Celtics take care of home, tie series 2-2

The Celtics would be looking to tie the series at 2-2 before heading back to Atlanta for game 5. The crowd was yet again electric, Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick & some of his team were yet again there to support the Boston Celtics.

Crowder started the game with a 3, a great sign for him & the Celtics squad. Jae completed a put back basket to put Boston up 7-2 early before Milsap also found a rhythm in this series scoring 4 straight to bring the Hawks within 1. Atlanta hit 3 straight 3 pointers courtesy of Korver (twice) & Milsap before Boston answered with an 11-0 run to take the 22-15 advantage. Milsap scored his 11th point of the quarter to bring the Hawks within 3 at the end of the 1st.

gettyimages-523889734_master

The Hawks started the 2nd on a 9-2 run to take a 4 point lead over the Celtics. Milsap continued his hot shooting as his 16th point kept Atlanta on top before baskets from Johnson, Crowder & Thomas put the Celtics in the lead by 6. Milsap scored the Hawks last 10 points of the quarter, giving him 26 at the half & his team the 2 point advantage.

gettyimages-523853166_master

The Celtics came out of halftime poorly as the Hawks made us pay, starting on a 14-0 run to go up 16. Thomas got Boston going again with a hoop & the harm & Jonas put in another 2 to keep Boston around. Celtics cut the lead down to 8 but Boston’s newest villain, Schroeder, hit the steading 3 for Atlanta. Jerebko hit 2 3’s with a basket by Turner in-between to close the Hawks lead to 3 & the end of the 3rd.

gettyimages-523889708_master

Jonas continued his 3rd quarter streak into the 4th as he scored 4 quick points as Boston took the lead. The Hawks answered again, Milsap scoring 5 of the Hawks 7 on the quick 7-0 spurt to give him 41 in the game. Smart scored Boston’s next 11 points before Isaiah found the bank was open to give the Celtics a 3 point lead. Milsap scored again before Jonas hit another 3 to put Boston up 4 with just over a minute left. Jeff Teague scored 2 straight 3’s before Thomas tied the game up with 15 seconds left. Atlanta ran an interesting play to close regulation as Teague’s shot didn’t drop & we were headed to overtime in Boston.

gettyimages-523889720_master

Amir Johnson started the overtime period with the first 2 baskets before Teague hit again from deep. With the Celtics up 2, the Hawks couldn’t settle into a set possession but Bazemore hit a 3 that was reviewed & overturned when it was deemed the shot came after the shot clock had expired. Turner put the Celtics up 4 before Thomas hit a dagger 3, yet again. The Hawks fouled Thomas but as reliable as he is, IT went 2/2 giving him 28 & Boston the 104-95 win to even the series at 2-2.

gettyimages-523889716_master

 

Statistics:

Isaiah Thomas – 28 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, +22 Marcus Smart – 20 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, +24 Jonas Jerebko – 16 points, 10 rebounds Evan Turner – 17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists Amir Johnson – 9 points, 9 rebounds Jae Crowder – 12 points, 5 rebounds

Thomas, Olynyk lead Boston to win over Magic

After a 4 game losing streak that Boston ended against the 76ers, the Celtics would be looking to start a win streak as they faced up against the Orlando Magic in Boston.

The Celtics started the game 0-7 from the field before an Isaiah Thomas and 1 basket had Boston up 5-4. An Evan Turner 3 followed by another Thomas basket had the Celtics on a 12-0 run to take the 14-4 advantage. The Magic cut the lead back down to 4 before Olynyk hit his second 3 of the quarter.

 

gettyimages-516874284_master

The Celtics took a 17-22 lead into the 2nd quarter but a 13-4 Orlando run had them leading 30-26. Thomas tied the game back up at 35 before Avery continued his hot start, as his 10th point gave Boston back the lead. Olynyk scored 9 of Boston’s last 17 points of the quarter as 15 points in the half from Kelly & Thomas had the Celtics leading 56-49 at the break.

 

gettyimages-516874324_master

Both teams started the second half trading baskets but Jennings fouled Isaiah on a 3 point attempt, resulting in 2/3 free throws before Evan Turner hit his 2nd 3 of the night, follow by another Olynyk basket had the Celtics extending their lead to 13. Fournier & Nicholson combined for all 10 of the next Orlando points as they cut the Boston lead to 7. Two big baskets by Turner & a pair of free throws for Olynyk had Boston close the quarter with a 6-0 run to take a 13 point lead into the 4th.

 

gettyimages-516874398_master

Olynyk was in the action to start the 4th as he hit another 3 but picking up 2 quick fouls had him with 5 for the game as Orlando cut the lead to 10. Oladipo scored back to back baskets as Boston’s lead was down to 6 & the Celtics had only scored 3 points in the quarter with 6:49 left. Thomas put Boston back up 10 but Orlando quickly responded to cut it back to 6 after some poor defence.

.

