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.
Avery Bradley looked at the box score, with six players in double figures, including 20 from himself and 26 from Isaiah Thomas, and connected it to the happy team that quickly packed its bags for a flight back home.
“That tells us that we’re moving the ball around, that everyone’s confident in their shots,” said Bradley. “It’s the best I’ve seen in awhile. It makes me happy. You see everyone in here smiling, laughing. We needed this. It needs to carry over so you can be happy playing basketball.”
But that’s what the Sixers and their eternal chase for lottery status can provide.
Boston Herald – Sixers offer remedy to Celtics’ losing woes
That accurately summed up my emotions as I watched the Celtics stretch their fourth quarter lead out of reach of the hapless Sixers. Clearly, there was a bit of exhaling in the Celtics’ locker room in Philly last night, too. The Cs have devolved since Jae Crowder limped away a week and a half ago and the Sixers were absolutely the cure for what ails the Cs — at least temporarily.
With or without Crowder (and Jonas Jerebko for the last two games), this was going to be a brutal, mid-March stretch of games. Seeing Philly on the schedule was like reaching shore after enduring a about a week and a half on the Andrea Gail (since I’m home from teaching today because of this “storm of the century” going on outside, I figured a Perfect Storm reference was in order).
While the win, and the smiling in the locker room was nice, it’s hard to shake the fact that the Cs weren’t really even close to their best last night. Philly missed its first 17, two-point field goals and yet the Cs still could not open this thing up. The offense stalled at points, the Sixers scored at the rim with ease at times in the second and third quarter, and the outcome was in doubt midway through the fourth quarter. Beggars can’t be choosers at this point, I guess, and the win matches the 40-win total the Cs attained last season.
With 12 games to go, I’ll go out on a limb and say they surpass it.
Related links: CSNNE – Boston Celtics snap losing streak with 120-105 win over Philadelphia 76ers | ESPN – Isaiah Thomas scores 26 points to help Celtics down 76ers | Mass Live – Isaiah Thomas scores 26 points, Boston Celtics end skid by toppling Philadelphia 76ers, 120-105
On page 2, Amir Johnson was a beast last night
Johnson was excellent while posting a season-high 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting. He scored 12 of those points in the first half, showcasing that lightning-fast one-handed half-hook or finishing feeds from both Isaiah Thomasand Marcus Smart around the basket. Running in transition early in the third quarter, Thomas delivered a highlight-worthy between-the-legs bounce pass that Johnson collected with a head of steam and threw down a one-handed slam. All nine of Johnson’s makes came around the basket and his only miss came when he strayed.
For the Celtics to be successful, particularly while players like Crowder and Jonas Jerebko are sidelined, Boston needs Johnson to make a mark on games. Since the All-Star break, Johnson is playing only 19.2 minutes per game, 4 minutes less than the first half of the season. But Sunday showed he can still be impactful on both ends and Boston’s stats for the season suggest that, when Johnson is more active on the glass and blocking shots, the Celtics are more likely to win games.
ESPNBoston – Celtics welcome Amir Johnson’s hustle
Last night may have been Amir Johnson’s best all-around performance in a Celtics uniform. To call Johnson a bust this year would infer that expectations for the former-Raptor were unrealistically high. Mild disappointment? Maybe. Johnson’s value is as a defensive anchor and a high percentage finisher at the rim . He also seems like the type of guy you love having in the playoffs — dishing out hard fouls, scrambling for 50-50 balls and playing team-first, high-energy basketball that can tip the scales in your team’s favor.
Johnson has not looked right all year; sometimes he looks like the oldest 28-year-old to ever lace up Nikes. It’s possible that the plantar fascitis he dealt with earlier in the season is still dogging him, thus slowing him down. But when the Celtics are really humming, Johnson is often a big reason why — he has a great rapport with Isaiah Thomas on pick-and-rolls and can ignite the fast-break with a block on the defensive end.
Stevens points out that Johnson has played with a bit more fire since the Indiana game, one in which he was benched to start the second half. With playoff seeding to be decided in the next three weeks, maybe that will serve as the catalyst that wakes up the big fella.
And finally, sweet hat, IT
— CSNNE.com (@CSNNE) March 21, 2016
Looks like something for which I’d go all out on EBay when I was in college.
Isaiah has completely embraced playing in Boston and rocking a hat from the halcyon days of the 80s is further proof that IT loves being a Celtic. Whatever happens this summer, let’s hope it makes the Cs a title contender and that Thomas is a big part of it.
Related link: Mass Live – Isaiah Thomas wears hat to honor 1985-1986 Boston Celtics championship team
The rest of the links: