Celtics sloppy in loss to Sixers, 89-86


Celtics sloppy in loss to Sixers, 89-86

By A. Sherrod Blakely

PHILADELPHIA The Basketball Gods have a way of evening things out over the course of a season.

Remember all those games the Boston Celtics were winning that, truth be told, they probably shouldn't have?

Friday's game against Philadelphia had all the makings of another come-from-behind victory for the Celtics.

But down the stretch, the C's had ample opportunities to make big plays.

Instead of executing with precision on both ends, the C's simply fumbled and bumbled their way to a second straight loss, this time to the 76ers, 89-86.

Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala put the game away with a swooping lay-up with 12.5 seconds to play that gave the Sixers an 89-84 lead.

Kevin Garnett got a lay-up with 6.9 seconds to play.

But after the made-basket, the Celtics weren't able to intentionally foul a Sixers player to put them at the free throw line and get another possible possession.

You know it's one of those kind of nights when you can't even foul right.

When asked what happened down the stretch for Boston, Rajon Rondo was succint in his comments.

"Nothing happened," he said, followed by a brief pause. "That was the problem. We didn't get some calls, we took some bad shots, we turned the ball over."

Essentially, Boston (46-17) did everything that they usually force opponents to do in the closing minutes of a close game.

Said Celtics coach Doc Rivers: "Everybody kind of tried to do it by themselves, forced turnovers."

And the Sixers, to their credit, made the most of Boston's miscues.

Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins, one of the early favorites for the league's coach of the Year award, was pleased with his team's play.

Not surprisingly, he was particularly happy with the way they handled themselves in the game's closing moments.

"Our guys were so tough at the end," Collins said. "Boston is a championship-caliber team. We have been in three games with them like this, this season. The first two they won at the end. Tonight, we got defensive stops and did what we had to do to get a tough win."

In their first two meetings, both Celtics wins, Boston won by a total of just five points.

And with this loss, Boston (46-17) has now lost two in a row, while the Sixers (34-31) continue what has been one of the better turn-arounds in the NBA this season.

Philadelphia has 17 games remaining, but they've already won seven games more than they did all of last season.

"We definitely feel that we're a great ball club that can go out and be capable of beating anybody each and every night," said Elton Brand who had 14 points and five rebounds. "We proved that tonight."

And the Celtics proved that, while they are still the top team in the Eastern Conference, all the changes that they have been able to weather through, may be finally catching up to them.

"I'm not one to make excuses, but we're in transformation here," said Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, who had 14 points, six rebounds and five assists. "It's not an easy thing. Whatever we gotta do, we gotta fix it. I'm sure we will."

One of Boston's biggest problems the last couple games has been their inability to start the game playing well.

Just like they did against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, the C's fell behind quickly.

The first quarter was relatively close until Philadelphia went on a 7-0 run to lead, 16-10.

Philadelphia increased its lead slightly more to eight points, but the Celtics, led by Nenad Krstic's scoring, were able to trim Philadelphia's lead down to 25-22 after the first quarter.

Krstic continues to put up strong offensive numbers for the Celtics, finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds for his first double-double as a Celtic, and second of the season. The first came when he played for Oklahoma City and had 16 points and 11 rebounds against Orlando on Jan. 13.

Boston also got a strong game from Krstic's teammate in Oklahoma City, Jeff Green, who was also part of the trade that shipped out Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder.

Green came off the bench to score a team-high 18 points.

But numbers have little meaning for most of the Celtics.

They're more consumed by letters; specifically, W's which lately, have been hard to come by.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.


 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Boston’s Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
And even that might not be enough.
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
“Here in this league,” he said. “You have to love challenges.”


Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

CLEVELAND – For the third year in a row, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics is unable to come to terms on a contract extension prior to the deadline.

That means Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk (now with the Miami Heat) and in 2015 it was Jared Sullinger (now with Shenzhen Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association).

Both the Celtics and Smart's camp intensified their discussions in recent days as the October 16th 6 p.m. EST deadline drew near.


While there was progress made, there wasn’t enough to get a deal done.

Smart has repeatedly indicated that he wants to re-sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.

And the market for the 6-foot-4 guard became clearer based on the contracts that some of his fellow rookie class of 2014, were receiving.

Denver’s Gary Harris agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract after establishing himself as one of the better young two-way talents in the NBA last season. And at the other end of the financial spectrum, you would have to look at Phoenix’s T.J. Warren who signed a four-year, $50 million contract.

More than likely, Smart’s deal next summer will fall somewhere between the deals those two players received.

As much as Smart would have preferred to get a deal done heading into the season, it’s not something that he’s going to cause him to lose any sleep.

“Get it done now, or get it done in six months, I’m OK either way,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m not worried about it.”