Tag: Brad Stevens

Tensions Flare In Boston, As the Celtics Loss Again

The roller coaster of a season for the Boston Celtics goes on as tensions continue to raise amongst players, and in last night’s 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic a brief disagreement was caught between head coach Brad Stevens and superstar point guard Kyrie Irving.

First it was Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown’s brief scuffle during a timeout in Thursday’s loss to the Miami Heat, and last night an argument was witnessed between Stevens and Irving over a drawn up play for the last shot of the game. At the end, Gordon Hayward inbounded the ball to Jayson Tatum, who then attempted a fade away over Magic guard, Wesley Iwundu, with 2.7 seconds remaining in regulation. After the game, Irving seemed frustrated over Hayward’s decision to give the ball to Tatum for the last shot, Irving can be seen telling Hayward, “You had Al,” who was open at the top of the key.

Irving Critical of Young Teammates over Lack of Experience

After the game Irving and Al Horford both questioned their young teammate’s inconsistent play, “We play hard at times. We don’t play hard all the time,” Horford said.

We’ve reached the mid-way point of the season and the Celtics continue to show inconsistency on both sides of the floor. Boston seemed to have figured it out after their team meeting occurred after their loss to Milwaukee on December 21. The Celtics won 7 of their last 9 games after the meeting took place, but their losses to non-playoff teams in the Heat and Magic over the week have the players thinking if the problem has resurfaced.

Irving was critical of his young teammates and how they’ve played this season, “The young guys don’t know what it takes to be a championship-level team. And if they think it is hard now, what do they think it will be like when we’re trying to get to the finals?” said Irving.

Time heals all Wounds

Even throughout these low points in the season Irving still believes in this team’s potential, “I know from the majority of the fact that we’re better than most teams in this league,” said Irving. “It’s just going out and proving it every single night and demanding it and actually showing it.”

Irving emphasized how experience has been a major issue to why this club hasn’t lived up to their potential. This is the most stacked team in the NBA and Brad Stevens has to find a way to mesh the egos of nine legit starting players into accepting new roles, which includes less playing time, low productivity and bench roles. Guys like Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum who were playing at an All-Star level last season have seen their productivity decline since Irving and Hayward returned this season.

Time will tell if the Celtics can bounce out of their inconsistency and FINALLY make a run at the number one seed. Home court advantage is going to play a major role in the playoffs with teams like Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia and Indiana gunning for a spot to represent the East in the Finals since LeBron James departure to the West. We’ll see if Boston can get it together before it’s too late.

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Celtics Win Wire-to-Wire Game Against Minnesota, Hayward Drops 35

It seems that Gordon Hayward loves to play against the Minnesota Timberwolves, in their December meeting Hayward scored a game high 30 points and in yesterday’s match-up he dropped a season high 35 points. Hayward torched the Timberwolves defense all game scoring as he shot 14-of-18 from the field to go along with five assists to lead Boston to a 115-102 victory at home.

“He’s going to make a lot of shots, because he’s got a lot due,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He was disappointed in how he shot the ball, obviously, in San Antonio and got back in the gym this morning.”

Hayward is still working his way back from the gruesome leg injury suffered on opening night of the 2017-18 season that sidelined him all of last season. “When you see the ball go through the hoop, and it give you a little bit of confidence. Getting stuff in transition, some easy ones, kinda get yourself going, that stuff always feels good,” said Hayward after the game.

Terry Rozier stepped up in Irving’s absence

From the start of the game you can see Terry Rozier had that bounce in his step, as he started for the injured Kyrie Irving. In the first quarter Rozier was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field with some impressive shot making and fancy lay-ups to the basket. He would finish the game with 16-points and five assist on 32 minutes of action.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors

There’s no denying that Rozier is a true starting point guard in the league, his numbers as a starter differ from those when he comes off the bench. Rozier’s numbers are noticeably higher as a starter than as a reserve, in 22 minutes off the bench this season he’s averaging 8.1 points per game (PPG), 2.5 assists per game (APG), 3.8 rebounds per game (RPB) all while shooting 36.8 percent from the field and 34.8 percent from three-point range.

