Celtics

Bradley steps up as Celtics handily beat Wizards in Game 5, 123-101

Bradley steps up as Celtics handily beat Wizards in Game 5, 123-101

BOSTON – Home cooking continues to be a recipe for success in this Boston-Washington playoff series, with the Celtics putting together their best all-around performance in handily defeating the Wizards, 123-101.

Boston now leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 with a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a Game 6 win.

But you have to believe there will be a Game 7 back in Boston considering the home team has won each of the first five games by double figures.

And it was the Celtic who has been with the franchise the longest time, Avery Bradley, leading the way.

In addition to playing strong defense most of the night against John Wall, Bradley had a playoff career-high 29 points which is also the most points the veteran guard has scored at the TD Garden.

Bradley’s big-time scoring night was huge, as it took a tremendous amount of pressure off Boston’s leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas.

For most of the game, Thomas seemed more concerned with finding teammates for scores rather than getting his own scoring on track. He finished with a near double-double of 18 points and nine assists.

As well as the Celtics played, there was a sense that at any moment the Wizards would get going and climb their way back into the game.

Washington has been a team of runs throughout this series, so you kind of figured at some point they would put a surge of significance together.

Not tonight.

Give the Celtics credit.

Every time the Wizards would string a couple of baskets together, one of two things happened: Brad Stevens would call a time-out to settle his group down, or they would take things into their own hands and find a way to get back on track with big stops defensive on the perimeter and at the rim, not to mention timely shots from players besides Isaiah Thomas.

Indeed, Thomas got a huge helping hand from his teammates who unlike Games 3 and 4 – both Boston losses – were far more aggressive at attacking the Wizards’ defense.

No one embodied this new mindset more than Bradley who had a playoff career-high 25 points by halftime.

He continued to be a problem for the Wizards at both ends of the floor, but he wasn’t alone.

Jae Crowder had a nice first half with 14 points, but was even more valuable helping out on the boards. Crowder was trending towards a double-double before finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Teammate Al Horford was giving the Wizards the business in several categories, finishing with 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He became only the third Celtics player (Paul Pierce and Larry Bird were the others) to tally at least six rebounds, seven or more assists and three or more blocked shots in a playoff game.

Meanwhile, Wall and Bradley Beal led the way for the Wizards with 21 and 16 points, respectively.

The Celtics got off to their best start in this series with a 13-4 run to open the game. Boston would lead by as many as 15 points in the first before settling on a 33-21 lead.

Boston’s control continued throughout the second quarter as they continued to push ahead with their lead peaking at 48-26 after Jae Crowder banked in a 3-pointer.

At the half, Boston had a comfortable 67-51 lead.

Now, it gets real for revamped Celtics

Now, it gets real for revamped Celtics

CLEVELAND – For the Celtics, the preseason went about as well as expected.
 
No serious, long-term injuries.

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They won every preseason game, even one in which the team’s second unit played the role of starters.
 
And the chemistry concerns with so many new players, while very real, didn’t seem to be that big an issue.
 
Still, as good as the Celtics may feel about where they stand, they know it means absolutely nothing unless they get it done against elite, NBA-caliber competition.
 
The Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
Opening night.
 
It doesn’t get much more challenging than that.
 
And for the Celtics, win or lose, this is going to be a game for them to build upon going forward this season.
 
“I’m just ready to get going,” said Gordon Hayward. “A lot of things have happened this summer, a lot of buildup. I’m ready to get to the game. It’s going to be a fun matchup, for sure.”
 
Among the summer happenings was Boston and Cleveland pulling off one of the biggest blockbuster deals of the offseason with the Cavs trading Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic while also conveying Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick and Miami’s 2020 second-round pick to complete the deal.
 
Having spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers, there’s a certain amount of corporate knowledge that the 25-year-old Irving brings to tonight’s matchup.
 
“I know a lot about them, they know a lot about me,” Irving said. “There’s plenty of film on all of us, but specifically going back and understanding the way we played last year when I played with them and now how they’re playing with the new guys, understanding how to implement themselves into their new system plus me implementing myself into this system...There’s definitely some benefits on our end, there are some benefits on their end. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
 
Part of the challenge for the Celtics will be developing the kind of on-court cohesion to be successful, which is easier said than done when you’re talking about getting nearly a dozen players on the same page in just a few weeks.
 
“We have good chemistry as a group,” said Al Horford. “We still have a ways to go as far as keep getting comfortable with each other and keep figuring out our spots. But we feel good with what we have. Our young guys, it’s been remarkable how quickly they’ve been able to come along and be up to date with everything. And our new guys as well. They’re up to date, they know what we need to do. They understand the game plan. It’s been good.”
 
Players aren’t the only ones eager to get to tonight’s game.
 
“To have to go into Cleveland with that level of intensity, with that level of attention, distraction, etc. is great,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It’s great to experience that in game one, a tremendous learning experience for our group, so we’re preparing to play as well as we can. And we know that they’re really, really good. But this is..I’m looking forward to it because I want to find out where we are.”
 

'People took it the wrong way,' Isaiah says of his Ainge comments

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'People took it the wrong way,' Isaiah says of his Ainge comments

Isaiah Thomas told Sports Illustrated last week that he "might never talk to Danny [Ainge] again." And he sounded pretty bitter about his trade from the Celtics to the Cavs.

Now, on the "Road Trippin" podcast with new teammate Channing Frye and ex-Cav Richard Jefferson, Thomas, who is out until at least January with a hip injury, said those comments were misunderstood.

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“People took it the wrong way,” Thomas said. “I understand the business, I understand that we’re in position to get traded and sent to other teams and things like that. It’s just how it went down that I didn’t respect. As a man, I feel like if you respected me as much as you say you did, you would have at least informed me about what was going on before it happened. And that’s all I was talking about.

“I’m not tripping off the trade like I got traded to the Cavs and we’re going to win a championship. And at the end of the day, I’m going to be fine with that,” Thomas said. “[Ainge] sent me to an even better situation with a bigger platform. I’m blessed to be in the position, I’m grateful and I’m excited.”

The Cavs host the Celtics tonight in the season opener. 

Jae Crowder, who came to Cleveland from Boston, was also on the podcast and when Frye talked with him about players deserving communication from the front office, Thomas could be heard in the background, saying, “That’s what I’m talking about.”

“I already said what I’m doing," Thomas told Crowder about what he'll do should he run into Ainge. "I’m going to keep it pushing like he kept pushing when he traded me, I’m not going to disrespect him. He’s a man and I’m a man, too. Like, I’m going to go my way. I play for the Cavaliers and that’s what it is.”