Despite injuries, Celtics look to win Game 2 with improved D


Despite injuries, Celtics look to win Game 2 with improved D

BOSTON Doc Rivers will have his full roster available to play in tonight's Game 2 matchup against Philadelphia. But by no means does that mean the Celtics are any healthier.

With so many bodies hurting, the Celtics find themselves once again trying to find ways to win with a bunch of dinged up parts.

"Just the playoffs in general, has been a challenge because of the off the court; just the juggling of the bodies," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "And it's what it should be sometimes. The playoffs should be hard, they should be a grind."

Philadelphia. Oklahoma City. Miami.

Pick a team, any team that's still in the playoffs and there's a good chance that one of their key players is battling some type of painful injury.

"The good news or bad news, is it's for everybody," Rivers said. "Everybody is going through stuff. That's what makes it so tough."

And for Boston, the challenge now is pretty clear: find a way to win Game 2.

The Celtics' fourth-quarter comeback certain has the potential to deliver a huge dent to the Sixers' confidence.

But the C's can't count on that.

If anything, the Sixers will be even more confident considering they spent the bulk of Game 1 with playing with a lead.

There were a number of areas the Celtics would like to improve, notably their defense against the Sixers' transition offense.

Although the final statistics showed Boston giving up 13 points in transition, Rivers said his coaching staff reviewed the video and came up with Philadelphia generating 26 points in transition.

Rivers said he was also disturbed by the unusually high number of open shots the Sixers were able to get in the first quarter.

"They had eight uncontested jump shots in the first quarter," Rivers said. "We can't start off games that way. One thing Philly does, and it sounds silly, but they make open shots; they really do. We have to contest shots. We have to get back on defense."

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat


Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”