Boston Celtics: Toronto Raptors

Rapid Reaction: Raptors 92, Celtics 89

October, 15, 2014
Oct 15
PORTLAND, Maine -- It took Jeff Green a mere 15 seconds to remind us what he's capable of on the court.

Green, who missed the team's first four exhibition games while battling a strained left calf, made his preseason debut Wednesday and, on the game's first possession, rolled free on a pick-and-roll with Evan Turner and delivered a two-handed slam.

With maybe a touch of rust to blame, Green had more downs than ups from there. He finished with nine points, five rebounds, a steal and an assist, while also committing three turnovers over 32 minutes of action as the Celtics fell to the Toronto Raptors 92-89 on Wednesday night at the Cross Insurance Arena.

The Celtics, who trailed by as much as 12 in the game, rallied to make things interesting late and Avery Bradley hit a jumper with 8.1 seconds remaining to tie the game. Toronto responded with Lou Williams calmly knocking down a 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds to go. Jared Sullinger's attempt to tie the game at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

The rest of what you need to know from Wednesday's game:

Nitty Gritty: Marcus Thornton got it going into the fourth quarter and scored a team-high 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Tyler Zeller had a strong first half to help fuel a 13-point outing (he was also a team-best plus-12 on the night). Toronto got a team-high 16 points from Jordan Hamilton and 15 more from Williams.

ET ejected: Evan Turner got tagged with a pair of technical fouls for barking at referee Eric Lewis and was ejected with 2:09 to play in the third quarter. In a whistle-heavy game, Turner didn't seem to be protesting much more than others, but he got the gate for voicing his displeasure.

Loose balls: The Celtics shot 41 percent overall (34-of-83) and just 26.7 percent beyond the 3-point arc (8-of-30). ... After the Raptors dominated points in the paint early, Boston tightened up and narrowed the difference to 34-32 by game's end.

What it means: The Celtics fall to 2-3 on the preseason. Boston is off to Philadelphia for the second night of a back-to-back against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics will spend a couple days in Brooklyn before a 44-minute test game against the Nets on Sunday at the Barclays Center.

W2W4: C's vs. Raptors (Preseason Game 5)

October, 15, 2014
Oct 15
The Boston Celtics play the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine. Here's what to watch for:

Green's back: Jeff Green is set to make his preseason debut after missing the team's first four games with a strained left calf. It'll be interesting to see (1) If Green starts and what that means for Evan Turner, who has been excellent at small forward and (2) How Green plays, though he's sure to be a bit behind after missing 10 days due to the injury. Coach Brad Stevens said he has a good read on his 10-man rotation, but there's still room for competition at starting spots.

Smart vs. Lowry: Rookie Marcus Smart gets another crack at guarding Toronto's Kyle Lowry and the two were fun to watch against each other the first time around. Smart suggested he gave Lowry too much respect the first meeting. Asked about that comment, Stevens said: "I don’t think you can ever give a player too much respect. I think that Kyle Lowry has earned that, so I understand from a standpoint of attacking. He’s gotta play with an attacking mentality on both ends of the floor -- that’s what Marcus does -- and I’m guessing that’s what he meant by that. I think that Kyle Lowry is really good and you have to balance a great deal of energy with technique to have a chance to make him take difficult shots, which he will sometimes hit anyways."

Another chance to respond: The Raptors ran away from Boston in the fourth quarter of last week's meeting in Toronto. Stevens seems eager to see how his team responds this time around. "I just want to play well again. it’s a great opportunity against the Atlantic Division champions last year, to play them again, and see if we’ve gotten any better since Friday night’s performance. I’m excited to see how we do that. They’re a really good basketball team; we’re trying to become a really good basketball team. So every chance that we get to play against a team like that, it’s good for us."

Gamebook: Responding to adversity

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens couldn't have enjoyed what he was seeing from his team as the Toronto Raptors ripped off a monster fourth-quarter run, but Stevens resisted the urge to call a timeout, seemingly intent on seeing if his team could steady itself as the game slipped from its grasp.

One of Boston's biggest weaknesses last season was an inability to respond to adversity. Having posted two 20-point victories to start the exhibition season, the Celtics hadn't really encountered much white-knuckle time before Friday's game in Toronto. But there was Stevens, stoic as always, quietly observing his team as the Air Canada Centre rocked as if the calendar read early May, not early October.

The Raptors outscored Boston by 18 points over a six-minute span to emerge with a 116-109 triumph.

"When you have guys that are competitive, sometimes they try to do too much and it snowballs. That's what happened," said Stevens, referencing how a Boston team that scorched the field most of the night went ice cold as Toronto rallied. Boston shot 49.3 percent overall, but was 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) and turned the ball over five times during Toronto's fourth-quarter outburst.

"We have to get better at that," Stevens said. "We talked about being able to respond in any situation, so that was something new for this team. Hopefully we have that again, as far as having to respond again in the preseason."

The Celtics played a whopping 49 regular-season games last year that were within five points in the final five minutes. That was tied for the fourth-most in the league and Boston was a cringe-worthy 15-34 in those games, its .306 winning percentage the second-worst mark in the NBA (behind only Milwaukee at .250).

If the Celtics are to take a step forward this season, regardless of the size of the stride, they must be better at pulling out close games and particularly responding when teams make late-game charges.

If Boston had simply been able to limit the damage during Toronto's run, it might have still given itself a chance to win late. The Raptors went up 14 with little more than three minutes to play. The Celtics clawed back to within six in the final minute but simply didn't have enough time to mount a legitimate rally.

Stevens saw a lot to like during Friday's game but finding a way to respond to adversity is a must for these young Celtics.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Raptors 116, C's 109

October, 10, 2014
Oct 10
For the first 11 quarters of the exhibition season, the Boston Celtics looked like a team that has made great strides in Year 2 of a rebuilding process. In the 12th quarter, it looked a lot like the 2013-14 team that struggled to put games away when given the chance.

The Celtics overcame an early 14-point deficit behind some red-hot 3-point shooting and carried a six-point advantage into the final frame before the Toronto Raptors ripped off a monster run to pull away with a 116-109 triumph at the Air Canada Centre.

After a pair of lopsided wins to open the preseason, and maybe sensing this was the team's best chance at a real measuring-stick game before the regular season, Celtics coach Brad Stevens employed a tight 10-man rotation. Some typical preseason sloppiness was masked at times by both teams' hot shooting from beyond the arc (the two sides combined to finish 26-of-51 shooting from distance, with both sides at 50 percent or better). And it felt like an honest-to-goodness regular-season game when Toronto's arena got loud as the Raptors -- defending Atlantic Division champs -- utilized a 21-3 run to open as much as a 14-point lead late in the fourth frame.

Nitty gritty: Avery Bradley scored a game-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting with four 3-pointers. But 20 points came before the intermission and Bradley sat out much of the second half. Jared Sullinger added 10 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, while Marcus Thornton continued to provide a spark off the bench with 19 points in 22 minutes. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry each scored 18 points, while Patrick Patterson kicked in 17 more off the bench to pace the Raptors.

Frequent helpers: The Celtics weren't selfish with the ball while posting 29 assists on 37 made field goals. Both Sullinger (7) and Bass (5) were particularly assist-happy on this night -- posting more single-game assists than they have in any regular-season game.

Defensive regression: After using defense to fuel their offense the past two games, the Celtics seemed content to just engage in a shootout at times on Friday. Boston's rally was aided by defense, but Toronto still shot 50 percent overall, including 52.2 percent beyond the arc. Boston just wasn't crisp at either end but benefited from making shots to keep things interesting.

What it means: The Celtics fall to 2-1 on the exhibition season. Boston will play the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday back in Connecticut as part of a rematch with the Knicks at Mohegan Sun.

Notebook: Sully joins 20/20 club

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16

BOSTON -- Jared Sullinger became only the sixth Boston Celtics player in the past 30 years to join the 20/20 club after putting up team highs with 25 points and 20 rebounds in an 88-83 triumph over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Sullinger joins Celtics luminaries such as Kevin Garnett, Larry Bird and Robert Parish (as well as Ed Pinckney and, improbably, Mark Blount) in the recent 20/20 club. He's the first Boston player to reach those thresholds since Garnett (22 points, 20 rebounds) on Nov. 2, 2007. According to, Sullinger is the first Celtic to go for 25-plus points, 20-plus rebounds, and 4-plus assists since Bird (42-20-5) on Nov. 11, 1987.

[+] EnlargeSullinger
AP Photo/Charles KrupaJared Sullinger hauls down one of his 20 rebounds against the Raptors.
And, of course, it was rehabbing Rajon Rondo, back on the Boston bench in a dress rehearsal for Friday's potential return to game action, who noticed Sullinger at 19 boards during a timeout with under two minutes to play and encouraged him to seek No. 20.

It turned out to be a pretty important board, Sullinger muscling off Patrick Patterson in a three-point game with 30 seconds to go, then atoning for a couple previous misses with two clutch free throws to help end Boston's nine-game losing streak.

And more than a glitzy stat line, the win was what resonated most with Sullinger.

