Hard work & hustle leads Boston over the Bucks, Celtics back to .500

The 4-3 Bucks would be hosting the 2-3 Celtics without guard Marcus Smart who is still out with a toe injury. The Celtics would stay with the same starting 5 that beat the Wizards by an impressive 20 points last game.

Evan Turner being defended by former Celtic, Jerryd Bayless
Evan Turner being defended by former Celtic, Jerryd Bayless

The 1st quarter started terrible for Boston as they had 3 turnovers in less than 3 minutes & found themselves in an 8-0 hole as Coach Stevens was forced to take an early timeout. Out of the timeout Sullinger got our first points + drew a charge on the defensive end. The great play of Monroe had the Bucks up 12 with 5 & ½ minutes to play. Olynyk with the hoop & harm off a brilliant Avery pass & a Jae Crowder 3 cut the deficit to 3 & forced the Bucks into a timeout. 7 points off the bench from Olynyk had the game tied up at 24 at the end of the 1st.

The 2nd started back & forth but back to back 3’s by Thomas & Turner put the Celtics up 8 after 4 minutes. A few bad possessions by the Celtics & 6 straight points by Middleton had our lead cut to 2. Turnovers & missed 3’s were problems for the Celtics but Thomas was able to keep the Celtics up 3 with 3 minutes left to the main break. Monroe with a 14-11 points/rebound double double keeps the Bucks in it at the half as the Celtics lead 46-42.

The 2nd half started with Evan Turner in place of Avery Bradley who was pronounced out for the rest of the game with a bruised lower left leg. Thomas drew Antetokounmpo’s 4th foul of the game early in the 3rd as he split his free throws to put the Celtics up 8. Antetokounmpo knocked down a 3 from the corner & Bayless made 2 free throws as the Celtics lead was cut to 2 halfway through the 3rd quarter. Thomas made back to back trips to the line making all 4 free throws & put the Bucks over the limit. Jonas & Crowder both knocked down triples with 2 Crowder free throws in-between that put the Celtics up 9. Boston ended the quarter with an 18-2 run to take a 76-59 lead into the 4th.

Antetokounmpo picked up his 5th foul early as Middleton & Bayless hit 3’s to cut the Boston lead to 13.  2 offensive rebounds and a made jump shot from David Lee had the Celtics leading 87-71 with a little over 6 minutes remaining. The Bucks kept fighting all the way to the end but Boston were able to manage the clock & hit shots when it mattered as the Celtics get to .500 with a 99-83 win.

The NBA’s leader in steals, Jae Crowder had another 4 steals in tonight’s game.| Thomas had another 20 point game after a slow start shooting.
Evan Turner finished with a team high +32.
The Celtics had 21 assists.

2015/16 player previews: Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk had an impressive off-season with the Canadian national team and looks ready to be a large part of the Celtics rotation this season.

Although Olynyk hurt his knee in late August playing for his country, he bounced back and played some huge games as they attempted, but ultimately failed, to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Olynyk had the best game of his career against Venezuela, as he dominated and finished with 34 points (11/13 from the field) and 13 rebounds. Olynyk’s efficiency had all Celtics fans excited for what may be in store for the upcoming season.

Obviously Olynyk isn’t going to make 11/13 shots every night, but his improved offensive game gives the Celtics another option and keeps the opposition guessing.

A huge part of his role this season will be to space the floor for his scoring guards. Olynyk will need to create open spaces for Isaiah Thomas to operate in, and this will be made easier if Olynyk can prove to be a consistent threat that needs to be treated with respect on the offensive end.

Being able to give Thomas, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner room to create their own shots and also being ready to shoot when open is huge for the Celtics moving forward. After his summer experiences, Olynyk looks ready to perform for the Boston Celtics in his third season.

You won’t be seeing Olynyk on opening night against the Sixers though, as he is serving a one-game suspension after that incident with Kevin Love.

2015/16 player previews: Evan Turner

Evan Turner had a really good season for the Celtics in 2014/15. He was a playmaker, scorer and played every game.

Even after a consistent season, many Celtics fans don’t really see a future for Turner in Boston. They believe he is just taking minutes away from the younger players who need to get court time, but to that I say he has earned his minutes just as much as the next guy.

Turner produced multiple game-winners last season with clutch buckets against the Hawks and Trailblazers.

Turner is the most versatile player on the team, and because of that he will get minutes this season. He may not see as much court time as last season (almost 28 minutes per game) because of the loaded backcourt and the fact that Jae Crowder will be getting plenty at small forward.

Last season Turner played some quality minutes at the point and impressed; his height (6’7″) worried his smaller opponents. This season there is added competition with the addition of Terry Rozier, along with Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas returning.

