Celtics

Lack of Fourth of July fireworks not a bad thing for loaded Celtics

Lack of Fourth of July fireworks not a bad thing for loaded Celtics

BOSTON – The Fourth of July won’t bring about the kind of fireworks Boston Celtics fans saw a year ago, but there’s still plenty of reasons to be fired up about this team.

After finishing within a game of getting to the NBA Finals without their two best players for the entire postseason run, the areas in need of improvement were very few for Boston.

The Celtics already came to terms on a two-year, $11 million deal to keep Aron Baynes in the fold at center.

Retaining restricted free agent Marcus Smart remains a priority, a prospect that looks better and better as time goes on as the market for big-spending teams begins to dry up.

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Forget for a moment about the Golden State juggernaut being even more formidable with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins and the return of Kevin Durant.

Even if Boston put together a package for the best available player (Kawhi Leonard), would it make the Celtics better than the Warriors? Would that significantly close the gap?

Probably not.

    But in the NBA, the first step towards dethroning the champs is to put together a team that can at least compete at the highest levels relative to the rest of the NBA.

    As you start to examine the landscape of the league, the Celtics are part of a pool of elite, title-contending clubs that’s becoming more and more shallow.

    One of the keys to Boston being in the position it is in is its ability to secure key elements to the franchise around this time in recent years.

    The Celtics announced the hiring of Brad Stevens on July 3, 2013, just days after agreeing to trade away Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets for a slew of draft picks that eventually netted Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, in addition to one of those picks being included in the deal with Cleveland last year that netted Kyrie Irving.

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    On the free agency front, it was on the Fourth of July last year that Boston got a commitment from Gordon Hayward, who agreed to a four-year, $127 million deal.

    Acquiring Hayward did more than just reunite the All-Star forward with Stevens, his college coach. It was proof that the image of Boston as being this desolate place where no top-shelf free agent would want to play, was a mirage.

    Hayward’s signing came almost a year to the day after Al Horford came aboard in what was, at the time, one of the biggest free agent signings in franchise history.

    So when you look at this team and most of the key players to its success, this summer wasn’t about creating fireworks on the free agency front. It was about solidifying a roster that has a slew of talented players who collectively have Boston at the top of the Eastern Conference food chain.

    Fireworks? 

    Save that for the regular season and playoffs, when it really counts.

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    Jaylen Brown's sprained ankle puts status for Celtics-Grizzlies in doubt

    Jaylen Brown's sprained ankle puts status for Celtics-Grizzlies in doubt

    Jaylen Brown may not be able to suit up two days after putting LeBron James on a poster.

    The Celtics wing is listed as questionable for Boston's home game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday due to a right ankle sprain, the team announced Tuesday.

    Kemba Walker also is on Boston's injury report as probable with left knee soreness.

    LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

    Brown finished Monday's rout of the Los Angeles Lakers with 20 points, four rebounds, six assists and three steals, highlighting his night with a thunderous dunk on James in the third quarter.

    The 23-year-old appeared to tweak his right ankle midway through fourth quarter, although he stayed in the game for about two more minutes before finally subbing out.

    Brown had missed Boston's previous two games with a sprained right thumb, so the C's will be hoping his latest ailment is more minor as they aim to build on Monday's big win.

    Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Grizzlies-Celtics, which begins Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

    This wild stat perfectly sums up Celtics' historic beatdown of Lakers

    This wild stat perfectly sums up Celtics' historic beatdown of Lakers

    The Los Angeles Lakers suffered their worst loss of the season Tuesday night when the Boston Celtics crushed their rivals 139-107 at TD Garden.

    The Lakers entered the game with nine wins in their previous 10 games, as well as the NBA's best road record at 18-3. Los Angeles even jumped out to an 8-0 lead over Boston, making it look like the C's were headed for a fourth consecutive loss.

    LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

    The Celtics recovered nicely and took a 14-point halftime lead before blowing the game wide open in the third quarter. Boston outscored L.A. 70-52 in the second half, thus handing the Lakers their worst regular season loss to the Celtics in more than 50 years.

    The above stat does not include the playoffs, but if you did include those games, Monday night's defeat was the Lakers' worst against the Celtics since Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals when Boston clinched its 17th championship with a 39-point victory.

    Monday's win came at a perfect time for the Celtics. They haven't played particularly well of late, winning just four of their last 10 games and dealing with injuries to multiple star players. This victory did highlight how well the Celtics are capable of playing with a healthy roster, and now their challenge is executing at that level on a more consistent basis.

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