Celtics

Bean: Bless the Cavaliers and Celtics for making this trade

Bean: Bless the Cavaliers and Celtics for making this trade

[Jim Rome about to take credit for a universally accepted thought with which no one disagrees voice] This is why I always say the NBA offseason is the best offseason. I’m Jim Rome. 

You don’t trade with your rivals. The Celtics and Cavaliers just did it and have set up at least one season of madness. This would be like the Canadiens shipping P.K. Subban to Boston instead of Nashville, or the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts to the Yankees. It would never, ever happen. 

Yet because the NBA is absolutely bonkers, a myriad of factors led Cleveland to trade one of the best players in the league to their fellow Eastern Conference finalist: him wanting out, Cleveland needing a star point guard back and Boston having the assets to blow anybody else’s offer out of the water. 

This isn’t the biggest Boston sports trade of my lifetime or most impactful (it’s probably the KG deal on both fronts), but in terms of pure shock given the participants, no other one is close. 

This is the Cavaliers giving the Celtics a franchise player, and it’s the Celtics giving them a potential one back via the Brooklyn pick. It’s also the Celtics solving one of the Cavaliers’ biggest problems (depth). Both teams may have improved, and they’re going to find out against each other. I'm Jim Rome. 

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The Red Sox didn’t care about the Diamondbacks when they fleeced them for Curt Schilling. The Leafs were in the same division, but they were so bad that the B’s didn’t hesitate to give them Phil Kessel. The Patriots were going to take Wes Welker whether the Dolphins traded him to them or not. Drew Bledsoe to the Bills? That might be the closest to this, and Bledsoe was 30.

We’re used to arms races: The Sox getting Schilling when he wanted to go to the Yankees, the Yankees trading for A-Rod when the Sox had tried to get him, the Yankees signing Mark Teixeira so the Sox couldn’t, the Sox signing Carl Crawford so the Yankees couldn’t (whoops), the Jets outbidding the Patriots for Darrelle Revis (lmao), the Heat luring Ray Allen away. 

Yet in this case, the top two teams in the Eastern Conference called each other up and put some of their best assets on the table. It takes brass balls for one GM to be willing to trade with a rival like that. 

For two to be willing? I guess that’s just why the NBA offseason is the best offseason. I’m Jim Rome. 

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Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Streak reveals depth even Celtics didn't know they had

Coaches in all sports will tell you that winning is not easy.
 
Making the Celtics’ 16-game winning streak even more impressive is that a number of the victories have involved Boston turning to some unlikely sources of production.

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And that has provided a glimpse into a franchise that’s getting the best of both worlds: quality play from its core group while developing reserves who have contributed to the team reeling off 16 straight wins in a variety of ways.
 
Because coach Brad Stevens has gone deeper into his bench this season than past years, it has created a roster with minutes more evenly distributed and with that, less wear and tear on the bodies of key players.
 
And while this team is led by Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, there has been at least one other Celtic to emerge as a top-three performer every night...and often it’s not the same player.
 
“Much more unpredictable now,” a league executive texted to NBC Sports Boston. “That number three guy, is it [Jaylen] Brown? [Jayson] Tatum? Sometimes it’s Marcus [Smart]. You don’t know who it’s going to be because a lot of times, I don’t think they [Celtics] know who it will be. It’s why they’re so good, man.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game in Miami with the Celtics trying to push their winning streak to 17:

KYRIE FOR MVP
It’s one thing for the home crowd to get into the ‘M-V-P’ chants when you’re at the free-throw line. But it’s a completely different matter when those same cheers are being heard on the road. That’s where Irving was following the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas, a game in which Irving dropped 47 points, 10 in overtime. It’ll be interesting to see if another strong game by Irving will lead to another serenading of ‘M-V-P’ chants for the most dominant player on the team with the league’s best record.


 
TURNING DOWN THE HEAT
The streak is the talk of the NBA right now, but streaking was going to be part of the conversation leading up to tonight’s game regardless. The Celtics come into tonight’s game having won eight in a row over the Heat, their longest current winning streak over any team. Boston has dominated this matchup for years, posting a 70-44 record all-time against Miami in the regular season.
 

DUKE CONNECTION
College basketball just kicked off and Duke is once again among the game’s top teams, a school that consistently produces NBA talent at a relatively high level. That’ll be very apparent tonight when you consider this Boston-Miami matchup features three players (Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum for Boston, Justise Winslow for Miami) from Duke who will all be in the starting lineup and a fourth (Boston’s Semi Ojeleye) who attended Duke but later transferred to SMU.


 
JUSTISE WINSLOW
Every front-office executive has that one player they tried – and failed – to acquire that, in hindsight, not getting him was a really good thing. Winslow is that guy for the Celtics. While he hasn’t been necessarily a bust, his impact at this level hasn’t been enough to have warranted all the assets Boston was willing to part with on draft night in order to move up and select him. Still, he’s healthy now and starting to play better which is evident by his numbers in most offensive categories on the rise, while his defense has been relatively solid.
 

THREE-POINTERS
The Heat have made the 3-point shot a much bigger part of their offense this season, evident by Miami ranking seventh in the league in 3-point makes (11.2) this season. In Boston, one of the keys to their top-ranked defense has been their length, which has come in real handy defending the 3-pointer. In fact, Boston has limited opponents to just 32.1 percent shooting on 3’s this season, which ranks third in the league.

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

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