Celtics-76ers preview: Young talents on display for both teams


Celtics-76ers preview: Young talents on display for both teams

PHILADELPHIA – In Boston’s 108-100 loss to Milwaukee on Tuesday, four different rookies saw action for the Celtics. 

At times, they delivered on making some memorable moments while other stretches for them involved making mistakes.

There is a need for Boston to use its younger players, even more so now that Gordon Hayward (left ankle) will likely be out for the rest of the season. 

And while their talent certainly makes having them around a blessing, their inexperience and the growing pains that are sure to come because of that, will at times be a burden for a Celtics team considered by most as a top-tier club with aspirations of greatness this season. 

There is still hope for an amazing season, but the degree of difficulty in making that happen has certainly increased with Hayward’s injury, which occurred five minutes into Boston’s 102-99 season-opening loss at Cleveland. 

And with that, Boston will find itself even more reliant on its youthful players who will be thrust into roles that they may not have necessarily anticipated coming their way this quickly. 

“We’ve got a lot of young guys,” said coach Brad Stevens. “I’m hopeful that we can find the right combinations; we obviously didn’t anticipate going maybe this far into the bench this early.”

The first player off the bench for the Celtics on Wednesday was Abdel Nader. 

Taken by Boston with the 58th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, Nader was the D-League (now Gatorade League) Rookie of the Year last season with the Maine Red Claws.

He is one of four rookies who saw action for the Celtics on Wednesday, a clear sign of just how valuable the youngsters will be to their chances at success this season. 

“I don’t want to make the excuse that we’re a young team, but we are,” said Kyrie Irving.

Look at Irving, who is only 25 years old and yet is the team’s most accomplished player when it comes to All-Star appearances (4) and, even more significantly, NBA titles (1). 

They face a Sixers team that has ranked among the league’s more youthful team for years. And that lack of experience has been among the key reasons for them to be consistently among the league’s worst clubs. 

But this season is different on so many levels for Philadelphia. 

For starters, they have a relatively healthy Joel Embiid, who ranks among the most difficult big men to contain and may be getting his wish to play more without having his minutes restricted.

Rather than continuing to double-down on youth the Sixers actually went out and spent some money this offseason, adding experience with former Celtic Amir Johnson and ex-Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick. Both signed one-year deals, worth $11 million and $23 million, respectively. 

However, Philadelphia is still building around a young core that includes Embiid, last year’s runner-up for rookie of the year Dario Saric, as well as Markelle Fultz, the top overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, and 6-10 point-forward Ben Simmons.

Philadelphia (0-1) comes into tonight’s game having played a hard-fought game at Washington which ended with the Wizards winning, 120-115.

“Good, but not good enough to win” has been an all-too common reality for the Sixers in recent years. 

But the mindset this season?

Very different.

“I don’t like taking positives from losses,” Redick told reporters after the Sixers loss in Washington. “We need to clean up a lot of stuff. We need to be better. It takes a lot to win in this league. We need to figure that out, and we will. We are good enough to do that.” 

Redick added, “We’re not going to try to lose this season and take a bunch of positives from that. we’re trying to win, trying to be in the playoffs this year. That has to be the mindset.”

Ray Allen tells court he was 'catfished'


Ray Allen tells court he was 'catfished'

ORLANDO, Fla. — Retired NBA star Ray Allen said he is a victim of “catfishing,” and has asked a court to throw out a case where he is accused of stalking someone he met online.

Allen filed an emergency motion in Orange County, Florida, on Tuesday, one day after Bryant Coleman told the court he is being stalked by the 10-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion.

Allen said Coleman is the one who is stalking.

“Coleman pretended to be a number of attractive women interested in Ray Allen,” read the motion filed on Allen’s behalf. “Ray believed he was speaking with these women and communicated with them.”

Attorney David Oscar Markus released a statement saying Allen took legal action in an effort to put an end to threats against him and his family, and that Allen was the victim “of an online scheme to extract money and embarrass him by someone who appears to be troubled.”

In the filing, Allen said Coleman threatened to reveal details of their conversations, and that the sides eventually struck a deal to keep everything private. Allen said that deal has been violated and that Coleman has continued to harass him and his family through several social-media accounts.

