Celtics

Celtics gut out bounce-back win vs Clippers

Celtics gut out bounce-back win vs Clippers

LOS ANGELES – The final score doesn’t do justice to what we saw in Boston’s 113-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. 

There were stretches when the game’s momentum seemed on the verge of swinging towards the Clippers, only for Terry Rozier or Semi Ojeleye or Marcus Morris -- or any other Celtic -- to step up and make a clutch play. And that's why the team’s four-game losing skid is over.

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“It was good that we battled the way we did. We needed to,” said coach Brad Stevens. “We didn’t do enough the last couple games. It was good to see that response.”

We have seen that brand of basketball from the Celtics this season, but not recently. 

So for them, the plan going forward was to deliver a throwback performance to when they gutted out wins on a night-in, night-out basis.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was not surprised at how well Boston played despite the Celtics coming in having lost four in a row. 

“Give them credit,” said the ex-Celtics coach. “You knew they were going to come out after losing last night (to the Los Angeles Lakers) and they did just that.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 113-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers which snapped the Celtics’ four-game losing streak while extending the Clippers losing streak to three in a row. 

STARS

Jayson Tatum: There was a level of consistent aggression in his game that the Celtics absolutely had to have if they were to win tonight. He finished with 18 points and six rebounds. 

Lou Williams: There may not be a bigger all-star snub this year than Lou Williams who has been the runaway leader for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award. He led the Clippers with 20 points and seven assists. 

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Kyrie Irving: Irving impacted the game in several categories all game long before finishing with 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. 

Celtics free throws: The streak of games with less than 20 free throws made finally comes to an end. On Wednesday, Boston was 21-for-22 from the free throw line which was the first time they made more than 20 in a game since their overtime win against Dallas on Nov. 20. The 30 games they went in making less than 20 free throws, is a franchise record. 

STUDS

DeAndre Jordan: He was on a minutes restriction, but he still managed to play enough to make his presence felt at both ends of the floor. Jordan had a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds. 

Terry Rozier: Boston needed someone to lead the defensive/scoring charge off the bench with Marcus Morris starting and Marcus Smart out. Rozier was up to the challenge, scoring 15 points in just 23 minutes of action. 

Celtics rebounding: Success on the boards has meant success, period, for the Celtics this season. They were able to out-rebound the Clippers 47-40 which improved their record to 24-0 this season when they grab more rebounds than their opponent.  

DUDS

Jaylen Brown: He did a lot of good things defensively, but his shot was off all night. He had nine points on 2-for-10 shooting from the field. 

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Celtics transition defense: The Clippers were able to get out on the break and score at way too high a clip. Boston, one of the league’s best at limiting fast-break points, allowed Los Angeles to score 21 fast-break points which came on 7-for-12 shooting from the field.  
 

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Marcus Smart remains cautiously optimistic on return to the Boston Celtics

Marcus Smart remains cautiously optimistic on return to the Boston Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. — Marcus Smart, less than two weeks away from becoming a restricted free agent, remains cautiously optimistic that he will be back with the Celtics this season.

“I do,” he said at his basketball camp held on the campus of Brandeis University. “I haven’t put too much thought into this off-season, the free agency thing.

He added, “my number one focus is on my family now. I have a lot of stuff going.”

Specifically, Smart’s mother Camellia Smart is battling cancer.

Smart, who has spent a good chunk of the offseason with her in Texas, said her health has been his number one priority this summer.

“Right now, she needs all the positive thinking we can give her,” said Smart who added that she has three kidney stones and has lost the ability to walk due to chemotherapy treatments. 

While basketball is certainly an afterthought for Smart at this time, both he and the Celtics will have to make some tough decisions soon. As a restricted free agent, the Celtics can match any offer he receives. 

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A number of teams, including the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns are doing their homework on Smart to determine 1) If they want to make an offer to him and 2) what’s a number they can put out there that would dissuade the Celtics from matching.”

Smart, selected by the Celtics with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, has been a mainstay in the Celtics rotation from the moment he joined the team.

Despite often being criticized for his poor shooting, Smart averaged 9.4 points per game throughout his career as a Celtic, appearing in 251 regular season games.

His impact most nights lies at the defensive end of the floor where he has emerged as one of the better on-the-ball defenders in the NBA.

And while most think of good perimeter defense as contesting shots, Smart has shown you can be a difference-maker defensively by being in the right position at the right time as well.

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After rallying back from a 26-point deficit to beat Houston earlier this season, Smart drew a pair of offensive fouls on inbounds plays against James Harden in the closing moments to help secure the win.

And there have been countless dives on the floor for loose balls, deflections, rebounds and of course forcing turnovers, that have made Smart a player that has tremendous value in the eyes of the Celtics.

But in terms of dollars and cents, how much is Smart really worth to the Boston?

There are several teams in the NBA  such as the New York Knicks and Detroit Piston s, that are making calls inquiring about Smart to determine if they will make an offer to the restricted free agent-to-be next month.

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Celtics were first to show "high level of interest" in Donte DiVincenzo

Celtics were first to show "high level of interest" in Donte DiVincenzo

In an interview with the Boston Globe ahead of Thursday's 2018 NBA Draft, Villanova University coach Jay Wright said the Boston Celtics were the first team to show a "high level of interest," in Donte DiVincenzo. 

"I think Danny Ainge might have been the first guy I talked to about Donte,” he said. “They saw something in him really early. They liked his competitiveness and his ability to shoot the ball."

Wright went along to explain that the Celtics questioned DiVincenzo's defensive ability, but that they really liked him nonetheless. Boston owns the 27th pick in the NBA Draft this Thursday, and could consider taking the former Wildcat if he is available. 

The Celtics brought DiVincenzo in for a pre-draft workout early in the draft process, while Ainge reportedly took him out to lunch after it had concluded

DiVincenzo averaged 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in his redshirt-sophomore season. He shot 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from three point range, leading the Wildcats to their second NCAA National Championship in three years. 

It is possible the Celtics won't be able to select DiVincenzo with the 27th pick with the way his draft stock has risen, but Ainge has plenty of future draft picks to consider trading up if he has deemed DiVincenzo "his guy."

The 2018 NBA is scheduled to begin on June 21st at 7 p.m. EST. 

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