Celtics

Three Pointers to take away from Celtics-Hornets game

Three Pointers to take away from Celtics-Hornets game

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving celebrated his 27th birthday doing what he seems to do a lot of lately - get buckets. 

Scoring has been the strength of his game for years, but he is in a rhythm now offensively that we just haven’t seen from him like, ever. 

Irving dropped 31 points but it wasn’t enough as the Charlotte Hornets rallied for a 124-117 win. 

While it certainly was a disappointing loss for Boston, it continues what has been a red-hot stretch of shooting by Kyrie Irving who extended his streak of games with 30 or more points to a career-best five in a row. 

Here are three pointers from Saturday’s game against Charlotte. 

SAME OL, SAME OL’

Boston had the Hornets on the ropes early in the fourth quarter, seemingly one or two scoring possessions away from calling it a night after a Jayson Tatum bucket put Boston ahead 112-94. 

 But the Hornets closed out the game with a blistering 30-5 run for the win, a victory that was fueled in part by Marcus Smart picking up a few offensive fouls and thus leaving head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to bench him which opened the gateway towards their defeat with Smart saddled on the bench.

“When you lose an 18-point lead, there’s a lot of things that go wrong,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

It was yet another game in which the Celtics let a very winnable game get away from them, the kind of game that will haunt this team going into the postseason - just like so many other games have in the past. 

KEMBA WALKER

No matter how you look at it, Kemba Walker was the best player on the floor. He would lead all scorers with 36 points as part of a near triple-double that included 11 rebounds and nine assists. And Walker was at his best down the stretch when it mattered most, draining one big shot after another in leading the Hornets coming back from 18 points down in the third quarter. 

And as good as Kyrie Irving was, he was very much a non-factor in the fourth quarter when he missed four of his five shot attempts. 

 JAYLEN BROWN

One of the bright spots for Boston was the play of Jaylen Brown off the bench. Continuing his red-hot shooting off the Celtics bench, Brown would finish with 29 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the field. 

As Boston inches closer towards the postseason, Brown is positioning himself to be one of the more prominent players off the Celtics bench. In addition to his scoring, Brown has also shown himself to be capable of contributing in other ways as well such as defense. 

“QUOTE, UN-QUOTE”

“We should have probably trapped him more like every other team does in the league but we didn’t. He torches us every time we play them so it’s no surprise.” - Boston’s Kyrie Irving, speaking about Charlotte’s Kemba Walker who had 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists on Saturday. 

UP NEXT

Boston hosts the San Antonio Spurs Sunday night at 7:30 p.m. 

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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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