In his three games as a starter this season Rozier is averaging 16 PPG, 4.7 APG, 5.3 RPB, is shooting 56.7 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from behind the arc. Rozier’s confidence as a start results in a greater impact on the floor for Boston, before Wednesday’s game his mentality was simply to “go out there and kill.”

Third Quarter Problems Continue For the Celtics

For the second straight game the third quarter was a problem for Boston, in their prior game against San Antonio they gave up 46-points in the third. Against the Timberwolves last night the same issue came into play, the Celtics were up by 18 at the half and in the third quarter Minnesota punished Boston in the paint scoring 39 points in the quarter.

Center, Karl-Anthony Towns stuffed the stat sheet in the second half, with only four points at the half Towns finished with 28-points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. A lot of it had to do with the absence of Aron Baynes for Boston and their undersized big men in Al Horford, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele.

The Celtics continue their home stretch as Luka Doncic and the Mavericks visit TD Garden on Friday, a game Boston would very much like to win after losing their first meeting in November.

C’s Ring in the New Year Losing to San Antonio

The third and final game of Boston’s west coast road trip resulted in a 120-111, loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Boston dropped the ball in the third quarter allowing the Spurs to score 46 points in the quarter, matching their total points of the first half. The Spurs shot 19-of-25 from the field and connected on all five of their three-point attempts.

The collapse was due to the Celtics defense, with their offense also having their same old struggles of bad shot selection and ball movement. At the start of the second half you could see how the absence of Boston’s big, Aron Baynes, was exploited by San Antonio’s guards. Derrick White repeatedly broke down the defense by attacking the paint for open layups or finding teammates. LaMarcus Aldridge was the primary beneficiary of White’s aggressiveness, he made 5-of-6 shots in the quarter for 12 points.

Aron Baynes rim protection and his effort to challenge shots without fear is something Boston has missed in their games against Milwaukee, Houston and San Antonio.

Jaylen Brown Scores a Season High 30-points

Jaylen Brown had his best offensive performance of the season on Monday, he finished with 30-points and 4 rebounds off the bench. Brown seems to be getting his grove back after dealing with injuries and role changes. Monday’s game was the best version of Brown the Celtics have seen all season, his aggressive play on both ends of the floor was a welcoming sight for Boston fans.

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Marcus Morris on the other hand continues to play stellar basketball for Boston, he finished with 18-points, and made big shots after Kyrie Irving left the game with an eye injury. All season Morris has been Boston’s most consistent player, in what has been a career-year.

Gordon Hayward could forget about yesterday’s game and continue to move forward. Hayward missed all six of his shots and went 0-of-5 from behind the arc.

Kyrie Irving Goes Down with a Scratched Eye Injury

Kyrie Irving left the game in the fourth quarter after suffering what he called a scratched left cornea injury. Irving suffered the injury after he and Spurs guard Marco Belinelli attempted to secure a rebound of Irving’s missed 28-foot attempt. Belinelli swiped at the ball and hit Irving in the eye.

Celtics coach brad Stevens wasn’t sure whether the injury could force Irving to miss time. “Kyrie has a scratched eye,” Stevens said, “so he’ll have antibiotics for that. I don’t know what that means beyond tonight.”

Irving addressed the media after the game wearing a pair of sunglasses to cover the injury, “I’m wearing sunglasses, so not too good. I’ll be all right, though. He smacked the s— out of me. He just caught me pretty good,” Irving said.

If Irving would happen to miss some time it could be a big opportunity for Terry Rozier to find his game, after being moved back to the bench with Irving’s return. Last year in Irving absence Rozier had a career year, making big shots in the postseason while coming one game away from reaching the NBA Finals alongside Jayson Tatum and Brown. Rozier has struggled offensively coming off the bench, he’s played 22 minutes a game as opposed to the 33 minutes he played last year as a starter. Off the bench he’s averaging 8.6 points per game and 2.6 assists per game.

