Category Archives: Basketball

Celtics Circuit: Three Crucial Matchups Against Cavaliers

The Boston Celtics have to find a way to contain the Cleveland Cavaliers'  Big Three.

The Boston Celtics have to find a way to contain the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Big Three.

The Boston Celtics enter their opening-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers with all eyes in Boston on them for the first time this season. Throughout the 2014-’15 season, the Celtics have been seen as rebuilding while the New England Patriots captured Super Bowl XLIX on February 1st and the Boston Bruins failed to make the playoffs last Saturday.

In this series, pundits have mainly picked the Cavaliers to finish the series quickly either in four or five games. Celtics play-by-play broadcaster Mike Gorman (along with the most optimistic Celtics fans) are the only people who are picking the Celtics.

The pressure is on the superstar-laden Cavaliers. LeBron James signed with the Cavaliers last summer and immediately made the Cavaliers contenders for the Larry O’Brien trophy. They added forward Kevin Love in a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves and they already had 2014 NBA All-Star MVP Kyrie Irving on their roster.

Meanwhile the Celtics were 16-30 after January and left for dead in the bottom of the Eastern Conference. They shipped Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks and Jeff Green to the Memphis Grizzlies before Super Bowl Sunday. The Celtics are 24-12 since February 1st. They have beaten playoff teams like the Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks, and New Orleans Pelicans. They also built a big advantage over the Golden State Warriors before falling in the final few minutes. The Celtics are among the hottest and most interesting teams in this year’s postseason. Brad Stevens is a candidate for Coach of the Year.

Here are three intriguing matchups between the Celtics and Cavliers:

1. James versus Celtics’ defense: It will be interesting to see if the Celtics employ any new wrinkles against James because they don’t really have a one-on-one defender to stop LeBron (nobody really does). The biggest key is to limit the turnovers and not let James get into the open court. The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach had an interesting article in Saturday’s newspaper about James’ shooting percentage from the perimeter. Himmelsbach wrote that James is shooting 56.5 percent when he has a defender guarding him within two feet and his percentage falls to 49.5 percent when the nearest defender is at least six feet away from him. Obviously, the Celtics would like to make James shoot jumpers in the half-court, but that is easier said than done against the 6-foot-8-inch, 250-pound battering ram. The Celtics will likely seek a rotation of Evan Turner, Jae Crowder, and Brandon Bass to defend James. Read more

Celtics Playoffs..What Are The Odds? – With NBA Lines by Mybookie.ag

Isaiah Thomas leads Celtics

Isaiah Thomas has been a major reason why the Celtics had the second best record in the Eastern Conference since February 2nd.

I’ll be the first to say that I was right in my prediction of contending for a low-seed playoff spot, but how the Celtics reached this point nobody saw coming. This Celtics team proved a lot of doubters wrong thus far, and defied the NBA tank. The strange thing is, I’m convinced they aren’t done yet. That’s correct, I think the Boston Celtics could give the Cavaliers a run for their money, by either pushing the Cavs to 7 games or even taking the series. And if anyone else is feeling as bold as I am about the Celtics taking down the Cavs, you can go place NBA Odds for the series!

I’m going to play out a scenario, and you tell me if I am being overly optimistic, or completely sensible. Celtics upset the Cavs in 7 games. LeBron will get his 30+ points a night, but can only carry his team so far. Kevin Love, much like most of the season, struggles to fit into David Blatt’s offense. Kyrie is held in check by Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. David Blatt, an untested NBA coach, gets out-coached by Brad Stevens. Celtics play as a team and move the ball around and keep Cleveland’s stars in check. Celtics take a few games early on in the series, and suddenly the Cavs are playing on their heels.

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Marcus Smart’s Big No-No (VIDEO)

It’s no secret that Marcus Smart has temper issues in the past, but it seems to be flaring up on the NBA level lately. It certainly seemed evident in last night’s blowout loss against the Spurs, with Smart’s hit below the belt on Matt Bonner. It was announced today that Smart was handed for a one-game suspension by the league, in addition to an early 4th quarter exit in last night’s game.

Ouch.

Marcus Smart has been a physical defensive presence all season, but obviously you should never hit a dude below the belt like that. That was ruthless and idiotic, and in no way accidental. He’s a competitive player which is great, but you can’t get your frustration and emotions get the best of you.

C’s Circuit: Embrace the Cinderella Celtics

Brad Stevens continues to work magic with the Boston Celtics.

Brad Stevens continues to work magic with the Boston Celtics.

It’s tough not to feel good about the Boston Celtics these days. The team is 8-5 since the acquisitions of Isaiah Thomas, Jonas Jerebko, Luigi Datome just before the NBA Trade Deadline on February 19th. Also, the Celtics have won their last two games without Thomas (bruised back), including a thrilling 95-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, who are currently in second place in the loaded Western Conference.

The Celtics are a Cinderella story as they reside just one game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They don’t have a star player, but the Celtics play together and Brad Stevens has been fabulous calling plays out of timeouts at the end of games. For example in the 85-84 win over the Utah Jazz on March 4th, Stevens noticed that the Jazz had their 7-footer Rudy Gobert defending the inbounds pass and they were switching so he called a play for Tyler Zeller. Marcus Smart lobbed a long pass to Zeller who hit a buzzer-beating bank shot to send the Celtics to an exhilarating victory. In the win over the Grizzlies, Stevens drew a play for Kelly Olynyk, but he told Evan Turner to see if an alley-oop pass to Smart was available. Smart gained a step on former Celtic guard Courtney Lee and Smart banked in a shot before hitting the ensuing free throw to give the Celtics a 91-90 advantage.

