Celtics

Bass needs to return to double-digit scoring form

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Bass needs to return to double-digit scoring form

ATLANTA This is what happens when you have a season like the one Brandon Bass has had for the Boston Celtics.

This town is big on tradition, obviously.

So if you go a full season notching double-figure scoring night after double-figure scoring night the way Bass did, guess what?

You're expected to continue doing that and then some when the playoffs arrive.

Bass has appeared in 59 regular season games, tallying double-figure points 44 times.

Only Paul Pierce (56) and Kevin Garnett (54) have more games with 10 or more points scored than Bass.

Right now, Bass has failed to reach double figures scoring in four straight games the longest single-digit scoring stretch he's had as a Celtic.

Worried? Concerned? Frustrated?

None of the above, says Bass.

"It's not frustrating," Bass told CSNNE.com. "It's time for me to make my adjustments. It's just a game. I just have to make mine, and we'll go from there."

Bass said the Hawks have done a lot of switching on pick-and-rolls which has cut down on the number of open looks he's used to getting.

Head coach Doc Rivers believes Bass' recent struggles are two-fold.

"His mind is alive, which is never good," Rivers told CSNNE.com. "He's just gotta play. We showed him (video) . . . he's open. He's pump-faking; just shoot it."

Bass scored eight points in each of the first two playoff games, which extended his streak of single-digit scoring games to four in a row.

He'll be the first to tell you that he has to bring more to the game, even if it's not necessarily as a scorer.

"I just have to find a way to get more involved in the game earlier," Bass said. "Blocking shots or something, rebounding, get everybody else involved if they're going to try and take me out of scoring."

Rivers also believes that Bass' struggles at times have to do with not having Rajon Rondo on the floor.

"Not having Rondo does a lot of things," Rivers said. "The single guy it affects the most is Brandon, by far. Because Rondo's the guy that makes the passes on the picks and pops (to Bass). And Brandon has struggled in the games that Rondo hasn't played in."

However, the numbers show that Bass' play isn't all that off the mark in games in which Rondo isn't playing.

Of the 14 games Rondo has missed this season, Bass has played in 12 of them.

In those 12 games, he has averaged 12.5 points per game.

This season?

Bass averaged 12.5 points per game.

And as far as him shooting the ball, Bass has shot 47.7 percent without Rondo, and 47.9 percent with him.

With or without Rondo, the facts remain the same.

Bass needs to play better and bring the same kind of consistent mid-range shooting touch to the playoffs that he displayed during most of the regular season.

"I'm not worried about it," Bass said. "Like I said, they've made adjustments to my game. Now it's my turn to do the same."

Blakely: Work in progress, but oh, what progress

Blakely: Work in progress, but oh, what progress

BOSTON – The words of Stephen Curry following the Celtics’ 92-88 win over his Golden State Warriors had an off-handed, end-of-the-night throwaway feel to them, a statement that would soon be forgotten after the Warriors reel off what should be a long string of victories going forward.
 
“They’re playing the best right now in the East,” Curry said of the Celtics, who now have a 3-2 edge in their past five meetings following Thursday night’s thriller. “And obviously until they beat Cleveland, who's done it three years in a row … so we’ll see.”

CELTICS 92, WARRIORS 88

We already have, folks.
 
The Celtics and the Warriors are both quick to remind us all that we are only a month into the season and that there’s still lots of basketball to be played.
 
But the big takeaway from Thursday was that the Celtics’ ascension to the top of the NBA mountain is a matter of when, not if, it’ll happen.
 
Because what we’re seeing now is a team that is very much a work in progress, yet one that still manages to win games on a lot of nights that they have no business winning.
 
Think about it.
 
They shot 32.9 percent against the Warriors, the best team in the NBA, and still managed to get the win. According to NBA stats guru Dick Lipe, it was only the second time in the past 35 years that the Celtics shot less than 33 percent from the field and still managed to win.
 
That speaks to how well Boston defended the Warriors, who came in averaging a league-best 119.6 points per game.
 
But more than that, it shows this team has a will to win that’s almost unheard of for a group whose pieces are so relatively new to one another.
 