"After a while, when you lose so much when you’re not used to losing, the competitive nature takes over and that’s what happened with me," said Sullinger, who seemed so hellbent on getting Boston back in the win column that he tried to do it single-handedly at times.

Sullinger thought it was neat that Rondo sought him out to encourage the little milestone.

"I didn’t even think about it until Rondo told me, looked up at the scoreboard, get one more," Sullinger said. "I happened to look up and I saw 19 rebounds. I was like, 'I didn’t even know I had that many.' When you’ve got teammates like that that, celebrate big games like that or celebrate big wins, it’s huge for the personality in this locker room. I thought that was wonderful to see.

"I didn’t want to force it, but at the same time, it was a big accomplishment."

Sullinger, who had been shuffled to a reserve role during Boston's road trip, has found his shooting touch and worked his way back to the starting group. When the Celtics played their best ball earlier this season, it was Sullinger leading the way and he did it again on Wednesday.

The next time the Celtics hit the floor, Rondo could be out there chasing rebounds with Sullinger.

"I think [Wednesday's win was] big because (1) we broke the losing streak and (2) we get to focus on another game and how to get another win. I thought as a team, we played wonderful. If [Rondo] comes back [on Friday], he comes back. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. We can’t just let him come back and then all of the sudden, we just say, all the weight’s on you. We’ve still got to play basketball, if he comes back or not."

A few more notes from Wednesday's game:
  • Bradley sprains right hand: Celtics guard Avery Bradley hurt his right hand early in Wednesday's win and briefly retreated to the locker room. He returned and finished with 20 points on 8-of-21 shooting with five rebounds, two steals and an assist over 35:33. After the game, he sported a wrap over his right hand, but downplayed the injury. "It was like the first play of the game and it just got hit, but I’ll be fine," Bradley said.

  • Not Pressey-ing the issue: In his first NBA start, undrafted rookie Phil Pressey handed out 10 assists and didn't turn the ball over during 26 minutes of floor time. Asked about the mistake-free play, Pressey noted, "I know if I take care of the ball, I’m giving my team an opportunity to get more shots up. And that’s what I pride myself on." Couple that with some tenacious defense and Pressey earned rave reviews from coach Brad Stevens. "I thought he was absolutely terrific," Stevens said. "I thought when things got tough, he got tough. I thought he tried to pull guys together. You know, sometimes when you go through some of these games that we’ve been through where we’ve lost leads, the tension seems greater than it probably should. And you just have to have guys that make toughness plays that break that tension. And to his credit, I thought he pulled guys in and together instead of when something doesn’t go our way we’re not together."

  • Crash gives C's some energy: Gerald Wallace had one of his better recent performances, giving the Celtics some energy and hustle in the first half. Wallace scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting with six rebounds, two steals and an assist. He was minus-8 overall in plus/minus, but it wasn't reflective of his night. "He was great. And I think he wanted to play well," Stevens said. "I thought he was really good. He got into the ball. He dove on the one ball that he didn’t get, then he stole the next pass. He was just kind of flying around all over the place. That was nice to see."

Rapid Reaction: Celtics 88, Raptors 83

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
BOSTON -- Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics defeated the Toronto Raptors 88-83 on Wednesday night at TD Garden:

Second-year center Jared Sullinger has been maybe the most vocal member of the Celtics in his desire to snap the team's lengthy losing streak and he backed up that chatter against the Raptors, posting team highs with 25 points and 20 rebounds over 39 minutes of floor time, and making enough free throws down the stretch to fend off the Raptors' charge. Avery Bradley scored 20 points on 8-of-21 shooting to go along with five rebounds, while Jeff Green added 13 points (despite 4-of-16 shooting) and five rebounds. DeMar DeRozan chipped in a team-high 23 points for Toronto, while Kyle Lowry added 18 points, 12 assists and 7 rebounds.

Without Rajon Rondo and having traded away Jordan Crawford earlier in the day, the Celtics inserted undrafted rookie Phil Pressey into the starting lineup at point guard and the 22-year-old responded with a 10-assist, 0-turnover effort over 26 minutes. Pressey didn't score (missing all five shots he took), but calmly directed the offense and grabbed three rebounds along the way.

The Celtics were up five midway through the third quarter, but scored 20 of the final 28 points of the frame to build a 17-point cushion. Sullinger sparked the effort by making all three shots he took while scoring nine points in that span, while Pressey directed the offense for most of it and handed out three assists. But no lead is safe around here (see hashtag: #EveryGameIsAnAdventure).