Many fans have been rooting for the Celtics to lose over the past couple of seasons so they can get a potential superstar in the Draft. Isn’t it more fun to cheer for your team when they are underdogs? The most memorable victories in recent Boston sports history has been the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl XXXVI victory over the St. Louis Rams, and when the Boston Red Sox came from 3-0 down to beat the hated New York Yankees in seven games in the 2004 ALCS and then they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Both of these teams’ championship runs were so improbable. I’m not saying the Celtics will go on a championship run, but it would be fun to cheer for the superstar-less Celtics and see how far they go.

The Celtics can follow the Atlanta Hawks’ model of success. Of course, the Hawks have made every postseason since 2008. Last season, the Hawks finished in eighth place and they fell in seven games to the top-seeded Indiana Pacers. This year, the Hawks used that run and some good health to claim the first spot in the Eastern Conference. Also, the Celtics will have about $30 million in cap space with a talented free agent class. They also have numerous draft pics over the next several years to remain in contention.

After all, everyone loves an underdog story and isn’t this the reason we watch sports? This is the season of Cinderella teams breaking people’s hearts around the country.

Excuse me for hoping the Celtics make a deep run in favor of taking a chance on a talented, yet not fully developed, teenager coming out of a year of college.The kid in me still enjoys fairy tale endings.

 

 

Celtics Circuit: Intriguing C’s Coming Together

The Celtics could lure a big-time player like Marc Gasol this summer.

The Celtics could lure a big-time player like Marc Gasol this summer.

For the first time in awhile, Boston Celtics fans can say their team is fun to watch. The Celtics are 5-3 since the acquisitions of guard Isaiah Thomas and fowards Jonas Jerekbo, and Luigi Datome on February 19th.

The team has won their last two games over the Utah Jazz at home and on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans. In the week before, the Celtics won three games over the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, and Charlotte Hornets.

In eight games, Thomas is averaging 21.0 points off the bench in about 27 minutes. Meanwhile Jerekbo has knocked down 11 of 20 attempts from beyond the three-point line in seven games.

Despite the strong play against mediocre competition, the Celtics dropped two games earlier this week to the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden and at the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics lost a 26-point lead in the first half in their 106-101 defeat to the Warriors on Sunday. They got crushed by the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

Also, the team was unable to agree to a deal with center JaVale McGee because both sides could not agree on the option for next year. The Celtics wanted the option to belong to the team, but McGee wanted a player option. While McGee could have brought a shot-blocking presence in the frontcourt, he has dealt with numerous injuries over the past couple of seasons and he has been inconsistent throughout his career. He might have represented a good low-cost addition to the organization.

Thomas has proven he is a volume scorer and he brings balance to the backcourt with his ability in the high pick-and-roll. Jerekbo has been able to stretch the floor with his shooting.

The Celtics began the season with a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, and Kelly Olynyk. Only one of those players (Olynyk) played in Friday night’s 104-98 victory over the Pelicans. Rondo and Green were both traded. Sullinger is out for the season with a foot fracture and Bradley suffered a hyperextended elbow in the win against the Jazz.

Currently, the Celtics are one and a half games behind the Indiana Pacers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

There seem to be brighter days ahead because the Celtics have nearly $30 million in cap space with two first-round picks. This year’s free agent class includes some prominent players such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Jimmy Butler, Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, and Paul Millsap.

Boston could be an attractive destination, especially if the Celtics can continue their recent surge.

 

 

Celtics Circuit: Celts Acquire Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas can create shots for himself and his teammates.

Isaiah Thomas can create shots for himself and his teammates.

The Boston Celtics were very quiet until the closing minutes of the NBA Trade Deadline on Thursday. The Celtics traded Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns for guard Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas is a 5-foot-9-inch guard who is currently in his fourth season. He was drafted with the 60th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, where he spent his first three seasons. The 26-year-old provides instant scoring as he is averaging 15.2 points per game this season. He is shooting 39.1 percent on three-pointers and he is a great at the pick-and-roll. Thomas is in the first year of a four-year, $27 million contract he signed last summer.

When the Celtics played the Suns at the TD Garden on November 17th, Thomas told reporters that Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge called him during the summer. Ainge expressed interest in Thomas and he was the first person to call Thomas. The Celtics had a crowded backcourt at the time with Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley was in the process of resigning with the Celtics. Since the Celtics unloaded Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks in December, they had a need for a guard.

Thornton’s contract was expiring after this season. The first-round pick came from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the three-team deal between the Celtics, Cavaliers, and Brooklyn Nets last summer. The Celtics essentially turned the trade exception from the Nets into Tyler Zeller and Thomas.

In a separate deal, the Celtics shipped forward Tayshaun Prince to the Detroit Pistons for Jonas Jerekbo and Luigi Datome. Jerekbo’s contract expires this summer and its unclear of the Celtics’ plan with Jerekbo past this season. Prince was headed into a buyout so the Celtics acquired a couple of potential assets for him.

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