Celtics-Lakers preview: Youth will be served

Celtics-Lakers preview: Youth will be served

BOSTON – It doesn’t matter what the standings say.

The Boston Celtics facing the Los Angeles Lakers is always a must-see event.


You’re talking about arguably the two most storied franchises in NBA history, set to do battle tonight at the TD Garden.

But for as much as we love to reminisce about the past, it’s the future of both franchises that has fans of both teams excited.

And that future is tied into the youngsters that will see plenty of action tonight.

For the Celtics, Brown and Jayson Tatum, taken by the Celtics with the No. 3 pick in the last two NBA drafts, are in the starting lineup. Rookies Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis both play significant minutes for Boston.

On the Lakers’ roster, you have Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, a pair of first-round picks (Ball went right before Tatum in last June’s NBA draft while Kuzma was the 27th overall pick).

In addition, the Lakers also have second-year player Brandon Ingram and fourth-year big man Julius Randle who turns 23 later this month.

Collectively, both teams have a strong core of young talent going forward which means this longstanding rivalry just might be reignited in the coming years.

Because lately, both teams have gone about rebuilding their respective squads with the Celtics being much further along than the Lakers.

After sending Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn in 2013, the Celtics were expected to be a franchise that would struggle for several years as they went about rebuilding itself.

Four years later, Boston was in the Eastern Conference finals as the top seed before losing to Cleveland in five games with their head coach Brad Stevens, winning more games than the previous season ever since he arrived as coach in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Lakers haven’t been to the playoffs since 2013 which is the longest playoff drought in the franchise’s history. And this season isn’t expected to be any different, either.

But as we’ve seen in the past, records mean very little when these two play.

Initially, the thought was that tonight’s matchup would be focused heavily on the Ball-Tatum dynamic, with both players going No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in last June’s NBA draft.

But the talk of the NBA tonight has to do with Boston’s nine-game winning streak. The Celtics (9-2) are the only team in NBA history to begin the season with back-to-back losses and recover to win its next nine games.

Kyrie Irving has been brilliant, especially down the stretch. Ditto for Al Horford whose play puts him near the front of the pack when talking about the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award.

However, the play of Boston’s young players is what really has allowed them to separate themselves from the rest of the league in this still-young season.

Tatum, whose minutes seemed uncertain after being drafted, has been one of the most consistent rookies in the NBA in terms of his overall contributions in addition to ranking among the league leaders in minutes played among first-year players. Celtics rookies Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye have both seen limited minutes but to their credit, have maximized their time with smart play at both ends of the floor.

Indeed, youth will be served in some fashion tonight by both teams.


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).