Boston Celtics: Cleveland Cavaliers

Freeze Frame: Rejecting negativity

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
3:00
AM ET
Brandon Bass and the Boston Celtics rejected the Cleveland Cavaliers' attempt to rally all the way back from a 22-point deficit during Saturday's triumph at TD Garden:

For C's, #EveryGameIsAnAdventure

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
12:01
AM ET
BOSTON -- His team's ability to give away a double-digit lead might eventually give Boston Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens an ulcer, but for at least one game, he was able to keep his sense of humor about the issue.

AP Photo/Michael DwyerThe Cavs outscored the Celtics 34-18 in the fourth quarter, but Brandon Bass blocked Dion Waiters' shot attempt with 8 seconds left to ice Boston's win.
"I was telling [team president] Rich Gotham it should have been promoted as part of our holiday [ticket] package: 'Every game is an adventure,'" deadpanned Stevens after the Celtics almost gave away a 22-point lead before fending off the Cleveland Cavaliers at the finish line of a 103-100 triumph in a Saturday matinee at TD Garden.

The Celtics had previously kicked away a 21-point lead while losing to the Detroit Pistons and an 18-point lead in falling to the Washington Wizards last week at the Garden.

"And that would have been, you know, Green Runs Deep, hashtag Every Game is an Adventure," cracked Stevens, referring to the team's 2013-14 slogan Green Runs Deep, which is often attached in hashtag form to its tweets. "That would be a great thing to promote. Maybe we can work on that. Can we get that on the website?"

The Celtics entered the fourth quarter Saturday with a 19-point lead but watched the Cavaliers get the ball back down two with 19.3 seconds to play. Fortunately for Stevens, his team displayed the defensive focus that he's been imploring them for while twice denying the Cavaliers the chance to win or force overtime over their final two possessions.

Showcasing that same sense of humor, Stevens opened Saturday's postgame news conference by noting, "I thought we did a really good job and played exceptionally well in the fourth quarter, for [19.3] seconds."

Boston may be undersized up front, but it showcased its defensive versatility during those two final plays, its ability to switch highlighted as Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley came up with key stops in what should have been mismatch situations.

(Read full story)

Notebook: No more No-Pass Bass?

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
5:29
PM ET
BOSTON -- His late-game block drew him a large postgame media crowd and Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass used the stage to set the record straight on that No-Pass Bass moniker he has carried during his NBA career.

Brian Babineau/NBAE/GettyBrandon Bass is showing he can do more than shoot this season.
"I never agreed with that nickname," said Bass. "[Rajon] Rondo just put me in position to catch-and-shoot [in the past]. If you listen to some of the game film, when he passes to me, he would say, ‘Shoot!’ even if somebody was on me. That’s why I was No-Pass Bass."

Bass, who had never averaged an assist per game before arriving in Boston, has seen that helper tally slowly climb. Last season he handed out 84 assists in 81 games, reaching the 1-assist-per-game plateau for the first time, and this season he's already at 44 assists through 30 games for nearly 1.5 assists per contest.

OK, so Rondo doesn't have to worry about Bass stealing his point guard duties while he rehabs, but Bass is taking great pleasure in showing off his passing skills this season.

For the fourth time during the 2013-14 campaign, Bass tied his career high of four assists during Saturday's 103-100 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers. He added 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting with six rebounds, and two blocks (including the late-game swat on Dion Waiters that helped preserve the win).

Informed of his assist-happy night, Bass quipped, "That’s what I do, man." Turning more serious, he added, "I didn’t know that. I don’t really keep up with the stats. But it’s cool to be able to make plays for my teammates. I told Rondo, I’d rather get an assist, a nice assist, versus a dunk. I’ve been dunking my whole life. It feels good to make a play for somebody else."

Bass' work near the basket is generating more opportunities for his teammates. In the first quarter, he drew a double team in the paint before kicking the ball out to Jeff Green for a 3-pointer from above the arc. The two joined forces again soon after, this time with Bass passing to the corner off a double team on the right blocks, for another Green triple.

