Archive for the ‘ Boston Celtics Blog ’ Category

Celtics basketball is a beautiful thing this season. And the magic continued, err, against the Magic. Here’s ESPN.com reporting on the outcome of Friday’s matchup:

Before Friday’s visit to play the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic coach Frank Vogel offered high praise for Boston big man Al Horford, calling him maybe the “most underrated guy in the league.” Then, his poor Magic team got a reminder of why Horford earned those plaudits.

Horford matched a career high by dishing out 10 assists, seven of which came in the first quarter, as the Celtics bucked their season-long trend of slow starts during a 118-103 triumph over the Magic at TD Garden.

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 30 points over just 25 minutes, and Terry Rozier snapped out of a recent shooting funk to score a career-best 23 points off the bench. But it was Horford who set the tone after Celtics coach Brad Stevens subtly reminded his team that ball movement would be key to Boston’s avoiding the first-half lulls that plagued the Celtics even during their recent 16-game winning streak.

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Marcus Smart struggling with shot

The Celtics are on a huge roll lately, winning 15 games in a row. Yet things can get even better. Here’s the Boston Herald reporting on guard Marcus Smart, whose shot has been missing in a big way lately:

Marcus Smart struggling with shot

The Celtics guard still tends to hit his biggest shots late, like his put-back for a 103-95 lead in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s win in Atlanta, and continues to make game-changing plays that have nothing to do with shooting the ball.

But Smart is admittedly bothered by his recent shooting drought. Including Saturday’s 3-for-8 performance, the Celtics guard has shot 13-for-60 (.216) over his last six games, and 27.3 percent both overall and from 3-point range this season.

“It does affect you, especially if you’ve been working all summer,” said Smart, who spent time working out with Chauncey Billups in Denver this summer. “At the same time, I don’t take as many shots. We got other guys out here, they’re playing very well, so my job is to get them the basketball and do whatever I can, go back down the court and play defense and get involved in the game.”

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Nets put up good fight vs Celtics

The Celtics came to Brooklyn Tuesday and left town with their NBA-leading 13th win in a row. Boston looked great in the first quarter, but then the Nets stepped up and made a game out of it. Here’s the New York Post with more:

Facing the hottest team in the NBA was going to be an uphill climb for the Nets under the best circumstances. But doing it without their two point guards — and arguably two best players — proved too much to handle.

With D’Angelo Russell out indefinitely with a knee injury and Jeremy Lin already sidelined for the season, also with a knee injury, the Nets were game, but woefully shorthanded against the Celtics. And scalding-hot Boston predictably proved to be too much, with the Nets falling 109-102 in a tightly contested affair Tuesday.

Hearing Boston fans take over the Barclays Center was just salt in the Nets’ various wounds, and listening to them serenade New Jersey-bred Celtics star Kyrie Irving with chants of “MVP!” as he took free throws with two minutes left was an added insult. But to be fair, Irving looked the part, dominating in his return from a facial fracture and then giving his shoes to some troops seated courtside.

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And for more on the “relationship” between these two teams, here’s ESPN Boston:

In the aftermath of that late-game alley-oop, the remaining Nets fans were left to watch Brown and Tatum engage in a celebratory body-bump near midcourt. It was a painful reminder of what could have been.

Both Brown and Tatum, along with Irving, were delivered to Boston by direct result of the draft picks the Nets sent the Celtics as part of the 2013 blockbuster that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn.

This was the first time since 2013 that Boston played a game against Brooklyn that didn’t have implications on a future pick, and Celtics fans had often utilized the hashtag #Netspick while basking in Brooklyn’s recent struggles. On Tuesday, Celtics fans simply enjoyed watching the exploits of their past picks.

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Celtics TV ratings are up

The Celtics are winning both on the court and in the TV ratings world. Here is Boston.com reporting:

The Celtics aren’t just winning a lot of basketball games – nine in a row entering Wednesday’s matchup with the Lakers. They’re also winning over fans, who have gravitated to this thoroughly entertaining team rapidly and in large numbers despite the offseason trade of popular Isaiah Thomas and the injury to star free agent Gordon Hayward on opening night.

