Celtics

Stars, Studs and Duds: Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown step up for Celtics in win over Hawks

Stars, Studs and Duds: Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown step up for Celtics in win over Hawks

BOSTON -- Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the Celtics' 129-120 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday afternoon:  

STARS
Kyrie Irving: Within seconds of the opening tip-off, Kyrie Irving drained a 3-pointer. It was that kind of night for Irving, who continued to assert control before finishing with a near triple-double of 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

Trae Young: The rookie point guard continues to get better and better with time as he tallied 26 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field to go with four assists and four rebounds.

STUDS
Jaylen Brown: it was yet another strong night at both ends of the floor for Brown. He led all reserves with 23 points, but also drew a critical offensive foul against Vince Carter that led to a Celtics basket in the fourth which gave them some much-needed cushion which helped slow down the momentum gained by the Hawks.

John Collins: He has been one of the better young bigs in the NBA that so few are talking about. The Celtics know first-hand after Collins tallied a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds on Saturday night in addition to dishing out six assists.

Jayson Tatum: He has been giving the Celtics a little bit of everything. He finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Marcus Smart: When he’s shooting as efficiently as he was Saturday, the Celtics are awfully tough to beat. Smart had 10 points and seven assists at the half before finishing with 16 points, five steals and nine assists. 

Vince Carter: The old man's still got it. Carter doesn’t amaze fans like he used to with above-the-rim theatrics, but he left no doubts about whether he still had game. Coming off the Atlanta bench, Carter had 16 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

Marcus Morris: We have the Marcus Morris from earlier this season on display the past couple of games. Against the Hawks, he had his second consecutive double-double, totaling 19 points and 11 rebounds.

DUDS
Celtics defensive boards:  The Hawks had far too many second- and third-shot opportunities, which coming into the game, was one of their strengths. The Hawks came into the game averaging 11.6 offensive rebounds, which ranked fourth in the NBA. On Saturday, the Hawks had 18 offensive rebounds, which led to 24 points for Atlanta. 

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

For Day 3 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our panel to take a trip to the hardware store and predict which Celtics player might bring home some of the NBA’s hardware by winning a postseason award.

Outside of maybe only Most Valuable Player, there’s an argument to be made that a Celtics player, coach, or executive could muscle their way into the conversation for the league’s other top honors. Alas, you’d have to rewind to the 2007-2008 season to find the last time the Celtics found themselves in that spotlight when Kevin Garnett won Defensive Player of the Year and Danny Ainge was Executive of the Year.

Celtics players haven’t muscled their way into the voting much in recent seasons. Last year, only Marcus Smart charted on an award while finishing eighth in Defensive Player of the Year. Jayson Tatum was third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017-18, while Al Horford was fifth in Defensive Player of the Year balloting that season. Isaiah Thomas was fifth in both MVP and Most Improved voting for the 2016-17 campaign.

But if the Celtics are to outkick most prognosticator’s expectations this season, they’ll need someone on their roster to at least vault into the conversation for these awards.

So who is most likely to earn themselves a shiny trophy?

Our vote went to Marcus Smart for Sixth Man of the Year. With the glut of wing depth this season, we believe there’s a strong chance that Smart will initially shuffle back to his familiar bench role, allowing coach Brad Stevens to trot out a versatile starting lineup featuring Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and a big (with Enes Kanter the early favorite to hold that starter job initially).

Stevens has long preferred to deploy Smart in a reserve role, allowing Smart to set the tone for the second unit while also providing another ball-handler for the second group. The Celtics went away from that last season when Smart elevated from a bench role in November and started 60 games overall. Kyrie Irving routinely advocated for Smart, noting how much he enjoyed playing alongside him at the start of games, which only solidified Smart’s spot with the first unit.

A similar script could certainly unfold this season. But it would be the most Marcus Smart thing if he’s the player that embraces shuffling to the second unit and allows Hayward, Tatum, and Brown to play with the first group.

Yes, the Sixth Man award tends to honor a high-scoring player on one of the league’s top teams. But if the Celtics overachieve this season, there will be extra attention on the player(s) that spearheaded the second unit. Smart, with his All-Defense pedigree and improving offensive efficiency, could dive into the conversation for Sixth Man the same way he pounces on a loose ball.

Abby Chin: Gordon Hayward, Sixth Man of the Year

I believe Hayward will be almost — if not fully — back to his Utah self this season. But, with the glut of talent on the wing, and Hayward's ability to facilitate the offense on that second unit, it might make the most sense for him to come off the bench again. I think Hayward will finish games on the court, he just may not start there.

 

Sherrod Blakely: Brad Stevens, Coach of the Year

The Celtics will finish with a record that exceeds the expectations of many, and will include wins over East favorites Philly and Milwaukee.

 

Max Lederman: Gordon Hayward, Most Improved

Hayward has been in the lab all summer working on getting back to the player he was before the injury. He had a few flashes last season, but was a shell of his former self. I know this award tends to go to a young breakout player but I think a really strong start to the season could make some folks consider taking a different approach with their votes.

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Isaiah Thomas out 6 to 8 weeks after latest injury for ex-Celtics star

Isaiah Thomas out 6 to 8 weeks after latest injury for ex-Celtics star

Isaiah Thomas just can't seem to stay healthy since leaving the Boston Celtics two years ago.

Thomas underwent left thumb surgery Wednesday and is expected to miss six to eight weeks as he recovers, the Washington Wizards announced.

Thomas suffered the injury -- a rupture of the radial collateral ligament in his thumb -- during "routine workouts" Monday, according to the team.

It's another tough break for the 30-year-old point guard, who's appeared in a total of 76 games over the last three seasons due to a nagging hip injury that required surgery last March.

Thomas' hip injury, which he sustained during his career season for the Celtics in 2016-17, essentially derailed his career to date, as he's bounced between the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets since then.

Thomas finally appeared healthy after signing with the Wizards in July, but it appears his Washington debut will have to wait. The Celtics' first matchup with the Wizards isn't until Nov. 13 -- exactly eight weeks from Wednesday -- so there's a chance Thomas can return for a Boston reunion.

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