Bass found Crawford for a 3-pointer in the third quarter, then dished off the drive to feed Humphries for a baseline jumper later in that frame. That's 11 points generated off Bass feeds.

Pretty soon, you're going to have to find him a new nickname.

A month ago you might have been able to needle Bass about his 3-point shooting (he had missed the first 16 of his nine-year career). Now he's made his last two, both against the Cavaliers, and laughed while noting, "There’s just something about Cleveland. They like to see me shoot 3s, so I was able to hit one."

Bass is enjoying getting to show off other aspects of his game this season.

"This year, it’s just a different way," said Bass. "Everything is different. I’ve been able to show different things by everything being different -- different players, different system, and it’s cool that I can succeed in different scenarios. I just want to continue to help my teammates in any way I can, and hopefully lead us to wins."

A handful of postgame notes:
  • WALLACE SITS OUT SECOND HALF: Gerald Wallace took a blow to the face in the first half and did not play in the second half. Brad Stevens was a bit cryptic, noting, "He got dinged up in the first half and [trainer] Ed [Lacerte] told me to not play him. Hopefully he’s OK. He looked fine in the locker room after, but we’ll let them figure that out." Later Stevens added, "He got hit in the nose. I don’t know what the prognosis is and I don’t want to speculate." The fear would seemingly be a concussion, but Wallace showed no ill effects in the locker room. He did excuse himself from approaching reporters by noting that he had to go talk to Lacerte. Wallace had two points, two rebounds and two assists over 8:30 in Saturday's win.

  • SULLINGER RUNS WITH SECOND UNIT: Stevens tweaked his rotation a bit, subbing Jared Sullinger out early, about seven minutes in with Kris Humphries serving as the first big off the bench. That allowed Stevens to bring Sullinger back for the start of the second quarter to run with a reserve group featuring Phil Pressey, Courtney Lee, Wallace and Kelly Olynyk (reuniting a frontcourt trio that has thrived together at times this season). Said Stevens: "That was on purpose. That’s just an attempt to get more scoring in certain lineups, a little bit more balance, so that we can continue with that. And that may have thrown off [Sullinger's] rhythm a little bit, but he’ll get used to it." Sullinger had an up-and-down night, finishing with eight points and three rebounds over 30:41. Asked about his performance, he noted, “I was fine. You know everyone has one of those games where they are just a half a step off, but I got to bounce back." As for running with the second unit, Sullinger added, "It’s my teammates. Regardless of whatever unit it is, we’re just playing hard and we’re plugging away. We share the ball like a team and we just play hard. That’s what the second unit does, that’s what any unit does."

  • CRAWFORD'S TERRIBLE TURNOVER: Jordan Crawford had an amazingly bad turnover in the fourth quarter. Running in transition with an eroding 10-point lead and 3 minutes to play, Crawford went behind his back for a little razzle-dazzle before trying to send a little scoop pass to Kris Humphries on the right side. Instead, the ball was about 10 feet off the mark and landed in the first row of seats along the baseline. Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn could be heard bellowing, "That is absolutely ... a NO-NO!" When the broadcast showed a half-confused, half-angry Stevens, Heinsohn added, "I'm with you." For his part, Crawford joked, "I like to have fun out there. I kept the team loose with that turnover, know what I’m saying?"

  • GREEN UNCENSORED: Asked if the Cavaliers were easier to attack without suspended Andrew Bynum, Jeff Green said, "He would’ve been a good guy to get a dunk on." Green was just as tough on his own teammate Avery Bradley after the point guard got stuffed by the rim trying to complete a long-distance alley-oop from Jordan Crawford in the second half. "[Bradley] said he didn’t know where he was at when he went up, but that’s him trying to make a play," said Green. "This time, the rim denied him."

Rapid Reaction: Celtics 103, Cavs 100

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
3:25
PM ET


BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-100 on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden:

THE NITTY GRITTY
Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford each scored a team-high 19 points to pace six Boston players in double figures. Both Green and Avery Bradley (18 points) were active on the glass, finishing with a team-best eight rebounds apiece. Kyrie Irving became the first player to score 30-plus points against the Celtics this season, putting up a game-high 32 points while fueling Cleveland's fourth-quarter comeback. Dion Waiters added 17 points, but was denied by Brandon Bass on a late drive to help Boston emerge with the win.

