Terry Rozier

Report: Celtics rate Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, Lonzo Ball as top four of 2017 NBA draft

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The Celtics – for an extra first-round pick next year or in 2019 – are willing to embrace uncertainty.

Boston is on track to trade the No. 1 pick this year to the 76ers for the No. 3 pick and either the Lakers’ 2018 first-rounder or Kings’ 2019 first-rounder. (The Lakers pick conveys if it lands 2-5. If not, Sacramento’s pick conveys.) Not only will the Celtics miss an opportunity to draft Markelle Fultz – this draft’s most polished, safest prospect – they don’t even know who will be available at No 3.

The presumption is Boston wants Josh Jackson, but the Lakers could pick him at No. 2. What would the Celtics do then? Would they definitely take Jackson if the Lakers, as expected, take Lonzo Ball?

Maybe we can at least narrow Boston’s options.

Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:

The Celtics could still flip the No. 3 pick in another trade. I’m also curious how Murphy got the top four of Boston’s draft board, even in this vague form.

But this is an interesting list. It’s comprised of four players commonly thought to be in the top five for most teams, omitting De'Aaron Fox. The Celtics have limited use for another point guard with Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley. Ball’s talent might trump fit, but if the Lakers pick Jackson, maybe Tatum is the pick.

There are still so many ways this draft could unfold, but a look inside Boston’s thinking at least provides clues.

Inspired Celtics down Rajon Rondo-less Bulls

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Rajon Rondo knew, as the Bulls season threatened to unravel, a veteran like Kevin Garnett would have effectively handled the adversity. Rondo never apologized for pointing that out on Instagram. He has little patience for feelings when it comes to conveying the truth as he sees it.

And Rondo was right. The retired Garnett would know just what to say amid crisis.

Unfortunately for Rondo, Garnett delivered his message to their former team.

Sparked by a pregame message from Garnett and Isaiah Thomas‘ return from his sister’s funeral, the Celtics beat Chicago 104-87 in Game 3 Friday. After being stunned twice at home to begin the first-round series, No. 1 seed Boston faces a much more manageable 2-1 deficit.

“Isaiah played a clip from KG before the game, and it kind of got us going a little bit,” Celtics guard Avery Bradley said. “KG said some inspirational words for us, and he reminded us, Celtics, we’re always supposed to be the hardest-playing team every single night. And we’re supposed to use Isaiah’s family, use that as inspiration and come out and play hard for him and his family.

He said, You can either play two ways. You can either make excuses and say it’s emotional. ‘Oh, let’s give up this year and worry about next year.’ Or you can fight and fight for his family, and that’s what we did.”

Meanwhile, Rondo sat and watched in a garish red short-sleeved suit, sidelined with a broken thumb.

Chicago sure missed him.

The Bulls lost their offensive flow, and Jimmy Butler (14 points on 7-of-21 shooting) and Dwyane Wade (18 points on 6-of-18 shooting) settled for tough shots. Credit Boston’s perimeter defenders, especially Avery Bradley, but they don’t fully explain how out of sync Chicago looked.

Point guards Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams combined to score eight points on 3-of-10 shooting with three assists and seven turnovers in 39 minutes. Grant, who started, especially looked in over his head.

Without Rondo’s throwback defense disrupting at the point of attack, Brad Steven’s offense hummed.

The Bulls again dominated the glass, but the Celtics cede rebounds to play highly skilled offensive players rather than a bunch of brutes. That trade-off finally worked in Boston’s favor tonight.

Thomas (16 points and nine assists) and Al Horford (18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and four steals) clicked in the pick-and-roll, and Bradley (15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists), Jae Crowder (16 points, six rebounds and three assists), Terry Rozier (11 points on 4-of-6 shooting) and Marcus Smart (seven points, six rebounds and five assists) all had their moments.

Chicago had few. The Bulls shot 39% from the field, including 29% on 3-pointers. Their offensive rebounding helped, but that’s too many initial misses.

The Celtics assisted more shots (34, a 2017 postseason high for any team) than Chicago made (33).

The Bulls can win ugly games, but Boston kept this one too pretty.

Chicago’s answer could be to muck it up further and remove point guards entirely, at least more so. In 11 minutes with Wade and and Butler in the backcourt without a traditional point guard, the Bulls outscored the Celtics by two.

Unfortunately for Chicago, its best answer is stuck on the bench with a broken thumb while his revered former teammate motivates the other team.

Back from injury, Isaiah Thomas scores 25 as Celtics top Wizards

Associated Press
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BOSTON (AP) Isaiah Thomas scored 25 points after missing the previous two games with a bruised right knee, leading the Boston Celtics to a 110-102 victory over the Washington Wizards in another testy matchup Monday night between two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Avery Bradley added 20 points and nine rebounds for Boston, which moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the Wizards for second place in the East. The Celtics trail first-place Cleveland by two games.

