Celtics

Celtics implode in fourth quarter, lose to Raptors, 114-106

Celtics implode in fourth quarter, lose to Raptors, 114-106

The Boston Celtics have been one of the league’s best fourth quarter teams most of this season.

So there was indeed a bit of irony to their 114-106 loss at Toronto, a game in which the Raptors closed out the night with a decisive 23-6 run.

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With the loss, Boston (23-15) is now two games behind Toronto (25-13) in the Atlantic Division standings. Even more significant is that the Celtics have now lost both of their head-to-head matchups with the Raptors, with two more to play this season.

That could come into play if these two finish with an identical regular season record, which is very possible especially when you consider half of the teams in the East that made it to the playoffs finished the regular season with a 48-34 record.

But playoff position was the last thing on the Celtics mind following Tuesday’s loss, a game in which they went into having a chance to tie the Raptors record-wise and with that, move into the No. 2 spot in the East.

Toronto All-Star DeMar DeRozan took over in the second half which is when he scored 31 of his game-high 41 points which included 19 points in the third quarter which is when the Raptors swung the game’s momentum in their favor.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 27 points, nine coming in the fourth quarter. Boston got a nice lift off the bench from Gerald Green who had 14 points and five rebounds off the bench.

It was a sluggish start for both teams offensively in the first quarter which ended with Toronto ahead 23-18.

But the second quarter was an entirely different game for the Celtics who pulled ahead by as many as 10 points.

And like most of their success, it was far from a one or two-man show, either.

Marcus Smart, filling in for Avery Bradley (Achilles injury) for the second straight game, had nine points in the quarter along with a couple rebounds and a couple steals. He would finish with 15 points, five assists and four steals.

And off the bench, Green didn’t waste any time heating up from the field with nine points while playing all but 35 seconds in the second.

Meanwhile, the Celtics were able to keep DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry from having big quarters in the first half as each scored five points in the second quarter which was equal to what they delivered scoring-wise in the first.

At the half, Boston had a solid 55-46 lead that they increased to as many as 16 in the third quarter before the Raptors began to make their all-too-predictable surge.

Toronto’s shooters began to heat up, but didn’t cut into Boston’s lead until the latter stages of the third quarter.

Boston’s double-digit lead was down to just 80-76 with 1:06 to play as Toronto went on an 8-0 run.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens brought Thomas back into the game earlier than usual.

And Thomas didn’t waste much time, getting to the free throw line within seconds of returning to the floor as the Celtics went into the fourth quarter ahead 84-80.

But Thomas' usual fourth quarter heroics just weren't enough to withstand a strong finish by the Raptors who remain the best team in the East besides Cleveland.

Breakfast Podcast June 17, 2019: Anthony Davis is going to be a Laker, what does that mean for the Celtics?

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Breakfast Podcast June 17, 2019: Anthony Davis is going to be a Laker, what does that mean for the Celtics?

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1:17 - Jeff Goodman joins the Early Edition crew to give his thoughts on Anthony Davis landing in LA and why he thinks Kyrie Irving had a negative impact on Jayson Tatum this past season.

7:13 - Joe Haggerty and Phil Perry react to Don Sweeney's comments on wanting to keep Torey Krug and David Backes in Boston next year.

12:16 - Lou Merloni, John Tomase and Tony Massaroti react to the Red Sox 2-0 win over the Twins.

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Could Bradley Beal be the next big star that the Celtics pursue?

Could Bradley Beal be the next big star that the Celtics pursue?

In the wake of the Anthony Davis trade, the Boston Celtics no longer have a superstar target in their sights. The trade market doesn't have an obvious superstar available for the first time in what feels like quite a while. But with Danny Ainge still sitting on a treasure trove of assets, the Celtics could still look to be active in attempting to acquire franchise changing players.

In an appearance on NBC Sports Boston's Arbella Early Edition, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix gave his pick for a potential franchise cornerstone that the Celtics could target. That was Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal. Here's why Mannix thinks that Beal could be the next star-caliber player that becomes available.

I lean towards Beal just because he's the obvious guy that could be moved. Ted Leonsis, the owner in Washington, loves Bradley Beal, but a new GM could walk in there and say look, I've got John Wall probably not playing next season. Bradley Beal has three years left on his contract. He is an enormously valuable trade asset. Can you get a Bradley Beal without throwing a Jayson Tatum in a trade? I don't know. But Bradley Beal is the next big star, I think, that could be available.

And as NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg went on to point out, Tatum and Beal have a relationship as they did go to the same high school. So, in the event that the Celtics did have Beal and Tatum, they would have some immediate chemistry.

The Wizards could be heading towards a rebuild, as Wall will likely miss a good chunk of the upcoming season with a torn Achilles he suffered in late January. Wall is entering the first year of a four-year, $170 million supermax extension, so if he can't get on the floor, the Wizards will have a tough time surrounding Beal with solid offensive weaponry. And if the team struggles to start the season, they could move on from Beal to jumpstart a potential rebuild.

Of course, acquiring Beal would be no easy pursuit. He is coming off a season in which he averaged 25.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists, all of which are career highs. He made strides as a distributor with Wall out and as Mannix pointed out, he is on a controllable contract that comes in at roughly $25 million annually, well below the max. So, if he does become available, he could be a sought after target and may require the Celtics to ship out some of their young assets.

In fact, the New Orleans Pelicans are rumored to have an interest in Beal. So, if Washington does decide to sell Beal, the Celtics will have to get into the fray and construct a package that could work for the soon-to-be 26-year-old scorer.

There's no guarantee that Beal will become available. But certainly, his scoring would be a good fit with the Celtics. It will be interesting to see what Washington decides to do with him as they navigate a difficult situation with Wall's injury.

Click here for A. Sherrod Blakely's full Mock Draft 6.0>>>

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