Celtics

Will Celtics get clipped at the line again in LA?

Will Celtics get clipped at the line again in LA?

LOS ANGELES – The carefully chosen words spoken by Brad Stevens on most nights provide insight into what he’s seeing on the floor.

That was certainly the case following the Celtics' 108-107 loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night when he was asked about the huge free-throw disparity between the teams.

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The Lakers went to the line 36 times compared to Boston’s 10 free-throw attempts, which is fertile fodder for a Tommy Heinsohn-esque rant about officiating. Particularly after the Celtics' losing streak reached a season-high four in a row.

Stevens wasn’t going to go there.  

“You know how that goes,” Stevens said. “I’m not going to say anything about that. We need to get to the line better by our own doing. We need to do a better job of finishing at the rim and we need to do a better job of drawing contact there.”

Shooting a low number of free throws has become the new normal for the Celtics this season.

Boston averages 20.3 free throws per game, which ranks 20th in the NBA.

However, the Celtics have made less than 20 free throws in a franchise-record 30 consecutive games. The last time Boston made 20 or more in a game was against the Dallas Mavericks on Nov. 20, which was an overtime win for Boston. Only three NBA teams in the past 50 years have had longer free throw droughts of less than 20 made than the current Celtics.

Making matters worse, Boston takes on a Los Angeles Clippers team tonight that’s playing some of its best basketball of the season in large part because of their ability to get to the free-throw line a lot.

In fact, the Clippers average 25.3 free-throw attempts per game, which ranks second in the NBA only to Dwight Howard and the Charlotte Hornets and their 27.3 attempts per game.

But the good news for the Celtics - potentially - is that the Clippers’ opponents typically spend a good deal of time at the free-throw line as well.

They allow 24.0 free throw attempts per game, which ranks 25th in the league.

Prior to the game, Stevens talked about the need for the Celtics to do a better job of breaking the defense down and attack closeouts, rather than attack defenders before the closeout comes.

But after yet another sub-par game at getting to the free throw line, Stevens will go back to the drawing board to see what can be done scheme-wise, to better position Boston to get more free throw attempts.

“I have to go back and watch and determine if there’s something different we can do,” Stevens said after the loss. Obviously, it was a huge key to the game, just shooting 10 [free throws]. We need to...it’s a part of our offense we need to improve.”

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Marcus Smart remains cautiously optimistic on return to the Boston Celtics

Marcus Smart remains cautiously optimistic on return to the Boston Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. — Marcus Smart, less than two weeks away from becoming a restricted free agent, remains cautiously optimistic that he will be back with the Celtics this season.

“I do,” he said at his basketball camp held on the campus of Brandeis University. “I haven’t put too much thought into this off-season, the free agency thing.

He added, “my number one focus is on my family now. I have a lot of stuff going.”

Specifically, Smart’s mother Camellia Smart is battling cancer.

Smart, who has spent a good chunk of the offseason with her in Texas, said her health has been his number one priority this summer.

“Right now, she needs all the positive thinking we can give her,” said Smart who added that she has three kidney stones and has lost the ability to walk due to chemotherapy treatments. 

While basketball is certainly an afterthought for Smart at this time, both he and the Celtics will have to make some tough decisions soon. As a restricted free agent, the Celtics can match any offer he receives. 

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A number of teams, including the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns are doing their homework on Smart to determine 1) If they want to make an offer to him and 2) what’s a number they can put out there that would dissuade the Celtics from matching.”

Smart, selected by the Celtics with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, has been a mainstay in the Celtics rotation from the moment he joined the team.

Despite often being criticized for his poor shooting, Smart averaged 9.4 points per game throughout his career as a Celtic, appearing in 251 regular season games.

His impact most nights lies at the defensive end of the floor where he has emerged as one of the better on-the-ball defenders in the NBA.

And while most think of good perimeter defense as contesting shots, Smart has shown you can be a difference-maker defensively by being in the right position at the right time as well.

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After rallying back from a 26-point deficit to beat Houston earlier this season, Smart drew a pair of offensive fouls on inbounds plays against James Harden in the closing moments to help secure the win.

And there have been countless dives on the floor for loose balls, deflections, rebounds and of course forcing turnovers, that have made Smart a player that has tremendous value in the eyes of the Celtics.

But in terms of dollars and cents, how much is Smart really worth to the Boston?

There are several teams in the NBA  such as the New York Knicks and Detroit Piston s, that are making calls inquiring about Smart to determine if they will make an offer to the restricted free agent-to-be next month.

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