Portland catch fire as they down Boston in thriller

The Celtics would continue their West Coast road trip against the Portland Trailblazers. A quite important game for Boston if they want to have home court first round of the playoffs after the Lakers beat the Heat yesterday. Boston would be boosted by the return of Jae Crowder.

The Celtics jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead before McCollum got the Blazers on the board. Thomas’s 6th point of the quarter had the Celtics leading 12-4 but back to back 3’s by Portland got the momentum swinging on their side. Portland went on to hit another 3 triples in a row to take a 25-19 lead. Olynyk continued his hot 3 point shooting, scoring 2 of them in quick succession before a steal & another basket by Kelly had him up to 8 points. The Celtics finished the quarter on a 7-2 run to take a 31-30 advantage into the 2nd.

Evan Turner started the quarter with 4 points, a steal, which was already his 4th of the game & a block that led to a Crowder 3 as Boston went up by 8. Portland answered with their own 9-2 run to force a Boston timeout. Vonleh tied the game at 41 apiece after Crowder went 1-3 from the line, continuing Boston’s struggles this game (8-14 at this stage). Boston answered with an 11-0 blitz, going 4-4 from the line during the run. For the 3rd time this quarter, a timeout sparked a run, as Portland, courtesy of Aminu & Plumlee, went on a quick 5-0 run. The Blazers finished the quarter with 6 straight free throw attempts as Boston took a 58-54 lead into the break.

Avery Bradley started the 3rd quarter on fire, scoring 8 of Boston’s first 10 points as the Celtics went on top by 10. Aminu knocked down his 3rd & 4th triples of the night to keep Portland close but another basket by Avery had Boston back up 11. Portland again closed the quarter much better than Boston, finishing the quarter on a 10-2 run as Boston’s lead was cut to 2.

Aminu started the 4th with another pair of 3’s before Henderson also scored 6 straight as Portland started the 4th on fire. The Blazers were able to stop Boston & keep scoring themselves as a 21-6 start to the 4th had them leading 89-102 with just over 7 minutes left. 4 quick points by Boston had the lead back into single digits as Portland took a timeout. The Celtics continued the run & an offensive rebound off a missed free throw led to an Isaiah 3 that had Boston within 2. McCollum put Portland up 5 but another 2 free throws by Isaiah & Boston went to Hack-a-Plumlee who split the free throws. The Celtics then got 2nd chance points on back to back trips to take a 1 point lead after a Jae Crowder 3. CJ scored to put Portland back on top before an Isaiah turnover led to another 2 for Aminu. Portland held on in a thriller, beating Boston 109-116.

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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
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The Celtics extended their home winning streak to 14….

 

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The Celtics battle with Jazz in thriller at Garden

The Celtics would be looking for revenge against the Utah Jazz who had beaten Boston by 18 on the 20th of February before they made it even worse for the Celtics by losing to the Brooklyn Nets (Celtics own their first round pick) on Sunday.

The game started back & forth before the Jazz, through Hayward, Lyles & Mack, put Utah up 9 late in the first quarter. Isaiah Thomas scored 6 straight Boston points (8 in the quarter) to close the gap to 6 heading into the 2nd.

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The Jazz were pounding the Celtics on the glass, offensively & defensively, as an offensive explosion by Trey Lyles extended the Jazz lead up to a game high 13 points. To help with the rebounding & defensive struggles for Boston, Brad Stevens put rookie Jordan Mickey into the game, much to the delight of the Celtics fans. Mickey immediately had an impact, grabbing an offensive rebound that led to free throws, a dunk & 2 blocks that helped spark Boston on an 11-0 run, keeping Utah scoreless for 6 minutes. Hayward, Lyles & Hood all scored over the final 2 minutes for the Jazz but Boston stayed tough & only trailed by 3 heading into the half.

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Isaiah Thomas came out of the break on fire, scoring 6 straight for the Celtics. A lot more fouls were being called in the 3rd than at all in the first half as a pair of Hood free throws & a Neto jump shot put Utah back up by 6. Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder & Tyler Zeller scored all of Boston’s points over the final 4 minutes to keep the Celtics within touch going into the 4th, down by 1.

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Shelvin Mack started the quarter with a 3 for the Jazz but Boston scored 9 straight points to take a 5 point lead, their first since the 1st minute of the game. The Utah Jazz answered with a 9-2 run to take back the lead but Sullinger scored on back to back possessions to keep the game tied. Shelvin Mack, a guy who Brad Stevens coached at Butler, scored 7 straight Jazz points, the last being a 3 pointer to take a 2 point lead with only 49 seconds left. Crowder answered the call once again with a 3 of his own to give Boston back the lead before Avery Bradley blocked Hayward’s post up shot & was heading to the line for 2 free throws. Avery split the 2 free throws, missing the 2nd but Amir Johnson grabbed the offensive rebound & got the ball back to Avery who this time knocked down both. The Celtics held on to win 95-100 & keep the 11-0 home streak alive.

