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Blown Double-Digit Lead Costs Celtics Double-Meaning Win Over Mavericks

By on November 19, 2015 at 10:50am
Isaiah Thomas had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but fumbled the ball much like the Celtics fumbled an early 18-point lead to the Dallas Mavericks. (USA Today) Isaiah Thomas had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but fumbled the ball much like the Celtics fumbled an early 18-point lead to the Dallas Mavericks. (USA Today)

Do you remember those Kevin Garnett commercials after the Boston Celtics won the NBA title in Year One of the Big Three era? “It’s all about eighteen.”

The 2015-16 Celtics may not be quite ready to contend for the franchise’s 18th championship, but Wednesday’s loss was all about the number 18: the first quarter lead the Celtics held over the Dallas Mavericks before blowing it all in a 106-102 loss at home in the TD Garden.

A blown early lead isn’t particularly shocking in the NBA, as the tide almost always turns. (The Celtics could hardly be over .500 otherwise.) But what was frustrating was that the 31-13 advantage was just one of many sizable leads the Celtics held throughout the night. They led by 15 after one, 9 at halftime, 8 after three quarters, and another double digit lead early in the fourth. With less than eight minutes to play, Brad Stevens’s squad was still holding on to a seven point lead.

But alas, all good things must come to an end, and the Mavericks went on a run to take their first lead of the game (!) with 4:31 remaining. Behind Dirk Nowitzki’s ageless (and game high) 23 points, and Deron Williams’s improbable resurgence after escaping Brooklyn Nets purgatory, the Mavs surged ahead to a seven point lead of their own late in the game, and it seemed that the tide had irrevocably turned, with no winds to fill the Celtics’ sails.

But these overachieving Celtics, as Stevens has always had them do, scrapped their way back into the game by forcing some timely turnovers, making some big shots, and getting some help from Raymond Felton at the charity stripe. That left the Celtics with the ball in Isaiah Thomas’s hands, trailing by two with the clock winding down. The script was on schedule.

But Thomas lost his handle as he tried to drive into the lane, the Mavs’ Williams upped his streak of consecutive free throws to 30 to start the season, and Mark Cuban got some measure of revenge for the ill fated Rajon Rondo trade last year by celebrating a Mavericks win on he parquet floor.

Not only did the loss drop the Celtics to 6-5, it represented a missed opportunity to capitalize on a doubly meaningful win. No, it wouldn’t have counted twice in the win column, but the Celtics own the Mavericks top-seven protected pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Adding to the Dallas loss total while also walking away with a win would have helped the Celtics cause both this year and next year by perhaps inching the Mavericks that much closer to the back-end of the NBA lottery. Blast!

Luckily, the Celtics are going to have two more chances to help their own cause in more than one way with a home-and-home against the one and only Brooklyn Nets. The Nets, of course, owe the Celtics their unprotected first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft thanks to their trade for Paul Pierce and “all about eighteen” star Kevin Garnett. And with just two wins on the season (really, Rockets and Hawks??) are poised to deliver a prime pick at the top of the lottery. A couple of wins over their divisional counterparts will only push those lottery odds higher (can you say Ben Simmons??).

Hopefully the Celtics can do a better job of improving their playoff odds for both this season and next against the Nets than they did against the Mavericks. That way the next “all about eighteen” is actually about another Celtics championship, not a lost opportunity in November.

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Feb 25, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko (8), guard Evan Turner (11), guard Isaiah Thomas (4), forward Jae Crowder (99) and guard Marcus Smart (36) celebrate against the New York Knicks during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Jungle! That’s the song that will be blasting through the speakers at tip off tonight as the Boston Celtics take on the Philadelphia 76ers in the home opener at TD Garden. The crowd will be rockin’ in anticipation of a young Celtics team that finished last season on a 24-12 run to lock up the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Of course Boston did get swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on their way to the NBA Finals but they gave everything they had and left the Cavs bruised, battered and even dislocated (sorry, Kevin Love).

