Tag Archives: Avery Bradley

Green Runs Deep #7 – Erin

green-runs-deep_erin

Our seventh edition of ‘Green Runs Deep’ features Erin, a Celtics Down Under friend from Florida, in the United States of America. Erin is an extremely passionate Celtics fan whom I’ve only recently begun to follow on Twitter. I’m sure glad I did. Not only is she a terrific person but the Celtics are 3-0 when Erin attends games at the TD Garden!! -AusCelticsFan

Erin_Wine
Celtics & Wine.

Please tell us about yourself.

“Hi, my name is Erin. I am from Clearwater, Florida. You can catch me on Twitter (@erinava) live tweeting Celtics games while drinking wine.”

How did you first become a fan of the Boston Celtics?

“It was June 2010. I had just put my daughter to bed, grabbed a glass of wine and flipped on the television. Basketball was on. I had never watched basketball before but I had seen a few tweets about it on my timeline earlier in the week so I thought I might check it out. It was Game 2 of the finals. I picked the Celtics to win because my favorite color is green. I don’t remember many details about that game or the series other than Perk went down and they lost, but I do remember falling in love with it.”

I picked the Celtics to win because my favorite color is green.

When did you first see the Boston Celtics play? (tv?) When did you manage to see your first live Celtics game?

Erin_Selfie
Pre-Game ‘Selfie’.

“My first live Celtics game was Christmas 2010 against the Magic (Orlando is about a 90 minute drive away away from me.) Rondo was injured, Nate Robinson was the starting point guard with Avery Bradley off the bench and they were just terrible. I still had fun getting dressed up and representing for my team but that loss was annoying.

I also go to Boston every year in December for my birthday and a game. I couldn’t tell you one thing about those games though because I have had too much wine and I am too emotional because I am there. But they have both been magical Gino Time games! I remember that much!”

But they have both been magical Gino Time games! I remember that much!

Who is your favorite Celtics player? Past? And present? And what do they, or have they meant to you?

“I have read a lot of books about the history of the Celtics. (How else do you learn?) Books about the 60’s and the 80’s .. so I must say that Kevin McHale is my favorite player of all time. I have looked him up on YouTube and his moves are just like nothing you really see today. I think Power Forward is my favorite position.

The_Big_Three
‘The Big Three’ by Peter May

I also love Kevin Garnett. (Again with the Power Forward. hehe) He is such a great defender and so loyal. I wish I got to see him earlier in his career with the Timberwolves. He really makes me wish I was watching him in high school rather than chasing boys. haha. Also.. imagine my surprise when I realized that Kevin McHale mentored Kevin Garnett. My mind was blown!”

Rajon Rondo.
Rajon Rondo.

“My favorite current player is the polarizing Rajon Rondo. He is a classic point guard. His job is to create shots. That is a point guard’s job. A point guard should only take a shot if that is the only shot available. He sees more things than these trendy scoring point guards. Look how he made Paul, Kevin and Ray look past their prime. Look how he is making Tyler Zeller look! I learn a million things a night from watching him. He is amazing!”

Can you tell us about how the Boston Celtics communities, whether globally, or in Boston, make you feel a part of such a large, and loving sisterhood/brotherhood?

“I learned basketball primarily through Twitter. I would tweet questions out and guys would answer my questions. They gave me their email addresses and phone numbers so that I could ask them anything I wanted at any time. They didn’t have to do that. They could have ignored me. They could have made fun of me because I am a girl (which happens) but they didn’t. They helped me learn. Probably one of the real reasons I stuck with it. I am so grateful for that help.”

I learned basketball primarily through Twitter..I am so grateful for that help.
Erin_Russel
“I am the proudest!” -in front of the Bill Russell statue.

Can you tell us about your proudest, or most memorable moment that’s occurred whilst being such a loyal member of the Boston Celtics fan base?

“My proudest moment was going to visit the statue of Bill Russell in Boston last year. He is Celtics. I felt so much pride being there. Just indescribable. I learned so much about basketball and Celtics history in those last 4 years. In that moment I really felt like basketball is my life.”

“My proudest moment was going to visit the statue of Bill Russell in Boston last year. He is Celtics.”

So far this season, we’ve established an open, fast-paced, and high-scoring offensive style, however, statistics show that our defensive performance has lowered. With this current trend, how do you see the team holding up over 82 games, against tougher opponents?

