Celtics go a long way to find out what they already knew

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Celtics go a long way to find out what they already knew

SACRAMENTO Now that the Boston Celtics' first jaunt out West is in the books, the goal -- to learn more about exactly who are the Celtics -- was achieved.

Not to go all Dennis Green, but they are exactly who we thought they were: A team that still doesn't know how to win or lose with any kind of consistency.

In the span of less than a week on the road, the Celtics only reinforced their status as a middle-of-the-road club.

And with that, here's a review of the Celtics last four games -- all on the road -- highlighted by the Good, Bad and Ugly times that have been a common thread that has tied this team down to being nothing more than a .500-playing ball club:

CHRISTMAS DAY AT BROOKLYN: CELTICS 93, NETS 76
The Good: The C's delivered the kind of Christmas Day present that their fans have been clamoring for all season. The defense limited Brooklyn to just 40 percent shooting while forcing 20 turnovers, which led to 25 points for the Celtics. The C's bench was especially strong, led by Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green, who had 16 and 15 points, respectively.

The Bad: This loss seemed to be what accelerated the eventual firing of Avery Johnson, who was cut loose after being named the Eastern Conference's Coach of the Month for October and November.

The Ugly: For the second time this season, things got a little testy between these two clubs, with the result being a nice Christmas Day bonus for NBA charities that benefit from the fines levied for player technical fouls. All total, four players -- Kevin Garnett and Courtney Lee of the Celtics, and Gerald Wallace and Andray Blatche of the Nets -- were each whistled for a technical foul.

DEC. 27 AT LOS ANGELES: CLIPPERS 106, CELTICS 77
The Good: There really wasn't much for the Celtics to take out of this one. The Clippers are an elite NBA team this season and proved it in emphatic fashion against a Celtics club that was overwhelmed in every way imaginable. Fortunately the Celtics will only see them once more this season, which is about the only positive they can glean from this one.

The Bad: Where do you begin? Losing to the hottest team the NBA has seen in years is nothing to be embarrassed about, especially in their house. But the Celtics showed no fight, no perseverance and for the most part, looked clueless in just about every phase of the game. It would serve as a humbling reminder of just how far away the Celtics are right now, from being able to compete with, let alone beat, the NBA's better teams.

The Ugly: Adding insult to injury was what else? Injuries. Rajon Rondo suffered a right hipthigh injury that limited his effectiveness. He played nearly 32 minutes but had just 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting, while tallying just six assists with four turnovers.

DEC. 29 AT OAKLAND: WARRIORS 101, CELTICS 83
The Good: The Boston Celtics may actually have someone not named Kevin Garnett who can score in the post. His name is Jared Sullinger. And, yes, he's a rookie, but he continues to play like a man wise beyond his years. And it took Rondo being out for the rest of the C's to actually make getting him the ball in the post a greater priority. He didn't have a monster game, but his 12 points and game-high 8 rebounds was the kind of performance both he and the Celtics should try and build on.

The Bad: The defense was as bad as we've seen it. The Warriors are a quick-shot, pull-up-in-transition team. They have been like that all season. But the Celtics played as though that caught them by surprise, frequently giving their shooters great looks on the perimeter. And making matters worst? Many of the shots they gave Golden State's shooters were from their favorite spots on the floor.

The Ugly: Not having Rajon Rondo on the floor was evident in so many areas. Courtney Lee (season-high 18 points) did a decent job of filling in for Rondo, but Rondo's on-the-floor leadership was clearly something that the Celtics missed dearly. "He (Lee) was fine," C's coach Doc Rivers said after the loss. "He played a lot of minutes which I thought hurt him, and Courtney is never going to make the passes that Rondo makes."

DEC. 30 AT SACRAMENTO: KINGS 118, CELTICS 96
The Good: Again, not a lot of positivity could be found on the floor or inside the locker room afterward. But anytime Kevin Garnett throws down a verbal challenge -- and it is rare -- the C's have responded accordingly.

He did so after a lackluster start a year ago, and it was among the factors that catapulted the Celtics to a 24-10 record after the break and a return trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, where the C's came within a game of advancing past eventual NBA champion Miami Heat.

The Bad: The defense seems to keep finding different depths of disappointment to reach. It's one thing to let the Los Angeles Clippers and the Golden State Warriors go buck wild offensively. They're really good teams. But the Kings? The previously 10-19 Sacramento Kings? Chris Webber is not walking through that door, Celtics. Allowing the Kings to go off like they did offensively, should never happen to a team with a defensive foundation.

The Ugly: The long trip home provided the Celtics with nothing to show for those miles logged but more miles of separation between themselves and the rest of the NBA's good teams. Losing three straight happens, even to good teams. But the three losses have all been blowouts, with the Celtics having not led after a quarter of play since they beat Brooklyn on Christmas Day. And considering how the Nets went about firing their head coach Avery Johnson less than a week after the C's beat them, it's clear that they had behind-the-scene issues that certainly factored into their poor play that night.

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

Ainge: Winning more important than All-Star bids

BOSTON -- When it comes to NBA awards and accolades, players in contention often try to play it cool when asked about whether they are deserving.
 
And then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, who gives a definitive response whenever the question about whether he should be an All-Star starter is raised.
 
We’ll find out later today if Thomas will in fact be named as a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team when the East and West starters are announced. 
 
“It’s a little bit refreshing in that he is open about it,” Danny Ainge said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show this morning. “But every player wants to be acknowledged by their fan base, by other players in the league, coaches. You come into the league and as a young player you want to earn the respect of your peers and then you want to get paid and then you want to be an All-Star; maybe that’s the wrong order; and then nothing more important than winning.
 
Ainge added, “Isaiah is having a great year. He’s talked a lot about it. At some point in his career, he’ll talk about the most important thing and that’s winning championships.”
 
Ainge pointed to when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were all Celtics, there was no mistaking that winning came before anything else.
 
But where those guys were in their careers in terms of individual achievements and just age, were major factors in their focus being so deeply rooted in winning.
 
“Along the way they all want to win, but when you get to the point where Paul, Ray and KG were in their 30s, they didn’t care about any of that other stuff because they had it all, already,” Ainge said. “They had multiple All-Star games, they had big contracts, winning became the only thing that mattered.”
 
In other Celtics-related news, Ainge said that there’s no timetable for when Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will return to the floor. He has missed five of the last six games with the injury which includes last night’s loss to the New York Knicks which was a game in which the 6-foot-2 Bradley was a last-minute scratch from the lineup

Edelman says 'there was no maliciousness' to his Steelers comments

Edelman says 'there was no maliciousness' to his Steelers comments

It's funny how during a week like this one, a singularly ridiculous act -- such as Antonio Brown's live stream of the Steelers postgame locker room celebration last weekend -- can lead to a series of brush fires that pop up only to be peed on and put out. 

That was the case yesterday as a comment Julian Edelman made to WEEI earlier this week about Brown's Facebook Live video was spun as a sort of vicious burn directed at the Steelers franchise. 

"That's how that team is run," Edelman said, a comment that read as a more serious indictment than it actually sounded. "I personally don't think that would be something that would happen in our locker room, but hey, whatever. Some people like red and some people like blue. Some people like tulips and some people like roses. Whatever."

That led to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being asked about Edelman's comments, and defending the honor of the Rooney family, during a press conference on Wednesday.

"I don’t think I need to speak much," Roethlisberger said. "We’ve got our trophies out there. I’ve got owners that I think are the best in the business. They’re family to us, and I’m sure if he talked to his owner, he would say the same thing about the Rooneys. Anybody in here in the football world or the regular world that owns the Rooneys knows what they stand for. It’s a blessing to call them a family."

And on and on it went. Later in the day, Edelman was asked about his comments during a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters.

So just in case you're keeping score, a Steelers player streamed a video of coach Mike Tomlin calling the Patriots "a-holes," which prompted a response from Edelman. That response prompted a response from Roethlisberger, whose response to the response then led to a response to the response to the response from Edelman.

Got it?

"Yeah, I mean I think it was taken out of context," Edelman said. "I have nothing but respect for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’re an unbelievable franchise. It starts from the top with the Rooney Family, Coach Tomlin, I think they just mis[interpreted] – I mean, I don’t know, I may have said it, but I think more of that was that it’s not the way we would do it here. That’s just how that goes. There was no maliciousness about it, but it’s whatever. That’s what the media does, try to make stories."