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Key statistics:

Jae Crowder – 22 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
Isaiah Thomas – 18 points, 2 rebounds, 9 assists
Avery Bradley – 18 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal
Evan Turner – 8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block & a + 8 (The Celtics are 21-1 when Evan is a +3 or better in +/-) gettyimages-513157496_master

 

Celtics, Clippers play thriller at Garden as All-Star point guards go head to head.

The Celtics were coming in hot, winning 9 of their last 11 but a one point loss to the Bucks the night before left a bitter taste. A chance for redemption, at home, against Doc, Pierce & the Los Angeles Clippers was todays challenge. A team who were also hot, winning 7 of their last 8.

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The first quarter didn’t start as planned when Pierce & Reddick knocked down back to back 3’s to give the Clippers a 10-4 advantage. The Celtics would fight back through Sullinger, Thomas & Crowder (who had all of Boston’s points apart from 3) to tie things at 19. Not much defence was being played & the Celtics had already started to Hack-a-Jordan, who made both of the free throws as Los Angeles would take a 37-33 lead into the 2nd.

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The Clippers scored 4 points to start the quarter but Boston was hanging tough, attacking the rim & getting to the free throw line before a Marcus Smart 3 pointer gave the Celtics their first lead of the night. Bradley & Smart both hit 2 3’s, with a pair of Jae Crowder free throws in-between to extend the lead to 60-54. The Celtics once again ended the quarter with Hack-a-Jordan, who proceeded to make both free throws again but Boston took a 71-64 advantage at the half.

IT

The Celtics started the 3rd on a 10-4 run to go up 13 before the Clippers would make their own run by getting to the line, as 6 straight Clipper free throws had cut the Boston lead to 81-85. Over the final 3:40 of the quarter, Crowder & Thomas were the only Celtics to score, putting in 13 points to extend the lead back to 10 before a Chris Paul 3 beat the buzzer as the Celtics took a 91-98 lead into the 4th.

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Olynyk was announced out for the remainder of the game with a shoulder injury as Zeller took the floor to star the 4th. Tyler quickly knocked down a shot but a 9-2 Clippers run had the game at 100 apiece. Paul & Jerebko would exchange 3’s before Lance Stephenson also hit a 3, but a stare down of the Celtics bench got Lance a technical foul as the resulting free throw, made by Avery Bradley, gave Boston the one point lead. Crawford, Reddick & Stephenson all scored in the midst of an 8-2 Clippers run as Los Angeles took the 114-109 lead. The Celtics went back to Hack-a-Jordan, who went 3-4 over the next minute to put the Clippers up 5 with only 1:16 left in regulation. Thomas would score the basket out of the timeout & get a foul but he missed the free throw that Marcus Smart would fight & get the rebound for. The Clippers were called for another foul but Marcus could only manage to make 1 of the 2 foul shots & would immediately pick up his 6th & final foul after the missed free throw. Los Angeles were up 2 with Jordan heading to the line with under 24 seconds left, DeAndre failed to make either of the 2 free throws & Isaiah Thomas would tie things up before Chris Paul missed the game winning shot as time expired.

Overtime started with Avery Bradley fouling Reddick on back to back 3 point shots, one a 4 point play, the other Reddick went 2/3 from the line. Bradley quickly made up for the mistake, knocking down a 3 to bring Boston within 2. Crawford, Jordan & Paul all went 1 of 2 from the line in their next 3 possessions as a Sullinger 3 pointer got Boston back down only 1. 7 straight points for Evan Turner put Boston up 3, the Clippers had 2 chances to tie the game but failed on both as Jerebko hit the final 2 free throws to lead the Celtics to a 139-134 win over the Clippers heading into the All-Star weekend, where Isaiah Thomas will be in the Skills Challenge & the All-Star game.

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The Celtics head into ASW with a 32-23 record which has them sitting 3rd in the Eastern Conference.

Statistics:
Isaiah Thomas – 36 points & 11 assists (11-12 on free throws) Jared Sullinger – 21 points & 11 rebounds Jae Crowder – 19 points & 8 rebounds Evan Turner – 14 points, 6 rebounds & 6 assists Avery Bradley – 18 points Marcus Smart – 17 points
If that was Paul Pierce’s final game in Boston he finished with 6 points, 3 rebounds & an assist, shooting 50% from 3.

LeBron, Cavs take down ice cold Boston

After a tough back to back against the Warriors & Hornets where the Celtics went 1-1, they had a few days off before facing LeBron & the Cavs at home.

After how last year’s game 4 ended, in chippy fashion, many expected this game to be very similar. The referees were letting the game play for the most part as Boston jumped out to an 11-6 lead after a Johnson dunk. 7 straight Cleveland points scored by Kevin Love had the game tied back up at 13. The Cavs got out to a 3 point lead before Avery tied it up with a 3 that sparked a little Celtics run to take a 25-23 lead at the end of 1.

