Late run not enough as C's fall to Hawks


Late run not enough as C's fall to Hawks

ATLANTA The debate leading up to the Boston Celtics' and Atlanta Hawks' Game 1 matchup centered around the two R's: Rest and rhythm.

Boston chose rest down the stretch, while the Hawks opted more for rhythm.

Score one for rhythm as the Hawks were in a good flow all night in defeating the C's, 8374.

Boston spent the entire game playing catch-up, but were able to trim Atlanta's lead down to single digits in the fourth quarter after a jumper by Brandon Bass made it a 6759 game with more than nine minutes to play.

He would later hit another jumper that cut Atlanta's lead to 7368, only for Atlanta's Jeff Teague moments later to drill a 3-pointer that gave the Hawks a much-needed cushion of eight points with 3:05 to play.

The Celtics weren't out of it just yet, with Paul Pierce nailing a jumper that cut the Hawks' lead down to four with 1:01 to play, seemingly one defensive stop away from making things interesting.

And that's when all hell broke loose.

Atlanta's Joe Johnson lost control of the ball and a mad scramble ensued. Eventually, official Marc Davis called a personal foul on the Celtics with which all of them namely Rajon Rondo disagreed.

Rondo voiced his displeasure towards Marc Davis and then bumped into the back of Davis, which led to a double technical foul and an automatic ejection. It remains to be seen if the league will look to suspend Rondo for the contact he made with Davis.

Even before Rondo lost his composure, the Celtics were in trouble especially when it came to rebounding.

And the man giving them the biggest fits on the boards was Josh Smith. In addition to his 22 points and four assists, he also grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds.

The Hawks now lead the best-of-seven series 10 with Game 2 in Atlanta on Tuesday.

Atlanta began the game with a blistering 208 run and never looked back in handing the Big Three a rare Game 1 loss.

While much has been made of Boston's championship pedigree, they have a number of players experiencing their first real run through the playoffs this season . . . and for some, it certainly looked like it.

Avery Bradley, who has played with such poise and confidence for much of the season, appeared rattled early and often in the first half.

His on-the-ball pressure wasn't nearly as stifling as it has been this season, and he consistently came up short offensively by shooting just 3-for-10 in the first half.

Of Bradley's misses, none loomed as large as the wide-open 3-pointer, from the corner in front of the Celtics' bench, that was wide left as it grazed the rim.

After falling behind 4627, the C's scored eight of the game's next 10 points to come within 13 at 4835.

Bradley, who had just made a lay-up the previous possession, missed the wide open 3-pointer.

Moments later, Johnson was fouled and made one of two free throws, which would be the final point of the first half, which ended with the Celtics trailing 4935.

Keeping the Celtics in the game was Rondo, who, for a change, wasn't relying on his teammates to finish plays.

He was in scorer's mode, tallying 12 points at the half on 6-for-9 shooting. Rondo finished with 20 points, 11 assists and four steals.

The Celtics came out with a much more aggressive demeanor defensively, and slowly but surely cut into the Hawks lead.

A lob dunk by Bradley brought the Celtics within 5343 with 7:05 to play in the third.

The Celtics were not able to inch any closer in the third quarter, which ended with the Hawks ahead, 6553. And the run that carried them late into the fourth hit a wall with Rondo's ejection.

Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot


Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot

WALTHAM, Mass. – With the Celtics waiving Ben Bentil on Friday, Danny Ainge confirmed what has been reported for weeks: the final roster spot for the Celtics will come down to James Young and R.J. Hunter.

“It’ll probably go down to the wire, down to Monday,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.

Boston currently has 16 players in camp with guaranteed contracts. The league-maximum of 15 players has to be met by Monday at 5 p.m.

“We’re continuing to evaluate and look for opportunities out there,” Ainge said. “If there are any deals to be had which we’ve been looking for, for a few months. Both of those guys [Hunter and Young[ have played very well and have made the decision very difficult.”

Having to make a tough call at the end of training camp is nothing new to Ainge.

But this time around is very unique.

It’s highly unusual for a team to have to waive a former first-round pick that they selected.

Young was the 17th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by Boston, while Hunter was selected by the Celtics with the 28th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

“Sometimes the decision is made for me. It’s really easy,” said Ainge. “But this year it hasn’t been that way. Both of those guys have had some outstanding moments in practice, in training camp and in games. So it’s been challenging.”

Boston being in this roster conundrum is due to having lots of draft picks in recent years that either didn’t turn into impact players initially, or were unable to be flipped for more established talent via trade.

In Young’s draft class, Boston selected him with the 17th pick after picking Marcus Smart with the sixth overall pick.

And in 2015, Boston picked Terry Rozier with the 16th overall pick and Hunter with the 28th overall selection. In the second round of that draft, Boston nabbed Jordan Mickey with the 33rd overall pick and Marcus Thornton at No. 45.

Last year’s draft was an even bigger haul for the Celtics, who went into the draft with a record-eight picks.

They traded two of the picks to Memphis, but used the other six which included Jaylen Brown with the third overall selection.

Ainge reiterated that the Celtics like what both players are doing, but doesn’t anticipate a trade scenario presenting itself that would result in both players sticking with the team.

“Unlikely, but always possible,” said Ainge when asked if it were possible for both to remain Celtics.

Both players are still on their rookie contracts, so that along with the increased salary cap teams have now makes each of them a low-risk addition.

However, most of the teams in the NBA have a full roster and the ones that don’t have a couple players in mind to fill out whatever openings exist.

That means there’s a decent chance that Hunter or Young will be waived, clear waivers and can then sign with a team of their choosing.

It sounds good, only if there’s a team to sign with which as stated earlier, is far from a given.






Report: Celtics offering Young or Hunter for second-round pick


Report: Celtics offering Young or Hunter for second-round pick

The Celtics continue to offer James Young or R.J. Hunter for a second-round pick, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical reports.

The Celtics need to be down to 15 players by 5 p.m. Monday. Young and Hunter are on the bubble to make the roster. For CSN Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely’s look at the candidates for the final roster spot, click here.