 

 

 

Boston Shakes off Three Game Skid with Win over Hornets

The return of Al Horford into the lineup was a much needed boost for Boston’s frontcourt after getting blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. Boston picked up a wire to wire victory on Sunday against Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets, 119-103, it was a big victory to get them back on track before their Christmas Day showdown with Philadelphia.

Kyrie Irving led the way for Boston with 25 points, 17 of those points came in the first quarter where he shot 7-9 from the field. Horford picked up 10 points and six rebounds in his return, while Marcus Morris had 12 points and eight rebounds in his first game back.

The Celtics Air out Frustration

After getting run off their home floor on Friday the Celtics closed their locker room doors for 36 minutes following the 13 point loss. They held a player only meeting to clear the air and find solutions to what can be done to improve their poor performances. Irving spoke gave little to no detail on the meeting, “I think everyone can see that we’ve obviously had some inconsistencies regarding our play, so I think it was just time to address it,” said Irving. He pointed out some critical points about the team’s recent play saying a lack of “cohesion” and there being “some selfish plays” among his teammates.

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The point of emphasis for Boston has been their lack of ball movement and too much iso-plays, and coming out the gates on Sunday you can just see a different Boston team. The Celtics dished out 30 assists as a team against Charlotte, compared to their 22 against the Bucks on Friday. The play of the night for Boston had to be the alley-oop play between Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier, a similar play that Irving and Hayward ran last year that resulted in Hayward’s season ending injury.

Boston improves to 19-14 with the win and sit in the fifth spot in the east. The Christmas Day match-up with the 76ers is a huge test for Boston, the 76ers are coming off a huge win against the top seeded Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

Red Hot Boston Celtics Win sixth Straight

With injuries to five players including All-Stars Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford the Boston Celtics managed to overcome Anthony Davis’s 41-point performance and beat the New Orleans Pelicans 113-100. This win marks Boston’s sixth consecutive victory and their doing it while averaging over 120 points per game throughout the streak.

Tatum and Morris Fill the Stat Sheet for Boston

With an injured Kyrie Irving sitting on the sideline Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris made sure to fill in the void left with the absence of Uncle Drew. Irving leads the team in scoring averaging 22 points per game. Tatum scored 21 points in 33 minutes, while Morris led the team with 31 points. Off the bench Jaylen Brown and Semi Ojeleye combined for 30 points to spark the second unit.

Rookie Robert Williams had an impressive game in his 26 minutes of action scoring seven points, grabbed 11 rebounds and three blocks, one of the blocks was against Davis when he swatted away his hook shot in the paint. Head coach Brad Stevens praised the rookie’s performance last night, “When you’re shooting jumpers and Robert’s in the vicinity, you feel him. When you’re shooting around the rim and he’s in the vicinity, you feel him,” Stevens said.

41-points from a Future Boston Player?

It’s been the topic of discussion since the start of the summer and that’s whether or not the Pelicans will finally make Anthony Davis available in trade talk. The Boston Celtics happens to be the riches team in terms of trade assets and the only team that can make New Orleans an interesting offer for the All-NBA player.

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Even before the start of the season New Orleans head coach Alvin Gentry continued to support his claim that Davis is untouchable when it comes to trade talks, “We wouldn’t trade him for anyone. Even Beyonce. I think that makes him untouchable,” Gentry said.

Although all the Celtics can do is hope Davis continues to play for New Orleans until July 2019 and that is because of the “Rose Rule” contract extension both Davis and Irving signed, Irving while under contract with the Cavaliers.

The Rose Rule Restrictions

The “Rose Rule” allows certain players coming off their rookie-scale contracts to earn 30 percent of the salary cap as opposed to 25 percent. To be eligible, a play must have achieved one of three accolades during the first four season of his career, MVP award, Defensive Player of the Year award or two All-NBA selections. When both Irving and Davis inked their extensions in 2015 and 2014, respectively, two All-Star starter nods was in place of DPOY.