TURNING POINT
The Celtics opened the game up a bit in the second quarter while running with a lineup featuring Jared Sullinger and reserves. Courtney Lee, 10 points in the first half, hit consecutive 3-pointers and Boston's lead doubled to 12 (38-26) with 7 minutes to play in the quarter. The Cavaliers would get as close as six later in the frame, but an aggressive Green helped push it to a first-half best 15 points before the intermission. That lead ballooned as high as 22 in the second half before the Cavaliers made a late-game charge ...

FENDING THEM OFF AT FINISH LINE
The Celtics were up 19 entering the fourth quarter, but Cleveland chipped away, clawing within two in the final minute (all while the Celtics looked like they were trying to kneel out the clock; firing a couple airballs that led to 24-second violations). Bass blocked Waiters on a late drive, and the Cavaliers got another chance to force overtime on a final possession, but Earl Clark couldn't get off a shot while blanketed by Bradley.

LOOSE BALLS
Bass connected on only his second career 3-pointer during a late-clock scramble early in the third quarter. This just a month after making his first career triple against the Cavaliers. Bass is now 2-for-18 beyond the arc for his career. ... Bass finished with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting with six rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics, coming off a five-day break, snapped a three-game losing streak while moving to 13-17 overall. Boston gets two more days off before hosting the Atlanta Hawks in another matinee on New Year's Eve. Things jump up soon after with a stretch of seven games in 10 days, which includes six games on the road including a five-game trip out west.

W2W4: C's vs. Cavaliers (Game 30 of 82)

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
8:25
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (12-17, 7-8 home) host the Cleveland Cavaliers (10-18, 2-12 away) on Saturday afternoon at TD Garden (CSN, 1 p.m.). Here's what to watch for:


  • KYRIE ELEISON: The Celtics limited Kyrie Irving to a mere 17 points in the first meeting this season, but he's gone for 39+ points in two of his last four games. Avery Bradley downplayed the matchup, but he clearly gets up for competing with Irving. "I feel like we all have to play great tomorrow to be able to stop Kyrie -- or at least slow him down a little bit," said Bradley. Coach Brad Stevens stressed that preventing Irving and Dion Waiters from getting into the paint and creating havoc is key to Boston's success Saturday.

  • BACK TO WORK: How will the Celtics respond after five days off? "We’ll find out," Stevens said with a smile. "That can go both ways. I don’t want to predict that. I think that I’ve been on teams where they’ve come back after breaks and they are really good; I’ve been on teams where we’ve come back after breaks and they look stagnant. Bottom line is we’ll find out [Saturday with] how we play." Sitting on a three-game losing streak during this break, Boston ought to be plenty motivated to get back in the win column.

  • BETTER DEFENSE REQUIRED: Boston's defense has struggled in recent games. Stevens has implored his team to approach Saturday's game with sustained focus on the defensive end. "If we don’t play well, we’ll get beat. It’s pretty simple," he said. "If we don’t defend well, it’s going to be really hard for us to win. They are a team that is really well coached. Mike Brown has always been a defensive-minded coach. But he’s running really good stuff, it gives those guys a lot of freedom. It puts you in a tough position. [Andrew] Bynum has become a guy that, depending on the day, can give you 15 and 8, or 17 and 9. And he hasn’t had that for a couple of games, so you have to be alert to that. And you have to understand that a guy like [Tristan] Thompson is averaging 15 per game over his last five and playing really really well. They are a team that has a lot more than just their guards, but the guards stand out because of their ability to get to the rim."

  • A CHANCE FOR GREEN: Our friends at STATS LLC offers this note on Jeff Green vs. the Cavs: "Green has struggled recently, averaging 10.6 points on 37.7 percent shooting over his last five games, but he's been a huge problem for a Cleveland team with a revolving door at the small forward position. Green has averaged 25 points in his last three against the Cavaliers, including a season-high 31 last month."