Brad Stevens
Brad Stevens.

“Brad Stevens is a really good coach. He is very smart. But they don’t have the right pieces to be great right now. It will happen eventually but not right now. I think there is a plan in the works. This season I see them winning 28 games. Unless they trade Gerald Wallace. Then it’s 34. I have no basis for this prediction either.”

Can you share your thoughts on our Celtics community in Australia? Do you see a lot of the Celtic Pride in our many members?

“The Australian Celtics community is amazing! The times you all have to be awake watching games shows some real dedication! I love it! And you all are so nice!”

The Garden Crowd.
The Garden Crowd. #RedsArmy

Any plans to visit us one day? Our team at Celtics Down Under would welcome you with open arms.

“I would love to visit ! My best friend lives in Australia and I need to see her babies one day. I would love to be able to watch a game with you all!”

 “I would love to be able to watch a game with you all!”

Any finals words to share with your fellow Celtics fans?

“This is one of the best communities in the world! I am so happy to have found you! Go Celtics!”


Celtics Down Under immensely thanks Erin for taking part in

‘Green Runs Deep’.

Check out Erin on Twitter at: @erinava

You can nominate a Boston Celtics fan at:
@AusCelticsFan
or
justin@CelticsDownUnder.com.

CDU

Celtics end losing streak in overtime as Green drops 32 on Detroit.

The Celtics who came into this one on a 5 game losing streak would be looking to end this at home against Detroit. Helping the cause would be Marcus Smart who returned from an ankle injury that had him sidelined for 10 games.

Jeff Green would open the scoring for the game with a 3 before some sloppy play by both teams but Boston would take the early 11-4 lead following a Rajon Rondo pull-up jumper. A 7-2 run, capped by a Jeff Green basket would give the Celtics a double digit lead. Detroit rallied with a 13-0 run before Pressey, with a 3, stopped the bleeding to tie things up.

The 2nd quarter started with Boston trailing by 2, Marcus Smart would see his first minutes since coming back from injury, to start the quarter. Smith extended Detroit’s lead to 6 before Kelly Olynyk got a 3 to fall cutting that in half. A feed from Pressey to Olynyk, a pair of made free throws by Bass followed by a Pressey jumper & a Green transition 3 would put the Celtics on a 9-0 run and have Boston leading by 5 with 2 minutes to go in the half. Detroit finished the half strong, on a 8-0 run & would take a 1 point lead into the main break.

The second half began & Green would quickly put Boston back on top after making 2 free throws. The Celtics would go up 3 before a couple baskets by Detroit had them leading again by 1. Zeller drawing an offensive foul on Smith led to a 3 by Green at the other end. Another transition 3 by Green put the Celtics back on top by 1. The back and forth (ugly) quarter ends with Boston outscoring Detroit, 19-15, to take a 61-58 lead into the last.

Bass & Turner made a jumper before Turner dished to Olynyk for the basket, fuelling a 6-0 run to put Boston up by 7. Green hit his 5th 3 of the night to put Boston up 12 but Caldwell-Pope would answer immediately. Monroe converted an and 1 to cut the Celtics lead to 8 with 3:13 left. Some more quick scoring by the Pistons had them only down 2 with still 1:30 remaining. Drummond had the chance to tie the game from the line but went 1 of 2 leaving Detroit having to foul with only 23 seconds left. Turner made both free throws, putting the Celtics up 3 before Butler tied the game giving the Celtics one final chance to win it in regulation. Green couldn’t get the shot to fall & this one was heading to overtime.

Sullinger opened the extra period with a 3 followed by another 3 by Jeff Green to put the Celtics up 6, Turner would extend that another 2 forcing a Detroit timeout with 3:18 left in the overtime period. 4 quick points by Monroe halved the Celtics 8 point lead before Sullinger would answer with a cold blooded 3 followed by an even colder jumper to put Boston up 9. The Celtics would hold off Detroit to win this 109-102.

