Young, Hunter help propel Celtics to 120-99 win over Nets

Young, Hunter help propel Celtics to 120-99 win over Nets

BOSTON – When training camp began for the Boston Celtics, James Young and R.J. Hunter were the two likely candidates to battle for the 15th and final roster spot. 

With the preseason nearing an end, the two have not made things any easier for the Boston Celtics when it comes to making a decision about their basketball fates. 

Both had strong showings in the third quarter which helped propel Boston to a 120-99 win over the Brooklyn Nets. 

Young had eight of his 10 points in the third quarter. 

And Hunter who had a preseason high 17 points in just 15 minutes on Saturday against New York, scored five of his six points off the bench in the third. 

Both got a chance to play meaningful minutes because Boston's starters did their job which was to go in, establish control of the game and hand it over to the youngsters to close things out. 
The Celtics led 29-16 after the first quarter, and pushed their lead to as many as 16 points in the first half which ended with Boston ahead 62-50. Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 19 points.

Brooklyn opened the third with a 12-5 run which made it a 67-62 game.
After a Celtics time-out, Jaylen Brown went to work in the post to push Boston’s lead back to five points. This was not one of his better performances, but he still managed to finish with 12 points.
The Nets’ surge continued as they cut Boston’s lead to just 69-67, only for Brown and Brooklyn’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to exchange dunks which left the Celtics clinging to a slim 71-69 lead.
But the Celtics finished the third quarter with a flurry, led by arguably the two players with the most to gain with strong play – Hunter and Young.
Both players know that the final roster spot will likely come down to the Celtics choosing one of them over the other.
And to their credit, neither is making this an easy decision for Ainge and his staff.
Hunter, who is coming off his best game in the preseason on Saturday when he had 17 points in 15 minutes, drilled a 3-pointer seconds after entering the game on Monday.  
Young was even more impressive.
Throughout most of training camp, Young has made a living off of doing the little things such as hustling for loose ball, making the extra pass which leads to a made basket.
But in the third quarter on Monday, Young reminded those at the TD Garden that he could in fact score the ball as he ran off eight points in the quarter while making all three of his shot attempts.

Boston (5-1) played with a lead for the remainder of the night as they went on to win their fifth straight preseason game. 

Rozier gets a big test tonight against Thunder

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Rozier gets a big test tonight against Thunder

BOSTON -- Terry Rozier has stepped up his game this season. There’s no disputing that point. 
And the Celtics have rewarded him with increased playing time, which he has proven he deserves. 
While he has made the most of his opportunity with an increased role due to injuries, at some point Rozier’s minutes should go back to being 20 or so per game. 
It’s amazing how far Rozier has come in such a short period of time, from a first-round pick many questioned as being a reach on Boston’s part, to an integral part of the team’s quest towards Banner 18.
And it is games like tonight’s against the Oklahoma City Thunder that will put the experience gained by Rozier as a major contributor, to the ultimate test when he faces off against reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook.
No one expects Rozier to put up Westbrook-like numbers . . . but would anyone be shocked if he did?
Remember, Rozier’s first NBA start came this season and he racked up his first career triple-double. The next game out, he dropped a career-high 31 points. 
But as we get deeper into the season, he’s no longer viewed as a backup or a role player, They see him as a player that has to be accounted for, regardless of whether he’s starting or coming off the bench. 
“There’s a lot of teams in this league you could easily see him starting for,” a league executive told NBC Sports Boston via text. “He’s not Kyrie [Irving] obviously, and he’s a different kind of player than Marcus [Smart], but he can play. If teams didn’t know it before, they know it now.”
Rozier may not be a secret anymore, but here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on tonight as the Celtics go for the season sweep against the Oklahoma City Thunder. 


If the Celts expect to win tonight, they better get it done in four quarters of play. Because overtime has been a good time for the Thunder. They come into tonight’s game with a 3-0 record in overtime this season. They are one of eight teams with an unblemished overtime record, and no other team in the league this season has as more wins (3) in overtime without a single defeat. 


The NBA hit Marcus Morris up for $15,000 following “verbal abuse of a game official” at the end of Boston’s 108-89 loss at New Orleans.  Morris will be lighter in the wallet, obviously. But it also might get him even more fired up tonight which could lead to him lighting up the Thunder. 


Scoring around the basket has not been a strength of the Celtics, but with key players on the perimeter hurt, Boston has to generate points in other ways. Doing so against the Thunder, a team that has allowed 43.1 points in the paint per game --10th-fewest allowed in the league this season -- will be a challenge.


At some point tonight, Boston will be challenged to get back on defense and not allow Russell Westbrook to score on the break. The Celtics have been one of the league’s better transition defense teams in allowing 10.2 fast-break points, which is the fourth-fewest allowed per game this season. Meanwhile, the Thunder average 14.1 fast-break points, which ranks third in the league. 


The Celtic players talk all the time about how great the TD Garden crowd can be. But at the end of games lately, they haven’t let them much to cheer about. The C's come into tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with losses in five of their last seven home games with the lone wins coming over Memphis and Charlotte – two teams currently out of playoff seeding. Boston’s last home win over a team that’s currently in the top 8 was a 97-96 win over Portland on Feb. 4, a game in which Al Horford hit a game-winning, fadeaway jumper as time expired.


Report: Kyrie Irving may need screws removed from knee

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Report: Kyrie Irving may need screws removed from knee

BOSTON — Kyrie Irving is reportedly going to get a second opinion on his sore left knee which may result in him having season-ending surgery.

98.5 The Sports Hub’s Tony Massarotti reported on Tuesday that Irving will get a second opinion as early as Wednesday.

Irving suffered a fractured left knee cap during the 2015 NBA Finals.

He underwent surgery that sidelined him for the rest of the playoffs.

The surgical procedure performed on his knee involved the insertion of screws to aid the stabilization of the  kneecap.

The Celtics have already been ravaged by injuries this season. They lost Gordon Hayward just five minutes into the season due to a left ankle injury. Daniel Theis is out for the season with a torn meniscus injury to his left knee. Marcus Smart recently had right thumb surgery that will keep him out for the rest of the regular season, with there being a chance he will return at some point for the playoffs. And Jaylen Brown suffered a concussion that has him sidelined, as well.