(Read full game preview)

C's treat Stevens to Gino Time

November, 30, 2013
11/30/13
1:35
AM ET
BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens, basking in the glow of his team's most complete effort and a lopsided 103-86 triumph over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, was asked if he had caught a glimpse of the Gino Time celebration video that ran with two minutes to go.

Winslow Townson/USA TODAY SportsBrandon Bass got in on the Celtics' 11-of-23 3-point barrage, banking home his first career triple.
"What is it?" asked an amused and confused Stevens.

Media members did their best to quickly explain the American Bandstand mash-up that features a smooth-grooving, bearded man in a Gino Vannelli T-shirt as the Bee Gee's "You Should Be Dancing" blares. It has served as the team's victory cigar of sorts since before the Big Three era.

Some wondered if it might have been traded to Brooklyn as part of the summer blockbuster, particularly given the affection owned for the clip by Kevin Garnett (who should be credited with turning Gino Time into a phenomenon). But there it was on Friday night, bringing the Garden faithful to their feet with Boston out front 101-80 with 1:56 to play.

Stevens apologized for not knowing what was being referenced and suggested that maybe his kids had caught it. It was further explained that it almost exclusively runs during the final full timeout of lopsided victories, of which there, obviously, have been none of this season at TD Garden.

"Do you think that maybe nobody thought we'd have a game out of reach?" Stevens asked with a smile. "I don't know."

For at least one night, these transitioning Celtics could do no wrong. Jeff Green put on his aggressive shoes and scored a season-high 31 points. Brandon Bass banked in the first 3-pointer of his nine-year NBA career. Jordan Crawford asked for a little trash-time action and completed the third triple-double of his career.

Boston scored 18 of the game's first 20 points and put the game on cruise control. Sprinkle in the sweet-shooting exploits of Avery Bradley (21 points on 9-of-11 shooting overall) and Jared Sullinger (12 points on 4-of-5 shooting beyond the 3-point arc) and it all added up to the first Gino appearance of the season.

Sure, it was a bit bizarre without Garnett, a towel draped over his head, pointing up to the video screen with each appearance of the man nicknamed Gino, who has spawned everything from T-shirts to hats to Superfans with his moniker. Celtics fans still roared each time the man's long legs and jointless arms grooved for them.

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Rapid Reaction: Celtics 103, Cavs 86

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
9:55
PM ET
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-86 on Friday night at TD Garden:

THE NITTY GRITTY
In danger of posting the longest home losing streak since the pre-Big Three era, the Celtics feasted on the disheveled Cavaliers, scoring 18 of the game's first 20 points and leading by as much as 25 en route to a breezy (Big Three-like) triumph that snapped a four-game TD Garden losing streak. Jeff Green scored a season-high 31 points (10-of-19 field goals, 9-of-13 free throws), Avery Bradley added 21 on super-efficient 9-of-11 shooting (3-of-4 beyond the 3-point arc), and Jordan Crawford registered his third career triple double (11 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists). Dion Waiters paced Cleveland with a team-high 21 points off the bench.

GINO TIME!
For the first time this season, the Celtics enjoyed Gino Time, when the popular "American Bandstand" clip rolled with Boston on top 101-80 with 1 minute, 56 seconds to play. Even without Kevin Garnett to raise his fist with each appearance of smooth-grooving Gino, the fans roared throughout the clip.

TURNING POINT
The Celtics opened the game on an 18-2 run, culminating with a pair of alley-oops from Crawford (the first of which was an emphatic throwdown by Green before a less graceful layup by Brandon Bass). Bradley scored a team-high eight points in that first quarter, while Crawford had 4 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists as Boston led by as much as 18 (22-4 with 2:38 to go). Boston, which had struggled in first quarters, shot 61.1 percent (11-of-18), while the Cavs missed 15 of the 19 shots (21.1 percent) they took.

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES
Jared Sullinger picked up his first technical foul of the season while barking at an official after picking up his third foul of the first half. Sullinger was being taken out of the game when he appeared to offer an unsolicited review of the calls against him. It was Boston's fourth technical foul of the season.