NBC Sports Boston carried nine of the Celtics’ 10 games before Wednesday. Compared to the same span a season ago, household viewership is up 139 percent overall. Among men, it is up 193 percent, and viewership among adults is up 188 percent over the same period in 2016-17.

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Jayson Tatum injury update

There’s relatively good news on the Celtics injury front. Here is NESN reporting:

Boston Celtics fans can exhale a bit. Celtics rookie forward Jayson Tatum, who’s played very well in a starting role through the first 12 games of the season, was ruled out for the second half of Wednesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers because of right ankle soreness. The C’s announced Thursday night that MRI results came back negative.

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Al Horford enters concussion protocol

Al Horford enters concussion protocol

The Boston Celtics, who after losing the first two games of the regular season are on a nine-game winning streak, will be without Al Horford as they face the Lakers tonight.

The team announced today that Horford will be out tonight, after entering the NBA’s concussion protocol.

Horford’s first symptoms linking him to a possible concussion occurred this morning (Nov. 8). Initially struck in the head on a foul called in the second quarter of Boston’s Nov. 6 contest at Atlanta, Horford did not experience any concussion-like symptoms during the game nor immediately following.

He will continue to be monitored as he progresses through concussion protocol.

This season for the Celtics, Horford is averaging 14.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. His shooting has been outstanding: 53.1% FG, and 47.4% from three-point range.

Despite their loss of Gordon Hayward at the start of the season, the Celtics are off to an excellent start. And they’re about to get better as new addition Marcus Morris is ready to make his season debut. Here’s ESPN Boston reporting:

Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris will make his 2017-18 season debut during Friday night’s visit to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Morris, acquired this summer in a swap that sent Avery Bradley to the Detroit Pistons, missed the start of Boston’s training camp while on trial for aggravated assault in Arizona. He played in only one exhibition game after being acquitted and the team held him out of game action at the start of the regular season while Morris both got himself in better shape and battled knee soreness.

“Very excited, man,” Morris said at Boston’s shootaround Friday morning. “This will be a good game for me to come back, anyway. I’m excited to come back.”

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Gordon Hayward speaks on injury

The Celtics began the season locked and loaded, then right away in Game 1 new small forward addition Gordon Hayward suffered a horrible injury. Here’s Boston.com with some of his written comments today about the entire ordeal:

On his thoughts immediately following the injury: “It was like once my brain figured out what had happened, I was hit with shots of pain. The training staff came running over to me super fast, but however long it was—three seconds, five seconds—I just remember sitting there, looking at my foot the wrong way, and it felt like an eternity. Dr. Rosneck, the Cavaliers doctor, braced me as he explained that they wanted to try and pop my ankle back into place. I held on, and the moment they did it, there was just a massive shot of pain, probably the most pain I’ve ever felt in my life.”

On the current state of the Celtics: “We have such a young, exciting team filled with incredible character guys. I owe it to all of them to find my way to contribute. Some of the younger players will have to grow up a little quicker than was planned. They’re going to be thrust into situations where they’ll have a lot more responsibility. But this will be terrific for their careers. There is nothing better than experience in the NBA, and they’re going to get a lot of it. I still believe that by the end of the season, we can be something truly special.”

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And here’s ESPN.com with more:

Hayward acknowledged that his surgery included both repairing the bone he fractured in his ankle and repairing torn ligaments. While some have wondered if he might be able to return this season, Hayward wrote that he does not expect to be back…

In detailing the moment of the injury in his blog, Hayward wrote, “Immediately, I knew something was off, but when I landed, it wasn’t a huge amount of pain. I rolled over and saw my foot, and it was pointed in completely the wrong direction. My first thought was, ‘Oh. This isn’t good. There’s something very wrong here.’”

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The Boston Celtics have exercised both the third-year rookie scale option on Jaylen Brown and the fourth-year rookie scale option on Terry Rozier III.

Selected by the Celtics with the third overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, Brown, 21, has averaged 7.3 points (44.9% FG, 33.9% 3-PT, 67.5% FT), 3.1 rebounds and 18.5 minutes in 85 career games (27 starts). Named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team in 2016-17, Brown is currently producing 15.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.00 steal through the first seven games (all starts) of his second NBA season.

Now in his third NBA season after being selected by Boston with the 16th pick of the 2015 NBA Draft, Rozier III, 23, has averaged 4.6 points (35.1% FG, 31.1% 3-PT, 76.5% FT), 2.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 120 career games over two-plus NBA seasons. In seven games in 2017-18, Rozier III has recorded 9.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 24.6 minutes.

Having a star-filled team as the Celtics do is great, but when the bulk core of the team has changed, it’s a major challenge for the squad’s head coach to quickly transform them into a contender. It’s a nice problem to have — having talent — but it’s still a daunting task when the talent has little experience playing together. But things get even tougher when the team goes through training camp and preseason, then loses a key star to injury just as the regular season begins. Here’s ESPN Boston reporting:

Brad Stevens was already facing a unique challenge entering the 2017-18 season, when the Celtics brought back just four players from a 53-win team and essentially asked him to rebuild a puzzle that took four seasons of perpetual piece-shifting to construct.

Then six minutes into Boston’s season-opener last week in Cleveland, Hayward fractured his ankle as he landed awkwardly after going up for an alley-oop. The team is operating under the notion that Hayward will not play again this season as he begins what Stevens has suggested is at least a five-month recovery.

With new Celtic Marcus Morris still working his way into game shape after missing the start of training camp while on trial in Arizona and Marcus Smart sidelined early in the season with an ankle injury, Stevens found himself operating with a roster in which six of his 12 available bodies were rookies.

At one point late in Tuesday’s win over the New York Knicks, Stevens had a lineup of Jabari Bird (a rookie second-round pick on a G-League two-way contract), Shane Larkin (who played in Spain last season), Abdel Nader (a 2016 second-round draft pick and the G-League Rookie of the Year while stashed domestically last season), Semi Ojeleye (a 2017 second-round pick), and Daniel Theis (a 25-year-old German import this offseason) on the floor.

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The Celtics came into the season optimistic about their new stars. Then, right away, Gordon Hayward was lost, and Boston’s hopes were put into a tailspin. But at least some partial relief should soon be on the way. Here’s the Boston Herald reporting:

Celtics hope to utilize Marcus Morris soon

The Celtics are not going to find one player to replace Gordon Hayward, but they are a little closer to adding a big forward who can score.

Marcus Morris is hoping to get into the rotation this week after arriving late to training camp because of his legal matter in Arizona and then dealing with left knee soreness that cost him the club’s first three games. Brad Stevens said Morris will be reevaluated this week, but if he can participate in today’s practice, there is at least a chance that Morris could see time against the Knicks here tomorrow night.

As one would expect, the Celts are being cautious.

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Kyrie Irving fined by NBA

Kyrie Irving fined by NBA

Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $25,000 for using inappropriate language when responding to a fan, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred at halftime of the Celtics’ 102-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, Oct. 20 at Wells Fargo Center.

Gordon Hayward undergoes surgery

Gordon Hayward undergoes surgery

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has undergone bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle sustained on Opening Night. The surgery was performed by Drs. Mark Slovenkai and Brian McKeon at New England Baptist Hospital, assisted by Dr. Anthony Schena, following consultations with Dr. David Porter of Methodist Sports Medicine in Indianapolis.

No timetable has been set for Hayward’s return, but he is expected to make a full recovery, the Celtics say.

Just speculating, but unfortunately we don’t expect to see Hayward again for most, if not all, of this season.

Isaiah Thomas not happy with Danny Ainge

Some players really don’t want to be traded. They like where they’re at. Such was the case with former Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, who on the one hand is surely now very content to be alongside LeBron James and the powerful Cleveland Cavaliers, but loved being a Celtic. Here’s the Boston Herald reporting:

Danny Ainge said yesterday that he loves Isaiah Thomas, even if the Celtics president of basketball operations tamped down his feelings long enough to include the beloved player in the August trade for Kyrie Irving.

