Celtics

Celtics humbled by Raptors in lopsided loss

Celtics humbled by Raptors in lopsided loss

The Boston Celtics found themselves in an unfamiliar place Tuesday night – trying to make sense out of a humbling blowout loss. 

Toronto’s 111-91 win over Boston doesn’t do justice to how lopsided this game was pretty much from the second quarter going forward. 

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And while DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are the anchors to all that this team does, it was the Raptors bench that really swung the game’s momentum in Toronto’s favor. 

The Raptors’ bench would go on to score 59 points, 28 of which came in the decisive second quarter which is when Toronto outscored Boston 36-19. 

Boston players and coaches acknowledged that Toronto as a team played a better game. But a key part of their success was the play of the bench.

“Their bench has been killing everybody,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “We looked slow. We looked like we weren’t ready to react to their speed or physicality. Credit them; they played great.”

Boston’s Al Horford echoed similar sentiments. 

“I felt they came out, they did everything they wanted to do,” said Horford, referring to Toronto’s second unit. “They helped them build the lead and in the third quarter the starters kept it going. They were the better team tonight.”

Toronto’s bench, while not one filled with household names, has been effective most of this season and is one of the reasons why Toronto has been breathing on the Celtics’ neck for the top spot in the East. 

Boston (39-16), which had its four-game winning streak snapped, now has a one game lead over the Raptors (37-16). 

According to Hoopsstats.com, Toronto’s bench averages 39.4 points scored per game which ranks 10th in the NBA. Boston’s bench is a bottom-10 unit when it comes to scoring. 

They average 31.6 points scored per game and are ranked No. 23 in the league. 

“We got hit tonight,” said Kyrie Irving who had 17 points in his return to Boston’s lineup after missing three games with a right quadriceps bruise. “We got hit early, and they consistently hit you … they buried us which is what good teams should do.”

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As disappointing as the Celtics were with the result and their overall play, there’s no time to dwell on what happened Tuesday night, not with another tough road game at Washington on the horizon. 

“It’s on to the next one,” Irving said. “That’s the attitude you have to have. You want to learn as much as you can from games like this; keep it in the back of your mind. I know I will, and I hope a few more guys will as well.” 

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Celtics one of several teams to vie for Dwight Howard

Celtics one of several teams to vie for Dwight Howard

BOSTON – Dwight Howard has reportedly begun the buyout process with the Brooklyn Nets, seeking to become a free agent this summer and in doing so, latch on with a title contender.

Several teams will vie for his services, including the Boston Celtics.

Remember, Howard was considered a “Plan B” option for Boston a couple years ago if the Celtics failed to land their top choice Al Horford who as it turned out, was replaced in Atlanta by Howard.

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"I want to be in a situation where I have an opportunity to help a team win," Howard told ESPN’s Chris Haynes. "That's my only goal. All I need is a real chance and a clean slate where it's not people talking about my past."

Boston enters this summer looking to bolster its defensive presence in the middle with Aron Baynes and Greg Monroe both unrestricted free agents.

Monroe, who was acquired after he agreed to a buyout with the Phoenix Suns, is expected to play elsewhere next season.

But Baynes, an integral defensive stalwart for Boston this past season, is someone the Celtics would like to re-sign.

However, his emergence defensively this past season might make him too pricey for the Celtics.

And while it remains to be seen what Howard will be looking for salary-wise from Boston, a chance to play for a title contender might be enticing enough for him to come to terms on a salary that the Celtics feel comfortable with going forward.

The addition of the 32-year-old Howard would provide Boston with one of the better defensive centers over the past decade, in addition to an upgrade scoring-wise at the position.

Last season in Charlotte, Howard averaged a double-double of 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game which placed him prominently in the all-star discussion in February.

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The top overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft by Orlando, Howard has been one of the league’s most decorated players since his arrival.

Howard is an eight-time all-star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, in addition to leading the NBA in rebounds five times and blocked shots twice along with several all-NBA selections. 

His resume is impressive.

But throughout his career, Howard has often been cast as a player who doesn’t care enough about winning, isn’t a great leader and someone who’s more harmful than helpful to a locker room. 

Those perceptions will certainly factor into whatever team decides to pursue him.