3-POINTER FOR BASS?!
This about sums up the night for Boston: On the final possession of the third quarter, Bass banked in the first 3-pointer of his NBA career. Bass had been 0-for-16 over the first eight-plus seasons of his career. It was only the fourth 3-point attempt of Bass' two-plus seasons in Boston. Not to be outdone by a fellow big man, Sullinger registered four 3-pointers on the night.

LOOSE BALLS
Keith Bogans, who had appeared in only two games this season, got extended floor time, checking in late in the third quarter with Boston up 20. He played seven scoreless minutes. ... MarShon Brooks played the final two minutes with the game in hand. He had been a healthy DNP the previous five games. ... All five Boston starters finished in double figures and Boston shot 50 percent overall. Cleveland had one starter in double figures (Kyrie Irving, 17 points) and shot 37.2 percent.

WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics wrap up this brutal November schedule with the tail end of a back-to-back set Saturday in Milwaukee. After that, Boston will have played 19 games over the first 31 days of the 2013-14 season. The schedule eases up in December with only 12 games in 31 days, including only three on the road (two of which are in New York, while the other is in Indiana with a five-day Christmas break following it).

Pregame: Back to work for Stevens, C's

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
7:00
PM ET
BOSTON -- Boston's November schedule doesn't afford many breaks in the action (the Celtics play 19 games over the first 31 days of the 2013-14 season), but first-year coach Brad Stevens gave his players Thursday off and tried his best to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.

"Nice to spend one day with family," said Stevens. "It was great."

That said, you get the feeling that it was Cavaliers game film on a loop on the Stevens' living room TV rather than the Macy's Day parade or the three-game slate of NFL football. Stevens admitted he couldn't fully detach from hoops.

"No, just get up and work in the morning. Try to finish as much as you can throughout the day, so that we were ready for shootaround today," he said. "The next most important thing is the next practice, or the next meeting, or the next shootaround. I tried to get as much done as quickly as possible. You’re still working like a normal in-between games."

A handful of quick hits before Friday's game:
  • OLYNYK IMPROVING SLOWLY: Celtics rookie big man Kelly Olynyk said the sprained right ankle that has kept him off the court the past three games is improving, but admitted he hasn't been able to do any work on the basketball court yet. Olynyk didn't have a timetable for his return. Asked about being forced to be a spectator, Olynyk offered, "It sucks. Simple as that. Every player wants to play."

  • STEVENS' SCOUTING REPORT: Stevens' take on the struggling Cavaliers: "First of all, they are extremely talented in the backcourt. Everybody knows about [Kyrie] Irving, everybody knows about [Dion] Waiters. Everybody knows what kind of a year Jarrett Jack had last year [in Golden State]. You can go on down the line. Then when you add a guy like [Andrew] Bynum, who really has the ability to score over both shoulders on the blocks, with the athletes that they have to rebound the ball, it’s a really talented basketball team."

  • SPEAKING OF IRVING: Memphis' Mike Conley hurt Boston with dribble penetration. So how do the Celtics contain Irving? "That’s a great question. If you have any suggestions, I’d like to know them," quipped Stevens. "You can’t keep him out of the paint with one, usually. Which is a problem. Especially when they go to their smaller lineup with [Earl] Clark at the 4, and they shoot it so well. When they put Irving, Waiters, Clark and Jack out there, that poses a lot of problems at handling the penetration because of the way they shoot it. Even when they have their bigs in, it poses a lot of problems because of the way they rebound it. It’s an issue. You’d love to be able to guard dribble penetration 1-on-1, the fact of the matter is, against the best in this league, it’s hard to do."

  • DRIBBLE PENETRATION, PART II: Celtics big man Jared Sullinger put a lot of the blame on himself for Boston allowing easy buckets off dribble penetration in Wednesday's loss to Memphis, but Stevens said it wasn't one individual. "I didn’t think it was on Jared only," said Stevens. "I thought there was a play or two where he could have been a lot better. But there were a number of guys, and that has to be airtight with guys like Conley, and guys like Irving, guys like that. And we’re all talking about it like we can just chose to make it happen without the other guy trying. Bottom line is those guys are hard to stop. And that’s why you can’t dig a hole in other areas, while those guys get a little run going, because eventually, hopefully they come back to the pack. Then you’re still in it with a chance."

