Stars, studs and duds: Brown shows there’s a lot more to his game

Stars, studs and duds: Brown shows there’s a lot more to his game

The image of Isaiah Thomas on the Boston Celtics bench, his left wrist heavily wrapped as he winces in pain, is not what you want to see especially in a preseason game that has little to no value in the grand scheme of things.

But the defiant attitude Thomas displayed last season while playing through a series of injuries, is very much alive and well in the preseason.

When asked whether he would miss any time because of his sprained left wrist, Thomas responded, “Hell no! It ain’t broke so I’m good.”

And the Celtics were certainly good in Thursday’s 107-92 preseason win over Charlotte. It appeared as though the injury occurred in the third quarter.

By that point in the game, Thomas and the rest of the Celtics starters had left the bench with a sizeable lead that to their credit, they were able to build on as Boston had little trouble down the stretch putting the Hornets away.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked a lot of what he saw from his team on Thursday. But like most coaches, he saw room – lots of room – for improvement.

“I thought we did a better job for longer,” Stevens said. “But not long enough.”

Here’s a look at the Stars, studs and duds from Thursday’s game.



Jaylen Brown

His above-the-rim exploits may get the crowd hyped, but Brown continues to show there’s a lot more to his game. He had 12 points off the bench which included some nice finishes around the rim and a 3-pointer,  a shot that if it starts going down consistently will make him an extremely tough cover for any team.

Terry Rozier

The race to replace Evan Turner off the bench continues to look like it’s Rozier’s job to lose. And so far, he is blowing away the competition. Rozier had 14 points off the Celtics bench on 6-for-9 shooting.

Isaiah Thomas

About the only thing that seemed to slow him down was Brad Stevens limiting his minutes and a sprained left wrist injury which doesn’t appear to be serious. Thomas played 20 minutes, scoring 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting which included knocking down 3-of-6  on 3-pointers.



Al Horford

For the second time in as many games, Horford delivered another solid performance at both ends of the floor. He finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists.  

James Young

It was another solid night by Young who seems to be getting better with each stint of action. Against the Hornets, he had five points and six rebounds in 15 minutes while playing solid defense.

Jeremy Lamb

The former UConn star made the most of his opportunity to see extended minutes, tallying a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds – both game highs – in addition to handing out four assists in just 22 minutes of court time.



Roy Hibbert

The more you watch Roy Hibbert play, the clearer it becomes this is a man whose game isn’t going to get back to the All-Star form he was at a few years ago. He logged 21 minutes on Thursday, scoring just two points on 1-for-4 shooting while picking up five personal fouls.

Blakely: Stevens has this coaching in March stuff down

Blakely: Stevens has this coaching in March stuff down

Sometimes we forget that a big part of why Brad Stevens is in Boston is because of what he has done as a coach this time of year.

He led a pair of Butler teams to deep postseason runs before coming up short in a pair of national title games.

Well, he’s embarking on a different kind of March Madness in leading the Celtics to a string of improbable wins, the latest being a 105-100 victory at Portland on Friday night.

It was the kind of victory that when you start to roll out the reasons why Stevens should be this season’s Coach of the Year winner, folks will use the win at Portland as an example.

The Blazers are not only one of the better teams at home, but they came in having won 13 of 14 games with the lone loss coming to Houston, which has the best record in the NBA.

But what made the victory so unexpected was the cut-and-paste lineup Stevens has employed because of a long rash of injuries.

Kyrie Irving missed his fifth consecutive game and is expected to be lost for another three to six weeks after having a procedure to on Saturday to help alleviate some of the soreness in his left knee.

Jaylen Brown has missed several games with a concussion, but he has progressed to where he's now questionable for the game in Sacramento on Sunday night. 

Boston was also without Marcus Smart (right thumb) who won’t be back until sometime in the playoffs.

And that doesn’t factor in Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) or Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee), both out for the season.

It’s easy to chalk up Stevens’ success to great Xs and O’s work.

But he’s doing more than that.

He’s inspiring a level of confidence in players that generated results exceeding all expectations; that is, expectations outside of their locker room.

Even when this team struggled with no clear signs of hope on the horizon, they didn’t blink.

Rather than use their less-than-ideal state as a justification for poor play, they funneled that energy and focus into becoming a better team - not better players, but a better team.

Because frankly, that is what we’ve seen from this group all season. Of course, you have your star in Irving, but this team has been a get-it-done-or-else squad all year that doesn’t get too locked into the success or struggles of any one teammate.

And that has allowed Boston to withstand the kind of injuries to key players that would have crippled many other teams.

But with the lack of bodies, there has been a lack of respect for how good this team really is.

Stevens has tapped into that and used it to help focus this team on playing great and most important, giving themselves a chance to win regardless of the opponent, regardless of how dire a situation may be.

And that has created the kind of March Madness Celtics fans are absolutely lovin’ right now.



Optimism that Kyrie will be back for playoffs

Optimism that Kyrie will be back for playoffs

Kyrie Irving underwent a left knee procedure on Saturday that will keep the five-time All-Star guard out for at least the start of the playoffs.

The Celtics indicated that Irving will be out for 3-6 weeks.

According to the Celtics, the procedure was to remove a tension wire in his left knee. The wire was originally placed there as part of the surgical repair of the fractured patella injury Irving suffered in the 2015 NBA Finals when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Removing the wire is expected to lessen the irritation it was causing in Irving’s left patellar tendon.

The fractured patella injury from in 2015 has fully healed and, according to the Celtics, Irving’s knee has been found to be “completely structurally sound.”

The timetable for Irving's return is roughly the same as that of Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who last week had surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right thumb. 

Irving, who turned 26 on Friday, finishes his first regular season with Boston appearing in 60 games while averaging 24.4 points per game on a career-best 49.1 percent shooting from the field.