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Game 25 Preview: Boston Celtics (10-14) @ Miami Heat (12-15)

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One game into life without Rondo, and the Celtics are pitching a perfect game. Beating the Timberwolves at home isn’t much of a metric, but the Hub is at least calm for now.

Marcus Smart and Jeff Green had impressive fourth quarters Friday night, and the Celtics will need their poise as they take their talents to South Beach to face the Heat. Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, and Jameer Nelson will be making their Celtic debuts; Here’s everything you need to know about them before tip-off.

The Heat are just 4-10 at home, losing 9 of their last 10 contests at American Airlines Arena, while the Celtics are riding a three game win streak. With the absence of born-again Cavalier Lebron James , Miami has seen mixed results, and this evening’s 6pm tilt is the Celtics’ first shot at the new-look Heat this season. Read the rest of this entry »

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With Rondo Gone, Can Marcus Smart Lead the Celtics?

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Let’s face it, there was no way trading Rondo wasn’t going to completely suck. Rondo may have been an infuriating basket case, but he was our infuriating basket case, and there was never a night when he wasn’t at least entertaining. Dallas could have thrown five first-round picks into the deal and there would still be a sizable contingent of fans who would hate it.

I’d have a hard time arguing with them, too. This is the end of an era, the end of hope in some senses. Unless you’re Los Angeles (beaches), Texas (tax benefits), or Florida (both), elite free agents don’t come to your city unless there’s other alluring players there. Rondo was the last piece that could conceivably get another all-star to join him, and with him gone, there’s no obvious move that makes Boston a quality contender again. The long, slow rebuild has officially begun, a year and change after it was really supposed to. Read the rest of this entry »

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Game 24 Grades: Celtics 114, T’Wolves 98

Minnesota Timberwolves 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
114 Boston Celtics
Jared Sullinger, PF 29 MIN | 7-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +18

A solid, if unremarkable, performance by Sully. Nice to see him get his shooting groove back in line.

Jeff Green, SF 36 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +15

I’m really digging quietly efficient Jeff Green. Took over in the 4th with 10 points and a lot of smart decisions. He’ll need to keep doing that (and probably start earlier in the game) if this team wants to keep winning.

Tyler Zeller, C 24 MIN | 7-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +9

Glad Zeller was still getting his usual easy baskets rolling to the hoop. Will be interesting to see how much Brandan Wright affects his playing time going forward.

Avery Bradley, PG 32 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +16

Kind of a blah game early for Bradley, as he was one of the culprits forcing the action too much early. But he recovered to make a few nice plays late, and the box score stuffing deserves a bump.

Evan Turner, SG 27 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +2

Just didn’t really feel like he made his usual mark. A couple of nice iso plays, but he didn’t play in the 4th when the team made it’s big push.

Brandon Bass, PF 17 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -1

Yup.

Gerald Wallace, SF 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1

A slight bump up because this might actually be the last time he gets to play this year, and I feel bad.

Kelly Olynyk, C 25 MIN | 8-13 FG | 3-6 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +6

Oh look, amazing things happen when Kelly doesn’t overthink and just plays aggressively. Who would’ve thought?! Also, I love the slight sense of chippiness he’s showing lately. Maybe you slightly ding him for the free throws and tacky fouls, but I don’t. That game was awesome.

Phil Pressey, PG 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +1

A nice three down the stretch, and some good pushes in transition. Hopefully Nelson doesn’t take all of his minutes.

Marcus Smart, PG 27 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +15

Calling his play early “erratic” would have been kind. Then the 4th quarter happened, and he just ruined any last shred of hope the T’Wolves had of keeping it a real game. Not a bad debut as the new face of the future.

Brad Stevens

Mostly because I wanted to honor this. Go get ‘em, Brad.

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A New Era Begins: Boston Celtics 114, Minnesota T’Wolves 98

No one would have blamed the Celtics for taking a mental health day after trading away their captain and only all-star level player. Fortunately, they were playing the Timberwolves, a team with a worse record, worse defense, and worse lineup issues. Still, a win is a win is a win, and I’m certainly not going to complain.

The absence of Rondo was very apparent early, or at least the absence of a commanding voice on the floor. It looked like the team was trying to run the same plays they normally would, but no one was 100% sure how to do them correctly. There would be the usual Zeller cuts and the Bradley screen for a jumper at the top of the key, but the execution was slow and uncomfortable, save for Olynyk becoming a hybrid of Dirk Nowitzki and George Gervin. It’s not surprising, but worth looking at to see how much the offense and defense changes now.

The fourth quarter was, in a surprising twist for the year, the best by far. Smart overcame a slow start to knock down a couple of threes worthy of the Sam Cassell “Big Balls Dance”. In fact, there were a lot of players tonight whose play in the 4th would be deemed worthy of it. Let’s just make it the official theme for tonight.

