Celtics fired up by trash-talking Suns

191544.jpg

Celtics fired up by trash-talking Suns

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON No one is ever going to mistake what exists between the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns as a rivalry.

But one thing is very clear: These are two teams that don't like each other.

At all.

We saw that disdain on display in Boston's 115-103 win over the Suns on Wednesday night.

Even though the Celtics (44-15) dominated play most of the night, that didn't stop things from getting a bit chippy.

Usually it's the players you worry about with that stuff.

But on Wednesday, Boston's Kevin Garnett got into a spat spectacle with the Phoenix coaches.

"If you got a suit and tie on and actually can't play, I don't think you should be doing a lot of talking to the players on the floor," said Boston coach Doc Rivers

Garnett, who was whistled for a technical foul, delivered a postgame verbal jab at the Suns, who are currently ninth in the Western Conference standings.

When asked about his exchange with Suns coach Alvin Gentry, Garnett replied, "Alvin Gentry was asking me for tickets to the first round of the playoffs. I told him I'd hook him up, so that's what that was."

Garnett is in his 15th NBA season, and seen and done just about everything you can imagine on the floor.

But even he was a bit surprised by having a war of words with the opposing team's head coach.

"It's very uncommon," Garnett acknowledged. "But they're an uncommon team."

The fact that there was so much talking did not come as surprise to players like Rajon Rondo.

"We knew, coming in, to expect a little trash talk," Rondo said. "They beat us last time."

And in that loss, Garnett was ejected after picking up two technical fouls.

Also in that game, Garnett connected with a below-the-waist blow to Channing Frye, which prompted some harsh criticism from Gentry after the game.

Gentry said a number of things about Garnett, which included him losing some respect for Garnett because of Frye incident.

"I don't regret anything I say," Gentry said. "I've never had any regret from anything I say. The guy is a great player. He's going to be a Hall of Fame guy. Like I said, at that moment, everybody is a competitor. In the heat of the moment, I'm going to protect my guy and Doc Rivers is going to protect his."

But there was no shielding his Suns from the Garnett onslaught that awaited them.

Garnett had a season-high 28 points along with 11 rebounds, delivering the kind of emphatic domination that spoke volumes about how badly the C's wanted this one.

Making the dominant performance even more unexpected was it came in the first game back from a long road trip, the kind of game that usually trips up a team.

But the C's had the kind of focus that can make them a difficult team to beat, let alone compete with.

The Suns fell short on both of those fronts, as they fell behind by as many as 29 points before rallying to make the game relatively competitive.

However, Phoenix never really got close enough where the concern level takes a major spike.

"It was an intense game, but it wasn't," said Rondo. "We had a pretty good lead the entire game. They made a run at it, but the game . . . we had it in control the whole game."

And in a weird kind of way, Boston can thank the Suns to some degree for the victory.

All that in-game chatter seemed to fire up the C's.

"We were definitely alert," Rivers said. "You could see it in shoot-around. You know, it's rare that I say, 'Well, we're going to play well' before a game. Half the time when I say it, I'm wrong. So I was right today."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

Fast-break points aren't necessarily a good thing for Celtics

BOSTON – Conventional NBA wisdom tells you that getting out to score in transition is a good thing, usually serving as easy points scored, which is what every team wants, right?
 
But bundles of transition points have been nothing but trouble for the Celtics this season.
 
They are coming off a game against the New York Knicks in which they scored 22 fast-break points, which was their second-best showing this season. But the final score, a 117-106 loss, wasn’t all that unusual from what has happened this season when their transition game has generated a decent amount of scoring.
 
Boston has a 2-6 record this season when they score 16 or more fast-break points. On the nights when Boston’s fast-break offense generates 10 or fewer points?
 
They’re 11-5.
 
While there are several possible reasons why this is, here’s what you have to remember.
 
The Celtics are a ball-movement, 3-point shooting team.
 
Often that means they’ll pass up potential shots in transition, to instead work the ball around from one side of the floor to the other, until they get what they deem is the best shot to take (usually it’s a lightly contested to wide open 3-pointer).
 
The Celtics average 329.6 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.8). Not surprisingly, that has led to them ranking among the league’s leaders in assists (24.9, third in the NBA).
 
And that has led to Boston being ranked among the top-3 in several other key passing statistics, such as secondary assists (7.1, 2nd in the NBA); potential assists (49.5, 2nd); and assists points created (60.8, 3rd);
 
Here are a few more stats to crunch on, courtesy of CSN Associate Producer Andy Levine.
 
PAINT BY NUMBERS: When the Celtics score 40 percent or less of their points in the paint, they are 19-5 this season. When Boston gets 40 percent or more of its points in the paint, they are just 7-11.
 
BROWN IN THE FOURTH: Jaylen Brown has been among the better rookies this season, especially in the fourth quarter. Among rookies who played in at least 20 games in the fourth quarter, Brown is second in fourth quarter shooting at 54.9 percent. With those same standards, he’s sixth in shooting 3’s in the fourth at 38.5 percent.
 
CROWDER BOUNCES BACK: The past four games has seemingly brought out the best in Crowder. In that span, he has averaged 18.5 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 57 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point range. Crowder’s 3-point shooting of late has elevated him to seventh in the league while connecting on 42.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (minimum 150 attempts).

OUCH! It has not been a smooth start for Evan Turner with his new team, the Portland Trail Blazers. This season, Turner’s plus/minus is -234, which is the fourth-worst plus/minus in the NBA.
 
 

Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

boston-celtics-jonas-jerebko-hornets-121716.jpg

Stevens: Bradley, Zeller, Jerebko out vs. Trail Blazers

BOSTON – Before Brad Stevens addressed the media before the Celtics faced the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday afternoon, he had to take a moment to make sure he wouldn’t forget anyone who wasn’t able to play.
 
Yeah, the list was a pretty long one.
 
Tyler Zeller, Demetrius Jackson and Jonas Jerebko will not play tonight due to sickness. And Avery Bradley (right Achilles strain) will also be out with a timetable that’s starting to feel like it’ll be longer than anyone would want.
 
“I don’t anticipate Avery this week at all,” Stevens said. “He still has some soreness. Obviously we’re concerned about the long-term impact of a sore Achilles; what it means on that foot but also what it means when you compensate off it. But he’ll be back when he’s ready but I think he’s still a little bit away.”
 
Bradley, the team’s top on-the-ball defender and No. 2 scorer this season at 17.7 points per game, will be out for the sixth time in the Celtics’ last seven games because of the Achilles injury.
 
Replacing him in the starting lineup will be Marcus Smart whose status for tonight’s game wasn’t a sure thing.
 
On the Celtics’ pregame notes package, Smart was listed as probable with a sore right ankle injury. I asked Stevens about Smart’s status a few minutes ago, and he said the 6-foot-4 Smart will play tonight.
 
In his 15 starts this season, Smart has averaged 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 31.7 percent on 3's - all of which are better than what he produces when coming off the bench.