NBA teams cannot trade for more than one player who has signed an extension under the “Rose Rule.” The Celtics acquired Irving via trade in August 2017, so they cannot deal for Davis, or any other player in fact that signed that extension. The only way Boston can trade for Davis is if Irving is traded or signs a new contract over the summer, which he can only do on July 1, 2019 the earliest.

Boston Celtics Win Five in a Row; Have they arrived?

Saturday night the Boston Celtics crushed the Chicago Bulls by 56 points, the Bulls fans showed their frustration as the Bulls were booed out of the United Center. With this win the Celtics have won five in a row and are scoring over 120 points throughout the five game stretch. Boston now finds themselves in the fifth spot in the east and six games behind the Toronto Raptors.

With Horford and Baynes Out, Theis Delivers

With injuries to Boston’s two starting big men in Al Horford and Aron Baynes, Brad Stevens had to go deep into his bench and start Daniel Theis while giving Guerschon Yabusele some minutes as well. Theis, the second year player from Germany, showed up for Boston as he scored a career high 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots. NBA: Boston Celtics at Minnesota Timberwolves

This goes to show the type of luxury Stevens has in his roster, Theis is Boston’s third big man behind Horford and Baynes and to get this type of performance from him is huge for the Celtics.

Celtics Had Seven Players in Double Digit Scoring

Throughout the night it was looking like Boston was treating this game like a scrimmage as they continue to work out things themselves. Terry Rozier, Semi Ojeleye and Jaylen Brown combined for 40 points off the bench, Brown led the game in scoring with 23. Marcus Morris had 12, Jayson Tatum scored 18, Theis had a career high 22 and Kyrie Irving chipped in 13 points in 23 minutes.

Marcus Smart did his job on the defensive end as he took the assignment at guarding the Bulls leading scorer Zach LaVine. LaVine entered last night’s game averaging 24 points per game, but Smart completely shut him down. Smart held LaVine to 11 points while denying him the ball most of the game, which was part of the reason Chicago couldn’t get their offense going.

As the Celtics continue rolling we can’t overlook that this winning streak is occurring against non-playoff teams. It’s not until December 21 that the Celtics play a real contender in the Milwaukee Bucks, but for now Boston will continue their easy stretch of games as Stevens continues to fill in holes in his starting lineup.

Has Gordon Hayward Found His Aggressive Play?

During the Celtics four day break from action Kyrie Irving pulled Gordon Hayward aside during practice and reminded him of the player he is, “look for your shot more. Get aggressive and get yourself going because you are a great talent in this league and I don’t want you to ever forget that,” said Irving.

In Saturday night’s road game those words came into fruition as Hayward played his best game in a Boston uniform dropping 30 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out eight assists. 16 of his 30 points came in the fourth quarter. After a win against the red-hot Minnesota Timberwolves the Celtics have managed to win three straight.

Over the last three games Hayward is averaging 22 points per game off the bench. Irving has emphasized how much the Celtics need Hayward to be more aggressive, “Of course, he does a great job of coming off the pick-and-roll and making those passes, but I want him to be aggressive and score the basketball for us as well because we are going to need it down the stretch,” said Irving.

Jaylen Brown Still out While Celtics are Rolling

NBA: Boston Celtics at Dallas Mavericks

Riding a three game winning streak Boston now find themselves in the sixth seed in the east, but what’s going to happen once Jaylen Brown returns from his back injury. Marcus Smart has been starting in place of the injured Brown, Marcus Morris has also been productive in the starting line-up scoring 16 points in the win against the Timberwolves.

With Boston now riding a wave of success we’ll see if they can continue it once Brown returns to the rotation. We also have to see when Brad Stevens will put all his chips in and go back to the original starting five of Irving, Brown, Hayward, Tatum and Horford. There’s still many holes the Celtics have to fill, but let us embrace the performance Hayward put up over the weekend.