Celtics

Adding Monroe makes Celtics overwhelming favorite in Eastern Conference

Adding Monroe makes Celtics overwhelming favorite in Eastern Conference

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics needed more size.

The Boston Celtics needed another scorer.

In getting a commitment from Greg Monroe, the Celtics got both. 

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The eight-year veteran will sign a one-year deal worth about $5 million this weekend, with the earliest we might see him don the Green and White being Sunday afternoon against Portland although it's more likely to be sometime next week. 

We’ve seen Danny Ainge make moves close to the trade deadline in past years, but this one – at least in the Brad Stevens regime – is different. 

Past moves since Stevens came aboard were designed to make the team better. 

Adding Monroe?

This soon-to-be-signing moves the needle in a way for Boston that takes them to the top of the Eastern Conference mountaintop where they are now far and away the team to beat in the East.

Monroe is a known commodity who has averaged double figures scoring every year except for his rookie season. 

In addition, he averages 8.7 rebounds per game. 

And while his career assists numbers (2.3 per game) are nothing to get too excited about, league executives NBC Sports Boston has talked to about Monroe credit his court vision and ability to make “the hockey assist” as being strengths of his game that will make him a good fit coming off the Celtics bench. 

As much as the Celtics want to fly under-the-radar when it comes to talk about them getting to the NBA Finals, make no mistake about it people. 

The addition of Monroe makes the Celtics the overwhelming favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference now. 

Despite having the best record (38-15) in the East, Boston’s lack of big man depth was going to be the death of them if they didn’t address it via trade or buyout. 

And the preference all along for Ainge and the Celtics, was to do exactly what they did to get Monroe and that’s use some of the $8.4 million disabled player exception they were granted after Gordon Hayward’s dislocated ankle injury in the season opener at Cleveland. 

So not only did they add talent, but did so without having to touch a single body on their roster. 

And as much as Boston’s success hinges on who they have been able to assemble roster-wise, they also benefit from the uncertainty surrounding the rosters of other teams. 

Since LeBron James returned to Cleveland, the Cavs tend to cruise along in the regular season and shift into a different gear when the playoffs roll around. 

But they aren’t cruising now. 

That defense is among the worst in the NBA, and that’s not going to change anytime soon. 

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Toronto has lots of experience and are led by DeMar DeRozan who is playing at an in-the-discussion-for-league-MVP level. 

They will be Boston’s stiffest challenge going forward, but the Celtics’ depth should be enough to get them past Toronto.

The Miami Heat have been playing well of late, but the Celtics’ depth and the one problem Miami presents to most teams – Hassan Whiteside – isn’t as big a problem now with Monroe coming on board to join Boston’s 1-2 big man punch of Al Horford and Aron Baynes. 

The biggest challenge for the Celtics will be integrating him into a rotation that will impact the playing time of a handful of players, namely Baynes and rookie Daniel Theis. 

But if you’re the Celtics and that’s arguably the greatest challenge on the horizon with the Monroe addition, you will be more than happy to have to deal with those title-contending problems.

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BEST OF BST PODCAST: Welcome back Celtics

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NBC Sports Boston Photo

BEST OF BST PODCAST: Welcome back Celtics

0:41 - The Celtics returned from the All-Star Break in style with a 110-98 win over the Detroit Pistons thanks to a 65-point performance from their bench. A. Sherrod Blakely, Kayce Smith, DJ Bean and Tom Curran break down the victory.

5:52 - More details have been released about the FBI’s probe into NCAA basketball. Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, DJ Bean and Jim Murray discuss how the possible violations by multiple schools will affect the economy of college sports.

11:49 - After saying that the Patriots knew that Malcolm Butler would not be starting in Super Bowl LII, New England safety Devin McCourty amended his statement, adding that the team didn’t know Butler would sit out the entire game. The BST crew continue to discuss the biggest talking point to come out of the Super Bowl.

17:20 - Lou Merloni and Evan Drellich join DJ Bean to discuss the current state of Red Sox Spring Training camp, from the absence of J.D. Martinez to the status of certain bench players like Blake Swihart.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

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Smart helps Celtics end three-game losing skid

Smart helps Celtics end three-game losing skid

There were Boston Celtics who had more points, rebounds and assists than Marcus Smart. 

But make no mistake about it. 

The Boston Celtics are a better team with Smart’s return, evident by them cruising to a 110-98 win over Detroit. 

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Smart was part of a strong second unit, tallying 12 points in his first game back after missing the previous 11 due to a laceration on his right hand that required 20 stitches to close after he punched a picture frame last month. 

“I felt great,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston following the game. “This training staff did a good job of making sure I was still in shape and ready come back when I did come back.”

Within minutes of entering the game, Smart drained a 3-pointer which was part of a Celtics’ 3-point barrage in which they were collectively 17-for-39 on 3’s.

Said Boston’s Daniel Theis: “He (Smart) was great for us today.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-98 win over Detroit. 

 

STARS

Daniel Theis: The 25-year-old rookie came up with one big hustle play after another. And when all was said and done, he had a career-high 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting to go with seven rebounds.

Ish Smith: For most of the night, he was the best player on the floor for the Detroit Pistons. He would lead Detroit with 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting along with six assists. 

Celtics bench: This was one of the best games we’ve seen from Boston’s backups. Along with doing a solid job defensively, the Celtics’ bench absolutely dominated the game scoring the ball. For the night, they had a season-high 65 points scored.

 

STUDS

Kyrie Irving: Irving did not have the monster game offensively, and the reason was clear: they didn’t need it. He had 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting which included four made 3’s, not to mention six assists.

Andre Drummond: He got off to a slow start, but Drummond’s play around the rim really picked up after the first quarter as he finished with a double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds.

 

DUDS

Blake Griffin: He had 17 points, but he was non-factor most of the game courtesy of some really strong play defensively by Al Horford. Griffin shot just 5-for-19 from the field and turned the ball over six times. 

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