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.
Isaiah Thomas had a smile from ear to ear as he walked out to center court prior to the Celtics’ game against the Clippers Wednesday night.
Waiting for him there were Celtics owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, and they were holding an Eastern Conference All-Star jersey with his name and number on the back.
It was one of those pinch-me moments for Thomas.
After last night’s roller coaster thrill ride of a win, the Celtics sit alone in third place of the Eastern Conference. Their record is 32 wins and 23 losses, with 27 games remaining. If they continue to win at their current pace, they would end the season with 48 wins.
We expected substantial improvement this season, and it’s happening thanks to a bunch of tough competitors who overachieve and never give up. They may have lost a winnable game here and there (Orlando and Milwaukee come to mind), but they’ve also notched victories over some of the best, such as Cleveland, Oklahoma City and the Clippers last night. Overall, the Cs have won 10 of their last 12.
Coming up this weekend, Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas will be in Toronto for the All-Star festivities. Smart is playing in the Rising Stars game, and IT will compete in the Skills Challenge and the ASG itself. It’s well-deserved recognition for them, and a chance to enjoy being among the NBA’s elite.
The only bad news for us, the fans, is that the next Celtics game isn’t until February 19 at Utah. Not sure what we’ll do until then – except talk about trade rumors. The trade deadline is February 18.
On Page 2: C’mon back, Paul
Pressed on the subject, Pierce, 38, said talks never got serious with Boston.
“Not so much,” he said. “The Celtics were a rebuilding team, young and up-and-coming. I think my career here ran its course. I had a great career here. Fifteen long years, what more could you ask for? And to win a championship here, I’ve had my time here.”
That being said, Pierce said he would consider returning to the Celtics organization in some role once his playing career ends.
“I just keep all possibilities open,” he said. “If that’s an opportunity that presents itself I would love to. This is a Class-A organization with what they’ve been able to do. Wyc (Grousbeck), Steve (Pagliuca), they’re great owners. They’ve got a great young core, they’ve got a great young coach. So who knows? Maybe I’ll find a role here someday in the future.”
Paul Pierce was the center of attention last night before playing what was probably his final game at TD Garden. PP hasn’t announced if he will retire after this season – he probably wouldn’t want a manufactured farewell tour – but he looks ready. The Truth is now essentially a role player, averaging career per-game lows in minutes (17.7), points (5.7) and field goal percentage (34.3). He was on the floor for under six minutes in the second half last night.
If this is the end, every Celtics fan alive is probably hoping that PP will sign a ceremonial contract with Boston so he can retire as a Celtic. And it’s encouraging to hear that Pierce will welcome an opportunity to rejoin the franchise if the Cs offer him a position. Not sure if Paul wants to coach, but one could see his experience, wisdom and intelligence translating nicely to a front office role.
Pierce did give the Garden one more thrill last night, although it didn’t count.
And as he was flying out on the Clippers’ charter, Pierce had a message for Celtics fans via his Instagram account:
I’ll always love u Beantown A photo posted by The Truth (@paulpierce) on
Related: CSNNE – The legacy of Paul Pierce (video) | Globe – Is Paul Pierce one of the top five Celtics of all time? | Herald – Bulpett: Paul Pierce still a Celtic at heart
And, finally: Grande tweets
At almost every game, radio play-by-play announcer Sean Grande tweets out a variety of Celtics stats and tidbits. To tide you over as we head into the long All-Star break, here’s some of Grande’s info from last night. What we can conclude from most of these stats: the Cs are legit.
2003 – Last time Celtics beat Doc Rivers.
1992 – Last time the Celtics scored 139 points.
How much does the Celtics schedule change after Feb. 10?
Last 32 days: 19 games
Next 49 days: 19 games
NBA Standings (Since Feb 2015)
Golden State 77-11
San Antonio 69-17
LA Clippers 58-28
Best NBA Road Record (since March 21)
Golden State 27-6
LA Clippers 25-9
San Antonio 18-10
NBA Average Win Margin (before Feb. 10)
1. San Antonio 17.7
2. Golden State 14.9
3. OKC 13.2
4. BOSTON 12.8
NBA Average Loss Margin
1. OKC -7.0
2. BOSTON -7.4
Yeah, this probably won’t be changing for a while. pic.twitter.com/44XbJj9ssX
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) February 10, 2016
The Rest of the Links:
CSNNE – Offensive categories show Stevens, Rivers’ differences | Seeing Stars: Facts get in way of a good legend | Blakely: Celtics acquiring Griffin ‘a long shot at best’ | C’s rally to beat Clippers 139-134 in OT thriller | Stars, studs and duds: Celtics ‘keep fighting’
MassLive – Isaiah Thomas scores 36 points, Evan Turner takes over wild overtime as Boston Celtics top Los Angeles Clippers, 139-134 | Boston Celtics notes: Kelly Olynyk injury update (shoulder subluxation), Isaiah Thomas’ finishing and more
Celtics.com – Thomas Steps Up vs. Paul in PG Battle for the Ages