And the now-Cleveland Cavaliers guard clearly isn’t in a forgiving mood, as evidenced by his interview with Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins. Thomas said that though his eventual return to Boston with the Cavaliers will be “all love,” that affection won’t be extended to the man who traded him as part of a league-shaking package for Irving.

“I might not ever talk to Danny again. That might not happen,” Thomas told Jenkins. “I’ll talk to everybody else. But what he did, knowing everything I went through, you don’t do that, bro. That’s not right. I’m not saying eff you. But every team in this situation comes out a year or two later and says, ‘We made a mistake.’ That’s what they’ll say, too.”

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The Celtics have a loaded, talented team. They’re contenders. Their present and their future looks bright. And guard Marcus Smart would like to remain a part of it. Will he receive a contract extension? Here’s the Boston Herald reporting:

The Celtics have until next Monday to sign Marcus Smart to a rookie contract extension, something the guard would dearly love.

But there’s one problem. Smart confirmed last night that he hasn’t heard from the team on the matter. Should the Celts not extend Smart, he will become a restricted free agent next summer, and undoubtedly an in-demand restricted free agent.

Some teams are indeed wrapping up their rookie contract players. Philadelphia, for instance, yesterday signed Joel Embiid — he of the 31-game career — to a maximum extension worth $148 million over five years.

Smart can’t help but notice numbers like this.

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Even though he’s surrounded by talented teammates who will do the vast majority of the heavy lifting, many eyes will be on Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum this season. Here’s the Boston Herald reporting on his first taste of NBA preseason:

Jayson Tatum is happy to have his first preseason game in the rearview mirror. His performance in the 94-82 win against Charlotte was very much a rookie’s exercise — from the 0-for-4 first-half shooting to the greatly improved work as the evening went along.

“It felt good,” Tatum said after the Celtics’ workout yesterday. “I was anxious and excited and nervous at first, but as the game progressed, I felt a lot better.

“I think it was mostly butterflies my first game. I was definitely nervous and excited when I first got out there.”

The hesitation was evident as he pulled up for an open 3-pointer and gave the ball a bit of a guided push, taking his first shot on a break about a minute and a half after he entered in the opening quarter.

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The Celtics are one of the most legendary franchises in sports, and there will always be some things that set them apart in the eyes of careful observers, whether it’s a look at history, experiencing the atmosphere, or something else. Here’s the Boston Herald reporting on new Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, who already sounds quite at home:

The Celtics have held this annual open practice in the Garden for season ticket-holders since the latter part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett era, but the experience had a kind of newness for Kyrie Irving last night.

From the crowd, to the banners and the floor — even the nets as it turned out — had a special meaning for the Celtics guard.

“The energy. The energy, man,” said Irving, before going into intricate detail with a unique description of the Garden parquet.

“It has that vintage, intimate, kind of replicated vibe for what the Garden used to look like,” he said of the original Garden. “The misfit of the squares in where they’re placed on the floor. They’re going in opposite directions — the perpendicular one if you know what I’m saying. I just appreciate all that. And then the nets as well as the whole intimacy as well. I just like the whole aura of it.

“It’s nothing like it. It’s nothing like it,” he said. “Even the energy in here, I can feel it. All these fans about to pile in. It’s about to be a great day.”

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Celtics sign four additional players to training camp

The Boston Celtics have signed four rookies – Jonathan Holmes, L.J. Peak, Andrew White and Devin Williams – finalizing the team’s 20-player training camp roster that includes four returning players, three NBA All-Stars and 11 first-year players.

