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 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: Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart is a fierce competitor. If that wasn’t a takeaway for you after last season, you clearly weren’t watching the Celtics enough.

With his relentless defence Smart solidified himself as the Celtics point guard of the future and started 41 games in his rookie campaign. Smart demonstrated that he can do much more than just play tough defence as he proved to be able to make clutch shots when the Celtics desperately needed him to.

I’m sure you all remember the amazing buzzer beating, game-winner against the Raptors in Toronto that silenced the crowd.

Smart, as with any rookie, struggled with consistency for parts of the season. His three-point shot, whilst dangerous, was overused at times.

The competition between Smart and Isaiah Thomas for the starting point guard role will drive both of them to be better and compete every single night. That is what depth does, it creates competition for spots which is healthy for a team.

Smart averaged just over 3 assists per game last season, this will need to improve if he wants to keep his starting position. From what we’ve seen in the preseason, in particular against the Knicks when he dropped 9 dimes, this improvement will come. He is not where he needs to be yet, but time is most certainly on his side as he enters his second season.

Another season alongside Bradley will only improve Smart’s defence as he can learn in every practice and every game. Playing under Brad Stevens is another key in unlocking Smart’s potential, as we all know Stevens is the master in bringing out the best in his players.

2015/16 player previews: Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley has divided opinion among Celtics fans for years now.

Some (including me), see him as a vital part of the organisation moving forward. Others see him simply as an inconsistent player that struggles with his shot for games at a time during the season.

In reality, Bradley has probably a mix of both in his five seasons in green. This season though, Bradley is better prepared than ever to make a huge mark on the NBA. He has worked hard on his three-point shot over the off-season and with another summer learning to play alongside Marcus Smart, the backcourt will be a defensive nightmare for the opposition.

Bradley is the longest-serving Celtic on the roster and whilst his leadership skills are still progressing, there’s no doubting that the way AB attacks every game is setting a great example for his younger teammates to follow.

If Bradley can consistently knock down corner threes it will be a huge boost to the team and give Isaiah Thomas and Smart the confidence to give him the ball when he’s in his spots and ready.

We all know Bradley is a gun one-on-one defender and I think every Celtic fan around the globe fondly remembers this block on D-Wade in the 2012 playoffs.

That is the kind of play Bradley is known for and if he can do things like that (obviously not every play will be as spectacular) night in, night out, Bradley could find himself on the NBA’s All-Defensive 1st team for the first time in his career. For Bradley’s defence to be recognised by writers and broadcasters who vote on the award, the Celtics will have to be a highly competitive team and make some noise.

With the depth assembled and Brad Stevens calling the shots, the Celtics are capable of doing this.

Are you not entertained by the new-look Celtics?

Don’t look now, but the Celtics are playing some pretty awesome ball. Cleveland stink aside, the Celtics are playing some very inspired basketball for coach Brad Stevens. Whether it is Marcus Smart getting another key stop, Crowder hitting the three with more consistency, Bradley catching fire or even Jerebko putting in solid work – the Celtics have become entertaining to watch.

The biggest reason behind their post All-Star resurgence is none other than the trade deadline buzzer beater that landed them Isaiah Thomas III. He has lived up to (and exceeded) all the hype around him being a go-to scorer, a spark plug, and being the league leader in 4th quarter points. The Celtics have been transformed over from a 4th quarter push-over to a legitimate threat behind Thomas’ fearlessness of the big moment. The last game against the Pelicans is just adding to his young growing legacy. He managed to rip the heart out out of the Pelicans in the 4th before they even had a chance to make a run – which is something that he has done multiple times already, and something that the Celtics could not do for the last season and a half. He is not the only player that has stepped up, but, he just very well might be the reason why others have also taken their game up a level.

One of those players stepping it up is Marcus Smart, who has finally received some recognition in the league by winning the Eastern Conference Rookie of the month. It’s a a far step from being snubbed for the USA vs. World rookie/sophomore game, which happened in that same month. He may not be scoring 20 points a game or averaging 10+ assists per game (yet), but if you are just looking at his stat line, you are doing him an injustice. He just wants it. Smart is the guy that will get that key steal, come up with the loose ball, make that key pass, or take the big shot – he will basically do whatever it takes. Once his skill level catches up to his will to win, we will have ourselves a serious player.

I could go through the whole team as everyone is playing extremely hard (special shout-out to Bradley and Bass), but the main reason behind that is coach Brad Stevens. People forget – or take it for granted – that he is a second year coach from college at only 38 years old. Make no mistake, we have ourselves a coach.

There are only a handful of coaches in the league that can get the absolute best out of all his players regularly, let alone from a team with a losing record. Enough cannot be said about the job he has done to extract everything from this young core, especially after losing his two best players mid season in Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. After that happened, the Celtics could have easily mailed in the season, and no one would have said anything – how could he possibly win with that? That is not the way Stevens is built. He is constantly tweaking, constantly trying to get better, and it shows. Danny Ainge has found an absolute keeper that I hope is around for a lonnnnnnng time.

Stevens & ThomasWith the Celtics playing as hard as they are with an improbable playoff spot up for grabs, the future looks bright. Everyone in the front office is in sync, with Stevens excelling with what he has got, and Ainge slightly improving the team at every chance he gets, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Celtics could be a great team sooner than what people think (especially with the treasure trove of 1st round picks and trade exceptions at Ainge’s disposal).  If there are quality players out there to be had, you can bank on the fact that Ainge will try something.

I for one, will be sitting it back, and enjoying the ride – we are only going to get better from here on in and our future looks extremely bright.  Besides, wouldn’t it be fun for these Celtics to make a run for the playoffs and possibly even sneaking in?

