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Celtics win NBA draft lottery, will choose first overall for first time in the lottery era

05.16.17 at 8:59 pm ET
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Washington guard Markelle Fultz (left) and UCLA counterpart Lonzo Ball (right) are considered the two best prospects in the NBA draft. (Jennifer Buchanan/USA Today Sports)

Washington guard Markelle Fultz (left) and UCLA counterpart Lonzo Ball (right) are considered the two best prospects in the NBA draft. (Jennifer Buchanan/USA Today Sports)

The ping pong balls finally smiled on the Celtics.

Snakebitten in previous trips to the NBA lottery, the Celtics on Tuesday finally cashed in some major luck when they claimed the first overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft on Tuesday night.

This is the first time in the modern draft era that the Celtics have earned the No. 1 pick.

“This is pretty good,” Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck told ESPN. “It’s a good time to be a Celtics fan.”

The C’s entered Tuesday night’s lottery as the team with the best chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick via their trade with Brooklyn, and they cashed in. The C’s have never moved up in the lottery, but there was no possibility of that this year, since the best they could hope for was remaining steady at No. 1.

The Celtics entered the lottery with a 25 percent chance of picking first and a 46.5 percent chance of choosing in the top two. They could pick no worse than fourth, thanks to a trade that allows them to swap draft positions with the Brooklyn Nets, who finished with the worst record in the NBA.

This is considered a deep draft with no shortage of talented players in the top five or six positions. The consensus No. 1 pick is Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, an explosive 6-foot-4 scorer and floor general with the most complete game in the draft.

Beyond Fultz, there’s UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, who might be the best pure passer to enter the NBA since Jason Kidd left Cal nearly 25 years ago. Beyond those two are forwards Josh Jackson of Kansas and Jayson Tatum of Duke. (For more on this quintet, click here.) Kentucky guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk are also expected to go in the top 10.

What this means for the Celtics is they now know what options they have this summer. One option is to sign a free agent like Utah’s Gordon Hayward to a max contract and then augment that acquisition with a young piece in the draft such as Fultz.

The other is to push their chips to the center of the table and attempt to trade the pick for a player like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler or Indiana’s Paul George, thereby accelerating the rebuilding process.

What’s clear is the C’s have options, and that’s never a bad place to be.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Markelle Fultz, NBA Draft

Celtics know, but don’t care that they’re the underdog against juggernaut Cavs

05.16.17 at 6:58 pm ET
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The Celtics dropped three of four regular season games against the Cavaliers this season. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

The Celtics dropped three of four regular season games against the Cavaliers this season. (David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports)

WALTHAM — The Celtics may have been the No. 1 seed in the East by way of a 53-win regular season, but absolutely nobody is giving them a shot against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. 

But that’s business as usual for this club. 

“We’ve been counted out since I’ve been here,” Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas, averaging 25.4 points per game this spring (the ninth-most among playoff scorers), said on Tuesday. “It’s nothing new.”

“Did you hear anybody pick us to win last series, either?” Celtics forward Jae Crowder said when asked about the club’s slim chances against the defending champions. “What about the one before that?”

There’s no sense in trying to deny that the Celtics have toppled some obstacles to get to this point. They dropped the opening two games of their first-round series against the Bulls, and looked straight-up terrible along the way. But they rebounded with four straight victories. They then engaged in a home-winning, six-game war with the Wizards, and even though they dropped Game 6 in deflating fashion, the Celtics responded with one of their best team efforts of the entire postseason with Monday’s 115-105 win. 

It’s been their best and only response needed to answer the critics that have clearly stayed in their heads throughout this run. 

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LeBron James won’t take bait on question about Kelly Olynyk

05.16.17 at 4:55 pm ET
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Lebron James would not comment on Kelly Olynyk. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

LeBron James would not comment on Kelly Olynyk. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The headlines have found Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk this spring. 

The latest one came after No. 41 helped push the Celtics to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2012 behind a 26-point Game 7 effort in Boston’s 115-105 victory over the Wizards on Monday night, but it was far from the first. Olynyk first made headlines for his altercation with Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. in Game 3, and was then called a ‘dirty player’ by the Warriors’ Draymond Green, who also added that he doesn’t respect him.

That latter story has naturally jumped back into frame for the third round, too, as Olynyk will go against Cleveland’s Kevin Love in playoff action for the first time since Olynyk injured Love’s shoulder in the first round of the last Celtics-Cavaliers series, back in 2015. 

But the Cavaliers aren’t expecting a sequel of Olynyk’s arm-tearing endeavors, nor are they taking the bait on questions about him.

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Celtics-Wizards Game 7 draws record TV rating in Boston

05.16.17 at 1:12 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 29 points Monday. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 29 points Monday. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

It looks like Boston is buying into the Celtics. 

According to Turner Sports, Game 7 between the Celtics and Wizards was the highest-rated TNT game ever in Boston, drawing a massive 18.1 number. The contest drew a 5.4 overnight rating for the network, the best for a non-conference finals game since 2012. 

The extraordinary viewership for Monday’s contest is a testament to the drama of the series and the apparent affinity Celtics fans feel for their team. There was a lot of animosity between Boston and Washington, which climaxed when members of the Celtics wore black prior to their Game 6 showdown in Washington –– copying a gimmick the Wizards used in the regular season. Game 7 came down to the wire, too, with the Celtics pulling away after massive fourth quarters from Isaiah Thomas and Kelly Olynyk. 

Though it’s unlikely the Celtics will push the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, they’ve now won two playoff series for the first time since 2012. With the draft lottery Tuesday, this has a chance to be a banner week for the franchise. People are paying attention. 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards,

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman: No huge difference between Celtics landing 1st or 4th pick

05.16.17 at 12:11 pm ET
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Markelle Fultz (James Snook/USA Today Sports)

Markelle Fultz (James Snook/USA Today Sports)

The NBA Draft Lottery takes place Tuesday night and the odds are in the Celtics’ favor to earn the No. 1 pick. But what if they fall to the No. 4 pick?

ESPN basketball insider Jeff Goodman, who may be the foremost authority when it comes to analyzing the draft prospects, believes it wouldn’t be a huge deal.

The difference is “not a big as people think,” Goodman said.

He believes the top four picks are Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum.

“There’s not a huge disparity [between the four players],” Goodman said. “Most people think there’s a little gap after the top two, but not really. Danny Ainge is going to take who he thinks is going to be an NBA superstar.”

Should the Celtics get the first pick, they are expected to take Fultz, a freshman out of Washington. Lonzo Ball, a freshman from UCLA is expected to go second followed by freshman De’Aaron Fox out of Kentucky and Kansas freshman Jackson. (For an in-depth look at the candidates, click here.)

The Celtics have a 25 percent chance of claiming the top pick in the draft when the lottery is held Tuesday night, with the odds dropping to 21.5 percent for the second pick and 17.8 percent for the third.

What player do you want to see the Celtics end up with?

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Eastern Conference finals schedule: Celtics will host Cavs Wednesday, Friday before series shifts to Cleveland

05.16.17 at 10:45 am ET
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The Celtics will host the Cavs beginning Wednesday night. (Bob DeChiara-USA Today Sports)

The Celtics will host the Cavs beginning Wednesday night. (Bob DeChiara-USA Today Sports)

Thanks to a thrilling Game 7 win over the Wizards Monday night, the Celtics have advanced to the Eastern Conference finals where they will take on the well-rested Cavaliers.

Since the Celtics were the No. 1 overall seed in the East, they will have homecourt advantage.

Here is the complete schedule. All games will begin at 8:30 and be aired on TNT.

Game 1: Wednesday, May 17 at Boston

Game 2: Friday, May 19 at Boston

Game 3: Sunday, May 21 at Cleveland

Game 4: Tuesday, May 23 at Cleveland

Game 5: Thursday, May 25 at Boston*

Game 6: Saturday, May 27 at Cleveland*

Game 7: Monday, May 29 at Boston *

* If necessary

For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.

After Game 7 thriller, can Celtics give LeBron James, Cavaliers a real run for it?

05.16.17 at 12:17 am ET
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Kelly Olynyk channels Larry Bird, scoring 14 of his playoff career-best 26 points in a stunning fourth-quarter display while Isaiah Thomas was his typical brilliant self, scoring 29, as the Celtics put away the Wizards in Game 7. Not much time to savor as LeBron James and the Cavs are up Wednesday in Game 1 of the Eastern finals. Mike Petraglia and Josue Pavon recap an electric night at TD Garden.

Read More: 2017 NBA finals, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Isaiah Thomas
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