“He posted about Ray’s wife, Ray’s children, Ray’s dog, Ray’s homes, Ray’s wife’s restaurant, and numerous other personal items,” read the motion. “Coleman not only posted about these things, he would actually post while physically located inside Ray’s wife’s restaurant in Orlando. And he would make sure they knew it, tagging Ray and his wife on those posts.”

Allen asked the court to stop Coleman from “cyber-stalking.” It was not clear if Coleman has an attorney, and a working phone number for him could not be found.

“Ray regrets ever engaging with this person online and is thankful they never met in person,” Markus said. “This experience has negatively impacted Ray, and he hopes that others might use his mistake to learn the dangers of communicating online with strangers.”

Allen is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made. He starred in college at UConn and won championships with the Celtics in 2008 and Miami in 2013, the second title coming after he made one of the most dramatic shots in playoff history — a game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation of Game 6 of The Finals against San Antonio, a game that the Heat would win in overtime to extend the series to a seventh game.

Allen also played for Milwaukee and Seattle, and last appeared in the league in 2014. He and his family have lived in the Miami area since.

© 2017 by The Associated Press 

Blakely's takeaways: Stevens downplays Celtics' streak

Blakely's takeaways: Stevens downplays Celtics' streak

Brad Stevens likes the fact that the Celtics have shown an unusually strong resolve this season by consistently finding ways to win on nights when they don’t play their best.
It’s to the point now where fans, as well as the players, feel no deficit is too steep to overcome.


That said, there’s a level of expectations on this team now that you would think would bring about a heightened level of pressure, right?
They’ve won 16 in a row, the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
Not according to Stevens.
“Coaching basketball is not pressure,” Stevens told reporters after Monday night’s win. “Playing basketball is not real pressure. Sometimes we overdo this stuff. We’re just trying to prepare well for the next game. That’s all we’ve done, that’s all we’ll continue to do. The streak doesn’t mean anything to me; maybe it does to the guys in the room. But it’s about finding ways to get better and finding ways to get the job done.”
Here are five other takeaways from the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas that extended Boston’s winning streak to 16:

There may not be a player on this team – maybe in the NBA – that’s more difficult to get a read on, than Marcus Smart. He has been a historically bad shooter throughout his career in Boston. And yet when you look at their 16-game winning streak, he’s one of the main reasons for it. He plays with an edge; he’s gritty and defends at a level that few can match. He makes big plays in big moments. But he's having his worst season ever shooting the ball yet his impact when he’s on the floor has never been greater. So, what do you do if you’re Stevens? You keep playing him. Because as much as his poor shooting hurts the team’s overall scoring, he makes so many clutch plays whether it’s facilitating, defending or – wait for it – making shots. He adds tremendous value to winning, even if his shooting numbers might suggest otherwise.

When you’re getting “M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants on the road, you know you’re ballin’ hard. Kyrie Irving wowed the Dallas crowd with 47 points, 10 of which came in overtime as Boston rallied after facing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. If the numbers continue to climb along with the win total, Irving will continue to cement himself as a top-five MVP candidate. 

One of the few constants in Boston’s string of success has been their rebounding. Against the Mavericks, the Celtics once again won the battle on the boards, 53-45. And it hasn’t been one or two players, either. Against Dallas, the Celtics had five players grab at least four rebounds with no one securing more than nine. That kind of rebounding balance makes Boston an extremely difficult team to out-work on the glass.

The scoring punch we’ve come to expect lately from Horford just wasn’t there against Dallas. Instead, he seemed more consumed with getting others (mainly Irving) involved offensively. He missed four of his five shots from the field and scored just three points. But he almost had a double-double in rebounds (eight) and assists (seven) along with blocking a couple of shots. And as always, his plus/minus was among the best on the team with the Celtics being +7 when he was on the floor.

While Irving was delivering one big shot after another down the stretch, one of his running partners in late-game situations this season has been Jayson Tatum. He ranks among the league’s best shooters in the fourth quarter and Monday’s victory only solidified his status. Against the Mavericks, Tatum had six points and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field. According to NBA.com/stats, Tatum is shooting 64.1 percent in the fourth quarter, which ranks eighth in the NBA among players who take at least two field goal attempts per game in the fourth. Right ahead of him is teammate Marcus Morris (65 percent).