Of the 14 Celtics with guaranteed contracts on the roster, all but four are in their first season in Boston.
 
But even with the new guys coming together quicker than anticipated, Boston should not all of a sudden be considered the favorites in the NBA.
 
Even with the victory, Boston still has some ground to make up if they are to be on the same level as Golden State, a franchise that has been to the NBA Finals each of the past three seasons and has emerged a champion twice.
 
“It takes a lot of basketball to get there,” said Warriors guard Klay Thompson. “They have a good, young, hungry team. You have to give them credit. They have a better record than us, so you can say they’re better now.”
 
And while Thompson didn’t place an emphasis on it, the last word in his comments, “now,” is why Thursday’s victory leaves the Celtics cautiously optimistic.
 
Because as we’ve seen time and time, regular-season success does not always travel well beyond that and into the playoffs.
 
Still, Thursday’s win provides something for Boston beyond hope and optimism.
 
They now have results to go with the work they’ve put in to be a better team and compete with the league’s best.
 
And they’ve done it under less-than-ideal circumstances.
 
Gordon Hayward went down with an ankle injury less than five minutes into the season and he’s expected to be lost for the rest of the season. Al Horford missed two games while recovering from a concussion while Kyrie Irving missed a game after suffering a facial fracture.
 
So in other words, the Big Three that Boston was set on unleashing to the rest of the world has logged less than five minutes together all season.
 
And yet there are the Celtics (14-2), tops in the NBA while riding a historic 14-game winning streak, and there's reason to believe that maybe, just maybe, these two will be the last teams standing when all is said and done and some of those customary throwaway lines uttered by Curry might have some value after all if these two wind up meeting in the NBA Finals.

“I hear the weather is great here in June,” Curry said.
 
 

Brown leads C's to victory just a day after best friend's passing

Brown leads C's to victory just a day after best friend's passing

BOSTON – The NBA is an emotional game, but the feelings Jaylen Brown was working through on the eve of Thursday’s game against Golden State, are the kind you don’t wish anyone with the death of his best friend less than 24 hours before Thursday night’s tip-off.

Brown channeled his pain into a performance that was absolutely vital to Boston pulling off the biggest upset for them this season, a 92-88 win over the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

He led the Celtics with a team-high 22 points in the win which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 14 straight. 

But he was in no mood to celebrate afterwards.

CELTICS 92, WARRIORS 88

“My best friend (Trevin Steede) passed last night,” Brown said after the game. “It was tough to accept it. Everybody was kind of in shock. I knew coming in today, he would want me to play.

Brown paused, and added, “It’s hard to get my thoughts together. After talking to his mom and family, they inspired me to come out. I wasn’t in any shape to come out. I didn’t want to leave my room. They inspired me to come out and play and I came out and played in his spirit today.”

Indeed, Brown played with the kind of purpose that made it clear that this wasn’t just another game. 

Sure, Golden State was the defending champs but Brown’s temperament seemed to be on a level higher, much higher, than what you would come to expect from a highly-anticipated matchup. 

His teammates as well as the coaching staff were aware of what Brown was dealing with, and were prepared for him to not play if he decided that was the best thing for him. 

After the game, Kyrie Irving gave the game ball to Brown.

“I knew from start of the game, I gave him some great words that were given to me,” Irving said. “I’ve lost individuals in my life. It’s never a good thing when someone is going through it. You do your best to encourage them, to console them. But at the end of the day, it’s about the strength within themselves and he showed a lot of that tonight.”

Irving added, “to be able to go out and perform the way he did, I knew exactly who the game ball was going to.”

Dealing with this kind of adversity unfortunately is nothing new to the Boston Celtics. 

On the eve of the playoffs last season, ex-Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas’ younger sister Chyna Thomas died in a car accident. 

Just as they rallied around Thomas at that time, the Celtics have done the same for Brown. 

“It’s been a tough 24 hours for him as you call can imagine,” said coach Brad Stevens. “Very similar meetings and talking points I had with Isaiah (Thomas) last year, today. Like Isaiah used it as a distraction, he (Brown) went out there and played and was really, really good.”

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