OFFSEASON

Celtics blow lead, collapse in Philadelphia, 92-83

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Celtics blow lead, collapse in Philadelphia, 92-83

PHILADELPHIA Fast starts, a futile finish.

It has been that way throughout this Boston-Philadelphia playoff series, and Game 4 was no exception.

After a red-hot start by Boston, the Celtics could not overcome a foul-plagued game that ended with a disappointing 92-83 loss.

The series is now tied at 2-2, with Game 5 in Boston on Monday, and Game 6 in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala drilled a 3-pointer with 36.9 seconds to play that put the Sixers ahead 88-83, and all but sealed the victory.

Boston immediately called a time-out, well aware that the odds of them pulling out a win at that point were slim, at best.

Out of the time-out, Ray Allen took a rushed 3-pointer that hit nothing but the outstretched arms of a Sixers big man waiting for the air ball to land in his hands.

Jodie Meeks went to the free throw line and made a pair with 32.2 seconds to play, making the game's outcome a mere formality.

Several factors contributed to the C's loss, but none loom as large as the high number of fouls that the C's were whistled for, with official Bill Kennedy making a number of those calls.

For the game, the Celtics were called for 28 personal fouls compared to 19 for the Sixers. That contributed to Philadelphia taking 36 free throw attempts compared to 19 for the C's.

The Sixers fell behind by as many as 18 points, but rallied to tie the game at 63 with more than 10 minutes to play following a driving lay-up by Thaddeus Young.

From there, it became a game that like the first two, was going to come down to which team did a better job of executing in the game's closing minutes.

Boston went up 79-76 following a pair of free throws from Kevin Garnett, only for Iguodala to hit a game-tying 3-pointer.

His basket was soon followed by a jumper from Rajon Rondo which gave the Celtics an 81-79 lead with 2:49 to play.

For most of the night, the Celtics seemed well on their way to a similar blowout akin to their 16-point Game 3 win on Wednesday night.

Boston pushed its lead up to 18 in the third quarter, but foul trouble was starting to become an issue for the C's as the Sixers continued to make a killin' from the free throw line.

After a free throw by Avery Bradley put the Celtics ahead 49-31, Philadelphia countered with an 8-1 spurt with half of their points coming from the free throw line.

Philadelphia's run and Boston's offensive rut seemingly had no end in sight until Paul Pierce snapped an 0-for-the-quarter shooting slump by the Celtics with a 3-pointer that pushed Boston's lead to 54-46 at the 5:05 mark.

The Celtics had missed their previous nine shot attempts in the quarter.

HOT SHOT: Andre Iguodala came up with one big shot after another for the Sixers, with none bigger than the 3-pointer he hit with 36 seconds to play that put the Sixers ahead by five points. He finished with 16 points on 5-for-12 shooting, along with seven rebounds and four assists.

IN-N-OUT: Kevin Garnett was about as big a non-factor as we've seen him all season. He finished with just nine points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field, along with 11 rebounds and a whopping seven turnovers.

SUPER SUB: Thaddeus Young continues to provide the kind of impact off the bench that has given the Celtics major fits throughout this series. He had 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting, along with nine rebounds and three assists.

TURNING POINT: With the Sixers ahead 85-83, Rajon Rondo missed a driving lay-up attempt that was blocked by Young. Moments later, Iguodala hit a 3-pointer that put the C's on their heels and they were never able to bounce back.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "We lost our composure. We never returned to playing basketball like we did in the first half." - Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

OFFSEASON

Turner on Instagram: Leaving Celtics ‘one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made’

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Turner on Instagram: Leaving Celtics ‘one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made’

On Instagram, Evan Turner thanks the Boston fans after he leaves the Celtics for a four-year, $70 million free agent deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. 

OFFSEASON

Celtics’ Young has seen first-hand the work Durant puts in

Celtics’ Young has seen first-hand the work Durant puts in

BOSTON – We have all seen what Kevin Durant can do in games. He’s a near 7-footer with lethal shooting range who, on most nights, makes the game look so easy.
 
Still, he is often praised for his work ethic in practice and offseason workouts, something Celtics guard/forward James Young knows from first-hand experience.
 
Last summer, Young spent time working out in the summer with Durant, who, like Young, is represented by Rich Kleiman of Roc Nation Sports.
 
Durant, the top free agent on the market this summer, has narrowed his list of potential teams to play for next season to six.
 
The Celtics made the cut and will get a face-to-face meeting with Durant this weekend.
 
You can add Young to the list of Celtics who would love to call Durant a teammate.
 
“He would mean a lot to the team,” Young said. “He would help the team out.”
 
The in-game production generated by Durant speaks for itself.
 
In nine NBA seasons, he has career averages of 27.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocked shots per game.
 
But just as impressive is what the 6-foot-11 forward does out of season.
 
“He was focused the whole time; 110 percent,” said Young, referring to working out with Durant last summer. “I try to do that in my workouts and just go from there.”
 
Durant, who is expected to meet with the Celtics on Saturday, will reportedly make a decision on July 4.  

OFFSEASON

Evan Turner agrees to 4-year, $70M deal with Trail Blazers

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Evan Turner agrees to 4-year, $70M deal with Trail Blazers

BOSTON — We have heard how good a coach Brad Stevens has been for the Celtics.

And then Evan Turner goes out and lands a four-year, $70 million deal from the Portland Trail Blazers, which says more about Stevens than the crazy NBA free agency market.

Remember, it was just two years ago that Turner was a player that hardly anyone wanted.

Sure, he put up big numbers in his final season in Philadelphia before they traded him, but the Sixers were still a bad team.

And when he arrived in Indiana, the Pacers seemed to regress which on the eve of free agency, led to Turner’s stock taking an Enron-like plunge.

So, in came the Celtics, offering him two-year, $6.9 million contract and with it a chance to change the narrative of him as being a lottery pick bust.

Instead of being a bust, Turner blossomed into a reliable, jack-of-all-trades who could impact the game positively off the bench or in the starting lineup.

And while Turner certainly deserves a lot of credit for turning his basketball career around, it’s also yet another testament to what Stevens can do for veterans in need of a image makeover (read: Dwight Howard).

Kris Humphries was on the Celtics’ 2013-2014 squad which was Stevens’ first season as an NBA coach.

Humphries was part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade with Brooklyn, a player whose contract was viewed as being as valuable as he was as a player.

There were rumors all the way up to the trade deadline that Boston would move him and his expiring contract.

Instead, they kept him around and gradually Stevens found ways to get him in the game, allow him to do some things on the floor that he had not done before.

So, rather than having to settle for a veteran’s minimum contract which seemed to be in his future, his play under Stevens led to a three-year, $13 million deal with Washington.

Humphries credits Stevens’ system as being one of the keys to his success and ability to land a decent, multi-year contract following a season in which Boston won just 25 games and he shot a career-best 50.1 percent from the field.

“If you look at a lot of guys, they have a lot of versatility in their game,” Humphries told CSNNE.com in April. “They’re able to handle the ball more than they have throughout their careers, show they can do more in terms of being an overall player. That helps guys with the NBA today, 1 [point guard] through 5 [center] has to be able to make plays. Brad’s system lets you do that.”

Especially for players like Humphries and Turner, who parlayed success under Stevens into a huge payday.