Holmes, 24, joins the Celtics after spending last season with the Canton Charge of the NBA G-League. In 30 games (20 starts), the forward averaged 12.8 points (44.0% FG, 37.2% 3-PT, 85.0% FT) and 6.5 rebounds in 28.4 minutes. The University of Texas at Austin product also competed in 10 games with FC Barcelona Lassa across the Euroleague and Spanish ACB, producing 5.9 points (52.6% FG, 45.0% 3-PT, 83.3% FT) and 3.0 rebounds in 14.4 minutes. Holmes previously donned a Celtics uniform as a member of the team’s 2015 Summer League squad. Competing in eight games (seven starts) between the Utah Jazz Summer League and Las Vegas Summer League, he tallied 10.0 points (48.1% FG, 46.4% 3-PT, 100% FT) and 5.0 rebounds in 20.2 minutes.

A three-year player at Georgetown University, Peak, 21, averaged 12.1 points (46.0% FG, 33.5% 3-PT, 76.4% FT), 3.1 rebounds 2.0 assists and 27.6 minutes in 98 collegiate games (76 starts). He averaged career highs in points (16.2 ppg), rebounds (3.8 rpg) and assists (3.5 apg) as a junior in 2016-17. Peak played in four games of the 2017 NBA Las Vegas Summer League as a member of the Houston Rockets, producing 7.3 points on 50.0% shooting (50.0% 3-PT, 100% FT) in 13.7 minutes.

White compiled 11.6 points (45.1% FG, 39.3% 3-PT, 78.6% FT), 3.7 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 22.6 minutes in 111 games (68 starts) between Kansas, Nebraska and Syracuse. The 24-year-old enjoyed a stellar year with the Orange in 2016-17, averaging a career-best 18.5 points (43.9% FG, 40.0% 3-PT, 83.7% FT) and 4.6 rebounds in route to earning Third Team All-ACC honors. In five Las Vegas Summer League games (one start) with Cleveland in 2017, White registered 7.0 points (36.4% FG, 50.0% 3-PT, 80.0% FT) and 2.4 rebounds in 12.6 minutes.

Williams, 23, spent 2016-17 competing both internationally with Melbourne of the Australian NBL, and with the Greensboro Swarm of the NBA G-League. In 16 games with Melbourne, he recorded 3.2 points (46.5% FG) and 4.0 rebounds in 10.5 minutes. The three-year West Virginia product finished the year with the Swarm, where he contributed 2.9 points (71.4% FG), 3.3 rebounds and 8.3 minutes in eight games.

Listed in its entirety below, the Celtics’ Training Camp roster includes four returning players – Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart – from the team that logged the Eastern Conference’s best record and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016-17. Horford also joins newcomers Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving as the three players with NBA All-Star accolades on the current roster.

Marcus Morris (6 yrs.), Aron Baynes (5 yrs.) and Shane Larkin (3 yrs.) each boast valuable NBA experience entering the 2017-18 NBA season, while Kadeem Allen, Jabari Bird, Abdel Nader, Semi Ojeleye, Jayson Tatum, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele join Holmes, Peak, White and Williams as the 11 rookies on Boston’s Training Camp roster.

Isaiah Thomas hip injury lingers

Cavs guard Isaiah Thomas is still recovering from his hip injury, and the healing process will delay the start of play for his new team. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

Isaiah Thomas hip injury lingers

While introducing their acquisitions from the summer’s blockbuster trade, the Cleveland Cavaliers were reluctant to discuss Isaiah Thomas’ health during a news conference Thursday.

“To be fair to Isaiah, we’re not going to address any specifics on his hip injury,” general manager Koby Altman said. “We’re also not going to put a timetable on it.”

Altman added: “We’re not going to rush it, at all.”

Altman intercepted a question directed to Thomas about his health and tried to steer the proceedings away from the subject, declaring, “This is not going to turn into the Isaiah Thomas hip press conference.”

While Altman was careful not to put any expectations on a return date, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue revealed that Thomas will miss the start of the season. That would mean the All-Star point guard still has at least five to six weeks of rehab ahead of him before he suits up for Cleveland. Altman said Cleveland will lean on free-agent signees Derrick Rose and Jose Calderon while Thomas is out.

Celtics will retire Paul Pierce jersey number on February 11, 2018

The Boston Celtics will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, February 11, cementing his 15-year Celtics legacy which includes countless accolades, significant milestones, and the 2008 NBA Championship.