The Celtics went ice cold to start the fourth quarter. After a Brandon Bass dunk with 11:09 to go, Boston missed 11 of its next 12 shots (including nine in a row to start that stretch) and the Raptors embarked on a 16-2 run to charge within three with 4:34 to go.

The Celtics played with only 10 available bodies (and both Vitor Faverani and Kelly Olynyk played five minutes or less) as the team leaned hard on an eight-man core. ... Rondo was active, but it was just to get back in a game-prep rhythm with eyes still on a potential Friday return. That didn't stop the crowd from chanting "We Want Rondo" on multiple occasions. ... Keith Bogans, excused from the team indefinitely due to personal reasons on Tuesday, was active due to Boston's lack of bodies but not with the squad. ... The Celtics turned the ball over only two times in the first half. This was one of their best ball-security games of the season (10 turnovers for only seven points).

The Celtics (14-26) snapped a nine-game losing streak while beating the team atop the Atlantic Division. Boston is hopeful Rondo will make his 2013-14 season debut when this three-game homestand wraps up on Friday with a visit from the Los Angeles Lakers. A three-game road trip looms after with stops in Orlando, Miami and Washington.

Pregame: Rondo active, unlikely to play

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
BOSTON -- Thin on bodies, the Boston Celtics activated Rajon Rondo for Wednesday's game against the Toronto Raptors, but coach Brad Stevens stressed that Rondo is unlikely to play and it appears he is still targeting Friday's visit from the Los Angeles Lakers for his 2013-14 season debut.

"[Rondo is] going to go through and do some [pregame] shooting, and there is a chance that he would suit up tonight," said Stevens. "But I don’t see a chance that he would play tonight, that it would be more about getting back into that rhythm of pregame activity."

Rondo was briefly assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the D-League on Wednesday to allow him to get a hard practice as he navigates what's expected to be the final days of rehab from ACL surgery. Stevens said he hadn't talked to Rondo since the workout, which took place at the team's training facility in Waltham with the Red Claws visiting on the heels of a recent road trip, but expressed optimism about it.

"I think [Rondo] enjoyed it because they kept score. His team usually won," said Stevens. "But it was more about getting up and down the floor more than anything. I got asked the other day, if and when he comes back, if there would be a minute restriction and the answer is yes. We’ll cross those bridges with exact numbers when we get there. And go from there. But he looked pretty good."

Stevens added: "[The D-League workout] accomplished what we wanted to accomplish. I have not talked to anybody, including Rondo since the workout was over. I watched it for a few minutes, and then I left. Because I needed to -- obviously, we’ve got a lot going on around here, but we have a game tonight."

In the aftermath of Wednesday's three-trade swap that sent MarShon Brooks and Jordan Crawford to the Golden State Warriors, the Celtics will start undrafted rookie Phil Pressey at point guard. Stevens' thinking there is that it keeps newly acquired Jerryd Bayless in a reserve role, which he'll occupy when Rondo returns.

Joel Anthony, acquired from Miami as part of Wednesday's three-team swap, is not with Boston for its game against Toronto. Stevens was uncertain when he would arrive, but said of the veteran big man: "I’m looking forward to meeting Joel. I don't him personally, I’ve seen him play since he was a high-school age, and obviously he’s got great strengths, specifically as a defender in the paint and on pick-and-rolls. I have not watched enough yet of him, but when he gets to town, we’ll work on it."

W2W4: C's vs. Raptors (Game 40 of 82)

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
The Boston Celtics (13-26, 8-11 home) host the Toronto Raptors (19-17, 10-9 away) on Wednesday night at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

  • RAPTORS THRIVING AFTER GAY TRADE: The Raptors will look a little different than when Boston saw them on opening night up north, having dealt Rudy Gay to Sacramento. But since taking back John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez and Chuck Hayes, the Raptors are 12-4. In that 16-game span, the Raptors rank 11th in the league in offensive rating, second in defensive rating, and first in net rating. Opponents are averaging just 91.6 points per game in that span while shooting 42.4 percent from the floor.

  • COACH'S SCOUTING REPORT: Here's Celtics coach Brad Stevens on the Raptors: "They’ve gotten a lot better. The additions that they have had on their team have really helped their team in a great way. You look at, first of all, [DeMar] DeRozan is an All-Star, and I think Kyle Lowry is playing at a fantastic level. Terrence Ross has always been a guy that gives us fits. And then [Amir] Johnson and [Jonas] Valanciunas have been a solid 4-5 that have also done the same. Now you add in the guys like Salmons and Patterson and Vazquez, all these new guys, they’ve just impacted winning. That’s what they’ve done. They haven't all filled up the stat sheet every night the same way, but they have impacted winning, and as a result, they’ve played the best in our division. They’ve been one of the better teams in the East for the better part of the past month and a half."