But to Howard’s credit, he’ll do what he can to show what folks have heard and what those around him say about him, are two completely different narratives.

Kent Bazemore is a former teammate of Howard’s in Atlanta.

"(Dwight's) gotten so much of a bad rap, but he's a great teammate," Bazemore told ESPN. "For such a long season, his energy and his laughing helps you get through. And if you're going through a tough stretch personally, it's good to have that type of person around. Before he signed in Atlanta, there was all this bad stuff said about him. ... I found that he has a good heart and he works hard every day to turn that perception around."

If Howard joined the Celtics, he would already have a close friend on the team in Jaylen Brown.

Both are from Georgia and have shared the same trainer in the past.

When asked about Howard earlier this season, Brown said that Howard has been a mentor of sorts for him, advising him on the things to do and not do early on in your pro career.

Howard will be the first to acknowledge he has made some bad decisions in his career, which is why he has made a point when given the opportunity to pass on the lessons he learned so that others like Brown won’t repeat those same mistakes.

“When you’re talking to a guy trying to be in the NBA and stuff like that, you just always want to be real,” Howard told NBC Sports Boston. “For us growing up, we didn’t see the stuff that players went through. I didn’t know what to expect. I only saw the TV, what was on TV, the cars, the houses, that stuff. Once I got in, it’s a different side. That’s the side I wanted to talk to him (Brown) about, just try to … I don’t want him to make any of the mistakes I made as far as away from the game. On the court, he’s going to handle himself. But away from the game, just so he doesn’t make those little mistakes that could cost you in the end.”

Now  Howard has accomplished just about every individual honor a player can throughout the course of what has been on paper at least, a Hall of Fame-worthy career.

But as his career nears an end, Howard has that thirst to win at the highest levels, something that has often been questioned about him in the past.

Can he get that thirst quenched in Boston?

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Take your pick: Celts expected to stay where they are in NBA Draft

Take your pick: Celts expected to stay where they are in NBA Draft

BOSTON -- The starting point isn't quite what it has been the past couple of years, but the intent on draft night -- find an impact player -- remains the focus for the Boston Celtics.
 
They come into tonight's draft with the 27th overall pick, a steep fall from having the No. 3 overall pick in each of the last two drafts. 
 
Boston used those selections on Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, respectively. 

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Both had strong rookie seasons, with Brown being named to the NBA's All-Rookie second team in 2016-17 while Tatum came one vote shy of being a unanimous selection to the league's All-Rookie first team this past season. 
 
Finding another Brown or Tatum so late in the first round tonight isn't likely to happen, which is in part why the Celtics are one of the more prominently mentioned clubs that is looking at possibly moving up in the draft. 
 
Boston has what you might call a balanced portfolio of options that can be packaged together to entice teams to make a deal. 
 
In addition to Sacramento's first-round pick next season (likely to be in the top five), the Celtics also have a number of talented players still on their rookie deals who could potentially be included in a deal to move up the draft board. 
 
But all indications up to this point is that Boston will stand pat at No. 27, a draft slot that has produced some talented players in recent years. 
 
Last season, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was taken with the 27th overall pick. He was among the NBA's top scorers among rookies which was one of the keys to him landing a spot on the NBA's All-Rookie First Team. 
 
Other notable standouts taken with the 27th overall pick include Larry Nance Jr. (2015), Bogdan Bogdanovic (2014) and all-star Rudy Gobert (2013).

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All of those players live in the frontcourt, which in past years has been fertile ground for teams picking near the end of the first round. 
 
But this is a different kind of draft, one that's top-heavy on bigs. Which means the talent pool around where the Celtics will be picking, is littered with perimeter players in all shapes, sizes and skill sets. 
 
And while the Celts would love to add a player who can step in and contribute right away, they know that's a tall order considering where they are picking relative to a roster that's already one with lots of youth playing in prominent roles. 

"We do have a lot of guys under contract for next year and a lot of our young guys have seen significant minutes," Boston's Austin Ainge, director of player personnel, told NBC Sports Boston. "That experience matters. I don't think that we're going to not use our pick because of that. We're going to try and get a good player that's a good fit, whether it's using that pick or trading it depending on the opportunities given us."

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