Celtics continue to stumble in 112-100 loss to Spurs

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Celtics continue to stumble in 112-100 loss to Spurs

BOSTON NBA championships are not won or lost in the first month of the season, which is a good thing for the Boston Celtics.
Because where the C's are now isn't anywhere close to that of a title contender, a point driven home by the San Antonio Spurs who handed the C's a 112-100 loss on Wednesday.
Tony Parker led all scorers with 26 points to go with six rebounds. Tim Duncan had a solid night as well with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Boston (6-6) has now lost three of its last four games, and are in serious jeopardy of falling below-.500 with the Oklahoma City Thunder invading the TD Garden on Friday.
Rajon Rondo led a Celtics' rally in the fourth quarter which trimmed San Antonio's 16 point lead down to as little as six points. But the Spurs, as they had done all night, responded with a surge of their own to leave no doubt as to who the better team was on this night.
Rondo finished with a team-high 22 points along with 15 assists. The 15 assists extends his franchise record for double-digit assist games to 35 which is the third-longest such streak in NBA history.
The Celtics' problems began in the first quarter, and they were essentially a carbon copy of what has plagued them throughout this season -- poor rebounding and too many easy baskets given up.
Boston was especially bad on the offensive board where they only grabbed a single offensive rebound.
Not one.
Despite those issues, the C's held their own for most of the first half. But the offensive lulls this team tends to go through, creeped up at the worst time - at the end of quarters.
And that kept the Celtics in perpetual catch-up mode.
In the first, Boston led 25-20 with 2:36 to play. San Antonio closed out the quarter with a 10-2 run to lead, 30-27.
It was more of the same in the second quarter.
After a 16-foot, step-back jumper by Paul Pierce tied the game at 42, the Spurs finished the half with a 14-6 spurt to lead by eight.
San Antonio spent the entire third quarter with the lead, but the Celtics had their chances.
Trailing by two points with the ball, Courtney Lee was called for traveling. On the ensuing Spurs possession, Danny Green hit a 3-pointer.
It was that kind of game for the Celtics who continued to get close, but failed to get that one big stop or knock down that one big shot to take over control of the game.
Meanwhile, the Spurs seemed to ratchet up their play at both ends of the floor whenever they needed to, which was a big part of their 82-74 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Texas Hold'em: Noel would interest Celts, but Mavs probably won't let him go

Texas Hold'em: Noel would interest Celts, but Mavs probably won't let him go

The Celtics' two main targets in free agency are expected to be Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. But what if neither signs here . . . or what if the C's have other plans? This week, we'll look at some of  'The Other Guys' who might interest the Celtics: TODAY: Dallas' Nerlens Noel.

BOSTON -- When the Celtics had trade talks with Philadelphia last season, it was no secret they had their eyes set on Nerlens Noel.
 
The 23-year-old has shown tremendous potential as an elite, rim-protecting big man.

THE OTHER GUYS: POTENTIAL CELTIC FREE-AGENT TARGETS


The Dallas Mavericks saw those same qualities, which is why they engineered a trade for him last season despite knowing he would be a restricted free agent this summer.
 
And while he would certainly be the kind of player Boston would absolutely love to add to the mix, seeing the Mavericks go in a different direction seems highly unlikely.
 
But until he signs with the Mavericks or any other team, the Celtics can’t be totally discounted as a possibility if they strike out on Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin.
 
WE LIKE HIM BECAUSE . . .
 
His proven body of work and his potential. Noel has shown flashes of being a decent player offensively, but he’s going to get paid handsomely this summer because of his defense and rebounding.
 
According to Basketball-reference.com, Noel has been among the NBA’s top 10 in defensive box plus/minus two of his three NBA seasons.
 
During the 2014-15 season, his defensive plus/minus was +4.5 (fourth in the NBA) and the following season it was +3.4 (eighth in the NBA).
 
And while his upside is viewed primarily through a defensive prism, his presence on the floor seemed to provide a much-needed jolt to the Mavericks offensively.
 
In his 22 games with Dallas, he averaged 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds with a solid offensive rating of 106.1.
 
NOT CRAZY ABOUT . . .
 
You love Noel’s length and athleticism, but you wish he would add some weight to withstand the physical rigors of playing primarily in the post. In an ideal world, Noel will add another 10-15 pounds, which would put him weight-wise similar to another standout Maverick from a few years back, Tyson Chandler. But Noel’s narrow shoulders and pogo-stick thick legs will likely result in his current 228-pound frame not changing much in the near future. He will still be a factor defensively, but there will be nights when stronger, more physical centers will give him problems. Fortunately for him and the Mavericks, big men whose strength is well, their strength, are becoming scarce in this new age of position-less basketball in the NBA.
 
IN CONCLUSION . . .
 
Noel would look really good in a Celtics uniform, but there’s little to no chance the Mavericks allow him to get away. They've made it clear that re-signing the 6-foot-11 big man is their top priority. And short of Kevin Durant or Stephen Curry saying they want to become a Maverick, it’s highly unlikely Dallas will change course.
 
PRICE TAG
 
Four-year, $106.4 million. That’s the most a team outside of Dallas can offer the soon-to-be restricted free agent. Noel knows the Mavericks won’t hesitate to offer him a max contract, which would give him more guaranteed years (five), better raises (eight percent versus five percent) and a total package of $143.55 million, which is more than $37 million beyond what other teams like the Celtics can offer.
 
Again, something would have to go unexpectedly wrong for Noel to wind up on any roster other than the Mavericks.

Bruins sign restricted free agent Acciari to two-year deal

Bruins sign restricted free agent Acciari to two-year deal

The Bruins have locked up a potential fourth-line piece for next season at a bargain basement price.

The B's signed Rhode Island native and Providence College alum Noel Acciari, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal worth $1.45 million, a contract that breaks down to a very affordable $725,000 cap hit for each of the next two seasons. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound bowling ball of a forward finished with two goals and five points in 29 games for the Bruins last season, and has appeared in 48 games at the NHL level over the last two seasons in Boston. It was also encouraging that Acciari seemed to be tapping a bit more into his offense toward the end of the season, and was building some confidence for whatever modest offense he’ll end up bringing to the NHL table once he’s reached his potential ceiling as a player.

Clearly the two-year, one-way deal portends that Acciari, 25, will be counted on as a high energy, hard-hitting fourth-line player who does a good job of aggravating opponents while playing at full tilt. The real question is whether his body can hold up with his maximum effort style of playing, and whether he can avoid serious injuries with some of the car-crash level of violence he puts in his hitting.

Acciari has battled several different injuries over the last couple of seasons, but managed to be healthy enough to log time in the playoffs for both Boston and the P-Bruins.

Either way it’s a low-risk, affordable contract for the Bruins for a young player who, if healthy, will be a large piece on their fourth line as a diligent worker and excellent teammate. So that’s a good proactive signing for Don Sweeney as he continues to work on a more complicated contract for a higher profile player like David Pastrnak.