Stevens: Coaching All-Star team 'not on a list of goals I have written down'

Stevens: Coaching All-Star team 'not on a list of goals I have written down'

BOSTON – The route to the All-Star game is in many ways identical to what it was a year ago this time.

But there is one significant difference.

A year ago, Thomas getting his first All-Star nod was a nail-biter because truth be told, he didn’t know he was in until he was told so.

This year?

Not so much.


After losing on a tie-breaker to Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan to be a starter for the East team in next month’s All-Star game in New Orleans, Thomas – and the rest of the basketball world for that matter – knew he was going to be among the seven reserves chosen by the coaches to be on the East roster.

And that knowledge speaks volumes to not only how far Thomas has come but also how impressive he has been this season for the Celtics who easily defeated Orlando 128-98 on Friday night.

“I’m blessed,” said Thomas who reached another milestone with his game-high 21 points against Orlando. “God has blessed me in numerous ways and I’m appreciative, but I expect it out of myself.”

By scoring 21 points on Friday, Thomas eclipsed the 20-point plateau for the 30th consecutive game which had not been done by a Celtic since Kevin McHale in 1986.

It has been that kind of season for Thomas who already holds the franchise record for most points scored by a guard (52) as well as the most points scored in the fourth quarter (29) of a game.

But as well as he’s played, he wouldn’t mind having a little company during All-Star weekend.

Right now, Boston, Toronto and Atlanta are in a tight battle for the right to coach the East All-Stars this season.

Cleveland will likely finish with the best record in the East by the Feb. 5 cutoff date, but Cavs coach and former Celtics assistant coach Tyronn Lue replaced a fired David Blatt shortly before last year’s All-Star game.

The Cavs had the best record and Lue coached the team, which makes him ineligible to be the East coach this year.

Toronto (29-18) is second in the East, and has a half-game lead over Boston (28-18) followed by Atlanta (27-20) which is 1.5 games behind the Celtics and a 2.0 games behind the Raptors.  

Thomas said it would be great to play for Stevens in the All-Star game.

“That would show you the direction this franchise is headed in,” Thomas said. “From when I first got here to now, we’ve taken steps forward and that’d be another step forward in what we are trying to chase in the championship.”

For Stevens, the best part about coaching Thomas during All-Star weekend would be what it means to the franchise and its status in the Eastern Conference.

“It would be great because it means we’re playing at a good level,” Stevens said. “Otherwise, it’s not on a list of goals I have written down anywhere … which I don’t have written down anywhere, anyways.”

Thomas sees another potential plus in having Stevens as the East coach.

“I’ll get more minutes,” he said, grinning.

When a reporter said that might not happen, Thomas, still grinning, said, “I will; I know that.”

Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

File Photo

Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

There hasn't been all positive news surrounding Gordon Hayward as of late.

The Celtics have been shooting down rumors of Hayward returning this season. Recent news has detailed a minor setback in his recovery.

But it's always good to see the C's superstar up early crushing a workout in the weightroom.

We might not see him back in 2018, but his dedication during recovery is something to admire.


Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

AP Photo

Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

It seems all season we’ve talked about the Boston Celtics overcoming adversity, whether it be a bad injury to a key player or a blown assignment leading to a loss.

Nowhere is this more apparent than their play on the road this season which ranks among the best in the NBA.

The Celtics will look to continue on their road warrior-like ways tonight at New Orleans, a team that’s fighting for playoff position in the tighter-than-usual Western Conference.

In recent years, the terrain has been rough for teams from the East venturing into Western Conference territory.

For this year’s Celtics?

Not so much.

Boston comes into tonight’s game with a 17-7 record against Western Conference teams, tops among all teams in the East.

And while Boston has eight road games left this season, they are on pace to finish with one of the best road records in franchise history.

Currently 24-9 away from the TD Garden (tops in the East, third overall in the NBA), that’s a winning percentage of .727 which is the fourth-highest in franchise history.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on when the Boston Celtics take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.


It’s a given that Al Horford will spend time defending Anthony Davis tonight. And while Davis will likely have a strong night scoring the ball, you can count on Horford making it extremely tough on him. When the two teams met on Jan. 16, Davis was 8-for-19 shooting for 16 points in 52 possessions when defended by Horford. For the game, Davis had 45 points on 16-for-34 shooting.


We’ve seen “Playoff" Rondo and “National TV" Rondo deliver some impressive performances in the past. What will we see from “Well-Rested” Rondo? The Pelicans gave the ex-Celtic the night off on Saturday as to not play him in back-to-back games. Of the two games, it made sense to sit him against the Rockets and have him ready to roll against a Boston Celtics team that will not have its full complement of players available.


Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had some choice words about the officiating in New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday that he clearly felt cost his team a better chance at winning. The only cost in play now is how big will the check be that he’ll pay the league for his comments about the officiating. His issue was that Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough calls based on the physical abuse he takes per game. Davis ranks fourth in the NBA in free throw attempts (7.8) per game, but only had four attempts against the Rockets. It’ll be worth watching whether the Pelicans, 16th in the league in free throw attempts (21.4) per game, will get to the line significantly more or less than their season average.


One of the keys to Boston’s improved play since returning to the floor since the all-star break, has been their ability to begin games with strong play. Boston has outscored their opponent in the first quarter each of the last eight games, and 10 of 11. In addition, Boston has been ahead at the half in each of their 10 games since the all-star break, which comes on the heels of trailing at the half in the seven games prior to the break.


Jayson Tatum has been one of the most impactful rookies in the NBA this season which will likely land him a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first or second team. One of the strengths of Tatum has been his durability, evident by him being one of just two first-year players to appear in each of his team’s games played this season. He is joined by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks.