The Boston Celtics are one of the most storied franchises in the National Basketball Association. From the rafters of their building hang more NBA championship banners than any other franchise can lay claim to. They've had plenty of great rivalries throughout the years, from the obvious Lakers and Bulls to the Detroit Pistons and most recently the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Friday night, February 5th, the Celtics rolled into Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland to face all of the well known star power that the Cavaliers boast in LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. While the Celtics best player, Isaiah Thomas struggled and shot 5-19, the Celtics still managed to pull off the win on the road, 104-103. How? The simple answer would be the performance of Evan Turner off the bench. The main weapon off the bench for the Celtics, Turner played 32 minutes, scoring 19 points, gathered 12 rebounds and dished out 6 assists while shooting 8-16 from the floor.
It hasn't been easy for Turner in the NBA since the 76ers took him with the second overall pick behind John Wall in 2010. He began in Philadelphia before being traded to the Indiana Pacers in a deal that the Pacers hoped would help deliver them a title. Instead, the deal ended up falling flat on its face as Turner struggled to fit in with the system and personnel that the Pacers had at that time. After becoming a Boston Celtic, Turner seems to have found his fit playing for one of the most storied franchises in all of professional sports.
On the season, Turner is averaging just short of 10 points per game while averaging 4.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds and is the first man off the bench for the playoff contending Boston Celtics.
Zach Randolph lost his frontcourt running mate in Marc Gasol indefinitely on Tuesday night to a broken foot. However, not all is lost as long as the Memphis Grizzlies can still boast former Michigan State standout Zach Randolph at the power forward spot. In the same game that Gasol broke his foot, Randolph had one of his best games of the 2015-16 season. While it was in a losing effort to the Portland Trailblazers in overtime, Randolph scored 26 points, collected 9 rebounds and even dished out 4 assists.
There are few players in the league who can control the tempo of a game like the dominant post presence of Zach Randolph. It's fitting, then, that this dominant presence plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. A team notorious for their slow pace of play, a player like Randolph fits perfectly into the scheme of how they want to play as a team.
With the loss, the Grizzlies dropped to 30-22 but still remain at 5th in the Western Conference after a win on Wednesday moved them to 31-22. With the loss of Gasol, it will be very interested to see if Randolph and fellow Big Ten mate Mike Conley can keep the Grizzlies afloat in the tough Western Conference. It might require many more performances like the one that Randolph posted on Monday night. However, to see him do that would be far from surprising as he has become one of the NBA's quietest and most productive stars in the past decade.
Evan Turner and Zach Randolph were major stars while in college at Ohio State and Michigan State respectively, and both have found their fair share of success in the NBA. Both are on teams with aspirations of being in the playoffs and then making some serious noise in their conferences.