W2W4: C's vs. Cavaliers (Game 18 of 82)

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics (6-11, 2-5 home) host the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-11, 1-8 away) on Friday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

  • CLEVELAND ROCKED: Safe to say this isn't what most expected from the Cavaliers to start the season. A team that showed such potential last season has been slow out of the gates, ranking in the bottom half of the league in most major statistical categories, including offensive rating (94.1 points per 100 possessions, one spot behind Boston). What do the Cavs do well? Not a lot. They are in the top half of the league (barely at 14th overall) in defensive rebound rate (75 percent), but the Cavs are 28th in assist ratio, 20th in rebounding percentage, and 23rd in turnover percentage.

  • AVERY VS. KYRIE: After a bout with Memphis' Mike Conley (the Grizzlies guard had the upper hand early), Celtics guard Avery Bradley will be tasked with helping to slow down Kyrie Irving. You'll remember Bradley being a bit defiant last season after Irving had a big game against the Celtics in Cleveland. Bradley takes great pride in trying to slow opposing scorers, particularly some of the league's top young names like Irving. The young Cavs guard is averaging 21 points, 6.1 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in 34.5 minutes per game. The Celtics know Irving can single-handedly take over a game via the pick-and-roll, and Bradley will be needed to prevent that.

  • REBOUNDING IN FOCUS: Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao have dominated Boston on the glass in past seasons. The Celtics have been a poor defensive rebounding team this season (27th in defensive rebound rate) and need to keep those two off the glass. But when the Cavaliers do get offensive rebounds, will they convert them? They have really struggled to turn offensive caroms into points this season (particularly Thompson, who is shooting an impossibly low 31.8 percent off offensive rebounds, according to Synergy Sports).

  • WHAT ELSE?: As STATS LLC notes, the Celtics haven't lost five games in a row at home since before the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen united prior to the 2007-08 season. Boston is seeking to avoid losing five straight at TD Garden for the first time since 2007, while yearning to establish a home-court advantage. ... If Courtney Lee can't play due to a left-knee sprain, will the Celtics dust off MarShon Brooks? ... Cavs forward Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 pick in June's draft, has appeared in only 11 games, averaging 2 points and 2.7 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game. ... Cavs guard Dion Waiters, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, has seen his name bubble up in trade rumors during his sophomore season. ... Keep an eye on Cavs guard Jarrett Jack off the bench. Signed as a free agent after impressing with Golden State last season as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, he can provide a second-unit spark.
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BOSTON -- Informed that he had been nominated for the Eastern Conference Player of the Month award for his March exploits, Jeff Green pondered the accolade and offered, "I didn't get it, so it doesn't matter."

Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesJeff Green and Kevin Garnett together for the Celtics.
Informed that teammate Kevin Garnett had declared Green had the potential to be one of the best players in the game, that resonated far more with Green.

"He said that? Wow," said Green. "Michael Jordan who? I can be up there with him? Wow. I mean, coming from KG, a lot of respect, somebody who I look up to, somebody who I try to follow his footsteps. I've watched him since day one, since I've been here -- his mentality in practice, coming into games, during games, and I'm trying to take that on and put that in my game. If he said something like that, wow. I didn't know he said that. That's pretty big.

"I've got to continue to work. I learn from him. I learn everything from him, I ask him questions, I pick his brain. He's been in the league for a while, so he's been through it all. He's one of my role models, someone I look up to. And, if he said something like that, and I continue to work, it could come true."

