Celtics

Previewreview: Lakers 88, Celtics 87

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Previewreview: Lakers 88, Celtics 87

BOSTON As expected, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers battled until the absolute bitter end, with the Celtics coming up short, 88-87, in overtime Thursday night.

Down the stretch, the Celtics were unable to execute in a manner that they have in past years.

And that more than anything else, was at the heart of Thursday's loss, which snapped the Celtics' five-game winning streak.

"Our execution the whole game was terrible," said coach Doc Rivers.

But there were other contributing factors to the loss. Earlier yesterday, we talked about what to expect in the game; now, we'll take a look at what happened:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Thursday's game should be a low scoring affair. Now normally that's a good thing for Boston, which comes in giving up an NBA-low 86.5 points per game. The Lakers have started to buy into new coach Mike Brown's defensive principles, and the result has been a Lakers squad that's No. 4 in the league in fewest points allowed (91) per game.
WHAT WE SAW: Not surprisingly, both teams slugged it out in a defensive, grind-it-out kind of matchup. In the end, it came down to which team could execute and to some degree, out-effort the other. The numbers don't lie. The Celtics were clobbered in both categories, and yet still had a chance to steal a victory up until literally the final horn sounded.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Pau Gasol. Garnett has been on an incredibly hot streak at both ends of the floor, providing the Celtics with the kind of end-to-end game they desperately need him to deliver. Meanwhile, Gasol continues to be the subject of trade rumors. And while he says he tries not to let it affect him, he's averaging a career-low 16 points per game. It's hard to imagine that the one year where he's a focal point of trade talk just so happens to be the same year in which he struggles offensively.
WHAT WE SAW: This matchup was all Gasol, who scored 25 points on 12-for-20 shooting. He also managed to grab 14 rebounds. As for Garnett, he'll be the first to tell you that he had an off - really off - night shooting the ball. He had 12 points on 6-for-23 shooting. "I know myself, I probably rushed a couple things," Garnett said. "I was more than hype. I should have calmed down; go to a meditated state, do some yoga on the side. But for the most part, I thought when we needed to get stops, we got stops. It came down to overtime. If you in your building, that's what you want."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has steadily regained the form we saw prior to his right wrist injury. But he hasn't had the breakout-type game he's so overdue to have. This could be that night, especially against Derek Fisher who still a solid defender, but has clearly lost a step or two.
WHAT WE SAW: Rondo had a solid, but far from spectacular game against the Lakers. He had 14 points on 7-for-13 shooting. He also had seven assists. But there was never really moment on Thursday when Rondo took over.

STAT TO TRACK: One of the Celtics' strengths of late has been their ability to score in the paint. During their current five-game winning streak, Boston has outscored opponents by 4.8 points per game in the paint. With the Lakers' Twin Towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, points in the paint will be hard to come by for Boston.
WHAT WE SAW: Boston's inability to rebound the ball was a major factor in their loss to the Lakers. The C's were out-rebounded 55-45, and Los Angeles outscored them 24-13 in second-chance points, and 46-38 in points in the paint.

Now, it gets real for revamped Celtics

Now, it gets real for revamped Celtics

CLEVELAND – For the Celtics, the preseason went about as well as expected.
 
No serious, long-term injuries.

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They won every preseason game, even one in which the team’s second unit played the role of starters.
 
And the chemistry concerns with so many new players, while very real, didn’t seem to be that big an issue.
 
Still, as good as the Celtics may feel about where they stand, they know it means absolutely nothing unless they get it done against elite, NBA-caliber competition.
 
The Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
Opening night.
 
It doesn’t get much more challenging than that.
 
And for the Celtics, win or lose, this is going to be a game for them to build upon going forward this season.
 
“I’m just ready to get going,” said Gordon Hayward. “A lot of things have happened this summer, a lot of buildup. I’m ready to get to the game. It’s going to be a fun matchup, for sure.”
 
Among the summer happenings was Boston and Cleveland pulling off one of the biggest blockbuster deals of the offseason with the Cavs trading Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic while also conveying Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick and Miami’s 2020 second-round pick to complete the deal.
 
Having spent his first six seasons with the Cavaliers, there’s a certain amount of corporate knowledge that the 25-year-old Irving brings to tonight’s matchup.
 
“I know a lot about them, they know a lot about me,” Irving said. “There’s plenty of film on all of us, but specifically going back and understanding the way we played last year when I played with them and now how they’re playing with the new guys, understanding how to implement themselves into their new system plus me implementing myself into this system...There’s definitely some benefits on our end, there are some benefits on their end. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
 
Part of the challenge for the Celtics will be developing the kind of on-court cohesion to be successful, which is easier said than done when you’re talking about getting nearly a dozen players on the same page in just a few weeks.
 
“We have good chemistry as a group,” said Al Horford. “We still have a ways to go as far as keep getting comfortable with each other and keep figuring out our spots. But we feel good with what we have. Our young guys, it’s been remarkable how quickly they’ve been able to come along and be up to date with everything. And our new guys as well. They’re up to date, they know what we need to do. They understand the game plan. It’s been good.”
 
Players aren’t the only ones eager to get to tonight’s game.
 
“To have to go into Cleveland with that level of intensity, with that level of attention, distraction, etc. is great,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It’s great to experience that in game one, a tremendous learning experience for our group, so we’re preparing to play as well as we can. And we know that they’re really, really good. But this is..I’m looking forward to it because I want to find out where we are.”
 

'People took it the wrong way,' Isaiah says of his Ainge comments

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'People took it the wrong way,' Isaiah says of his Ainge comments

Isaiah Thomas told Sports Illustrated last week that he "might never talk to Danny [Ainge] again." And he sounded pretty bitter about his trade from the Celtics to the Cavs.

Now, on the "Road Trippin" podcast with new teammate Channing Frye and ex-Cav Richard Jefferson, Thomas, who is out until at least January with a hip injury, said those comments were misunderstood.

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“People took it the wrong way,” Thomas said. “I understand the business, I understand that we’re in position to get traded and sent to other teams and things like that. It’s just how it went down that I didn’t respect. As a man, I feel like if you respected me as much as you say you did, you would have at least informed me about what was going on before it happened. And that’s all I was talking about.

“I’m not tripping off the trade like I got traded to the Cavs and we’re going to win a championship. And at the end of the day, I’m going to be fine with that,” Thomas said. “[Ainge] sent me to an even better situation with a bigger platform. I’m blessed to be in the position, I’m grateful and I’m excited.”

The Cavs host the Celtics tonight in the season opener. 

Jae Crowder, who came to Cleveland from Boston, was also on the podcast and when Frye talked with him about players deserving communication from the front office, Thomas could be heard in the background, saying, “That’s what I’m talking about.”

“I already said what I’m doing," Thomas told Crowder about what he'll do should he run into Ainge. "I’m going to keep it pushing like he kept pushing when he traded me, I’m not going to disrespect him. He’s a man and I’m a man, too. Like, I’m going to go my way. I play for the Cavaliers and that’s what it is.”