Your Morning Dump… Where the next game is a big one.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics

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.

Brad Stevens has tried hard — and mainly succeeded — to get the Celtics thinking that the only game that matters is the one at hand and that each has similar value.

Isaiah Thomas kept on that line, though he acknowledged the magnitude, with No. 1-seed ramifications in play.

“Honestly, it’s definitely a big game,” he said. “But we’re going to treat it like every other game. It’s the next game, so it’s definitely the most important one. We’ll be ready.”

Boston Herald

Steve Bulpett with a nice little summary of player and coach quotes for your off-day amusement.

Like Jae Crowder said on Sunday, the Celtics have ‘grown together’. While the players have a variety of takes to the typical reporter questions:

We don’t talk about the negative stuff that people may say. We just go out and play. (Crowder)

People been telling us this and that all season. That’s what makes us stronger. We take that and we use it as fuel. (Smart)

They do have a certain coherence in how they approach the game. Stevens characterized it this way:

“I can tell you it’s not coaching. You’re not going to have a roster full of 15 guys that don’t play hard and think you’re going to be able to convince them to play hard for 82 games. I think that you recruit hard-playing guys. If you’re a hard-playing guy and you’re around other hard-playing guys, that’s contagious. Certainly there are instances where maybe a guy hasn’t played as hard, but when he gets around the Marcus Smarts of the world and people like that, there’s a contagiousness.

“And I think that when you play in Boston, it’s one of the responsibilities that comes with being a Celtic. We’ve talked quite a bit about that, but there’s no like motivational speech to get guys to play hard. They’re either going to play hard or not.”

While Stevens may have a point about the front office recognizing and acquiring a certain type of player that thrives in this environment, he rather modestly downplays his role in all this. This is a very young team, and the positive aspects of players that Stevens chooses to reinforce are going to be the traits that players that are still maturing will work on.

So, yes, Marcus Smart’s work ethic is going to be contagious, but that’s because Stevens has created an environment that consistently rewards hard work.

This came up on the Rainin’ J’s podcast yesterday: The Celtics lineup is not packed with guys that stood out on draft day. This is where Boston’s starters were picked:

60 – Isaiah Thomas
19 – Avery Bradley
34 – Jae Crowder
3 – Al Horford
56 – Amir Johnson

That is a lineup of players who, for the most part, did not excite teams with their ‘potential’. To be sure, these players all have a measure of talent; you’re not going to make it in this league just on your looks and your wits. However, guys like Amir, Jae and Thomas have stuck in this league because they are willing to outwork the players that were drafted ahead of them. Stevens recognizes that and rewards it.

Page 2: Where Stevens channels Yogi Berra

“Sometimes you just have parts of your schedule like that, and that’s why I don’t think you can … you can’t get the whole picture until the whole picture’s done. Even now, we’re still in the moment of trying to play the next game, to play it well. There’s a lot that goes into whether or not you’re having success at a current time. I think we’ve played better since then, but I also think that, you know, we had played 19 road games and 12 home games at that time, too, so there was a lot of factors probably.” (emphasis added)

Same Boston Herald article

The counterpart to looking at Cleveland’s tougher schedule to close out the year is the fact that the Celtics have therefore, by definition, played a tougher schedule than Cleveland up to this point. And they have a better record.

After 77 games, that’s not a fluke. That’s legit.

Is a healthy Cleveland better than a healthy Boston in a 7 game series? At this very moment? Probably. But you don’t have to be a genius to note the differing trajectories of these teams.

What’s Cleveland’s plan for LeBron’s future? They’ve spent everything they have on the present, and now they have contracts that can’t be traded and no cap space to sign free agents.

Page 3: Where Cleveland is having issues

As James iced his ankles and knees after battling Paul George for 52 draining minutes before putting away the Pacers, Thompson was having trouble cooling off. The hard-working power forward briefly spoke with a team media relations member and general manager David Griffin before addressing a small group of reporters while James was speaking to the larger media group surrounding him in his corner locker.

Thompson’s answers were curt, programmed.

“We’re family,” he said. “Move forward.”

First of all, James is playing 52 minutes this late in the season? That ain’t good.

Secondly, I agree with Chuck, this Cavs team is reminiscent of the 2010 Celtics team. That team could most charitably be described as ‘inconsistent’ the last four months of the regular season, but they got it together in the playoffs and, well, let’s not rehash the last 12 minutes of that season.

What I’m curious to see is if LeBron, Love and Irving coached by Lue is capable of pulling it together as well as Pierce, KG and Allen coached by Doc. I’ll be honest, I have my doubts. Individually, LeBron is the most talented player of those that I’ve just listed, but in every other area, it’s hard to put Cleveland on the same level as Boston, not Love vs. Pierce, Irving vs. Allen, or Lue vs. Doc.

Finally: What?

Your Morning Dump... Where the next game is a big one.

This is a picture of what looks to be the [Magic’s] offseason priorities board, one that hit the internet earlier today. In the foreground, we see the signing of rookie wing Patricio Garino, who joined the team earlier today. The picture was tweeted out by someone who appears to be close to Garino.


As far as dramatic information leaks go, there’s not much here. It’s a list of players that might or might not be ranked in order of preference. They could have been written down as they popped into the staff’s heads.

It’s also a somewhat depressing window into mediocrity. Look at those names. Look at where Orlando is right now. What combination of those guys is going to move the needle for this team? If you’re a Magic fan, isn’t this whole thing just kind of sad? “Hey, we’re going to try to sign Andre Igoudala! A 33 year old guy who played out of his head in the Finals two years ago.

The rest of the links:

CSNNE: From lottery to 50 wins in four seasons, Celtics’ rise impresses many | Mannix: Cavaliers most “vulnerable” they’ve been in last three years

Boston Globe: Marcus Smart looking for a way out of shooting slump


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