Celtics beat Bobcats, 94-82, despite sitting Big Three

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Celtics beat Bobcats, 94-82, despite sitting Big Three

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Boston Celtics love it when Rajon Rondo is aggressive.

With no Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen available Sunday night, the lone member of the Big Four had no choice.

In addition to his usual slicing and dicing of defenses with pinpoint-precise passes, Rondo also looked to become more of a scorer.

The C's definitely needed it, even against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.

Rondo's ability to dominate both as a scorer and passes set the tone in the C's 94-82 win. He finished with 20 points, 16 assists and six rebounds.

His backcourt mate, Avery Bradley, had another strong game for the Celtics. He had a game-high 22 points which included a clutch 3-pointer from the corner - his 3-ball spot of choice these days - about midway through the fourth quarter that put the C's up 81-74.

From there, the Celtics were able to keep a comfortable distance between themselves and Charlotte, losers of 16 in a row.

Beating the Bobcats who are on pace for an unprecedented season of futility, in itself doesn't mean that much.

But to do so without three players as important as Pierce, Garnett and Allen, is a victory to savor.

Prior to the C's three-games in three nights stretch, C's coach Doc Rivers said the plan was to sit Garnett at some point.

But the idea was that Allen, who has been out with a right ankle injury, would be back in time which meant at least one member of the Big Three would be playing even if Rivers opted to sit Pierce along with Garnett.

However, Allen's injury taking longer to heal coupled with Pierce stubbing his left big toe in Saturday's win at New Jersey, led to a Big Three-less game against the Bobcats.

"Having all three out obviously hurts our offense," Rivers said prior to the game.

It certainly didn't look like that in the first half, with the C's shooting 50 percent from the field.

If anything, their absence was felt greater on the defensive end.

Along with scoring 49 points in the first half against the Boston, the Celtics also allowed Charlotte to shoot 47.7 percent from the field.

The C's had reverted back to being a jump-shooting team that didn't bother to look to establish a low-post scoring threat.

Considering the options available, Brandon Bass would have made the most sense to turn to in that effort, or possibly Rondo backing down Charlotte's smallish point guards, D.J. Augustin and former UConn star Kemba Walker.

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

BOSTON – The last 2 1/2 games for the Celtics have come without Isaiah Thomas (right hip) and it has certainly been a factor in Boston trailing Cleveland 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals heading into tonight’s must-win for the Celtics to keep their season alive.
 
There have been rumors that if the series with Cleveland were closer, maybe that would lead to a return to the floor for Thomas.
 
“No. No way. He’s done [this season],” Danny Ainge, Celtics president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s "Toucher & Rich" show this morning.
 
Ainge said there’s still swelling in the hip, and it probably won’t go down enough for doctors to make a determination whether surgery is needed for another couple weeks.

Thomas was in New York City earlier this week visiting a hip specialist. He's expected to consult with at least two more before making a decision as to what's the best course of treatment.
 
“Everybody agrees if there’s anything that needs to be done to it surgically, it helps...if the inflammation goes down,” Ainge said. “The recovery [time] would be quicker.”
 
The injury initially occurred on March 15 against Minnesota.
 
Ainge said he didn’t become too concerned about it until after Thomas re-aggravated it in Game 6 of the second-round series against Washington and was questionable to play in Game 7.
 
“I was worried going into the Cleveland series that he was nowhere near himself in Game 1 or 2,” Ainge said. “And Game 2 in the second quarter it was clear he was in a lot of pain. No way we could go out and allow him to play the second half.”
 
Boston was blown out 130-86 in Game 2. In the first half, Thomas had two points and six assists, while missing all six of his shots from the field.
 
Ainge said there was “a lot” of irritation and inflammation around the affected joint in Thomas' right hip.
 
“It had gotten worse from the MRIs he had before,” said Ainge, who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”
 

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

FOXBORO -- Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium gave reporters their first opportunity to see both Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore on the field at the same time.

Once Gilmore signed with the Patriots earlier this offseason, there was no guarantee he'd actually team up with the 27-year-old in his fourth season out of West Alabama. But Butler wasn't given an offer sheet by the Saints or anyone else, he wasn't traded, and now together they make up one of the most talented cornerback duos in the NFL. 

"Um, nothing much really," Butler replied when asked for his initial reaction to the Gilmore deal. "Nothing much really. We got a better player. We got another player. We got another good player on this team. Anything to help the team win, I'm down with."

Depite the fact that Gilmore is the one who received the big-money contract from the Patriots earlier this year, Butler had nothing but good things to say about his teammate following Thursday's workout. 

"He brings the size and the coverage skills," Butler said. "One of the best guys in the league. Very underrated. [He's] come in, head down, working hard. Just trying to build off each other no matter what."

Butler acknowledged that the corner group, which also includes Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones, has some work to do when it comes to their communication, but he indicated he'll be happy to chip in wherever he's needed. The Patriots could use some help in the slot following Logan Ryan's departure to Tennessee, and Butler said he'd be open to playing inside.

"Wherever they put me, I'm gonna play that role," he said. "I'm ready to play the slot if that's what it is."