  • LOOSE BALLS: GARDEN DROUGHTS: From Stats LLC: Toronto has dropped 19 of 21 road matchups against the Celtics, including 10 straight by an average of 16.3 points since pulling out a 114-112 victory Jan. 23, 2008. ... Boston's lost nine straight and 12 of 13, but this may be their final game of the season without Rajon Rondo. This could be one final chance for Jordan Crawford to show what he can do in starter minutes before settling into a reserve role when Rondo returns. ... Jeff Green sat out the final 14 minutes of Monday's loss and it will be interesting to see which Green we get out of the gates Wednesday. ... Despite losing nine straight, Boston is seeing better individual play from guys like Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, and Kris Humphries. Alas, lulls in production have prevented this team from snapping this losing streak. ... Boston last won on Dec. 28 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

(Read full game preview)

Leftovers: Wallace's D, coach Rondo

October, 31, 2013
Leftovers after the Boston Celtics lost to the Toronto Raptors in their season-opener on Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre:

Gerald Wallace played 40 minutes and put up only one shot (a layup midway through the third quarter). There were quality parts of his line (3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals) and while the team probably wants a little bit more offense out of him (3 points), he did an under-the-radar job on defense. According to Synergy Sports data, Wallace defended a team-high 21 possessions and limited the Nets to a measly 0.476 points per play (opponents were 4 of 14 shooting against him). Those are some very encouraging numbers, particularly when you consider the talent the Raptors have on the wings.

CSN screenshot via @MrTrpleDouble10Rajon Rondo on the bench Wednesday night.
Sporting brown corduroys and a navy blue blazer, Rajon Rondo arrived at the bench for Thursday's season-opener looking like the hippest assistant coach in the league. With a basketball-skinned notebook, Rondo sat on the bench offering his usual advice to his teammates (and coach Brad Stevens). Said Stevens' of Rondo's presence, "I think this will be really good for him. It’s kinda like when you redshirt somebody in college and they have to sit out however many games, they get to watch and learn and see it from a different vantage point, so whenever he comes back, he’s going to be better for it. It doesn’t feel like it now for him or us, but if our team can keep fighting like they did [Wednesday], that’s OK. When he gets back, we’ll be better." Rondo likewise gushed about his new coach's first game after the loss (hop HERE for more on that from the Boston Herald).

Kelly Olynyk got to play his first NBA regular-season game in his hometown, but first-game nerves might have played a part in a tough night. Olynyk finished with four points on 2-of-5 shooting with no rebounds and three turnovers over 16:18. He was a team-worst minus-19 in plus/minus. As Brad Stevens politely put it: "I thought he looked like he was a first-time player on a road game in the NBA. But he’s had great moments so far. I said beforehand he’s going to be one of our players that we’ll go to all year. He’s just going to get better and better." Olynyk's head must have been spinning a bit because after the game he said he wasn't even sure if his parents ever made it. They did and when a reporter asked if he had a chance to talk with them yet he deadpanned, "No, I didn’t have time during the timeouts or else I would have."

In his NBA debut, Brazilian center Vitor Faverani wasn't bashful. The Celtics went to him early and often on the blocks and he had 13 points (on nine shots), three rebounds, and two blocks by the intermission. His production quieted in the second half (0 points, 0 rebounds, 3 fouls in nine second-half minutes) and he was hard on himself about the drop-off. Faverani finished at minus-17 on the night. "Too much mistakes, but I feel comfortable on the floor and coach gave me minutes and confidence in me," said Faverani."But I make the mistakes, so that’s bad." Stevens liked the rookie's aggressiveness while drawing the start. "Vitor was very solid early on; he’s got so much room to improve and he’s already improved," said Stevens. "I think certainly we’ve got a keeper there, and we just have to keep helping him get better and better and better."

Postgame: Stevens finds silver linings

October, 31, 2013
TORONTO -- Maybe he's braced himself for nights like this because Boston Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens found himself focusing on silver linings as he broke down his team's season-opening loss to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAYBrad Stevens coached his first regular-season game on Wednesday night in Toronto.
"I’m not a guy that takes a lot of positives in losses, usually," said Stevens. "But I am able to take away some things tonight that we got better at."

Stevens understands that there will be a lot of nights that will follow the same script as Wednesday's game. His young team played inconsistently over 48 minutes, rallying from a big deficit to make a late charge, but made critical errors that ultimately forced it to endure a 93-87 loss to the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.

