A long-awaited big win for Boston


A long-awaited big win for Boston

Merry Day After Christmas, everyone. I hope you had a great time with the family. I hope that you got everything that you asked for. I hope that your pants still fit. If nothing else, I hope that you enjoyed an impressive Celtics victory.

Ever since Boston beat Oklahoma City waaaay back on November 23, weve waited for the Cs to come through in another major match-up. Over that time, we saw them lose to Brooklyn, lose to Chicago and lose to San Antonio. We saw them beat the Sixers, but that was only after losing to them the night before. The bottom line is that entering yesterdays game, it had been more than a month since the Celtics had delivered a win that really left you feeling good about their situation; confident that were ready to finally turn this season around and join the ranks of Eastern Conference contenders.

But yesterday did it. Yesterday was that win.

Of course, if the Celtics arent careful, that win will very quickly become insignificant. With Christmas in the rear view, Boston now heads out west for games at the Clippers (winners of 14 straight, owners of the best record in the NBA), Warriors (always a tough place to play, especially now that theyre good) and Kings (OK, they still stink). After that, the Green returns home to take on the Grizzlies (one of the biggest and baddest teams in the league, with the NBAs second best defensive rating) and the Pacers (winners in six of seven; the NBAs No. 1 rated defense). After that the Celtics are back on the road against the Hawks (who finally look like theyre for real) and then wrap up the killer stretch on Monday, January 7 at Madison Square Garden against Steve Novak and the Knicks.

When the dust settles on that brutal schedule, well either remember yesterday as a turning point or we wont remember it at all, but for now, lets soak in the rest of the Christmas cheer and take a look at what went right for the Celtics: contributions from the supporting cast.

Coming into this season, we knew that Bostons returning core could get the job done. Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley (when healthy) and Brandon Bass had proven that they can compete collectively at the leagues highest level. But it was that supporting cast Jeff Green, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jared Sullinger that was supposed to make a good Celtics team great, and for the most part, thats whats been missing over the first two months of this season.

But yesterday in Brooklyn, that clearly wasnt the case.

After a 1-15 showing against Milwaukee, Jason Terry was 4-7 (including 3-4 from deep) for 11 points and even dished out four assists. Jeff Green was good Jeff Green, with 15 points and a defensive energy and focus that allowed him to stay on the court for 28 minutes. Jared Sullinger was a beast, registering a career high 32:50 of playing time, tying career highs with 16 points and six free throw attempts, adding seven rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal, and generally carrying himself like a season-vet as opposed to a kid whos still not old enough to buy a beer. Lee was unspectacular but still steady. And Jason Collins JASON COLLINS continued to give the Celtics valuable time in the paint. He was only on the court for 13 minutes, but it certainly felt like more. His contributions can't be overlooked.

But they can't stop there. For this team to be all that it can be, Collins and company need to keep bringing it every night. Performances like yesterday can't be cause for celebrations and the focus of columns and blog posts, city-wide. They need to become the norm. They need to happen every game.

For the next seven games, at least. Or else Boston's Christmas miracle will quickly become a New Year's nightmare.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Gerald Green's injury may give others a shot a Celtics camp


Gerald Green's injury may give others a shot a Celtics camp

WALTHAM, Mass. – Gerald Green’s hip flexor injury isn’t anything he or the Celtics are overly concerned about.

They know Green as well as any player on this roster, so him missing a couple days will have no effect on his status in their eyes.

But in shutting him down for a couple days, his absence affords a number of players an opportunity to stand up in what is an absolutely pivotal, potentially career-altering season.

James Young is in his third training camp with the Celtics and no one has a real feel for where he fits into the pantheon of NBA players.

He hasn’t played enough to call him a bust, but hasn’t done enough to feel as though he has a bright future in this league either.

And then there’s R.J. Hunter, who came into the NBA with the reputation of being a spot-on shooter.

As a rookie last season, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard struggled knocking down shots when he got playing which for most of the season, was limited.

So, what does that have to do with Green’s injury?

His absence means those two players will get more reps on the floor, providing each with potentially more chances to impress the coaching staff.

It means Young will get a few more shots at showing the added strength, weight and improved skills will enhance his chances to not just make the 15-man roster but also compete for potential minutes.

As for Hunter, he has to make shots.

It’s that simple.

While he showed potential as a rookie to do a number of things on the floor, the easiest way for him to solidify a spot on the roster is to do what he does best which is make baskets.

At the end of the day, one of these guys will not be in a Celtics uniform this season. Between now and then, every opportunity they get to impress the coaches has to be taken advantage of which is exactly what they each will get courtesy of Green’s short-term injury.



Rozier ready to compete for serious minutes in Celtics rotation


Rozier ready to compete for serious minutes in Celtics rotation

WALTHAM, Mass. – Summer league was in full bloom and Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier was killin’ it.
Dropping dimes.
Swooping in for rebounds.
Young fella was having the kind of summer that breeds confidence for him as well as the franchise that shocked many in selecting him as high as they did in 2015.  
But as well as he played, he knew getting on the floor wasn’t going to be easy because he would have to cut into the minutes of already-established players.
And then he got the news that Evan Turner was leaving for Portland after agreeing to a four-year, $70 million contract.
Turner’s departure meant Rozier’s chances of playing regular minutes had indeed arrived.

“Nobody wants to lose a guy like ET; great looker room guy, great down the stretch,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “But that gave me even more of an opportunity to play and step up. It gave me a better feeling about this year, knowing I could get minutes.”

On Monday during media day, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was asked about the void on the Celtic’s roster with Turner now playing for the Blazers.
“I miss Evan Turner already; loved having him around,” Ainge said. He’s not going to be easy to replace and neither will Jared Sullinger (he signed a one-year deal with Toronto). But we do have some exciting young players. Jaylen (Brown) and Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier … very exciting players. I don’t know who will get all of Evan’s minutes, but they will be shared and we can fill that void.”

But Turner’s 28.0 minutes per game will likely serve as a portion of the minutes Rozier will carve out for his own this season.
“I know he’s going to try and take some of my minutes,” said Celtics all-star guard Isaiah Thomas earlier this summer. “But that’s what it’s about; competing.”
Rozier’s competitive nature has stood out during his short time in Boston, with the 22-year-old finding a way to balance that with not being too pushy or too hungry to play.
“He’s an All-Star,” Rozier said of Thomas. “I look at it like this. To go up against someone like (Thomas) every day is a blessing.”
But Rozier soon adds, “I’m trying to get better, but I want to play too. Getting his minutes, anybody’s minutes, I’m going for it. But I know he’s not going to lighten up and make it easy for me. I know that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
And as he gradually establishes a role for himself on this team, maybe then people will warm up to a player that so many had doubts about when the Celtics selected him with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
“I’ve been doubted all my life,” Rozier said. “It ain’t hurt me. I always tell myself, ‘they’re gonna fall in love with me because I play hard and they’re gonna fall in love with my intensity level. People didn’t know who I was; that’s fine. They’ll find out about me soon enough.”