Celtics weren’t competitive, yet Marcus Smart was drafted just four years ago to follow up a 25-57 season.
At any rate, I think of Gorman as my life’s personal narrator. He’s the Morgan Freeman of the basketball world. I wish he would do one of those GPS voice packs so I could hear his signature “Got it!” every time I take the correct exit.
Here’s my favorite Mike Gorman moment:

And here’s an example of my favorite, and I mean favorite, Mike Gorman mannerism:

I hope we can keep Mike for a long, and I mean long, time.
More links
Boston Herald: Celtics look like themselves in New Orleans
NESN: Brad Stevens cracks jokes about tweaking the Celtics’ starting lineup | Why Doc Rivers is still picking the Celtics to win the Eastern Conference
Boston Globe: Brad Stevens should keep Marcus Smart in the starting lineup


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Recap: Celtics take chainsaw through Hawks, earn much-needed win

IN A NUTSHELL:
The Boston Celtics needed a win badly—for a morale boost, I’m sure, but Kyrie “Fuck Thanksgiving” Irving also wanted to shut the drama-thirsty media up. Unsurprisingly, the Boston pack* has begun salivating, what with our heroes at a PALTRY 9-9 record! My LORD! It’s almost like there have been 18 games this season and 64 of them remain!!!
But seriously: The Cs spent most of this game well in control, and even their few moments of laziness didn’t undo their progress as it had in previous instances. Things were clicking from the starters to the bench, particularly Kyrie, Jayson Tatum, and Aron Baynes, whose 16 points led all Boston scorers in a 114-96 win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
It sure does help to be playing the worst-ranked defense in the NBA when you need a win. (This is by opponent points allowed per game, according to Basketball Reference; Atlanta is 25th in defensive rating.) But the Boston offense also flowed effortlessly and led to considerable more wide-open shots, ones reasonably worth taking, in the first half than the 20 they made.
After some slacking in the second quarter (see below), the third frame was another bloodbath, Celtic players tearing through Hawks like Leatherface and some unlucky teenagers. Atlanta is a young team, but even their vets like Dewayne Dedmon weren’t much help. Bird blood everywhere…for most of the quarter. Some sloppiness at Q3’s end (again, see below). But after a quick series of mini-runs early in the 4th, the Celtics established enough of a cushion to leave everything in the hands of the bench and seal the W.
On a more granular level—

Taking two of the Hawks best players—Trae Young and Taurean Prince—out of the equation during the first half was huge; they got 2 and 0 points, respectively. Young’s biggest threat isn’t his scoring, of course, but he only made 2 assists as well.
With Horford out, Aron Baynes served as roll man on P&Rs initiated by Kyrie and acquitted himself quite well, while remaining an ironclad defensive presence and a meaningful threat from deep. (Before Baynes was a Celtic, I thought he was a solid, kinda underrated bench big for the Spurs and Pistons, but I didn’t ever envision typing a sentence including the phrases “Aron Baynes” and “meaningful threat from deep.”)
Gordon Hayward continued his run of considerable effectiveness as the point wing/microwave scorer for the bench dudes. His other talents ensure he’s more valuable overall than the average microwave scorer.
MOAR *clap* TIMELORD *clap* BLOCKS *clap* PLZ. Rob Williams is still raw in a lot of ways, but almost all of his (limited) minutes have been electric. This is great to see for a rookie whose work ethic was questioned, perhaps unfairly, after the draft: He’s clearly making the most of the tick he’s given.

WHAT WENT WRONG:

After the slaughterhouse 45-point first quarter, some regression was only natural. Letting the Hawks off the hook a few times is natural. Letting them outscore you in a quarter (22-16) isn’t, and I say that as someone who thinks Atlanta is much friskier than their abysmal current record indicates. When you’re in a funk, as Boston has been in recent games, you simply don’t get to take quarters off. Four made field goals in,,,,,is bad.
The lackadaisical approach returned near the end of Q3, but not as badly as in the previous quarter. Turnovers were the main devil here—

When push comes to shove, though, there are few if any individual major screw-ups to cite here. And for whatever mistakes they did make, the Cs still spent most of this game up 20-plus.
WHAT THE HELL:
Couple of funny things—

Absurd mechanical mishaps are on my personal list of idiosyncratic NBA things, and the shot-clock wankery early in the first quarter made me chuckle. IS IT 14? 24? 5?
Not sure how I feel about SMARF with the dreads. I’d gotten used to the nappy, blond-streaked hightop fade.
Theis’s new hair, meanwhile, remains fucking horrible.

GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS (These are all dunks. I’ll just say it in advance.)
ROZIER SMASH:

Smart goes behind the back to Rozier for the JAM! #SunLifeDunk4Diabetes pic.twitter.com/2LYTLFJjPq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 24, 2018

TATUM SMASH:

Tatum with the MONSTER putback! #SunLifeDunk4Diabetes pic.twitter.com/SBxlRJAbO3
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 24, 2018

TIMELORD SMASH!!!!!

#SunLifeDunk4Diabetes pic.twitter.com/Lojpfzoveq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 24, 2018

Box score
*Rhymes with the word “pee” plus the name of an early Nelly hit, though I’m sure Danshaughnessyfromendlessbitching has also said some dumb things.


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Your Morning Dumps… Where Tommy Heinsohn gets the team in shape

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I think he’s maybe a little out of shape,” Heinsohn stated, while recognizing that Irving was coming off of offseason knee surgery. “To me, it looks like he’s a little overweight. And to me — his timing, his quickness — he’s maybe an instant slower than he’s been.”
Rather than viewing Heinsohn’s criticism in a negative light, Irving used it as motivation.
“I was on the bike the next morning,” Irving claimed. “I was on the Versaclimb, I was doing everything possible to make sure I prepared my body for what’s to come the rest of the season.”

Irving needed some form of encouragement, and Heinsohn’s comments, which he stumbled upon last week, came at just the right time.
“It’s always great when someone challenges you like that, especially with the respect-level that I have for past Celtics Legends,” said Irving. “And for him to really kind of pinpoint, as me being one of the leaders on this team, a main [focal] point of this team, I had to be in better shape as well as challenge myself on both ends of the floor. I think he made it very clear to me.
NBA.com
Kyrie Irving then went on to clarify that giving short, simple, concise answers would literally kill him (Ok, not really).
It was the perfect storm of circumstances that got Kyrie back to looking like his normal self. With Heinsohn’s comments as a wake-up call, he ditched the Hendrix look, hit the treadmill, and took previously 4-0 Detroit Pistons to school. Irving’s 30 points (10-16 shooting), five assists, and five rebounds probably surprised many of us, as he posted just three points (1-5 shooting) to go with seven rebounds and five assists against the same Pistons team on Saturday. Playing yesterday’s game in Boston might have helped him get comfortable, but the most logical conclusion could be tied to the most significant change of all: shaving the afro. With great success requires sacrifice, or so they say. RIP Shimmy Hendrix.
(Apparently Jayson Tatum disagrees with me)

Jayson Tatum doesn't want Kyrie's fro to get a bad name after his season-high 31 points: "I told him, I said, 'If you have a good game tonight, don't blame it on the fro.' I told him I didn't want to hear nothing about your haircut."
— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) October 31, 2018

I find it strange that it was Tommy’s comments that inspired Kyrie to work a little harder to get in shape, as if he wasn’t already tracking his progress since coming back from his injury. We hear so much about diet, body fat percentage, and weird workout equipment these days, I figured that even if an athlete wasn’t totally on top of their conditioning, that a trainer would have notes on a clipboard somewhere to help them along. Then again, reading too much into a Kyrie Irving quote is asking for trouble – it’s nearly impossible to parse through it and separate the most important few words from the rest. Reading his quotes is like a scavenger hunt for philosophy majors.
On page 2, Aron Baynes is in one piece

Aron Baynes made his return Tuesday night against the Pistons, and as Brad Stevens said, his presence was immediately felt. pic.twitter.com/NPkRWvaXSu
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 31, 2018

Aron Baynes said he didn’t even feel his hamstring tonight. Banged his knee during the first half, but enjoyed it because it “gave me something to think about other than my hammy.” He’s a sick human.
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) October 31, 2018

We were starting to get ‘Hospital Celtics’ vibes from early injuries to Daniel Theis and Baynes early in the year, but it looks like Baynes is in better shape than expected. And from now on, I’m calling banging knees to cover up the pain of another ailment “The Australian Recovery Program”. It’s like a really masochistic spin on drinking to cover up a hangover.
Seeing guys like Baynes and Al Horford hold their own against the Pistons is about as good as Kyrie torching their guards, if you ask me. Griffin was looking unstoppable in Detroit’s first games (dropped 50 on Philadelphia, scored 31 in two games vs Boston), and while Andre Drummond’s stock may have wavered in the past couple years, he’s still Andre Drummond: enormous and deceptively quick for somebody with his build. (Drummond’s only game this year without a double-double was Saturday vs Boston)
I’m putting ‘turning Aron Baynes into a modern NBA center’ onto the mantles of Brad Stevens’ greatest accomplishments, right next to Jordan Crawford’s Player of the Week award. I’ve seen Karl-Anthony Towns and Jonas Valanciunas get played straight off the court in playoff games, and yet Baynes has carved a niche for himself to always be relevant while he’s in. He’s secretly one of the best post defenders in basketball (seriously), and adding a three-point shot is icing on the cake. In a potential playoff series against Detroit, I’d take Baynes’ defense over nearly anybody else’s, which is why I can’t believe nobody has outbid the Celtics for him two years in a row.
The rest of the links
ESPN: Kyrie Irving shows off new haircut, then show up big against Pistons
Boston Globe: Kyrie Irving, Tommy Heinsohn lead Celtics to win (yes, you read that right)
Boston Herald: Kyrie Irving finds form as Celtics take down Pistons
CBS Sports: Gordon Hayward still dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired ankle