Other than that, a fairly benign game tonight. Wiggins was a nonfactor, and other than some weird herky-jerky stuff from Shabazz Muhammad, the Timberwolves didn’t really do anything particularly amazing. But the C’s had some flashes of brilliance once they settled down, and I’m personally thrilled the team can still function on offense without the only player who could consistently dribble a basketball.

I’ll be by with grades later. Also, don’t look now, but Boston is currently in the playoffs. Enjoy that for a moment while it lasts.

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Game 24 Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (5-19) @ Boston Celtics (9-14)

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Boston will not be debuting its trio of new players tonight, but Celtics fans will get their first look at 1st overall pick Andrew Wiggins. The Kansas product is averaging 12.6 points in 30 minutes a game, one of the few bright spots for the Timberwolves this season.

Morale may be down because of the Rondo trade, and I bet the Garden crowd will at times be confused and numb, sort of like a recently-divorced convention or the Federation of Kids Who Just Found Out Santa Isn’t Real. A win should certainly soothe the pain, while a loss will only salt the wound.

The fall-out from trading Kevin Love this summer has not been pretty for Minnesota, especially after losing Ricky Rubio five games into the season to a left ankle sprain. Friday afternoon the Timberwolves roster was further depleted, as Minnesota shipped one man fast-break Corey Brewer and Ronny Turiaf to Houston.

The T-Wolves have lost 9 of their last 10 games and haven’t won in Boston in nearly a decade. Emotionally hangovers aside, the Celtics should be able to grab their third straight win tonight. Read the rest of this entry »

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Better Know A Celtic: Who are Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, & Jameer Nelson?

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The dust hasn’t quite settled from the Rondo trade, and everyone in Boston is desperately looking for answers. Did they win the trade? Will they use a five PF line up? Just how valuable are the picks? Fortunately, Celticshub has you covered.

In the meantime, Boston has three new Celtics to welcome into the family. This isn’t hockey or football, where masked behemoths are anonymously plugged in and out of a team’s line-up every play. This is basketball. NBA basketball. Personality and attitude have as much to do with success in the NBA as metrics and system.

Its possible, maybe even likely, that Ainge isn’t done making moves, but for the time being, Brandon Wright, Jae Crowder, and Jameer Nelson will be wearing Celtic green. And here they are: Read the rest of this entry »

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Rajon Rondo Trade To Dallas: The Case For, The Case Against

I haven’t fully accepted the Rajon Rondo trade emotionally this evening, so I’m holding off for a day or two before doing my final farewell to the final remaining star of the Big Four era. Instead, let’s take a pragmatic look at Boston’s acquisitions in as fair and balanced terms as we possibly can.

THE CASE FOR:

First, Rondo. We all know what Boston’s complicated situation was with its talented point guard, but let’s rehash in case any Dallas fans are poking through to see what they acquired (welcome, friends, please treat Rondo well, we love him). Rondo is supremely talented, and he had a genuinely massive impact on Boston’s offense. The Celtics will miss his production, but they will also miss the production he essentially created for other players — Tyler Zeller’s agent has to be the most disappointed person on the planet tonight.

All of that being said, Rondo will turn 29 this season, and this is his ninth season in the league. Even if the Celtics were able to get a top draft pick in 2015, by the time that player would be ready to contribute to a winning team, Rondo would likely be 32 or 33. Is that eventuality worth $100 million per year? Probably not to the Celtics. Waiting until the trade deadline was an option, but these were the deals Boston would get. They weren’t going to improve. Rondo’s trade value is uniquely low for a player of his caliber — never before have I seen a player I’d rate at about 88 on 2K receive only a low-70 players’ interest on the market. Such is his value. Such was Danny Ainge’s dilemma.

Thus, the Mavericks deal. Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Ray Felton, picks and a TPE. Briefly, here’s the case for each. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rajon Rondo Traded To Dallas Mavericks for 3 Players, Picks

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(Photo Courtesy of @BostonCelticsForever)

First reported by Marc Stein of ESPN, The Celtics have agreed in principal  on a deal that will send All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo to team up with Dirk Nowitzki and co. in Dallas.

In exchange for Rondo, the Celtics will reportedly receive PF Brandan Wright, SF Jae Crowder, and veteran point guard Jameer Nelson. The Celtics will also receive a future first round and second round pick.

For the Celtics, Wright and Crowder are both young and athletic, and more picks will give GM Danny Ainge even more options moving forward. Celtics nation will no doubt be mourning the loss of their beloved Rondo, the last holdover from the Celtics’ championship era.