Player Statistics:
Jeff Green: 32 Points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist
Kelly Olynyk: 20 Points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists
Brandon Bass: 9 Points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist
Phil Pressey: 7 Points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
Tyler Zeller: 8 Points, 10 rebounds.
Evan Turner: 9 Points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists
Jared Sullinger: 14 Points, 8 rebounds, 2 assist
Rajon Rondo: 2 Points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists
Avery Bradley: 6 Points
Gerald Wallace: 2 points

Green Kicks of the Month – November

This 2014-15 season is looking like it will be a tough one for the Celtics. The extremely frustrating loses are starting to pile up, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the kicks being rocked by the C’s.

Each month I will compile a top 3 kicks of the month list. So here is November’s list, in no particular order.

Anta RR2 – Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo has been wearing his yet to be released Anta RR2’s all season long (except for one strange game when he wore Nike Hyperdunks). The RR2’s have a distinct look, which matches Rondo’s unique playing style.

credit: gettyimages.com
credit: gettyimages.com
credit: sneakernews.com
credit: sneakernews.com

Rondo’s second signature shoe with Anta features an unmistakable asymmetrical lacing system, much like on the RR1 which also featured a different style lacing system. I look forward to seeing Rondo lace up many colourways of the RR2 throughout the season.

Air Jordan XX8 ‘Awards Season’ – Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger has had a very solid start to the season and has been doing so in Air Jordans. Of all the J’s Sully has laced up, I believe the best were the Air Jordan XX8 ‘Awards Season’. These kicks were released earlier in the year and Sully wore them last season too, but in my opinion these kicks are too good not to recognise again. 

credit: gettyimages.com
credit: gettyimages.com
credit: niketalk.com
credit: niketalk.com

The gold accents on these sneakers, along with the black outer and icy blue soles all come together brilliantly. I’m sure we will continue to see Sullinger rocking these loud Jordans throughout the season.

Adidas J-Wall 1 – Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley has been wearing Adidas for years now, and he loves to mix it up between different models. Lately, since the shoe was released, Bradley has been wearing the Adidas J-Wall 1. This is, as the name suggests, John Wall’s first signature shoe with Adidas after crossing over from Reebok a couple of years back.

credit: gettyimages.com
credit: gettyimages.com
credit: ballermindframe.com
credit: ballermindframe.com

These are a great looking shoe and the black colourway is one of my favourites. Hopefully Bradley decides to continue to rock the J-Wall 1 as the Christmas Day ‘Bad Dreams’ colourway features a green outer, which will match the Celtics uniform perfectly.

 

What are your thoughts on the kicks your Celtics wore throughout the month of November? Would you rock any of these kicks?

Retaining Rondo: A Comprehensive Examination

The rumours never end. Ever. Rajon Rondo has been the point guard of the Boston Celtics since 2006, and has repeatedly attracted trade speculation over the bulk of his career. And yet, here he is, a rarity in the league as a player who has remained with the same team since his rookie year, eight years on.

Then you realise why the rumours have been around for so long. To put it simply, he has immense talent, an NBA championship, and plays the game to make his teammates better by sharing the ball – an uncommon trait for point guards in the NBA. Then when you dig even further, you are reminded of his ability to step up his game in the postseason, of his drive to win at all costs, to sacrifice life and limb (literally) for his team. Of course other teams would be interested, there’s no doubt about that.

When you put all of this together, you really wonder why ‘experts’ are so keen to offload a player of this calibre. Allow me to analyse exactly why the captain of the most storied franchise in the game will remain in Boston not only for this season, but long enough to see that number 9 hanging in the rafters next to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.


The Mutual Attraction

In any long-term relationship, both parties need to remain interested and enthusiastic about one another. Firstly, Rajon himself has repeatedly stated that he loves the Celtics, the city of Boston and the fans that occupy it. Here are some of his more recent quotes;

“The fans, the people here make me want to stay,” Rondo said at that time. “The organization has been great. I can’t say enough about Danny (Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations) and Wyc (Grousbeck who co-owns the team), but when I walk down the street the fans have embraced me from Day One. These people know the game; you can’t fool them. The love I get is kind of overwhelming. I want to stay here.”

“Regardless of what’s going on with the season, my position hasn’t changed,” Rondo said on Wednesday. “I love being a Celtic.”

It’s always encouraging when the player loves the team he plays for, however the feelings need to be shared by those running the organisation too. When the owner, GM and coach all like what you bring to the table, I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that the organisation would like to see you stick around.

