Collins keeping himself ready to go for Celtics

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Collins keeping himself ready to go for Celtics

BOSTON With Chris Wilcox (back) out indefinitely and Darko Milicic nursing a right wrist injury for at least another game, it's time for the Boston Celtics to put their big man insurance policy to use.

And the name of that policy is Jason Collins.

The veteran big man saw his most extensive action of the preseason in Boston's 97-96 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

He played 15 minutes and tallied a preseason-high five points.

When Collins signed on with the C's, he knew his chances to play would be few and far between.

But that has no impact on his approach to every game.

"I'm a professional," he said. "I know, always stay ready. Even going into the last three minutes of a game, it doesn't matter. My job as a professional is always be ready. And when your name is called, be ready."

Having been in the NBA in what will be his 12th NBA season, the C's are familiar with what Collins can and cannot do.

"When he comes out there he's going to rebound, he's going to set picks," said Celtics assistant Armond Hill. "He's a guy you don't have to call anything for, but he's going to do all the little things. He's going to do all the dirty work, really. So he's valuable."

Boston's Paul Pierce said his former teammate and current Comcast SportsNet analyst Brian Scalabrine used to talk about Collins in glowing terms when Scalabrine and Collins were teammates in New Jersey.

"Scal always bragged about him," Pierce said. "He thought Collins was the best post defender in the NBA. He's a solid veteran. He's not going to be asked to play big minutes for us, but he's a true professional. He's in the gym, staying ready. He's in the gym; he's keeping his body in shape. He's going to be called upon at some point in the season, some big minutes for us. We know he can be a solid contributor for us."

It was certainly that way in Atlanta last season. After spending the bulk of the season sidelined, injures force the Hawks to put him in the starting lineup in the playoffs against Boston.

"It's just one of those things where you never know what's going to happen," Collins said. "The team, through the course of regular season, playoffs . . . your name might be called. When it is, you have to go out there and make plays.

Collins' ability to help out when called upon is in part because of his basketball wisdom, the kind that comes after having spent more than a decade in the NBA.

And it's clear to Collins that having a relatively high basketball IQ seems to be the norm -- and not the exception -- in Boston.

"This is the highest basketball IQ team that I've ever been a part of," Collins said. "Usually, there's maybe one or two. But we have a lot of guys on this team who have high basketball IQs."

Stars, studs, and duds: Bradley lone bright spot in Celtics' Game 5 loss

Stars, studs, and duds: Bradley lone bright spot in Celtics' Game 5 loss

BOSTON –  The Boston Celtics’ season is officially over following their 135-102 Game 5 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from the game. 

 

STARS

LeBron James

He was indeed the ultimate closer once again, leading all players with 35 points on 13-for-18 shooting with eight rebounds and eight assists. 

Avery Bradley

Not the way he would have liked the season to end, but Bradley once again showed great leadership in the face of adversity. He led the Celtics with 23 points on 10-for-20 shooting with four rebounds and an assist. 

Kyrie Irving

Boston continued to struggle keeping him from being extremely efficient scoring the ball. He had 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting with seven assists. 

 

STUDS

Kevin Love

Most of his points came early in the game, a trend we saw most of this series with him. He finished with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds along with three assists. 

Deron Williams

His scoring in the first half was among the keys to Cleveland pulling away and never looking back. He had 14 points for the game on 5-for-6 shooting.

Jae Crowder

He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (3-for-8 shooting), but you had to love his toughness and rugged play not just in Game 5 but in this entire series. He had 11 points and six rebounds to go with three assists. 

 

DUDS

Kelly Olynyk

They needed him to have a “Game 7 versus Washington” kind of night, and that just never materialized. He had seven points while missing six of his eight shot attempts.

Marcus Smart

Aside from Game 3 when he made seven 3’s, Smart didn’t maximize his opportunity to be a suitable replacement for the injured Isaiah Thomas. Game 5 was another rough one for Smart who had six points on 2-for-7 shooting with five rebounds and two assists with five turnovers.