One thing is for sure, the Celtics plan to build on last year’s success. They finished last season 40-42 and would like to see that win total creep into the high forties or low fifties this season. With Brad Stevens running the show, a core of young talent, and a few veterans added to the mix Boston is poised to continue the rebuilding of a winning culture and get back to the post season.

Continue reading The Celtics Are Back! 2015-16 Season Starts against the 76ers at TD Garden »

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Flip Saunders

Longtime NBA head coach Flip Saunders, the current coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has died. He was 60 years old.

Saunders died of cancer. He announced over the summer that he was being treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Continue reading Timberwolves Head Coach Flip Saunders Dies »


Bre Smith writes

Walk into any Boston sports bar any day of the week, and you can get into a heated discussion with everyone from the waitress to the regular on the bar stool next to you about who the best Celtics players of all time are and why. Whether you favor Larry Bird over Bill Russell or Kevin Garnett over Paul Pierce, Boston’s storied NBA team has had its fair share of remarkably memorable players.

Whether you’re the kind of Celtics fan who wears your love for your team in an elaborate tattoo that spans your neck, chest, and back, or you take a more subtle route and have all your credit cards emblazoned with the team mascot, you’re likely having some version of this conversation anyway. Here’s a deeper look into eight of the best and what it was that made them so formidable while they wore green. Continue reading 8 of the Best Celtics Players of All Time and What Made Them Great »

LAKE COMO - OCTOBE Photo Courtesy Boston Celtics

The Celtics began their pre-season, exhibition action in Milan, Italy, beating EA7 Emporio Armani Milano 124-91. Now, they will fly to Madrid, Spain for a tilt on Thursday, October 6th at the RealMadreid Barclay’s Center. Continue reading Ciao Bella! Celtics Open Pre-Season with win in Milan, Italy »

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Alise Amendola/Associated Press - Evan Turner

With NBA summer league in the books and time before official team activities begin Coach Brad Stevens and Evan Turner crossed the ocean to promote the NBA in Africa last week. The pair spent time in Johannesburg, South Africa where they participated in the first NBA game on the continent of Africa. Stevens role was assistant coach to Brooklyn Nets head coach Lionel Hollins. Evan Turner joined a Team World roster of NBA players including ex-Celtics forward Jeff Green, Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, Marc and Pau Gasol as well as a few others. They faced a Team Africa squad led by Luol Deng, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Boris Diaw and Nicolas Batum.

The game was a spectacle and in the first half was similar to an All-Star game with entertainment and fun taking place of intensity. In the second quarter Team Africa brought out (of retirement) the big guns: Dikembe Mutombo and Hakeem Olajuwon, both sporting their respective NBA jerseys, Mutombo #55 for the Denver Nuggets and Olajuwon #34 for the Houston Rockets. Each played for a few minutes, much to the excitement of the crowd and players at Ellis Park Arena. Even the normally stone-faced San Antonio Spurs and Team Africa head coach Gregg Popovich was smiling. Continue reading Celtics’ Brad Stevens and Evan Turner Join NBA Cast in Africa »

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Alex Brandon/ Associated Press

‘The Truth’ and other NBA stars from around the league told the world and, most importantly, the media, what they believe to be the truth about awards handed down for NBA players. In the first annual NBA Players Association (NBPA) Players Awards hosted in Las Vegas, taped on Sunday and aired Tuesday night, players were given the opportunity to vote on who they thought should receive various league awards normally voted on by members of the media. Players have been pushing to have a say in the accolades that get handed out at the end of each season for some time and now the NBPA has come up with a way to give them just that. An awards ceremony where the players, who assert they know the league and their fellow players better than the media, get to cast votes and have their voices heard.

Paul Pierce, now teammates with Chris Paul, President of the NBA players union, made an appearance on stage to accept the player’s choice award for Defensive Player of the Year DeAndre Jordan after presenter Gary Payton joked that his new teammate Dirk Nowitzki would accept in his place. Continue reading Paul Pierce Participates in the First Annual NBA Players Association Players Awards »

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