Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I just wanted to get to the finish line,” Jae Crowder said only minutes after flashing his muscles to celebrate a clutch hoop. Scoring early and late, the rapidly-improving forward built a career high of 25 points with a steady focus on getting to the rim. The last strong take of his night just about put the Nets away.
“They were so close, and they made a run late,” Crowder said after the 103-94 victory. “Emotions took over at that point.”
Emotions had been very different this weekend, when the Celtics fell to the same Nets. After that game, head coach Brad Stevens vowed to “reassess” his coaching habits. He did make a few changes for Monday. One was a necessity: replacing the injured Avery Bradley in the starting lineup. Evan Turner got the nod. Another was a call for more offense: inserting Kelly Olynyk into Jared Sullinger’s old place with the first unit. A third was just as interesting as the others: shortening the rotation and handing David Lee his first DNP-CD.
This team needs Jae Crowder’s physicality and emotion as much as it needs his production. We’re going to see a lot of more flexing if he continues to play this well. Jae is averaging 17 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals over his last 5. Free throw attempts – another indicator of his aggressive play – are up to 5.4 per game over this stretch. Maintaining those FTA would put Crowder in the top 20.
As for Stevens, he had to something to shake up this team and avoid a catastrophic 3rd straight loss. Rumor has it one irrational fan was going to launch the #FireBrad hashtag on Twitter last night if the Celtics didn’t beat Brooklyn.
With Evan Turner and his 15% 3FG starting for the injured Avery Bradley, it made sense to replace the struggling Jared Sullinger with Kelly Olynyk. FWIW – Olynyk’s averaging 7 ppg on 42% shooting since a certain person deemed him untouchable a week ago. The move paid huge dividends as the Celtics scored 37 points in the 1st quarter and that first unit finished with a 134 offensive rating.
I don’t think there’s some magical combination that’s going to make the Celtics a top 10 offensive team. They’re just not that good. Stevens will continue to tinker with the rotation until he finds a group that can push his team into the middle of the pack statistically.
On Page 2, IT has all-star buzz but not the votes.
“In the games, like we play against somebody and they’ll be like, ‘Man, I hope you make the All-Star team. You’ve been balling,’ ” Thomas said on Monday. “It’s nice to get the recognition and for your peers to see it, so hopefully it happens.”
Entering Monday’s 103-94 win over the Nets, Thomas was averaging 20.9 points, 6.8 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game while shooting 90.2 percent from the free throw line. Steph Curry is the only player in NBA history to finish a season with statistics at or above Thomas’s current levels to be left off an All-Star team that year, as he was in 2012-13.
And even when you remove Thomas’s sparkling free throw percentage from the equation, just eight players failed to make All-Star teams after playing an entire season and finishing with scoring, rebounding, and assist averages that are as good as Thomas’s.
IT currently sits 9th in All-Star voting for guards. How dire is the situation? He’s behind Jeremy Lin.
Get to work people. Vote here or drop this into your Twitter feed: #NBAVote Isaiah Thomas
The rest of the links