Jae Crowder and Al Horford each scored 16 with nine boards.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 19 points, and John Wall had 16 points with eight assists.

Behind Thomas’ 12 third-quarter points, Boston pushed an 11-point halftime lead to 92-75 after three.

The Wizards trailed by 15 with just more than four minutes left, but closed to 106-100 on Kelly Oubre Jr.’s steal and breakaway dunk with 2:05 to play.

Marcus Smart had a basket and two free throws to seal it.

The bad feelings built up between the teams this season resurfaced briefly midway into the second quarter. Washington’s Brandon Jennings bumped into Terry Rozier a few times under the basket before Rozier pushed him to the floor near midcourt. Both got a technical.

In the last meeting at TD Garden in early January, Crowder and Wall had words at the end of the game. Crowder pointed his finger in Wall’s face, and Wall slapped at him.

When they met in Washington on Jan. 25, the Wizards wore what they called “funeral black” to the game before picking up the win.

The Celtics used a 16-5 run midway into the second to help them build a 58-47 halftime edge.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Wizards: F Markieff Morris (illness) returned to the starting lineup after missing the past two games. . Wall came up limping after a driving, spinning basket in the third quarter, but stayed in the game. . Washington committed a season-high 28 fouls.

Celtics: Thomas hit a 3-pointer for a club-record 45th straight game. . Boston opened a stretch of six straight at home and play only three games away from home the rest of the regular season.

REACQUAINTED

With the Celtics healthy again, coach Brad Stevens said the final weeks of the regular season give his team a chance to get stronger playing together.

“We just haven’t had a ton of time with ourselves fully healthy,” he said. “We have to make sure that we utilize this time appropriately for our team to get better. Regardless of who we’re playing against, there aren’t any secrets.”

 

Celtics’ Terry Rozier gets dunked on by Richard Jefferson, then throws ball at him for technical

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This is not Terry Rozier‘s proudest moment.

First, he made the right play and tried to switch onto a cutting Richard Jefferson, but there was nothing anyone under 7-foot was going to do about the lob LeBron James threw — Jefferson showed he still has some hops and got up for the alley-oop slam over Rozier.

Jefferson then hung on the rim to avoid an awkward fall on Rozier and ended up swinging over him. Rozier took offense, seeing it as a showboat move, and threw the ball at Jefferson.

That was an automatic technical.

Rozier and the Celtics played the Cavaliers even through three quarters.

Isaiah Thomas has another big 4th quarter, Celtics beat Raptors

Associated Press
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BOSTON (AP) — Isaiah Thomas scored 19 of his 44 points in the final quarter to lift the Boston Celtics over the Toronto Raptors 109-104 on Wednesday night in a showdown for first place in the Atlantic Division.

It was the fifth straight win for Boston, which moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Raptors in the division and holds the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed.

Jae Crowder scored 14 points for the Celtics and Al Horford had 11. Thomas had 18 of Boston’s final 23 points.

Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 32 points, former Celtic Jared Sullinger had 13 and Norman Powell added 12. The Raptors have lost seven of nine.

In a final quarter that rivaled playoff intensity, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown was fouled on a breakaway attempt and walked over and had words with Lowry – before a few others player joined in and had to be separated by the officials. Boston’s Terry Rozier and the Raptors’ DeMarre Carroll were each given a technical foul.

With the Celtics trailing by eight, Thomas scored nine straight points to give them their first lead of the game – 95-94 on a driving basket with 4:39 to play.

The lead changed hands six times over the next 3 1/2 minutes – with Thomas’ 3-pointer from the left wing giving Boston a 103-101 edge with 48.1 seconds left.

Toronto led by 11 at the halftime and scored 13 of the first 19 points in the third, pulling to a 75-57 edge on Lowry’s 3-pointer from the right corner.

TIP-INS

Raptors: G DeMar DeRozan was out for the fifth time in six games with a right ankle injury.

Celtics: G Avery Bradley missed his eighth straight game with a right Achilles tendon injury. Coach Brad Stevens said he’s practiced the last two days, but the team wants “to make sure that when we get him back, he’s back on the court and limit the chance that it’ll happen again.” … F Kelly Olynyk was out with a strained left shoulder.

IMPRESSED

Stevens talked about the play of Lowry before the game, admiring both the overall guard play in the league and that of Toronto’s star.

“There are so many guards right now that can make exceptional plays off the dribble,” he said. “Maybe more so and a higher efficiency than I’ve seen before, and Lowry’s one of the best of them.”

NICE ENDING

Thomas hit a 36-foot 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left to cap off his 16-point first quarter.