The 2nd quarter started with a foul, defensive 3 seconds & a jump ball all in 15 seconds. Some great hustle plays by James Young, most noticeably his rebound over Tristian Thompson & pass to Lee that gave Boston a 3 point lead. LeBron went into attack mode scoring back to back baskets before a little spark by the Celtics, capped off by a Jae Crowder 3 had Boston’s lead at 39-34. The end of the half got chippy as LeBron & Thomas got to the line on back to back trips. Isaiah scored his 10th point in the final second to put Boston up 6 at halftime.

The Celtics started the 2nd half shooting 2-14 as Cleveland went on a 12-0 run to take a 7 point lead. Evan Turner stopped the bleeding for the short time but the Celtics only had 6 points in the quarter as Cleveland had opened up a 62-52 lead but 5 quick points by Avery Bradley cut the deficit in half. Cleveland immediately answered the run as Boston trailed 61-69 at the end of 3.

Olynyk started the 4th with 5 points for Boston but the Celtics couldn’t get stops as Shumpert hit two 3’s & LeBron’s finger roll put them up 13 & forced Boston into a timeout.  A 6-0 Boston run was quickly stomped by Love who scored 5 straight to put Cleveland back up 12. The rest of the quarter was a formality as Cleveland took down the Celtics with an 89-77 win.

Cleveland outscored Boston in the paint 44-24. The Celtics shot 32% from the field, 28% from 3. Avery was Boston’s best scorer finishing with 17.

5 takeaways from the Warriors loss

So, we very nearly got the win, and lost it in double overtime. Is there a medal for moral victories, for being able to hang with the Warriors for this long?

Having missed most of the game live, I went back and caught the full game on replay (gotta love League Pass). Here’s the box score for reference.

Have to say, the team has taken a serious step forward in growth this season. We’re not fully there yet; defensive rotations stutter at times, ATO plays look wonky, and there’s the occasional hero ball (hello there 7-for-22!), especially when the ball stops moving. BUT, we’re making huge strides as far as defense is concerned, and like all of us know by now, it’s got to be a 48 minute operation with all hands on deck. A few lapses could have us earning another loss easily.

First off, top props to Bradley for the first quarter onslaught, and to guys like Crowder, KO, Lee, Turner, Sully and Lee for doing their part. Young too, but more on that later.

1. We got slaughtered on the glass

Box out, people. If we can’t defend our own rebounds, we don’t deserve to win.

The Warriors out-rebounded us this game, 67-51. The differential in defensive rebounding was +10 to Golden State, and they got 17 offensive rebounds.

SEVENTEEN.

I like the number 17 when it refers to the number of championship banners, not the amount of offensive boards we surrendered in a game.

Sidetracking a little, I’m thinking of coach Steven’s spoken preference towards small ball. That in turn calls for a lot of aggressive gang rebounding, something Golden State has been able to accomplish even with their small ball lineup of death.

We have to get this rebounding thing right, before our small ball becomes a real weapon.

2. Transition defense did not exist

21 fast break points for the Warriors, plenty of ill-defended (or even undefended) layups were made.

We can’t afford to give points away like that.

3. The Warriors are a scary outfit

Captain Obvious here, but the point was just highlighted once more this game.

Brandon Rush looked comfortable out there as a starter, and Livingston/Barbosa were playing their roles to perfection. Despite missing two key players in Thompson and Barnes, the Warriors still looked pretty good. Good enough to close the game out anyway.

And of course: Draymond Green who clinched a 5×5 (24 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists, 5 steals, 5 blocks) while chucking 3-pointers, defending guards and forwards with equal ease.

I guess it’s different if Green was the missing player, but seriously, solid contribution from the reserves.

4. Still loving the good times with Mike and Tommy

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I’m not sure how many more seasons we got, but from the bottom of my heart, thanks to you two fine gentlemen for all these years of commentating, it’s been a lot of fun listening to you.

Hey, what can I say? I’m a C’s fan, and I love listening to Celtics homer talk, raging on lousy whistles and the like.

5. Bradley is still getting killed by whistles while playing elite defense

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Yep. That’s a foul, come on. I feel like AB’s earned a reputation over the years for getting quick whistles on his aggressive defense, which in turn has made him less effective.

Nothing we can do about it, but it just frustrates me when he gets quick whistles and loses playing time.


P.S. James Young actually looked better than I thought he would be

He gave good effort on defense and on moving the ball the right way during offense this game.

The numbers look decent too. 5 points on 2/3 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and only 1 turnover in nearly 20 minutes of play? It’s not All-Star, but I’ll take it.

Keep it up Young!

To wrap things up, here’s a moment I thought was pretty fun: IT snatching a rebound away from Bogut, and dishing it out to AB for a quick three.

Onwards to the next game.