Thomas helps Celtics beat the Suns in thriller.

The Celtics would look to bounce back after a tough loss in overtime to the rival Lakers as Isaiah Thomas would like to make amends for his ejection tonight against his old team the Phoenix Suns.

The Celtics jumped out to an early 11-4 lead off of a Marcus Smart 3. Phoenix scored 4 straight but Boston answered to force a Suns timeout. Out of the timeout Len & Morris scored 5 to cut the Boston lead to 2 before Avery exploded scoring 8 straight (giving him 14 in the quarter) to put Boston on top 23-13. Suns trimmed the lead to 5 at the end of the first.


New addition Isaiah Thomas added 2 assists & an AND 1 basket for himself to put the Celtics back up by 10. Knight hit a deep 3 for the Suns before Wallace answered & Young scored off a turnover as Boston went up by 12. 4 straight 3’s by Crowder, Young & Thomas (twice) extended the lead to 18 with still 6 minutes left in the half as Boston had 55 points on the board. The Celtics got up by 19 a few times but Phoenix stuck around as Boston led 67-50 at the half after shooting 54% & 59% from 3.


Avery picked up his 3rd foul of the game on the 1st Phoenix play of the half which led to free throws & Len scored quickly after as they cut it to 14. The Celtics were able to answer & push the lead to 20 off a Turner dunk. A 7-0 run by the Suns was stopped from a Zeller jump shot but the lead was down to 13 as Brad Stevens called for a timeout. An empty possession out of the timeout & Knight put it another 3 followed by some free throws & a dunk for the Suns as it was suddenly a 6 point game.  Bradley, Thomas & Turner scored 6 straight to get the Celtics back up by double digits. The Celtics took a 10 point lead into the 4th quarter.

Four consecutive turnovers on Boston possessions had the Suns back within 8. Some sloppy possessions by both sides but Phoenix were able to cut the Celtics lead to 3 with still 6 minutes to go. Crowder put Boston back on top by 6 but Knight immediately answered. The Celtics were still holding a 3 point lead with 3:28 remaining despite shooting 2-14 in the quarter. Avery stripped Bledsoe of the ball & then nailed a 3 at the other end to put the C’s back up 6. Bledsoe hit back to back 3’s to cut the Boston lead to 1 before Thomas answered with a 3 + the foul. Thomas then stole the ball and scored on a driving layup to put Boston up 7 with only 40 seconds left. Tucker got an offensive rebound put back + the foul to make it a 4 point game. Turner & Smart both then split free throws to have Boston back up 6. Bledsoe was able to get a quick 2 with 17 seconds still left. Avery was fouled & made both free throws but Bledsoe quickly scored again before Goodwin fouled Smart who made both. Goodwin then hit a 3 to make it a one possession game with 1.7 seconds remaining. Thomas made both free throws & that would be the final score as Boston won 115-110.


Player statistics:
Avery Bradley: 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Brandon Bass: 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
Isaiah Thomas: 21 points, 1 rebound, 7 assists
Evan Turner: 10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists
Jae Crowder: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
James Young: 8 points, 5 rebounds
Tyler Zeller: 12 points, 6 rebounds

Celtics fall to shorthanded Miami as Whiteside scores 20.

After losing 3 of their last 4 the Boston Celtics were looking to get things back on track against the Wade & Deng-less Miami Heat.


Zeller would be starting over Sullinger who was late to the arena & it didn’t take Tyler long to get the first Celtics basket. Miami got out to a quick 6 point lead as Boston struggled from the floor. Zeller got to the line on consecutive trips to cut the lead to 3 but Miami would respond & get it to an 8 point lead. Thornton got it back to 5 but a 5-0 run by the Heat as the quarter ended with a Chris Anderson 3 had them on top by 10 as the Celtics shot 5-22 on field goals.

Boston started the 2nd on an 8-2 run to get within 4 but Miami would answer with an 8-0 burst to go up by 12 points. Pressey would get some run during the 2nd quarter as Boston went 11 deep in the first half & Prince still hadn’t played. Bass cut it to 10 but Bosh hit a 3 followed by a Chalmers basket had Miami up 15. Sullinger closed the cold half with a jumper as the Celtics could only manage 31 first half points & trailed by 13.


The 2nd half began with Avery scoring 2 baskets off Zeller assists before Avery got a dime of his own to Bass. Bosh got fouled & split the free throws to keep Miami’s lead at 10 but Crowder responded with a 3. Zeller put in his 12th point of the night to get Boston down 4 & off to a perfect 7-7 start to the quarter. The points forced a Miami timeout as the Celtics started the half on a 16-7 run. An Avery steal & slam followed by a Bass hook shot had the crowd roaring & Boston only down 2 which would be the deficit heading into the final frame after a back and forth last few minutes that seen Bradley head to the locker room.

Whiteside started the 4th with 3 straight baskets to give him 20 points followed by a Bosh basket to get the Heat back on top by 10. Bass got the C’s back within 7 but Miami scored 4 to push it to 11 as Boston took a timeout to try & make a comeback with 5 minutes left. Bradley hit a 3 to cut the deficit to 8 but time was running low. Smart hit a 3 which were his first points of the night & Zeller split some free throws to get Boston down 6. The Celtics stole an inbounds pass but turned it straight back over & Norris Cole would make us pay. Boston came back from 15 down to tie it up but would eventually fall 75-83.


Player statistics:
Avery Bradley: 17 Points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists
Brandon Bass: 15 points, 6 rebounds
Tyler Zeller: 16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
Marcus Smart: 3 Points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists (Career high)
Marcus Thornton: 9 points, 3 rebounds
Jared Sullinger: 7 points, 3 rebounds