"I walk out of here and, certainly I'm disappointed because you’re in a close game and you have a chance [to win], but I walk out of here with some positives to build on," said Stevens. "We’re going to get better at handling the ball, we’re going to get better rebounding, we’re going to get better at keeping our guys in front of us, [but] we fought back and competed."

The Celtics turned the ball over 22 times leading to 20 points; were outrebounded 48-33 overall, with the Raptors utilizing 19 offensive rebounds to generate a whopping 28 second-chance points; and Boston's defense struggled when guards allowed dribble penetration and forced cracks in Boston's help defense that Toronto exploited.

But Boston also rallied from as much of a 16-point deficit to make things interesting in the fourth quarter, saw Jeff Green score a game-high 25 points while being ultra aggressive, and generated enough positive glimpses that Stevens is confident they took a step in the right direction despite the final result.

Stevens himself navigated another hurdle. Try as he might to downplay it, this was his first regular-season game and he was in the spotlight because of it. The 37-year-old Stevens apologized to reporters before the game for not feeling any nervousness before tip-off, and after the game he was focused more on Game 2 on Friday night against the Bucks than Wednesday's loss.

"I found myself in the same mode that I am during any game that I’ve coached in before," said Stevens. "I’ll go back and kick myself for certain things, I’m sure. [But it's] not any time for any of us to sulk right now."

Added Stevens, "I felt pretty good out there the whole night, at least I felt like I knew what was coming and going. At the end of the day, we didn’t do everything perfectly, I didn’t coach a perfect game, but I think we can all rest assured that we’ve got a team that will fight, and we’ve got a team that will compete, and we can just shore up a couple of those mistakes, maybe we can come out on the other end of it."

Read on for a few more postgame notes, including no silver linings for Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries; troubles on the glass; and delay of game penalties strike again.

(Read full post)

Green makes opening statement

October, 30, 2013
TORONTO -- On the eve of the Boston Celtics' season-opener, Jeff Green reclined on some mats inside the team's training facility in Waltham and talked with noticeable calmness in his voice. Despite an underwhelming preseason -- this after ascending to the throne of king of Boston's new-look offense -- Green promised his 2013-14 season would have more ups than downs and further embraced his role as go-to guy.

Ron Turenne/NBAE via GettyJeff Green did an excellent job staying aggressive against the Raptors.
But he still had to prove it on the court and Green started the regular season off on the right foot. Showing the aggression he often lacked during the eight-game exhibition slate, Green attacked the basket at every opportunity Wednesday night and the end result was a game-high 25 points to go along with five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block over 37 minutes in Boston's 93-87 loss to the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.

Green didn't just finish 8-of-16 shooting from the floor, he got the foul line for nine attempts (making seven) and rarely got caught waiting for the game to come to him. Thrust into the role of shooting guard in Boston's big lineup -- which often left him covering Toronto's talented tandem of Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan -- Green still found the energy to attack offensively, giving Boston much-needed scoring jolts.

The advanced stats are more encouraging than the standard line. Green accounted for a team-high 21 plays finished, generating 1.19 points per possession, according to Synergy Sports data. He generated points off 57.1 percent of his finished possessions, drew shooting fouls on 23.8 percent of his touches, and limited his turnovers (1) on a night the Celtics as a whole were sloppy with the ball. Green was plus-8 overall in plus/minus.

"I was kind of zoned out," said Green. "Going into the game, I just told myself, put your head down and drive. Be aggressive. And, if I play hard, the offense will come, but I wanted to focus on defense. I was guarding DeMar, he’s a great player. I just wanted to try to be aggressive and put them on their heels."

(Read full post)

TORONTO -- Rapid reaction after the Toronto Raptors defeated the Boston Celtics 93-87 on Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre:

Playing under the cloak of Game 6 of the World Series back in Boston, the Celtics were expectedly inconsistent in their season-opener, mixing spurts of potential with painful stretches of miscues. Boston was generally fantastic in the odd quarters, but even-quarter struggles sank them. An aggressive Jeff Green scored a team-high 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting over 37 minutes, while Brandon Bass added 17 points on an efficient 6-of-7 shooting over 32 minutes. The Raptors put four starters in double figures, including Rudy Gay with a team-high 19 points.

The Raptors were threatening to pull away late, but a Jeff Green floater had Boston within four with four minutes to go. But Boston didn't have any more rally in them. Amir Johnson hit a turnaround jumper, Gay got a steal and hit a turnoaround fadeaway, and DeMar DeRozan added a driving bank shot as Toronto's lead ballooned to 10 with 2:34 to go, essentially sealing the win.