Stating the obvious

April, 6, 2013
4/06/13
1:55
AM ET
Doc Rivers confirmed the obvious after Friday's loss to the Cavaliers, but Boston's playoff hopes hinge more on health than seedings:

http://espn.go.com/boston/

A preview of the featured story:

* C'S EYE SEVENTH SEED, AVOIDING HEAT: Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers seemed surprised that there would even be any debate about where his team might want to land in the Eastern Conference playoffs seedings. Seventh or eighth? Duh, that's an easy answer. "I know we are in the seventh spot and I know we want to stay out of the eighth spot," said Rivers, confirming for the first time what many have long suspected: The Celtics would prefer to avoid the top-seeded Miami Heat for as long as possible in hopes of using early rounds to rebuild some injury-depleted continuity and restore the team's confidence amid late-season stumbles. "Listen, I'm not that dumb. I'm not the brightest guy, but, come on," said Rivers.

Postgame: Fouls, loss spoil Shav's night

April, 6, 2013
4/06/13
12:30
AM ET


BOSTON -- Asked if this was his finest NBA performance, Celtics big man Shavlik Randolph pondered the question for a fleeting moment, then shook his head.

"No, because we lost," he said before departing the Celtics' locker room after Friday's 97-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Despite playing only 13 foul-limited minutes, Randolph scored a career-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and added seven rebounds. He was a team-best plus-10 in plus/minus -- his preferred barometer for in-game success -- and clearly impacted the contest despite the whistles that left him disqualified with seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

A week after his breakout performance here against the Hawks, Randolph lamented how the final result diminished his individual success. And even all the good he chalked up to his teammates' efforts.

"I was just rolling hard to the basket and guys were finding me, simple as that," said Randolph. "I was getting good passes, putting me in positions where I can finish around the rim. I wasn’t really making any tough shots, just my teammates were finding me."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers chuckled while relaying how Randolph's slight hesitation around the basket actually probably helped him draw a couple whistles against over-eager defenders. But he really likes what he's seen from the 29-year-old big man, who is making a strong case to be a rotation-caliber big even when reinforcements arrive.

"He's playing great. Just leave it at that; he's just playing great basketball and we're going to keep playing him," said Rivers.

Even if that means playing through the whistles.

"Just try to keep my composure," Randolph said of getting past foul trouble. "In a game, you’re not always going to agree with the calls, that’s just the nature of the game. You just try to keep playing. If you foul out, then you try to cheer your teammates on. That’s what I tried to do tonight."

The Celtics sorely missed Randolph's size and rebounding abilities when he was off the floor. And he knows that it's his defense and rebounding that will keep him on the court if he can carve out a playoff role with this team.

"Like I said, my job is not to score," said Randolph. "If I’m able to play off [teammates], give some opportunistic baskets, that’s a bonus. But my job is to rebound and play defense. ... All I know is I’ll be ready, regardless [of any playoff role]."

Read on for more postgame notes:

(Read full post)

Bradley on bruised collarbone: 'I'm fine'

April, 6, 2013
4/06/13
12:00
AM ET
BOSTON -- Celtics guard Avery Bradley said the bruised left collarbone he suffered during the fourth quarter of Boston's 97-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday is not related to the shoulder injuries that forced him out of the Celtics' playoff run last season and that he isn't expecting to miss any significant time moving forward.

AP Photo/Charles KrupaAvery Bradley encountered traffic on this drive to the hoop.
Bradley absorbed a sharp elbow while trying to defend Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving on a drive to the basket with just over 3 minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Bradley reached for the sore spot when the play was over and retreated to the locker room with trainer Ed Lacerte not long after.

Bradley returned to the bench before the game was over, but did not return to action.

"[Irving] went to the basket, came down, and elbowed me right on my collarbone. It's just a little swollen," Bradley said, later adding, "It hurts, but I'll be fine. I get injured all the time. I'll be all right."

Upon seeing Bradley reach for his shoulder area, many wondered if he had aggravated one of the shoulder injuries he suffered last season that required surgery and kept him out until January of this year. But Bradley quickly denied any connection to his past shoulder problems.