Johnson cleaned up a missed Thomas 3 as Avery converted the second chance points & some brilliant defence led to Thomas splitting a pair of free throws at the other end to put Boston up by 7 with 1:37 left. Payton scored for Orlando but a basket by Avery, a block by Amir & another 2 points for Thomas had Boston in an unbeatable position as they took the win 107-96.

gettyimages-516874222_master

Statistics: Isaiah Thomas: 28 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds Evan Turner: 16 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds Kelly Olynyk: 22 points, 5 rebounds Amir Johnson: 11 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks Avery Bradley: 22 points, 3 assists, 9 rebounds Fast break points: Celtics 29, Magic 13 Second chance points: Celtics 11, Magic 7.
gettyimages-516874376_master

 

 

 

Celtics catch fire & take care of short-handed grit & grind Memphis.

The Celtics were coming off a loss to the Cavs, who the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies had just beaten. Memphis would once again be without Conley, Randolph & Gasol with the Celtics home winning streak on the line.

Memphis jumped out to an early 8-2 lead before the Celtics went on a 13-4 run to take a 3 point lead off an Avery 3. The grit & grind Grizzlies went back on top 21-26 before Smart ended the quarter with a 3 as Boston would trail by 2 at the end of 1.

gettyimages-514546918_master

Boston started the 2nd on a 10-3 run to take a 5 point lead but the Celtics inability to grab a defensive rebound, while Memphis were pounding the glass & getting 2nd chance points to stay in the game. Memphis took the lead on a pair of Chalmers free throws before Crowder put Boston back on top with a 3. Chalmers would finish the quarter with a deep 3 after a jump ball that gave the Grizzlies a 3 point lead at the half due to leading 2nd chance points 17-2 & rebounding 29-14. Jarell Martin posted a career high 15 points in the first half (previous high was 2, had 8 career points)

gettyimages-514546092_master

The Celtics came out of the half aggressive, drawing 3 shooting fouls on Memphis in under 3 minutes, Thomas going 3-4 & Johnson 1-2 while on an 8-2 Boston run to go up 3 that forced a Memphis timeout. Mario Chalmers went down with an injury & was carried to the locker room with the Celtics up 64-61, Boston ended the quarter on a 19-6 run & outscored Memphis 12-31 in the 3rd to take a 83-67 lead into the 4th as Thomas was up to 22 points.

gettyimages-514546908_master

Jonas started the 4th with another Celtics 3 before Vince Carter scored 5 points on 2 straight Memphis possessions. Vince Carter would add another triple but Zeller’s dunk would give the Celtics a 21 point lead & 100 points with 7:30 to go. Memphis went on 10-4 run to cut the lead to 14 but back to back 3’s by Crowder & Jerebko all but finished the game, Boston winning 96-116.

gettyimages-514546090_master

Statistics:

Isaiah Thomas – 22 points, 5 assists Evan Turner – 16 points, 8 assists Avery Bradley – 15 points Jae Crowder – 15 points Jared Sullinger – 12 points, 5 rebounds Jonas Jerebko – 11 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists Tyler Zeller – 9 points, 7 rebounds
gettyimages-514545438_master

The Celtics extended their home winning streak to 14….

 

gettyimages-514545946_master

 

 

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 previews: Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas was a game changer for the Celtics last season. In just 25 games (including playoffs) for Boston, he changed the fortunes of the team. Now, with a training camp in Boston under his belt, Thomas looks ready to take his game to a whole new level.

In the 21 regular season games he averaged 19 points, 5.4 assists, 2.1 rebounds and 2.6 turnovers per game. That’s some pretty impressive production considering he was thrown in at the deep end and had little practice time with the team as the late season grind took full effect. Couple that with the fact that he sat out 8 games in a row in March with a lower back injury (which didn’t fully recover until the off-season), what he was able to accomplish was even more incredible.

With assists like this one, Thomas immediately became a fan favourite in Boston.

In those 21 games, the Celtics won 14 of them and in doing so made every Boston fan proud. Even when the Celtics were completely out-matched by Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs, the team didn’t give up and fought out every game, making it as hard as possible for the Cavaliers. After eventually being swept in game four, the proud Garden crowd gave the Celtics a standing ovation for making something out of a season many thought would be filled with losses.

Thomas summed up the playoff experience perfectly, stating “we’re proud, but we’re not satisfied.” This sentiment was echoed by his teammates and I’m sure it drove them during the off-season to be better.

Thomas is known as one of the best pick and roll players in the league and this season with the addition of Amir Johnson, I expect this to continue and reach new heights. Thomas and Johnson have looked very comfortable working the pick and roll in training camp and the few preseason games they have played in together.

Obviously Thomas’ size makes it difficult for him to be a force on the defensive end, and larger guards can cause him trouble. Thomas will never be a great individual defender, but if he can improve enough on the defensive end to the point that he can play great team defence, Boston will be able to wear teams down.

The big question that has surrounded Thomas since he was acquired has been whether or not he should be starting? I’m sure this question will continue to be asked throughout the season and for as long as Marcus Smart and Thomas are on the same team. For now though, I believe we should be focussing on the fact that a team run by Smart and Thomas has huge potential to take Boston forward.

The starting dilemma will of course be all up to coach Brad Stevens. Stevens has worked wonders for Thomas’ game and it was amazing how quickly Stevens figured out how to get the best out of Thomas last season. With a training camp and many more practices together this relationship will only be better in season 2015/16.

After making the playoffs last season, the playoffs are once again the goal for this team and Thomas. With a roster that is better than last year, and more stable, I hope to see Thomas take full advantage of this and average somewhere around 20 points and 6 assists a game.