The relationship between coach Stevens and captain Rondo is as strong as any Rondo has had with any coach. Mostly it seems as though the reports of Rondo being hard to coach are blown way out of proportion, but we’ll get to that later. NBA.com’s David Aldridge outlined the kind of rapport shared by the duo before the season began, exploring Rondo’s appreciation for how Stevens is the most positive coach he’s had in his entire career, and the values of playing hard and the will to win are shared between the pair. Having analytical minds and confidence in your star player to execute the plays drawn up in timeouts, are attributes any coach would love to have in their point guard.


The Business

With salary cap restrictions, pending free agency, and a team in rebuild mode, the final year of Rondo’s contract was always going to draw attention from reporters. While we won’t delve too far into the financial side of basketball, it actually makes sense to wait until the end of the season to re-sign him.

Due to the Collective Bargaining Agreement rules, Boston is unable to offer a five-year extension to Rondo until the end of the season. The Celtics are the only team able to offer a contract with the length of 5 years as they hold Rajon’s Bird Rights. In addition, the team can’t offer anywhere near the same amount of (possibly maximum) money until season’s end as well. Also in the Celtics’ favour is their ability to offer higher increments of pay per season than other teams once free agency does hit. It appears both Danny and Rondo are on the same page already, when Ainge was quoted on media day agreeing that a player set to reach his prime is probably worth the big dollars:

“I think a four-time All-Star by the time he’s [28] years old would qualify for max based on what we’ve seen in the marketplace,” Ainge said. “If I were Rajon and I were Rajon’s agent, I would definitely say that.”

While a maximum contract may sound a bit steep to Rondo critics, there is one very important thing to remember where the salary cap is concerned. The NBA is set to triple their national TV revenue in their next television rights deal for the season beginning 2016-17. While there is still this season and next to get through, this deal is expected to increase team salary caps by $25.8 million per year.

What this means for Rondo is that a maximum contract signed next year, won’t actually hurt the team’s cap room nearly as much after the first season. To put it simply, the current salary cap’s maximum will pay Rajon handsomely for the next five years, but it won’t destroy the Celtics’ long-term spending on other pieces. The percentage of his contract next to the salary cap will actually be comparable to his current team-friendly deal.


The Drawcard

There are many stars in the NBA, but how many of those play alongside someone who could actually make them even better? Building a roster that is strong right to the end of the bench is becoming increasingly important to building a championship team. Rondo is a distributor by nature, and has proven his ability to put the ball to his teammates that amplify their strengths. So the question is; why would you trade someone that can make their teammates better, and be appealing to potential star recruits?

One of the knocks on Rondo was that his productivity would drop off once his star teammates in Pierce, Garnett and Allen left. Overall his statistics point to someone that has remained just as effective in scoring and passing, while his rebounding numbers have actually improved since the departures of the Big Three. His maturity levels have increased, and he seems to be excelling as a leader since their departures.

If anything, he has become more of a focal point on offense, and finally plays with teammates young enough to play the running game he has always craved. Last season the Celtics ranked 12th for possessions per game while posting 96.2 points. Through this year, they rank 8th in the league for possessions while posting 104.6 points – good enough for 6th in the league. A fit Rondo is showcasing how easily he can run an offense that plays his style of run-and-gun basketball.

From an individual perspective, Rondo’s performance through 6 games this year has yielded averages of 10.8 points, a league-leading 11.3 assists, 8.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. The man is almost averaging a triple-double. While it’s a small sample, not many players in the league can point to those numbers.

Looking into the history books, Rondo has demonstrated that he can take his game to another level once the playoffs hit. First there was holding the keys to the 2008 championship team (of course), but it was over the next few years he really began to shine. The 2009 series against the Bulls was a coming out party for Rondo, playing a starring role in the 7 game series. He almost single-handedly took his team of stars to the championship in 2010 with the way he played in the Finals, and he played out the series against Miami in 2011 despite a dislocated elbow. Then in 2012, he helped take the soon-to-be champion Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, including that 44-point game that almost ripped Miami’s heart out.

He has proven to the league that he is capable of stepping up when it matters most in the postseason, something his contemporaries have no doubt noticed, but also respected immensely. Keeping in mind that the Celtics are primed to make a charge at the 2015 offseason, in both free agency and trades, Rondo is a pretty handy individual to help sell the Boston Celtics franchise to prospective players.