Adding Rondo makes Dallas an incredibly deep and well-rounded team while his departure from Boston brings more questions than answers about the rebuild. It is also reported that Rondo would strongly consider signing an extension in Dallas.

Sean Grande was quick to point out that in the last three years, the Celtics went 32-58 (.356) with Rondo on the court and 43-53 (.448) without Rondo. There will be plenty of stats, speculation, and reaction to come. Stay tuned.

Please follow me on twitter @Ctabatabaie.

 

 

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Game 23 Grades: Celtics 109, Magic 92

Orlando Magic 92 FinalRecap | Box Score 109 Boston Celtics
Jared Sullinger, PF 24 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | +3After averaging just 3.8 points in his last four games, it was good to see Sully get off the schneid. Sully was aggressive off the bat, starting 4-5 for 9 points and even flashing a bit of a snarl when hitting the boards (but oddly, he didn’t actually grab that many rebounds).

Jeff Green, SF 31 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +3Green was invisible for much of the first half, but he made his presence felt with two huge threes near the end of the second quarter. He warmed up a bit in the second half, but, for the most part, this was a productive if fairly inconspicuous performance.

Tyler Zeller, C 20 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -2Like Sullinger, Zeller started hot, as he once again proved himself to be the best pick-and-roll big on the squad. Defensively, he got into a bit of foul trouble again and wasn’t exactly hindering Nikola Vucevic from putting up his usual numbers (18 points, 13 boards).

Rajon Rondo, PG 33 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 15 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 13 PTS | +14It was one of those mad scientist games for Rondo, where it looks like he’s playing his own private game within the game. He was sloppy with the ball (six turnovers), but his teammates seem to thrive off his aggression. He was aggressive with his shot, too, which is great to see when: A) he’s shooting well (6-12); and B) the Celtics seem to have the game under control.

Avery Bradley, PG 33 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +23AB harassed the Magic guards, but besides a nice contested finish off a Rondo outlet, his game was forgettable.

Brandon Bass, PF 22 MIN | 6-10 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +12Bass’ stellar play continues. The big(ish) man had 14 points in the fourth, which as we all know is not the Celtics’ usual time to shine. With all the trade rumors swirling, I’m surprised we’re not hearing more about Bass. There’s a ton of contenders that could use him.

Gerald Wallace, SF 9 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +6You’re damn right I’m giving high marks to “the War Dog” (copyright Tommy Heinsohn). Wallace has adopted to his role as a non-shooter, sh*t-stirrer (he got into a nice little tussle with Kyle O’Quinn). In short minutes he had three hustle plays: a save, a break-starting steal and maybe the most gift-wrapped block I’ver ever seen. Evan Fournier set Wallace up like they were playing beach volleyball.

Kelly Olynyk, C 30 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-3 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +21The hot streak continues, as Olynyk was 6-8 from the field. And Neon Jesus was RISING in this one. He had two blocks and another rejection of a Tobias Harris dunk attempt that was horribly called a foul. And Olynyk had three monster slams in this game! Sure, only one of them counted, but they all looked cool. I guess KO gets some extra pep in his step when his dad is in the stands.

Phil Pressey, PG 19 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +3When your starting point guard starts to slow the pace, what do you do? Throw in “the Exhilarator” (copyright Tommy Heinsohn). It was a good shooting night for Pressey (4-8, with a nifty layup), and he had just one turnover to four assists. You can’t ask for a better backup to your backup point guard. (I think that’s a compliment.)

Evan Turner, SG 18 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +2Turner racked up another nice game. It’s happening so consistently now that it’s almost boring, which is conversely very exciting.

Dwight Powell, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | Who’s the last Celtics bench player to look this apathetic? Olowokandi? Hand out some dap, Dwight! Know your role!

Marcus Smart, PG DNP LEFT ACHILLES TENDON STRAIN MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | Way to step up the suit game! Smart crushed Young in the rookie sartorial rankings in this one.

Brad Stevens
He’s still tinkering with rotations and riding the hot hands. For the second straight game, it was the bench unit that won this game for the Cs. It’ll be interesting to see what new alterations Stevens makes in the future.

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Rajon Rondo Trade Rumors: Wojnarowski Says Dallas, Houston “Serious” Suitors

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This clearly isn’t going to die down tonight, so let’s get back to it.

Well then. Here’s what I wrote about those teams literally hours ago.

“But seriously, which Western Conference team has A) the assets to acquire Rondo and B) the interest in doing so? The upper echelon (Memphis, Golden State, San Antonio, LAC, OKC and Houston) doesn’t need him. The mid-levelers (Portland, Dallas, New Orleans) don’t need him.”

On second look, I shouldn’t have tried to lump them all together so conveniently. Read the rest of this entry »

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