The Celtics started fast Wednesday and led by five after the first quarter, but couldn't get out of their own way in the second frame. Boston shot just 14.3 percent (2 of 14) in the frame and seven of the Celtics' 11 total points came at the free throw line. Boston also turned the ball over six times (and 11 times in the first half overall) as the Raptors opened a 12-point halftime lead (49-37).

As bad as they were in the second quarter, Boston was equally as excellent in the third frame. Bass scored 10 points to spark the 34-point quarter which culminating with his putback slam to tie the game at 71 heading to the fourth. Boston shot 72.2 percent (13 of 18) and forced Toronto into nine turnover (for 14 points).

With Jared Sullinger serving a one-game suspension and rookie Kelly Olynyk having a rough night (a team-worst minus-18 in plus/minus over 15:47; 2 points, 3 turnovers), veteran big man Kris Humphries seized the opportunity to make a statement. Despite an underwhelming preseason, Humphries finished with eight points and nine rebounds over 21 minutes against one of his former teams.

Vitor Faverani wasn't bashful in his NBA debut. The roookie center fired away early and often until foul trouble slowed him down a bit. Faverani finished with 13 points, three rebounds, and three blocks over 26:41, but he was a minus-17. ... Keith Bogans and MarShon Brooks earned DNPs. ... Gerald Wallace need 2 ½ quarters before taking his one and only shot -- a layup in transition. He had three points, four steals, three rebounds, and two assists over 39:52.

The Celtics were competitive, but couldn't find a way to rallly again late as the Raptors hung on. The Celtics return to Boston and will have a day off Thursday before hosting the Milwaukee Bucks in their home-opener on Friday night at TD Garden.

Pregame: Faverani in starting lineup

October, 30, 2013
TORONTO -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens finally revealed his much-anticipated starting lineup for Wednesday's season opener against the Toronto Raptors. He will go with Avery Bradley, Gerald Wallace, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Vitor Faverani.

The Celtics found success with the Wallace-Green combo late in the preseason and, with a desire to add size to the floor, were going to lean on a rookie big. If Jared Sullinger, who is serving a team-issued one-game suspension, had been available, Stevens suggested he might have put Kelly Olynyk in the starting group but expressed some reservations based on Olynyk's inexperience.

Faverani shined in his only preseason start during Boston's exhibition finale last week, swatting six shots in a blockfest, but Stevens said it wasn't just that game that helped elevate him to an opening-night start.

"It has been a lot less about that start and a lot more about what he’s done consistently throughout the course of the preseason, regardless of when his opportunities have been," Stevens said. "He’s played pretty well, he’s played pretty consistently well.

"I think we need some size and length, whether it be Vitor or Kelly, in our starting lineup. I think that showed itself in a few of those exhibition games -- at the start of those games. Again, [Faverani has] been a pro for a long time, he’s experienced some great environments -- better soon than never."

For his part, Faverani marveled at being a starter in his NBA debut.

"I never imagined it. Never," he said. "In training camp, before when I was playing in Spain. I can’t believe it now."

The Celtics struggled with Toronto's size in two preseason meetings, particularly against second-year center Jonas Valanciunas, and Stevens hopes Faverani can strengthen the back line. He'll also help against dribble penetration from Toronto's talented backcourt.

"I think you saw in our last game, [Faverani] was one of our better defenders, period," Stevens said. "He has ability to protect the rim some, which if you remember the first time we played Toronto was an issue, and we were a little bit better last time, but not much at the start of the game. Hopefully a guy like that can make up for a few of your mistakes on the perimeter. And then, I think we have to be better going inside throughout the course of the year and he can score on the blocks as well."

A couple of other pregame quick hits:

* NEVER NERVOUS STEVENS: Poor Stevens has been peppered with questions throughout the preseason about his emotions leading up to his first NBA game. Much like his demeanor on the sideline, he insists he's calm and apologizes for being impassive. "I’m sorry. It’s probably not as interesting as you want it to be," Stevens said. "I'm just ready to go. Eight exhibition games is a lot of dress rehearsals, especially over the course of 23 days. I’m anxious to see how we play. My biggest thing at this time of year, no matter who you’re coaching, is you want your team to play hard and play to its best. Then you can make tweaks and adjustments after that. I’m more anxious to see how we play than necessarily about being out there."

* OLYNYK THE C'S MINUTE LEADER?: A Toronto native, Olynyk has been a popular topic up here. Asked about what Olynyk can bring to this year's squad, Stevens noted, "Well, unless there’s unusual circumstances, he’s going to play a lot of minutes and he may lead us in minutes. He’s a guy that can do a number of different things. ... Kelly’s certainly done a good job and will get ample opportunity."