"No, not at all. Not at all. Just my collarbone," said Bradley, who had ice wrapped on the sore area after the game.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Cavs 97, Celtics 91

April, 5, 2013
4/05/13
10:00
PM ET
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesCeltics guard Avery Bradley hangs in the air against the Cavaliers.
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics 97-91 on Friday night at TD Garden:

THE NITTY GRITTY
Tristan Thompson posted a game-high 29 points and 17 rebounds, while Alonzo Gee added 16 points and 10 rebounds as the Cavaliers feasted on Boston's injury-depleted frontcourt while grabbing 58 rebounds overall (15 on the offensive glass for 19 second-chance points). Jeff Green scored a team-high 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting with nine rebounds and four assists, while Shavlik Randolph scored a career-high 16 points in a mere 13 minutes for Boston, which played without both Paul Pierce (sore right ankle) and Kevin Garnett (left ankle inflammation).

TURNING POINT
Nine days after the Celtics rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to stun the Cavaliers in Cleveland, it looked like we might see a repeat in Boston. The Celtics were down 14 with 9:19 to play when the hosts embarked on a 15-5 burst that trimmed their deficit to 4 after a Jason Terry 3-pointer with 5:46 to go. Thompson stopped the bleeding, however, with a third-chance dunk and Wayne Ellington added a jumper after a Boston turnover to push the lead back to 8. The Celtics never got closer than 4 the rest of the way.

FRIDAY NIGHT SHAV
A week removed from his breakthrough effort against the Hawks, Randolph made the most of foul-limited minutes. Randolph scored a career-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go along with seven rebounds, but fouled out after only 13 minutes of floor time (it was the first time he picked up six fouls in his career). The Celtics really missed his size.

TERRY TAGGED WITH FLAGRANT
Terry earned a flagrant-1 foul for ramming into C.J. Miles in the backcourt during the fourth quarter. Terry didn't appear to make a play for the ball and collided hard with Miles, sending both players sprawling. The timing wasn't ideal, as it aided the Cavs on a 14-3 run that stretched their lead to 82-68 early in the final frame.

BRADLEY INJURY SCARE
Celtics guard Avery Bradley retreated to the locker room, escorted by trainer Ed Lacerte, with 3:18 remaining in the game. The obvious worry was his surgically repaired shoulders, but the team announced he simply had a bruised left collarbone. He returned to the bench before the end of the game.

WHAT IT MEANS
The Celtics were unable to build some momentum after Wednesday's win over the Pistons, while the Cavs snapped a 10-game losing streak. The good news for Boston: The Knicks beat Milwaukee, keeping the Celtics 2 games ahead of the Bucks. Boston has two more games on this four-game homestand with visits from Washington (Sunday) and Brooklyn (Wednesday).

Pregame: Pierce, KG out vs. Cavs

April, 5, 2013
4/05/13
7:20
PM ET


BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics will be without both Paul Pierce (sore right ankle) and Kevin Garnett (left ankle inflammation) when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night at TD Garden.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Pierce should be back by Sunday, while Garnett, who will sit out his eighth consecutive game, could do the same.

"I think [Pierce will] be fine by Sunday; it’s just sore, so we’re just not playing him," said Rivers. Asked about Garnett’s potential to return that same day, he added, "I think most likely, but I don’t know that."

Garnett went through skeleton drills with the Celtics during an afternoon walk-through at the Garden. The team shut him down for two weeks in order to allow the inflammation to subside.

"He hasn’t done anything on the floor with us. He’s done some shooting, and today he ran through the skeleton, and he looked fine," said Rivers. "Again, that’s skeleton. No contact or anything like that. He looked good. He looked exactly like Kevin, so I’m thinking he’s fine."

The Celtics will start a lineup that features Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, and Chris Wilcox.

Backup guard Terrence Williams dislocated his right pinky finger in Wednesday's win over the Detroit Pistons, but will be available.

"Play? Of course I'm playing," he said. "I don't need my right finger. It hurts. It hurts when I dribble, it hurts when I pass or catch the ball a certain way."

Later he joked: "I'm going to try to play with (my right hand) behind my back. Try to play like Bob Cousy."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
18.4 2.2 1.1 35.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.5
AssistsR. Rondo 11.0
StealsR. Rondo 1.7
BlocksJ. Sullinger 0.9