“We teamed up with Paul from the beginning of our ownership and grew to be champions together,” said Celtics Co-Owner and Governing Partner Wyc Grousbeck. “He’s a great person and a great Celtic.”

Ten other Celtics players donned the number 34 prior to Pierce getting drafted by the team with the 10th overall pick in the 1998 draft. Now, after witnessing Pierce’s name skyrocket up a majority of the franchise’s historic leaderboards during his time in Boston, the 17-time NBA champions are raising his number among the other Celtics legends and champions.

“I will always be grateful for the sacrifices Paul made to help the Celtics be great,” said Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. “His love for the game was contagious and his talents and hard work were legendary. He was one of the greatest players of his era.”

“The moment I was drafted by the Celtics, I knew I was joining one of the most historic organizations in the NBA,” said Pierce. “For 15 years, I played at the Garden, looking up at the jerseys of some of the most iconic players in the game – Russell, Bird, and Cousy. To now be recognized alongside those names is such an honor. I have always said I would be a Celtic for life, and now it is really coming true.”

Pierce’s No. 34 will be ceremoniously lifted to the rafters of TD Garden less than 10 years after he helped raise the Celtics’ 17th championship banner up to the very same ceiling in 2008. Going head-to-head with the rival Los Angeles Lakers in his first career NBA Finals appearance, Pierce followed up a 22-point performance in a Game 1 victory with 28 more points on 9-of-16 shooting (4-4 3-PT) and eight assists in Boston’s Game 2 triumph. His 38 points in Game 5 of those Finals represented his second-highest scoring total in 26 postseason games that year.

Pierce was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player that year, making him the third Celtic to collect MVP honors in his first NBA Finals appearance (JoJo White – 1974, Cedric Maxwell – 1981). He averaged 21.8 points (43.2% FG, 39.3% 3-PT, 83.0% FT), 4.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.08 steals and 38.8 minutes in that six-game series en route to the Celtics’ first championship banner since 1986.

“Paul was a transcendent player, a great leader, and wonderful teammate; simply one of the great Celtics in every way,” said Celtics Co-Owner Steve Pagliuca. “His number in the rafters will forever remind us of the joy he brought to the game of basketball and his love for the fans and the city of Boston.”

While his role in the 2008 NBA Finals will forever be remembered as a key part of his Celtics legacy, it was a performance earlier that postseason that is widely remembered as one of his more iconic moments in green and white. Battling the Cavaliers in a decisive Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Pierce and LeBron James battled head-to-head in a back-and-forth scoring affair that saw both stars score over 40 points. The Celtics captain unloaded for a team-high 41 points (13-23 FG, 4-6 3-PT) to upend Cleveland, 97-92, and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Pierce’s 15 seasons in Boston from 1998-99 to 2012-13 trails only John Havlicek (16) for the most ever spent in a Celtics uniform. He produced 21.8 points (44.7% FG, 37.0% 3-PT, 80.6% FT), 6.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.44 steals and 36.6 minutes in his achievement-filled 1,102 career games with the franchise.

Earning his iconic nickname “The Truth” during his third NBA season in 2000-01, Pierce tops the franchise lists in three-point field goals (1,823), free throws (6,434) and steals (1,583), while also placing as the Celtics’ second all-time leading scorer with 24,021 career points. He currently ranks in the organization’s top 10 lists in games played (3rd – 1 ,102), minutes played (3rd – 40,360), field goals (3rd – 7,882), field goal attempts (2nd – 17,630), three-point field goal attempts (1st – 4,928), free throw attempts (1st – 7,979), offensive rebounds (8th – 1,008), rebounds (7th – 6,651), assists (5th – 4,305), and blocked shots (4th – 668).

Pierce’s No. 34, which was also retired collegiately at the University of Kansas on Jan. 25, 2003, will represent the 22nd retired number in Celtics franchise history. He becomes the first Celtic to have his number retired since Cedric Maxwell’s No. 31 was retired on Dec. 15, 2003.

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