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Boston Celtics' history of perfecting the trade

Category : Boston Celtics , Celtics

The Boston Celtics may not be having the start to the season they envisioned, but this transition period should have been anticipated, changing nothing about the outlook of this core. Keep in mind, Brad Stevens did not share the same level of optimism before the season started.
The Celtics are in a spot where they might be the biggest threat to the Warriors this season, while having arguably the best collection of young talent. This rebuild has been masterful and the team explored any option available to get another edge, and even the most optimistic fans could not have predicted something this special.
There may have been other avenues to get a similar rebuild, but this team is unrecognizable if you take away the work the front office did with trades. The Celtics found the players they believe they can win with, and they are a part of a franchise that has seen a lot of success with those kind of trades.
Of course, it all started with Bill Russell. The Celtics had the guy they knew they needed to get, and they made the necessary sacrifice to get him. With this current core, Ainge may not have traded for a Russell, but he made the move that made his team better, by getting the extra pick, while taking their top player in the draft in Jayson Tatum.
That original trade ignited the greatest dynasty in sports, and it was just the beginning of masterful work by a front office that is unparalleled.
Moving onto the next dynasty, Larry Bird was everything to the team, but Kevin McHale was the heart and soul in a way no one else can replace, establishing the kind of toughness that cam to define the team and overcome a Lakers roster that simply had too much talent to deal with. McHale may only be the best sixth man of all time, but trading for him helped shape the qualities that this franchise continues to look for in cornerstone players.
The Celtics realized they were missing something, and went out to get the player that would bring the team together in a special way. With this team, trading for Kyrie Irving may not have altered the culture of the team the way McHale did, but it certainly redefined the identity of how the team needs to play to win in a league that has changed in many ways.
Then you get to their most recent championship, where Ainge rattled the NBA by getting Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. The Celtics brought in the players they knew could do what they were looking for, and that is the same kind of thing Ainge was looking for by getting Irving.
Garnett, Russell and McHale embodied everything the Celtics wanted to look for. Talent is always a top priority, but it is not a fluke that the Celtics passed on multiple opportunities to trade for stars, before settling on a more expensive Irving.
Players like Jimmy Butler and Paul Goerge were both within reach for the Celtics, but the raw talent was not the only thing considered, making sure they believe in the player they are sacrificing a chunk of the franchise for.
The Celtics do not make the blockbuster trades without having a long term plan, with a player that will help maintain the kind of mentality that brings out unbearable energy and a ferocious defensive effort.
Irving will not have the same kind of leadership role, but he is buying into Brad Stevens, and making sure the man at the helm is instilling the very mentality that has lead to so many rings and numbers in the rafters.
With this core, the Celtics stayed true to their history by not holding onto a number one pick, getting the player they believed in, no matter how badly it might be dissected and scrutinized.
What is so special about this core, however, is all the minor trades. It is easy to pinpoint the block buster trades that have defined generations of legacies for the Celtics, but it will always be part of a bigger picture, often involving many smaller moves.
The Celtics showed no fear in disassembling their prized championship team and made sure to wait and get the players that could grow with a special core, by finding value in places no one would even think of. You cannot forget the initial Isaiah Thomas trade, or creating something special with a throw in like Jae Crowder.
This Celtics roster could not be the same without carefully calculated trading, and the moves he made are some of the most impressive we have ever seen. Never forget, however, that this is a part of the history and tradition of the Celtics, making sure they have an idea of what kind of players and leaders can be brought in by a trade and become a staple of the franchise.
There is a reason the Celtics have the most championships in the NBA, and it has less to do with individual talent than any other franchise. The Celtics have continually found the players that will put in the work and make sure every player on the court is buying into the same vision and making all necessary sacrifices
The talent always needs to be there, but a proper rebuild will never be executed without being aware of what kind of team you are assembling and what kind of players will commit and sacrifice the way McHale, Garnett and Russell.
By making sure the only priority that carries any weight is getting more out of the team, rather than the individual players, it did not matter it if was Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson or Kobe Bryant, the Celtics were going to find a way to win. Now we wait and see if this core is ready to overcome any kind of obstacle, including the most feared collection of talent of all time.


