The Boston Celtics season ends in chippy game 4

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The Celtics were looking to take game 4 & force a 5th game in Cleveland & things didn’t start well for them as Brad Stevens took a timeout not even 2 minutes into the game to emphasize the importance of rebounding as the Cavs already had 5 2nd chance points. After Love & Olynyk’s arms got tangled, Love ran to the locker room with a dislocated shoulder & would not return. The Celtics weren’t able to take advantage of Love’s injury & Thompson’s 2 early fouls as Cleveland led 29-19 after one.

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The 2nd quarter began better for the Celtics as Sullinger & Smart got back to back baskets but the Cavaliers quickly went on a run as LeBron & Co pushed the lead to 18. Out of a Celtics timeout Sullinger & Crowder combined for 7 straight points to get the crowd back into it but as the trend of the series Thompson got an offensive rebound & put back which sparked a run as they got up by 19 points. Kendrick Perkins & Jae Crowder got into a fight which led to Perkins getting a flagrant + a double tech on Crowder & Perkins. A chippy 2nd quarter ended with the Cavs up 21.

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The Celtics started the 2nd half aggressive drawing fouls. JR Smith was ejected for hitting Crowder, Jae needed to be helped from the floor as Thomas knocked down a pair from the line. Bass finished a put back dunk over Thompson who picked up his 4th foul on the And 1 play. Bass missed the free throw & in a very unusual way he was 0/3 from the line in the quarter. Crowder was diagnosed with a left knee sprain & would not return to this game. Thomas cut the deficit to 13 after a fast break basket. The Celtics got the crowd amped after Pressey beat LeBron in a jump ball & Sullinger hit a buzzer beater as they cut the Cavs 21 point lead to 9 going into the 4th. The Celtics were shooting 14-25 from the line.

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Sullinger, who now had a double double, knocked down a 3 to make it an 8 point game but Kyrie quickly answered. Smart cut it down to 9 with just under 7 minutes left but again, Irving had an answer. Shumpert had 4 straight points to push the Cavs lead to an untouchable 13 points. . After an eventful final minute the Celtics fell victim to a sweep after losing game 4 93-101. Sullinger finished with 21 points & 11 rebounds.

The 2014-15 Boston Celtics overcome a lot of doubters, line-up changes, injuries & anything else that came at them to get the 7th seed. The team played with heart, grit & toughness all season long & had that never say die attitude. They showed us what Celtic Pride is all about. While it’s sad this fun & eventful season has come to an end, this Celtics team will be one I always remember. See you all next season, Bleed Green.

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Celtics’ Key Players: Keep Them Or Trade Them?

One thing has become clear about the 2014-15 Boston Celtics: Brad Stevens probably isn’t the right guy to be on the sideline. That’s not to say he isn’t a good coach; it’s to say he’s probably too good of a coach for a rebuilding effort.

For the most part, Danny Ainge has yet to pull the trigger on a full rebuild of the Celtics roster. While he never intended to tank to the extent of Philadelphia or New York, one has to imagine he had his eyes on a high lottery pick this year. Once in the sweepstakes for a shot at Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns this June, the Celtics are now competing for the Eastern Conference’s 8-seed, with Bleacher Report’s latest playoff projections showing them just half a game behind Brooklyn. It appears that Brad Stevens is just a little too good to lose very often, even with an excruciatingly average roster on his hands.

But regarding that roster, it’s not as if the rebuild is necessarily stalled. Ainge has proven before that he knows what he’s doing even when no one else can see the big picture. Also, he still has a significant stockpile of trade assets at his disposal, in the form of future draft picks and young talent. Frankly, there’s no telling what he’ll get up to in the coming offseason. But to get a jump on the speculation—and just for fun—here’s our own look at whether key players should be kept for rebuild or deemed expendable.

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics’ midseason acquisition is an extremely valuable player, even if he’s a hothead at times. Hoopshype shows that he’s owed only about $6.5 million next season, and a little over $6.2 for 2016-17 (and you can view their full range of Celtics salaries at this page). That’s pretty good for a player who can easily score 20 points off the bench in a sixth man role, particularly when you consider the significant salary cap increase on the horizon.
Verdict: Keep him.

