VegasInsider.com
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Horses
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
More
Betting Tools

 
Celtics' Stevens tunes out talk of tanking

WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) - Jared Sullinger was watching TV over the summer when he heard someone say that if the Boston Celtics relied too much on Jeff Green, they would only win two games all season.

Advertisement
The Celtics forward recorded the comments on his phone and made sure Green saw them.

''That same guy is probably biting his tongue right now because he feels stupid,'' Sullinger said.

After trading away their two biggest stars and coach Doc Rivers over the summer, the Celtics opened the season with four straight losses that seemed to confirm expectations that they would compete - perhaps intentionally - for a top spot in the draft lottery.

But Boston then rattled off four wins in a row, including a victory over the defending champion Miami Heat, to show that they aren't throwing away the season. A loss Wednesday night stopped the winning streak, but the attitude on the team has been consistent.

''Y'all were talking about the lottery. We didn't even think about that,'' Sullinger said after practice on Thursday. ''We don't care about that. We want to win, we want to make the playoffs, and we want to make a run. At the end of the day, that was something that you talked about, not us.''

The most decorated franchise in the NBA, the Celtics built a dynasty that crumbled after winning its 16th championship in 1986 behind the Big Three of Kevin McHale, Larry Bird and Robert Parish. After watching them all grow old at the same time, the team went through a long rebuilding period and Danny Ainge, a player on the 1986 team who is now the general manager, said he would not let that happen again.

So soon after the New Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen won it all in 2008 - ending the longest championship drought in franchise history - and returned to the NBA finals two years later, Ainge was already looking to rebuild. Allen left in the summer of 2012 and, after one last run with Garnett, Pierce and point guard Rajon Rondo, Ainge had seen enough.

He allowed Rivers to leave for the Clippers and traded Garnett and Pierce to the Nets. Butler coach Brad Stevens, who had no NBA experience of any kind, replaced Rivers and took over a roster that included Rondo, who is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, and a mix of young potential and older fill-ins.

The way Ainge put the team together left little reason to doubt that he was focused on potential top draft picks Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. Then they lost their first four games - though three of them were on the road, and all of them were competitive.

But, just as quickly, everything turned around.

''It takes time to develop chemistry,'' Sullinger said. ''It takes time to develop a team.''

Boston's four wins came over three teams that have a losing record plus the Heat, who were stunned when Green hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Stevens said it was just a matter of playing better basketball over that stretch: turning the ball over less and playing with a better pace.

''Just guys feeling more comfort with their playing opportunities,'' he said. ''We started to fit together a little bit better. Throughout that four-game win streak, that's the way we were playing.''

Stevens said he has had no trouble tuning out the talk of tanking the season, saying dismissively, ''I don't care about that.'' But Sullinger said that if it helps motivate the team, that's even better.

''Oh, we definitely wanted to shut you guys up. Definitely,'' he told reporters at the team's practice facility on Wednesday. ''With all the things we heard

Stevens would prefer that they focus on this year.

''You can use it as motivation,'' he said, ''but it has nothing to do with winning a 48-minute game.''

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
HEADLINES
David: Wednesday's Early Tips
BetOnline.ag: Big Easy Sweep
BetOnline.ag: Playoff Weekend Recap
News: First Round Series Odds
News: 2018 Playoff Results
News: First Round Predictions
Warriors knock out Spurs, 99-91
76ers roll past Heat to advance
Celtics edge Bucks for series lead
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NBA Pro Basketball Expert Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NBA Hot Streaks
4-0 L4, 27-10 Run, +4,096 Overall
6-0 G-Plays, 7-1 Totals, 9-2 Picks
2-0 LN, 11-2 L13, 20-6 Streak
6-0 L4 Days, 4-0 Guarantees
8-1 G-Plays, 3-0 L3, 17-8 Run
5-0 L5 G-Plays, +2,822 Picks TY
2-0 Last Night, 4-0 L5 Days
5-1 L6, 9-2 L11 NBA Picks
12-5 +772 L6 Days, 5-1 G-Plays
4 Straight Guaranteed Wins
11-4 L15 NBA Guarantees
+2,208 NBA Guarantees TY
5-2 L7 Guaranteed Plays
15-5 Last 20 NBA G-Plays
7-3 Record L6 Days, +1,208 TY
10-3 L13 Guaranteed Plays
19-6 L25 Totals, 29-14 L43 Picks
8-2 L10 Picks/Guarantees
3-1 L2 Days, 6-1 L7 Totals
NBA Pro Basketball Expert Sports Picks
2017 NBA SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Alex Smart + 4091
Antony Dinero + 2597
Kevin Rogers + 1716
Last 7 Day Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 872
Mark Franco + 577
Matt Fargo + 487
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Joe Nelson 57 %
Alex Smart 57 %
Kevin Rogers 55 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Alex Smart + 2897
Antony Dinero + 2466
Kevin Rogers + 2098
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 2609
Scott Rickenbach + 619
Stephen Nover + 380
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 876
Joe Nelson + 812
Antony Dinero + 745
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, SAVE 10% off a Live Odds Pro subscription, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership