Celtics Notes: Stevens, Zeller, Thomas

The Celtics are in the heat of the playoff race and the Boston’s success in back-to-back games has been key to the team remaining in contention, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. After Saturday’s win over the Pacers, the team owns a record of 9-5 in the tail-end of back-to-back games this season. Boston is 29-36 on the season, which is a half game behind Charlotte for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • Brad Stevens doesn’t have the great win-loss record in the NBA that he had in the college ranks, but this season’s success has proven that he is more than capable to coach at any level, opines Mark Montieth of Pacers.com. The Celtics traded their top two players in Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green and lost Jared Sullinger, who was arguably the team’s third best player, for the season due to injury. As a result, Stevens was left with a team mostly full of young, yet unproven talent and he put the team in good position to be playoff bound.
  • Tyler Zeller is having a solid season for the Celtics and, as Zach Lowe of Grantland notes (Twitter link), Boston used its cap flexibility to acquire the center last offseason. The team used a trade exception from the Paul Pierce deal worth nearly $10.3MM to obtain Zeller, Marcus Thornton and a protected first-round pick. At the trade deadline this season, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge dealt Thornton and that draft pick to acquire Isaiah Thomas from the Suns.
  • Boston is 9-5 since dealing for Thomas. The 26-year-old is averaging 21.4 points and 5.4 assists per game and I believe that he will be the team’s starting point guard next season. Thomas will make slightly more than $6.91MM next season as part of a four-year, $27MM contract that he signed last offseason. In comparison to the salaries of other starting point guards, which can be found on our 2015/16 Salary Rankings, that deal looks to be extremely team-friendly.
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