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Recap: Celtics overcome abysmal first half to triumph in OKC

As of this evening, according to Basketball Reference, the Boston Celtics lead the NBA in defensive rating per 100 possessions and opponent points allowed per game. They are also dead last in in offensive rating per 100 and second to last in points per game. Their 2-2 record is solely based on defensive proficiency—and, in the Knicks game, a fair bit of luck. The Orlando freaking Magic torched them worse than the Raptors did, and in the first quarter of this contest vs. OKC, it looked like more of the same. Only by virtue of defense were the Thunder up by teens rather than 20-plus.
Should we be worried about this? I’m not worried, this is f—

I mean, it is fine. This is the fifth game of the season. Just because the NBA year starts in mid-October now doesn’t make any panic occurring right now less unearned. Right? Totally. Look at this pretty dunk:

.@jaytatum0 throws it down to end the first pic.twitter.com/thAaVjqBQJ
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 26, 2018

They ended Q1 on a solid 8-0 run and they’ve kept it within the margin of error so far in the sec—

OK, this is starting to get bad. The shots still aren’t going in; Kyrie looks like he might be feeling a tidbit of knee pain and just missed consecutive free throws, which never happens; GH isn’t even trying to shoot, though he’s rebounding reasonably and putting in serious defensive effort; Uncle Al is fouling a ton and looks kind of tired. Also Jaylen Brown’s rough start to the season might be troubling me more than anything else with this team. Only Tatum is keeping the Celtics even halfway alive. Boston is down 16 at the half—50-34 Oklahoma City—and shooting 0-11 from de—

At least Westbrook is also shooting poorly, though he basically always does that and it didn’t stop him from winning the 2017 MVP over Point Harden and God Disguised as Kawhi Leonard, because triple-doubles though—
ANYWAY. IT’S COOL EVERYONE THAT’S WHY BASKETBALL GAMES COMPRISE FOUR QUARTERS NOT TWO.
And then, with all the sudden orgastic joy of Sir Galahad riding suddenly into the kingdom to bring peace and prosperity amid grim horrors and goat-demons named Alex Abrines, the three-pointers came. Eight in number for the quarter, beautiful as the night, terrible as the moon. Westbrook barely has more points than Stevenadamwhodrinks69beers (ask @HebertofRiffs about it) and is shooting with far less efficiency. The Celtics would, when the smoke cleared, have scored more points in the third quarter (40) than they did in the first half (34). Horford hit three triples en route to 19 in the game while Tatum nailed fadeaway after layup after free throw without seeming to attract much attention. I’m not sure quite why, but it felt like Horford and Marcus Morris were drawing defenses in more, especially the latter due to his ISO-heavy tendencies. (Tatum’s biggest highlight play came in the quagmire of the first half; more on that later.) For approximately 20 seconds, they had a two-point lead, but they were most definitely not out of the woods.
If Boston were to end up losing this game, it wouldn’t have been the worst thing. They proved they hadn’t lost their ability to regroup after messing up, something that didn’t look within their repertoire in the Orlando game. PROCESS OVER RESULTS KAIZEEEEEEEEEN. During most of the fourth, it looked like we were heading for what a smart coach—Popovich, Stevens, Spoelstra, Doc, Gentry, Kerr, Dwane Casey in the regular season—considers an instructive loss and a lesser or more insecure coach—Thibodeau, Brooks, Donovan, Scott Skiles, Dwane Casey during the playoffs—obsesses over as one does as personal slight. And given how far we’d come from that putrid first half, that would’ve been OK.
Then this happened.

TIE GAME. pic.twitter.com/29y5r1EwTB
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 26, 2018

That’s why Danny brought him here, and paid what it cost to do so. That’s why he will in all likelihood pay Kyrie the five-year, $188 million max. He made one of the most famous three-point shots in NBA history, and may well make several more of massive importance. He had the aptitude and confidence to note how OKC started to tear itself apart—once again failing to run an organized offense in deference to Russell Westbrook on full-tilt hubris—and shred a defense for a gorgeous floater.
Credit where due to the actual go-ahead shot, though:

Marcus Morris = CLUTCH! #CUsRise pic.twitter.com/uj9qxxTULv
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 26, 2018

Free throws by Morris and Horford put icing on the cake, 101-96. Tatum kept them from ruin during the game and the veterans sealed it, but the whole squad had to recover to ensure the W.
In summation:

“the weak should fear the strong”-Kyrie Irving-1844
— joylesspud (@joylesspud) October 26, 2018

Box score


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