Celtics dominate Nets, 115-85

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Celtics dominate Nets, 115-85

BROOKLYN, N.Y. The Boston Celtics finally delivered the kind of defensive performance that even the pickiest connoisseur of that brand of basketball would be pleased to see as Boston pulled away for a 115-85 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
It was easily the best showing by the Celtics (2-4) defensively during the preseason, a game that began with a pair of forced turnovers by Boston within the first minute of play.
That helped the C's jump out to a 9-0 lead which ballooned to as many as 19 points in the first half before Boston settled on a 59-44 lead at the half.
Prior to the game, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers expressed his concern about his team's play defensively.
"I'm not sure who we are yet," Rivers said. "I'm not sure what we are yet.
And while the Celtics have been praised by many for the offensive-minded talent they have assembled around their core group, Rivers said, "I think we suck so far defensively. We can't lose that part of anything. If you're not about defense, you're not winning in this league."
That point clearly hit home with the Celtics starters, who set the tone with a suffocating brand of basketball that has been absent most of the preseason until now.
In that first half of dominance, Boston forced 11 turnovers for 12 points while giving up just three points on four of their own miscues.
And that defense allowed Boston to get out and run and for a change, it wasn't just Rondo by himself, either.
In fact, there were multiple sequences in which Lee or another Celtic player were ahead of Rondo in transition -- a rarity in past seasons.
The only downside for the Celtics came on the injury front.
In the second quarter, Paul Pierce nailed a 3-pointer but landed on the foot of Gerald Wallace. He limped off the floor and eventually went back to the locker room along with trainer Ed Lacerte, to get his left ankle re-taped. Pierce did return in the third quarter, and showed no ill effects from the ankle injury.
In fact, Pierce drilled a huge 3-pointer that made it a 76-61 and followed that up by drawing a charge moments later. He finished with 18 points and five rebounds.
The news wasn't as good for Brandon Bass, who suffered a bruised right knee injury that kept him on the bench for the entire second half. The injury doesn't appear to be too serious; at least not serious enough to keep him out of the lineup on Saturday when the C's travel to Albany, N.Y. to play the New York Knicks.

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

First-place Celtics continue to focus on playing well, not standings

WALTHAM, Mass. – When it comes to NBA standings, no Celtic pays closer attention to it than Isaiah Thomas.
 
But the 5-foot-9 All-Star is quick to say that while he’s aware of what’s happening with other teams record-wise, Thomas, like his teammates, isn’t obsessed with it, even with the Celtics (48-26) now in first place in the East following Cleveland’s loss at San Antonio on Monday.
 
“It’s a good feeling,” Thomas said. “It’s still not the end of the year; anything can happen. It’s a nice feeling to be the number one seed for once, but we just have to continue to control what we can control.”

The fact that Boston is even in position to finish with the best record in the East is amazing when you consider injuries and illnesses have forced them to use 13 different starting lineups this season.
 
And the preferred starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford and Amir Johnson has played together 31 times and posted an impressive 24-7 record.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been consistent in his message that while having the best record in the East is nice, he’s more consumed with the team continuing to improve.
 
“It doesn’t mean a whole lot right now,” Stevens said of being in first place. “The whole idea is to make progress, get better every day and stay in the moment. You do that if you’re in last place trying to build up or whether you’re in a position where you’re fighting for seeding. Ultimately, we’ve been able to grow and get a little bit better. But I still think we can play a lot better. That’s where my focus is.”
 
And the same holds true for his players. Thomas knows how unusual this season has been for the Celtics, who continue finding ways to win despite frequently being short-handed.
 
The latest example of that involves forward Jonas Jerebko, who is questionable for Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee because of a sore left knee that limited him in Tuesday’s practice.
 
“It’s a long season. A lot of things can happen whether they be good or bad and we know that,” Thomas said. “We just try to withstand the storm we’ve had a few times this year, and continue to try and stay as positive as possible and we’ve done that. We’re in a good position right now. We just have to continue to take care of business.”
  
And that means steadily improving while piling up the wins, particularly against teams such as the Bucks (37-36), who are among a handful of teams that could potentially be Boston’s first-round opponent.
 
Milwaukee comes in having won 11 of its past 14 games.

“It makes the game that much more important,” said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. “Just like the Miami game. We want to let the teams know now, they go up against us in the playoffs, it’s no mercy. We’re going to play hard. We’re going to bring it every single night. We’re going to play Celtics basketball every single night. Them knowing that, we can scare a lot of teams if we’re playing the right way.”

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

Jerebko questionable for Wednesday against Bucks

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics have spent most of this season playing short-handed and Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee will potentially be another one of those games.
 
Veteran forward Jonas Jerebko has a sore left knee and is considered questionable for the Bucks’ game.
 
“Jonas went through about half of [Tuesday’s] practice,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
 
Jerebko has missed two games this season due to illness.
 
Because of Milwaukee’s length at seemingly every position, Jerebko’s ability to play both forward positions will be something the Celtics will surely miss if he’s unable to play.
 
This season, Jerebko has appeared in 69 games while averaging 3.9 points and 3.4 rebounds while shooting 44.1 percent from the field and 35.0 percent on 3’s.