Celtics season comes to an end with Game 5 loss to Cavs

Celtics season comes to an end with Game 5 loss to Cavs

BOSTON – The final horn sounded and for the second time in three years, the Celtics faithful saw their team’s season end at the TD Garden at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But this was different.

Two years ago, the Celtics were just lucky to be on the floor with the Cavaliers who had no problem sweeping them out of the postseason.

This time, things were different.

Cleveland had their way with Boston, but had to work harder – much harder – than they did a couple years ago.

And that more than anything else, is clear and undeniable evidence that the Celtics are on the come-up even after their season ended with a 135-102 Game 5 drubbing.

They lost the series four games to one, most of which were played without their most dynamic player, Isaiah Thomas (hip) who came into the postseason as the top scorer in the Eastern Conference.

Boston did lots of good things in this series, but it served as a reminder that the Celtics aren’t quite ready for the bright lights and big-game performances needed consistently this time of the year to win.

LeBron James’ reign in the NBA is far from over, but it’s clear as day that the Celtics are positioning themselves to be one of the favorites to eventually unseat the Cavs.

Boston’s regular season record (53-29) was the best in Brad Stevens’ four years on the job, good enough to go into the postseason with the top overall seed.

But as we saw time after time after time, regular season records mean little if it comes void of the superstars most of the elite teams have in waves.

The Cleveland Cavaliers did as expected in eliminating the Boston Celtics and in doing so, move on to the NBA Finals for the third straight season where they will face a well-rested Golden State Warriors club.

Celtics Nation serenaded the players as they walked off the floor who were disappointed but should have walked off with heads held high.

Why?

Because in the end, they gave the fans exactly what they wanted – everything they had to offer.

And for most of this season, it was good enough to not just compete but win a lot of games that few outside of the Celtics’ payroll anticipated would result in a victory.

In Cleveland, the Celtics ran into the ultimate buzzsaw.

Not only were the defending champions playing their best basketball in the playoffs, but they were healthy both mentally and physically – something they could not lay claim to during several stretches during the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Celtics dealt with injuries throughout the season.

There were the usual bumps and bruises.

And then there was Isaiah Thomas’ right hip injury which he played through after re-aggravating it at the end of Boston’s second-round series with Washington.

But it proved to be too much for him to deal with which led to the Celtics shutting him down for the playoffs at halftime of Game 2.

Boston managed to win Game 3 and had opportunities galore to get Game 4 only to come up short in large part because they didn’t have an offensive closer – a player who could fill the void left by Thomas’ absence.

In Game 5, the Cavaliers managed to find areas to exploit most of the first half as they pulled ahead to dominate the action.

And the Celtics, a team that without Thomas relies heavily on ball movement, timely cuts to the basket and the need to knock down open shots, simply failed to once again take advantage of the opportunities – and there weren’t many – the Cavs afforded them.

Game 5 had the look and feel of Games 1 and 2, when Cleveland came into the TD Garden and had their way with the Celtics with a pair of wins by a combined 57 points.

Cleveland began Thursday night’s game with a 28-12 run, capped off by an emphatic dunk by LeBron James who blew past Terry Rozier.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens called his second time-out of the quarter, a clear sign of his concern – and justifiably so – that the game could quickly get out of hand as was the case in the first two games.

And with more than two minutes to play, the Cavaliers had a commanding 36-26 lead after a Kyrie Irving lay-up in which he was fouled by Rozier.

Cleveland continued to pull away in the second and third quarters as Boston’s defense showed little resistance.

And when they did, the Cavs just went around and over them, resulting in an overwhelming performance that Boston had no answer for, home court or not.

It was another beatdown at the hands of the Cavs, but there was a different vibe following this one.

Two years ago, there was no telling what the loss meant to a Celtics team that at the time, was lucky to be in the playoffs.

This season, there was no luck at all in Boston being one of the last four teams with games on the docket.

They deserved to have this opportunity, one that’s likely to come around a few more times in the near future as Boston continues to strengthen a young core with more talent and experiences like what they went through during this Conference Finals against Cleveland.