The Silencing of Detractors

Where to begin? Rondo is in the final year of a contract, which makes him an easy target for trade speculation, even by his standards. We often see players step up their games when playing for another contract, then drastically dropping off in the following season. Danny Ainge summarises where Rondo would fit into this topic:

“I don’t think that’s what drives Rajon. I think that he’s motivated because he didn’t play to his standards coming off the knee injury. He doesn’t like to not be good. He doesn’t like not being considered one of the best point guards in the game. I think that’s what drives him, that’s what motivates him, and that’s what drove him to hard work this summer.”

Even if the C’s were looking to offload Rondo, the issue of placing a value on such a unique player opens up a whole new can of worms. People say he’s a hard individual to deal with, which would automatically be used against the Celtics in any negotiations to trade for anyone of equal talent – especially when the team is taking a risk to convince him to stay if he’s only been there for half a season. I believe a trade is even more unlikely now than it was at any point last year.

The perception that Rondo is a tough personality to deal with is unfounded. He’s the ultimate competitor who loves to win, and I can only recall one occasion in his entire career where there has ever been any issues with teammates. That teammate happened to be Ray Allen, who was more upset with Doc Rivers’ decision to put the ball in Rondo’s hands more than Rondo as a person. Kobe Bryant, one of the fiercest competitors to ever play in the NBA, has had his fair share of issues with teammates – but I don’t see anyone kicking him out of LA, and he’s had several more indiscretions than Rondo ever will. I’m not comparing the two from a basketball level, as Rondo is more a likely to form a star duo, but it’s a good comparison when it comes to competitive personalities.

If anything I would say Rondo is one of the more loyal individuals when it comes to his teammates, when you consider his lasting friendships with past Celtics such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Keyon Dooling, Jason Terry and Kendrick Perkins, just to name a few. With these players now all departed, Rajon can seek advice from his former teammates about parting from such a great place. If he values Kendrick Perkins’ guidance, then we shouldn’t be worried about the number 9 leaving any time soon

“I think it’s a great place for him. I think he wants to stay here. We talk on the regular, and I think he should stay,” said Perkins. “If I was him, I’d stay.”

The current roster is shaped by a strong guard rotation of Rondo, Avery Bradley and rookie Marcus Smart. On draft night, many people began pointing at Boston’s selection of Smart as the end of Rondo’s time in a green uniform. While Smart has already shown his potential as a capable player, it would actually seem that these three guards could co-exist with one another as the C’s build a deep roster. Who’s to say the Celtics won’t look to offload one of Bradley or Smart if the right deal presents itself? It’s never nice to think about, but there is always the possibility.

Lastly, our friend John from Red’s Army made a great point about a potential Rondo trade at this season’s deadline:

“I don’t think Danny Ainge is going to lesson, lower his price, I don’t think he wants to become the GM that becomes known as the guy who lowers his price when his back’s against the wall.”


The Final Word

All dialogue from both Rajon and the Celtics organisation appears to be heading to a contract extension in the summer of 2015. Again, Danny Ainge has prepared for the Celtics to make a full tilt at this year’s free agency, and has a ridiculous amount of young players and draft picks at his disposal via trades, to get this team back to the top end of the Eastern conference. If Boston is looking to attract big names to the city next year, having a player as special as Rondo waiting to play alongside you has to make the team more appealing. Four-time All Stars and NBA champions don’t grow on trees, trading away a player at the peak of his powers doesn’t make sense to me.

Rajon Rondo is a loyal person, and I have no doubt he wants to become a Celtic for life. He is the captain of the team for a reason. He is respected right around the league, and I believe he is a key component to bringing banner 18 to the city of Boston. Thank you for reading.

- Michael Tarran

(@mickyt34)

Celtics rally without Rondo, Smart & beat Bulls to improve to 3-3.

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In the 6th game of this early Celtics season, trying to get to .500 at 3-3, Boston would travel to Chicago without their starting Point Guard (Rajon Rondo) & backup Point Guard (Marcus Smart) leaving Evan Turner to handle the PG duties.

After a sluggish start to the game from both sides, new starting PG, Evan Turner got Boston on the board first. The Celtics would build a 12-2 lead after Kelly drained a 3 in transition followed by a made Sullinger shot, forcing a Bulls timeout. Dunleavy would tie the game at 18 apiece on a 3 & the Bulls finished the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 25-20 lead.

