Celtics

Celtics go down again, losing streak at four in a row now

Celtics go down again, losing streak at four in a row now

BOSTON -- NBA teams love to be streaking this time of year, but this isn’t quite what the Boston Celtics had in mind. 

Boston fell 97-92 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, extending the Celtics’ losing skid to what is now a season-high four in a row. 

Portland (38-23) came in with the best record (17-4) against Eastern Conference teams this season, and seemed well on its way to extending that dominance on Wednesday. 

But Boston didn’t go down without a fight, something that we haven’t seen as much of in recent defeats. 

Trailing 91-81 with 3:08 to play, Boston went on a 7-2 run capped off by an Al Horford hook shot that cut the Blazers’ lead to 93-88. 

Boston continued to try and fight its way back into the game, and had a chance to make it a one-possession game but a Marcus Smart shot was off the mark and the Blazers quickly capitalized on the miss with a lay-up by Damian Lillard that made it a 95-88 game with 36.6 seconds to play. 

A 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving made it a 95-92 game. 

Forced to foul, Lillard sank a pair of free throws with 11.8 seconds to play, which led to another Boston time-out.

At that point, it was too little too late for the Celtics (37-25).

☘️BLAZERS 97, CELTICS 92

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s five-point loss to the Blazers.

STARS

Damian Lillard: The Blazers’ All-Star guard had a strong game as he finished with 33 points, seven rebounds and four assists. 

Kyrie Irving: It was another strong night scoring the ball for Irving, who led the Celtics with 31 points on 14-for-24 shooting.

STUDS

Jaylen Brown: He was the one of the few sparks off the bench for Boston, finishing with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Maurice Harkless: He has had his ups and downs this season, but he was a major factor in Portland getting the win as he finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.

DUDS

Rebounding: The Celtics were in an uphill battle most of the game against a Blazers team that has been among the NBA’s leaders in rebounding percentage this season. For the night, Portland wound up winning the battle of the boards by a decisive 48-41  margin. 

Marcus Morris: It was another rough night shooting the ball for Marcus Morris, who had eight points but did so on 3-for-10 shooting from the field.  

Celtics’ 3-point shooting: It was a brutal night from beyond the 3-point line for the Celtics, shooting just 17.8 percent (5-for-28) from behind the 3-point arc.

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Max Strus on new deal with Celtics: 'I still have to work'

Max Strus on new deal with Celtics: 'I still have to work'

BOSTON -- Max Strus confirmed that he has in fact agreed to a two-year, partially guaranteed deal with the Boston Celtics. 

But he’s quick to add that his future as a Boston Celtic, even with the new deal upgrading him from being a two-way signee, does little to assure that he’s on the roster at the start of the season.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Strus told NBC Sports Boston. “But nothing’s official. I still have to make the roster. Nothing is for sure yet.”

If you recall, Strus agreed to a two-way contract with the Celtics not that long after he went undrafted out of Depaul, having wowed the Celtics with his long-range shooting during his workout for the team. 

Since then, opportunities to showcase that shooting prowess have been few and far between.

He’s hoping to change that in the coming weeks leading up to the start of the season. 

But if he is waived, Strus will likely pocket a partial guarantee that’s worth more than $200,000 which is close to the $214,000 he would have made if he was a two-way player and wound up being with the Celtics for the maximum-allowed 45 days. 

It’s hard to look at Strus’ deal and not put it in the context of what it means to fellow rookie Tacko Fall, whose Exhibit 10 contract with the Celtics has been converted to the two-way deal that used to belong to Strus. 

Strus is well aware of the tenuous status he currently has, which is why his focus now isn’t any different than it was when he first joined the Celtics.

“It feels good, but nothing is for sure yet. A lot of people think I got the (15th and final) roster spot but that’s not what happened,” Strus said. “So I still have to work.”

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Explaining the Celtics' roster moves and what a 2-way deal means for Tacko Fall

Explaining the Celtics' roster moves and what a 2-way deal means for Tacko Fall

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics made a pair of roster moves Sunday to ensure that Tacko Fall remains a part of the organization beyond training camp.

The 7-foot-7 Fall, who had been with the team on a training camp invite since the summer, was signed to a 2-way slot after the Celtics signed fellow undrafted rookie Max Strus to a partially guaranteed NBA deal that now forces him to compete for Boston’s final available slot on its 15-man roster.

For the casual fan, the roster gymnastics might all be a bit confusing so let’s break this down a bit.

The Celtics signed Strus after June’s draft with a promise of one of the team’s two 2-way roster spots, which allows a player to spend time with both the parent club and the G-League affiliate. The other 2-way spot was earmarked for second-round pick Tremont Waters, one of Boston’s four draftees.

Boston originally signed Fall to an Exhibit 10 contract, which is essentially a training camp invite with a player in line to collect bonus money if they are waived and funneled to the team’s G-League affiliate.

What the Celtics probably didn’t expect was that Fall would become a viral sensation at Vegas Summer League in July, not only because of his sheer height but because of his raw potential. The Celtics were hoping that, given their glut of rookies, they might be able to sneak Fall through to the G-League as a final camp cut but it became evident that another team would likely pounce on him if waived.

As TackoMania swept the region, the Celtics essentially moved Sunday to ensure Fall would stick with the organization. Here’s how they did it:

1) Strus agreed to a partially guaranteed deal that essentially ensures he collects the money he would have earned as a two-way player regardless of whether he makes Boston’s 15-man roster. Strus had to know his 2-way spot was in jeopardy if the Celtics had no other means of keeping Fall and got some financial security should he be searching for a new employer at the end of camp. Strus, who first wowed Celtics brass with his shooting at pre-draft workouts, is still an intriguing prospect and will have the remainder of camp to state his case for that final roster spot.

2) Fall agreed to a 2-way deal that ensures that he cannot be poached by a rival. The contract type, introduced in the summer of 2017, allow teams to carry two players outside the 15-man NBA roster. Fall can now spend a maximum of 45 total days — or about a quarter of the season — with the parent club while spending the majority of his time developing in the G-League.

This is a win/win for Fall and the Celtics. TackoMania will be a monster draw for the Red Claws, an organization that the Celtics purchased this summer. Boston brass is headed to Portland on Tuesday for a preseason announcement and Sunday’s maneuvering allows them to champion Fall’s impending arrival as well. The Claws should have no problems selling tickets with Fall alone, let alone the other rookies that will likely visit on assignment in order to get heftier game reps during the season.

The Celtics still have an open spot on the 15-man roster — vacant since the team waived Guerschon Yabusele during summer league — and both Strus and summer league standout Javonte Green are here on partially guaranteed deals trying to stake their claim to that spot.

Boston does not have to fill that roster spot — potentially valuing the flexibility later in the season over carrying one of those players — but Green in particular has made a strong case for that spot with his play in Boston’s preseason slate. Strus’ strongest work has come behind closed doors at Boston’s practices were his shooting continues to distinguish him.

The Celtics have two other non-roster players in camp in Yante Maten and Kaiser Gates. Both are longshots for a final roster spot but can latch on with the Red Claws as affiliated players if they are final camp cuts.

TackoMania is now more secure than ever in New England. The Celtics will get every opportunity now to watch Fall develop and attempt to mold him into a NBA-caliber big. Brad Stevens can expect those “We Want Tacko!” chants throughout the season now.

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