This doesn’t mean that Turner won’t be an important player for the Celtics though, as he is such a creative playmaker and can create his own shot better than most on the Celtics roster.

2015/16 player previews: James Young

It is often forgotten just how young James Young really is. Entering his second season in the NBA he has only just turned 20 years old.

His athleticism is scary good, and although he struggled with his shot in his rookie season, as many shooters do in the league, he shone when assigned to the D-League.

Obviously the jump from the D-League to the NBA is huge, but it was important for Young to get some court time and confidence last season instead of being stuck deep on the bench with Boston.

Young played in 31 NBA games last season and shot only 35.3% from the field and 25.8% from beyond the arc.

Over the course of the preseason it appears that rookie R.J. Huner has overtaken Young in the battle for minutes at the two-guard spot. For Young to take steps forward this season and force Stevens to give him minutes he will need to improve his defence and be ready to knock down shots when called upon. Staying ready is extremely important for Young.

Even if Young struggles again this season I won’t be calling for the Celtics to give up on him. He has too much talent and in reality would only be in third season at college level if he had stayed at Kentucky.

2015/16 player previews: Jared Sullinger

The weighting game. What was a bit of light entertainment during Jared Sullinger’s rookie season has now been going on too long. Everyone had similar thoughts; he’d drop the weight as he matures into his body and works hard. This still hasn’t eventuated and it is now threatening his place within the organisation.

Sullinger just can’t seem to shed the pounds that would turn him into a much more agile and dangerous player.

Sullinger can be an absolute monster on the boards, and when healthy he is near unstoppable. But that has been the issue; he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. If Sullinger can finally get through a season without a serious injury that forces him to miss time, he will be an important part of the Celtics puzzle.

In the Celtics final game of the 2015 season, game four in the first round of the playoffs, Sullinger dominated and poured in 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. More of that in the upcoming season would be more than acceptable!

Sullinger had two very encouraging games to round out the preseason against the Knicks and Sixers. He finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists(!) and 3 blocks against the Knicks. The next night he followed that game up with a solid 6 points and 14 rebounds against the Sixers.

Brad Stevens has said that he would like to play four big men a night, which you would think leaves Sullinger on the outer with the likes of David Lee, Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk in front of Sullinger.

But if Sully can take that late preseason form over to the regular season, he will force Stevens to give him minutes.

2015/16 player preivews: R.J. Hunter

The Boston Celtics selected R.J. Hunter with pick 28 in this years NBA Draft. In each of his three seasons with Georgia State he was able to increase his production on the offensive end, and averaged 19.5 points per game last season.

Hunter is known for that famous game-winner in the 2015 NCAA March Madness against Baylor, in which Baylor were the heavy favourites to advance.

Hunter was seen by many as the best pure shooter in this year’s draft and after what he displayed in the Summer League’s and preseason that looks like a pretty safe bet.

Hunter’s form through the preseason has he seen him force his way into the rotation and we should see him getting plenty of minutes early in this season.

Hunter isn’t going to kill defenders with explosiveness, but his unlimited range forces defenders to be right on him on the offensive end.

Hunter’s frame is far too small to be a good defender in the league, and defence is a concern for him entering his rookie season. Having said that, he showed he can be a decent defender in the preseason, and this will need to be even better come the regular season.

Hunter looks like he will be the backup shooting guard to Avery Bradley, with Evan Turner also able to play the two-guard position, as well as the point. The competition for guard minutes will be strong, so Hunter will may see some time on the bench if he struggles to find his shot.

2015/16 player previews: Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller was acquired prior to last season in a deal that helped LeBron get back to Cleveland. The Celtics gave up literally nothing to get Zeller and he has proven that given playing time he can produce.

In 82 games last season, Zeller produced solid numbers with 10 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1 block per game. He is an efficient offensive player, who knows his game and works with his strengths. He knows to play within himself, as shown by the fact that he didn’t shoot a single three last season.

Zeller was a workhorse last season and did what was asked him night in, night out whether that was fighting for rebounds or draining buzzer beating, game-winners. Case in point:

Entering this season it looks like Zeller will be the starting centre with Kelly Olynyk as his backup after a strong preseason.

Zeller shot 54.9% from the field last season, and I would expect similar numbers in that area again this season. He isn’t going to score 20 points a night, but what he can do is be efficient when called upon. There’s no doubt that Zeller made the team better last season, and now it’s time for him to take his game to a new level and make the team even better this season.

With a contract-extension looking unlikely for Zeller, he will have even more incentive to play his heart out every night as he looks for a new contract for years to come.