Jeff Green tied the game at 27 with a 3 before Gibson through down a slam at the other end. A 10-2 run by Boston had them retake the lead 39-35 as Bradley added 5 points during the run. A made pair of free throws by Turner & a Bradley steal and layup put Boston on top by 10. The Celtics rallied off a quick 7 points to close the half to take a 56-41 (36-16 in the quarter) lead into the half. Bradley led the team with 11 (9 in the 2nd quarter)

Back and forth start to the 3rd quarter as Boston held a 65-49 lead. Boston built the lead to 18 & had the chance to push it to 20 but couldn’t capitalise. The Bulls cut it to 15 on a free throw from Gasol before Olynyk nailed a 3. The whole 3rd quarter was close as Boston outscored Chicago 27-26 & took an 83-67 lead into the final frame.

Brooks hit a 3 for Chicago after Wallace went 1/2 from the line to cut the Boston lead to 14 with 9 minutes remaining. Brandon Bass got a huge steal that led to a Zeller basket to put Boston back up 15. Noah cut the Boston lead to 9 making it the closest it had been for some time. Effort on the offensive glass led to a Brooks 3 for Chicago & it was all of a sudden a 6 point game. Turner hit a steadying shot for Boston, putting them up 8 before Brooks hits another 3. Brooks was fouled on a deep 2 & made both to cut Boston’s lead to 3. Olynyk drove the lane & got fouled. He made it a 2 possession game, going 1/2. Brooks put in his 19th point of the quarter forcing a Boston timeout with 30 seconds left up 2. Turner drove the lane but couldn’t get the shot to fall but Kelly Olynk grabbing his 10th rebound, his 2nd offensive led to 2 made free throws to Evan Turner. Boston held on to win this one 106-101.

Full time statistics:
Kelly Olynyk: 18 Points, 11 Rebounds
Evan Turner: 19 Points, 5 Rebounds, 6 Assists
Avery Bradley: 13 Points, 3 Rebounds, 2 Assists
Jeff Green: 14 Points, 4 Rebounds, 4 Assists
Jared Sullinger: 10 Points, 8 Rebounds, 4 Assists
Marcus Thornton: 11 Points
Brandon Bass: 7 Points, 2 Rebounds
Phil Pressey: 3 Points, 3 Rebounds, 4 Assists
Tyler Zeller: 10 Points, 7 Rebounds, 4 Assists

Rockets stop Celtics perfect start behind Harden’s 26.

Capture

The Celtics had the tough task of going into Houston & beating Dwight & the Rockets but led by Captain Rondo they weren’t going to back down. Houston were straight out of the gates playing real aggressive & took a 16 point lead getting Olynyk in early foul trouble. Green & Bass would score 6 points for the C’s but 10 free throws & 60% shooting would have Houston up 22-37.

The 2nd started similar to the first with Houston shooting more free throws as they maintained a double digit lead. A basket by Turner halted the Rockets run & got the game back down to 16 with about half the quarter remaining. Houston would push their lead to 20 on their 21st and 22nd free throw attempts. Jeff led Boston with 8 points but the Celtics shot 0-12 from 3 & lost the rebound battle 28-15 in the first half as they trailed 38-57.
The C’s collapsed a lot in the first half when going for the double team, not getting back out to the wide open shooters.

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Screenshot by Justin

The 3rd quarter started ugly for both sides but the Celtics managed to go on a 9-0 run, led by Sullinger to climb within 13. Sullinger was hitting the offensive glass consistently to start the quarter & getting second chance points as his 5th rebound & 7th point of the quarter would have the Rockets calling a timeout as Boston made a game of it. Bradley & Zeller picked up their 5th fouls as Harden shot his 13th & 14th free throws for the night to give the Rockets back an 18 point lead. Boston would head to the 4th down 19 as Harden was leading the way with 26.

The 4th had begun & JET would hit a 3 for the Rockets. Rondo’s layup would cut the Rockets lead to 16 & give the Celtics some hope with 8 minutes still to go. Houston responded immediately & pushed the lead back to 22. Jones knocked down a 3 that put the Rockets up by 26. Jeff Green capped of a 5-0 run by the Celtics with a 3, Boston’s first of the night with 4:10 left. Houston shot 40 free throws during the game to win 90-104. Green led Boston with 17.