W2W4: C's vs. Raptors (Game 1 of 82)

October, 30, 2013
The Boston Celtics open the 2013-14 season when they visit the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night (7 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

THE STEVENS ERA BEGINS: One of the hallmarks of a Brad Stevens-coached team is preparedness. After a preseason in which the Celtics focused on their own growth, it will be interesting to see how ready Boston is for Toronto (a team it saw twice in the preseason). This is Stevens' first chance to show how his tireless preparation for an opponent can aid his young squad. If there's one certainty tonight, it's that Stevens is ready for this game and the start of his NBA odyssey.

REAL GAMES! The Celtics endured a 2-6 preseason and most pundits expect them to struggle this season. But it's incredibly difficult to gauge much from the preseason. Stevens still has the daunting task of figuring out minutes for his rotation (with virtually no separation occurring this preseason), but key players will be on the floor longer and the Celtics will get a better idea of where they stand entering this transition phase. Who will step up? Who wilts on the big stage? Players will be under more of a microscope in the regular season.

GREEN MEANS GO: Jeff Green, who accepted the target that comes with being the new focal point of the Boston offense, produced an underwhelming preseason. After Boston's final practice of the preseason on Tuesday, he admitted he needs to up his production (and offensive aggression) but promised more consistency in the regular season. Said Green: "Of course I’ll have my ups and downs, but I’ll have more ups than downs. I can guarantee you that." He must prove it on the floor.

ENJOY THE PROCESS: Let's face it, the Celtics are low on the Boston sports totem pole at the moment. The Red Sox are one win away from clinching the World Series; the Patriots are 6-2 at the midway point of the NFL season; the Bruins are off to a fast start; even the Revolution are headed to the postseason. As the Celtics take the difficult first steps in their rebuilding process, things might not always be pretty. But we'll say it again: Enjoy the process. It's fun to watch teams compete for titles (something we've been spoiled by in Boston over the past decade), but watching a young team grow can be just as rewarding. It's going to take time, but the Celtics are confident they will climb that mountain again, with Stevens now at the helm, and hoops fans should savor the progress and try not to judge based solely on the win-loss record.

Rapid Reaction: Raptors 99, C's 97

October, 16, 2013
Rapid reaction after the Toronto Raptors defeated the Boston Celtics 99-97 during exhibition play on Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre:

Another night, another second-unit-fueled rally by the Celtics ends in a near-miss loss. MarShon Brooks scored a team-high 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting over 19:32 off the Boston bench, while rookie Kelly Olynyk put up 13 points in his homecoming, connecting on 6-of-7 shots with a team-best nine rebounds before fouling out in 25:57. The Celtics, who trailed by as much as 13 early in the game, made it a one-possession game twice in the final 24 seconds, but Jordan Crawford missed a hurried 25-foot triple in the final seconds (and Jared Sullinger couldn't tip home the rebound with a chance to tie). Terrence Ross scored a team-high 19 points off the bench for Toronto, while the Raptors put four other players in double figures (including 14 for Landry Fields).

Olynyk is still getting used to the NBA whistle, but otherwise he's been fantastic over the past couple of games. All six shots he made on Wednesday came at the rim. Olynyk was a team-best plus-14 in plus/minus. ... Jeff Green had another encouraging night, including one particularly highlight-worthy alley-oop (one of two makes at the rim). He finished with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting and was a starter-best minus-1 in plus/minus. ... Boston generated 23 assists on 35 made field goals (65.7 percent). ... Courtney Lee continues to make good things happen even with his shot not falling (1-of-4, 4 points). Lee impacted the game by registering five assists and three steals over 22:40.

Rookie point guard Phil Pressey suffered a left ankle sprain in the fourth quarter. He told reporters in the locker room it didn't appear to be a serious injury. ... Yet again, Boston couldn't string 48 minutes together. The starters spotted Toronto a 13-point cushion little more than seven minutes in. The Celtics have done an excellent job rallying in just about every game this preseason, but Boston is 1-5 and those early deficits are a big reason for the ugly record. Alas, that's the growing pains typically endured by young teams.

The Celtics catch a day off on Thursday after completing a back-to-back. A pair of much-needed practices loom on Friday and Saturday before the team flies back north of the border to Quebec to meet the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday at the Bell Centre in Montreal as part of the NBA's Canada Series. The Celtics wrap up their exhibition slate Tuesday with a visit from the Brooklyn Nets.



Jeff Green
18.7 1.6 0.9 33.7
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 7.9
AssistsJ. Nelson 7.0
StealsJ. Nelson 2.5
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.8