Celtics-Sixers preview: C's getting to the line

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Celtics-Sixers preview: C's getting to the line

BOSTON The Boston Celtics are already reaping one of the benefits that comes about with smaller lineups - more free throw attempts.

With so many attacking ball-handlers on the floor, the C's more diversified offense puts more pressure on defenses which has in turn led to a much-needed improvement in free throw attempts.

After ranking among the bottom 10 in free throw attempts the last two seasons (27th last season and 25th in 2011), the Celtics are now averaging 24 attempts per game which ranks ninth in the NBA.

The increased free throw attempts could not come at a better time for the Celtics.

While much attention has been paid to the new faces and their familiarity with the team's defensive schemes and principles, the challenge of improved continuity is a factor in the team's offensive struggles as well.

Despite what most would agree is a vastly improved team offensively, Boston ranks 20th in the league in scoring (96 points) per game.

Having the ability to generate easy points from the free throw line, takes some of the pressure off the C's as they continue to build towards what they believe will be another title contender.

"This is a process," said C's guard Jason Terry. "For us, it's about playing 48 minutes of Celtics basketball."

And part of that involves continue to maximize every chance to score which for a change, includes from the free throw line.

Keeping a steady stream of bodies going to the free throw line will be on tap tonight for the Celtics as they host the Philadelphia 76ers. Here are a few other keys to keep tabs on as the C's go for a third straight win.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Generating points in the paint needs to be a priority for the Celtics tonight. Philadelphia, playing without centers Andrew Bynum (knee) and Kwame Brown (calf), are indeed ripe in the middle. The numbers bear this out, with Philadelphia ranking 20th in points-in-the-paint differential (-3.3).

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Celtics starting power forward vs. Thaddeus Young: This is where Boston's lineup  versatility should help. Young is too quick for Jared Sullinger, so don't be shocked to see Brandon Bass or possibly Jeff Green in the starting lineup tonight.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rajon Rondo has been on a subtle, but impressive nonetheless start to this season. In addition to increasing his scoring average (career-high 16 points per game) while shooting a career-best 57.4 percent from the field, he continues to rack up a consistently high number of assists. By reaching double figures tonight in assists, it will be his 29th straight regular season game which would tie him for third all-time with John Stockton for the most consecutive regular season games with 10 or more assists.

STAT TO TRACK: Doc Rivers might want to bottle up whatever he says at halftime, and make it part of his pre-game spiel to his players when it comes to scoring the ball. The Celtics have proven thus far to be a much better team generating offense in the second half of games, compared to the game's first 24 minutes.  The C's rank No. 22 and No. 29 in the league in first and second quarter scoring, respectively. It becomes a completely different Celtics squad in the second half with the C's ranking ninth and 10th in third and fourth quarter scoring, respectively.

Celtic draftees make first foray into community with presentation to Ohrenberger School

Celtic draftees make first foray into community with presentation to Ohrenberger School

WEST ROXBURY, Mass.  -- It was the last day of school for some band students at Ohrenberger School, many of whom were packed inside the gym eagerly awaiting the four newest members of the Boston Celtics basketball family. 
 
As eager as the students were to finish off the school year, for the Celtics rookies Wednesday’s appearance to unveil the school’s revamped “Music Zone” was just the beginning of their time with the Celtics.
 
Getting into the community has become an annual rite of passage for incoming Celtic rookies, with Wednesday’s event being part of the seventh annual Players’ Choice Grant.
 
The four-pack of Celts was headlined by Jayson Tatum, who was selected by Boston with the third overall pick. Joining him were second-round picks Semi Ojeleye, Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird.
 
“Working with the kids is always fun,” Tatum said. 
 
The charitable arm of the Celtics, the Shamrock Foundation, provided a $50,000 grant to a charity that was chosen by the players from the 2016-17 season.
 
Players were greeted by a gym full of middle schoolers who conducted a question-and-answer session with the players, with some students coming away with a basketball signed by all the players. 
 
“I really enjoyed getting to know the fans, the kids,” said Jabari Bird, who was drafted by the Celtics with the 57th overall pick out of Cal.
 
The “Music Zone” received 17 new MacBooks which contained musical software, with several instruments, a portable stage and additional furniture.

Report: Celtics expected to part ways with Kelly Olynyk

Report: Celtics expected to part ways with Kelly Olynyk

With the Celtics clearing the way to make a run at big names such as Paul George and Gordon Hayward, there will inevitably be salary-cap casualties.

But we'll always have Game 7 against the Wizards, Kelly Olynyk.

Olynyk, 26, averaged nine points and 4.8 rebounds last season, and will forever be remembered for his astonishing 10-for-14 shooting performance off the bench when he scored 26 points in the second-round series clincher over Washington at TD Garden.

After four seasons in Boston, the 7-footer and former first-round pick from Gonzaga is currently a restricted free agent and would surely turn down a Celtics' qualifying offer of a little more than $4 million. Until the C's renounce his rights, he counts for $7.7 million against the cap. 

That's money the Boston will need in its pursuit of George and Hayward. So, it's so long, Kelly O.