Boston shot 1-25 from 3 shot 22 less free throws.

Full time statistics:
Jeff Green 17 points, 4 rebounds , 2 assists
Jared Sullinger 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists
Rajon Rondo 4 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists
Kelly Olynyk 8 points, 5 rebounds
Brandon Bass 8 points, 5 rebounds
Evan Turner 8 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists
Tyler Zeller 8 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assists
Marcus Thornton 9 points
James Young 6 points

A highlight of the game for the Celtics was a lovely spin move by Sullinger that got him this wide open look

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Screenshot by Justin

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Screenshot by Justin

Captain Rajon Rondo & Brad Stevens during the 4th quarter

The Road Ahead – How will the Boston Celtics go this season?

With our first proper look at the roster after an impressive season opener, what is to follow for the Celtics in 2014-2015?

In a preseason where fans expected fireworks and a top 3 pick, there was disappointment as the off-season brought the Celtics the 6th pick and low-key opportunistic moves.  This wasn’t from lack of trying by Danny Ainge and management as the Celtics were one of the most active, trying to land a big fish to pair with Rondo to turbo-charge the rebuild.  Once it became apparent that our assets were not as highly valued as we thought, the Celtics held steady – finding bargains wherever they could.  By doing this, Ainge has been able to put forth a roster that is more balanced than last year, while not sacrificing anymore cap space beyond this season.  Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Celtics in season #2 of the rebuild:

 

Front Office:

With the roster looking more rounded, Danny is still a fair way away from the finished product.  What he has done so far is just collect assets, and flipping them for more valuable assets.  The hope here is that these young assets turn out to be legitimate players and once this occurs, he can then decide on whether or not he builds around the young core, or sells the farm in hope of landing other stars.  All options are currently still open – much like Houston before they landed James Harden, which is where the Celtics are at right now.  Houston had a young, gritty team that remained competitive, but, because they kept their options open, they were able to swing for the fences and land James Harden, followed by Dwight Howard.

Although the roster makes more sense this year, look for Danny to trade away a veteran or two throughout the season, with Bass/Thornton being the prime candidates due to their expiring contracts.  There is also the small fact that our star point guard, Rajon Rondo is in the final year of his contract too, so brace yourself for another season full of Rondo trade rumours – it is difficult to see any team offering enough to Danny Ainge to pull the trigger on any Rondo trade, ultimately keeping him in green.

NBA: Boston Celtics-Brad Stevens-Press Conference

Coaching:

Besides Rondo, the biggest drawcard for potential future free agent signings could very well be Brad Stevens.  He has managed to turn discards such as Jordan Crawford and Kris Humphries into players that other teams wanted and he already looks to be doing the same with Evan Turner this year.  He seems to have the full trust of his squad and enjoys a great relationship with Rondo, who has been reported as ‘difficult’ time and time again.

With his first year now in the rear-view mirror, Coach Stevens now knows how the NBA games go, he knows exactly he wants and what buttons to push with certain players.  His players have spoken about the difference between Coach Stevens this season compared to last and show full confidence in his ability to lead the team as he tries to get this team running like the Spurs “Lite”.

 

Players:

Though starved of top-end talent, the Celtics do boast a legitimately deep squad where we see a minimal drop off between the 4th to 10th player in the squad.  Here are the players to watch out for during the season:

Rajon Rondo: With more time removed from his ACL injury in early 2013, Rondo looks to get back to his All-Star best.  Although he suffered a minor setback breaking his hand, he is ready to prove his doubters wrong and be the leader and star that this team needs.  Being in his contract year, he will be desperate to remind everybody in the league that he is still one of the best point guards in the NBA.  Questions were asked on whether or not he can play in Brad Stevens’ offense and after the season opener yesterday, it is safe to say that he will have no problems in that system.  Rondo’s biggest question mark is injuries – once thought of as durable player, he has missed 29, 44 & 52 games respectively in the previous three seasons, will he be able to stay relatively healthy this year?

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Avery Bradley: Can Bradley live up to the 4 year, $32m extension he signed over the off-season?  That will be the question people will ask of him throughout the duration of his contract.  Avery has looked to re-dedicate himself back to his bread and butter, his defence whilst further working on his 3 point shot which is not to be ignored by other defences.  At the young age of 23, Bradley is already one of the leaders of the team as he is entering his 5th season, being the 2nd longest tenured Celtic (behind Rondo).  With Bradley playing exclusively at the shooting guard role, he should further flourish under Brad Stevens – and wreak havoc defensively with Rondo and Smart to play next to.