Evan Turner

Turner’s actually regained some value contributing on a relatively poor scoring roster. He’s got great size for a shooting guard and he’s cheap enough to simply keep around until his contract expires. That said, his is the type of contract that sometimes gets tossed into a deal to make the finances work, and he’s not so valuable that that can’t be considered. James Young is breathing down his neck.
Verdict: Trade if it helps.

Marcus Smart

It’s been an up-and-down rookie season for Smart, though some betting projections actually have him in respectable position for the Rookie Of The Year race. Additional analysis and NBA odds listings can be viewed here, but Betfair’s page on Rookie Of The Year odds shows Smart trailing only five other players. He’s not going to win the award, but he’s turned into a promising young guard who can contribute in all aspects of the game. Particularly with Thomas’s scoring punch off the bench, Smart is a very valuable player.
Verdict: Keep him.

Avery Bradley

Bradley signed a deal only slightly richer than that of Isaiah Thomas, and looks to be part of the plan for the future. He and Smart still have potential as a lockdown (albeit undersized) defensive backcourt. Verdict: Keep him.

Jared Sullinger

Jared Sullinger has become a rock-solid NBA player after a somewhat-slow start in the league. He’s owed just over $2 million next year, and just over $3 million for 2016-17. But it’s important to consider the draft, and this one is full of potential starting power forwards. NBADraft.net shows the Celtics picking 11th—that’s too high if the Celtics make the playoffs, but otherwise not a bad projection—and projects UCLA’s Kevon Looney, Texas’ Myles Turner, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, and Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell all being picked in the 14-18 range. Similarly, if the Celtics luck out with a slightly higher pick, options like Kentucky’s Trey Lyles or Willie Cauley-Stein could be available. Sullinger is valuable, but he’s also a strong trade asset, and he can be replaced in this draft.
Verdict: Look to trade him.

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk is easy to like, and he’s a versatile scorer. However, he’s not the starting center you want on a playoff team. As a backup center, he doesn’t provide the sort of rebounding and defense that you want as a stopgap while the starter gets a breather. He’s also more expensive than Tyler Zeller, who may be a more useful backup. Olynyk is a good but very expendable player.
Verdict: Trade him.

Gerald Wallace

Finally, there’s the contract no one can move. Gerald Wallace is no longer a useful player, and to this point his contract has been impossible to move; but with only one year and just over $10 million left, he may now be in the range of a tradable commodity to a team just looking for an expiring deal.
Verdict: If the Celtics want to chase free agents this summer, he must be traded; if they’d prefer to wait one more year, they should just hang on and take the $10 million relief for themselves in another year.

How can you not love Gigi Datome?

This guy has more than proven his worth on the floor right now. No offense to James Young, but Luigi (or Gigi, as he prefers it) Datome clearly is more ready to make an impact on the floor, every second of it when he was out there against the Orlando Magic.

Watch this play in the first quarter, where he notices Aaron Gordon helping to cover Olynyk. Datome promptly runs to a passing lane, Pressey notices and dishes the ball out. Open three, swished.

Or this one, where Evan Turner was forcing Oladipo to make a move. Gigi was anticipating the drive, and got there in time to take a successful charge. Watch the little fist pump when he was still down, guy is hyped.

Datome ended the game with only seven minutes of play, with 3 points (1/3 FG), 1 rebound and 1 turnover, nothing you would call staggering. His minutes have been spotty so far (from 2-21 minutes), but it’s not unimaginable to see him getting a consistent 10-12 minutes per game, and even be kept on the team in the next season. Gigi is not the most athletic player out there, and isn’t exactly the next incarnation of Vinsanity. He is smart, knows to put in effort when he’s out there, and is a fair shooter from deep. All of these are qualities coach Stevens would be looking for, when evaluating candidates for our pace-and-space system.

All that can be said for right now? Datome’s staying ready, and getting rewarded for it.


Related reading: Who is Luigi Datome? via Basketball Insiders

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.

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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.

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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.

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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