Jared Sullinger: After his first fully healthy summer as a pro, Sully worked tirelessly on both his fitness base, and his 3 point shooting during the off-season, it showed in the pre-season, as he was the best on the team averaging a double-double in under 28 minutes per game.  Fairly or not, Sully was judged critically last season mainly due to his lack of conditioning after missing a large part of the off-season due to back surgery.  Fans can only hope that he takes the next leap to a double-double machine in the regular season, and even  pushes for a potential all-star selection.  He is one of the most important players on the roster due to his leadership and natural feel of the game – he is the team’s best rebounder and is also an underrated passer.  If his conditioning will allow him to play at a high level for 30+ minutes per game, he could very well be in the running for most improved player, as some experts have predicted.

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Kelly Olynyk: Olynyk will be looking to build on the end of last season, where we saw him string together an impressive set of performances averaging 25.7 points (on 53.4% shooting), 9.3 Rebounds and 3.7 assists in just under 35 minutes in his final 3 games to close the season out.  While Olynyk has always been sound offensively, coming into his rookie season, criticism has come from the defensive end of the floor – where people question whether he was quick enough to guard fours, or strong enough to guard fives.  His rookie season did nothing to silence the critics defensively – although he wasn’t as bad as advertised, he clearly needed to work on that end of the ball.  Coming into this season, we can see that Olynyk has worked on his body as he trimmed some fat and added muscle, making him better equipped to handle the defensive duties.  Due to his range of skill, including his shooting/driving and passing ability, look for Olynyk to be a big part of the Celtics revamped offense as he has locked up the starting Centre spot.

Marcus Smart: The Celtics prized rookie has been just as good on defence as advertised, with some experts even picking him as a potential Rookie of the year candidate.  Smart has the tools to be able to contribute straight away on the defensive end, but, his offense has looked shaky at times.  As Smart plays more games, he looks to be getting more and more comfortable with his role and what he is supposed to be doing out on the court.  Will he be able to offensively impact a game and run the team?  If Smart can continue to develop his shot and show steady improvement, the sky is the limit for this prized rookie.  With a healthy squad, Smart looks to be the 6th man for this team.

Boston Celtics Unveil New Draft Picks

Evan Turner: There was no real excitement in the air when the Celtics made the low key signing of Evan Turner for 2 years, $3m per.  This was looked at as a low risk/high reward signing after Turner’s value plummeted to an all-time low following his season/playoffs in Indiana.  In pre-season, coach Stevens had Turner playing all positions from 1-3 with great success, can this equate to the regular season, and will Turner be able to run the point as good as he did in college, where he was 2010 NCAA Big 10 top scorer and National Player of the Year en route to being the #2 pick in 2010?  For the relatively low salary he is on, Turner can turn out to be a bargain as he now has a coach/system where his potential could actually be fulfilled.

Marcus Thornton: Marcus Thornton has been a pleasant surprise for the Celtics, being the spark plug off the bench with lights out shooting and deserves a special mention, but given the logjam at the guard spots, and his expiring contract, is he playing his way out of Boston, or will he be a major part of the team for the whole season?

Every player on the Celtics roster has questions against their names.  Can Zeller be the centre that the Celtics so desperately need?  Will Thornton/Bass be on the team after the trade deadline?  Will Jeff Green be more aggressive and average 20+ ppg?  Will James Young show enough to get regular minutes?  Can Vitor come back and excite everyone like he did early last season?


At times this season, this young Celtics team will be fun to watch with high energy D, fast paced action, and 3 point barrages.  Given the average age of the team, there will be games that we would like to forget, but, expect a more competitive team compared to last year.  For this season, the Celtics have a near 100% Rondo, an extra year experience for Coach Stevens, and extra year for our young veterans, and 2 rookies who have tremendous upside.  The Celtics may not be contenders, nor they likely may not make the playoffs (I hope I’m wrong), but there is enough talent there to be cautiously optimistic about this team for the upcoming season.

I predict that the Celtics record for the upcoming season will be: 35-47.

What about you?  How do you think the Celtics will go this season?