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Paul Pierce: ‘It might be the last time I’m back’

02.10.16 at 8:06 pm ET
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As Paul Pierce returned to TD Garden as a member of the Clippers, the 18-year veteran said Wednesday’s game against the Celtics might be the last time he plays in Boston.

“It could be, Pierce said before the game. “I’m not 100 percent sure, but, you know, like I’ve been saying the last two years, I’m taking it year by year, and this could possibly be.”

For 15 seasons, Pierce called Boston his home, and he climbed to second on the team’s career scoring list. Although it’s been nearly three years since he last played a game in a Celtics uniform, coming back to TD Garden as a member of the visiting team is still odd for the veteran.

“I think the weird thing is just being on this side of the bench and this side of the locker room,” Pierce explained. “The locker room is a little weird. I used to walk up the stairs and take a right instead of a left. It’s fun I get to enjoy it because it might be the last time I’m back.”

Pierce also discussed former teammate Kevin Garnett, who he’s kept in contact with despite going their separate ways.

“Usually all we talk about is family,” Pierce said with a laugh. “Kevin is doing good. I always ask if this is it for him; he’s still undecided. Kevin said he was going to retire the last five years in a row and always came back, so I don’t know what he’s planning. We stay in good contact, as do a lot of us — Rondo, the guys who we’ve played with — so I don’t know what his plans are like, and I don’t know what I’m going to do, but it could be the last time.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Report: Celtics, Danny Ainge ‘excited’ about possible trade for Al Horford

02.10.16 at 4:33 pm ET
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Al Horford

Al Horford

With the NBA trade deadline residing just 10 days away, things are getting interesting, particularly when it comes to the Celtics.

Speaking on CSN New England, Chris Mannix suggested there might be some traction when it comes to the Celtics’ rumored interest in Atlanta forward Al Horford.

“I think Boston, Al Horford is a legitimate possibility for the Celtics,
Mannix said. “I think that is one of the guys across the league that Danny Ainge is the most excited about. He is a four man that would fit right into what Boston is trying to do.

“It would cost a lot of money to re-sign him in the offseason, but I think Boston is willing to play it, because they haven’€™t paid a lot of money for players in recent years.”

Horford, whose contract expires at the end of this season, is averaging 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Mannix surmised that a potential deal wouldn’t get done until closer to the Feb. 18 trade deadline.

Read More: Al Horford, Celtics,

Celtics rumor mill: Breaking down potential interest in Hawks Al Horford, Kyle Korver

02.10.16 at 3:02 pm ET
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Al Horford

Al Horford

With the NBA trade deadline now just over a week away, focus has shifted to a team that appears to be on the verge of blowing it up — the Atlanta Hawks.

With free-agent-to-be Al Horford and sharpshooter Kyle Korver, Atlanta has a couple of pieces that could interest the Celtics, as ESPN insider Chad Ford noted in a recent column, when he proposed a trade of the two to Boston for David Lee, Kelly Olynyk and a pair of first-round picks (neither one coming from Brooklyn).

Ford also proposed a larger three-way deal involving the Kings that would send out Evan Turner and the upcoming Nets pick (which could be No. 1 overall), among other pieces, and bring DeMarcus Cousins back to Boston.

That’s not happening. The Hawks present an intriguing trade partner, however. Horford’s impending free agency automatically depresses his market, and the athletic big man would give the Celtics a dimension they certainly lacked in Tuesday’s 112-111 loss to the Bucks, when Greg Monroe torched them for 29 points, including the go-ahead layup with one second left.

Horford is capable of shooting from 16 feet or scoring on the block, and he’s an excellent team defender. He’d fit right into Brad Stevens‘ system on the opposing end of the floor, which is where the Celtics win games.

Korver would give them something they desperately need as well, a guard/forward who can knock down open 3-pointers. He’s shooting .383 from deep this season, which is actually his lowest mark in a decade, but would still rank second on the Celtics (behind Olynyk’s .415) among players with at least 100 attempts.

Lifetime, Korver shoots 3’s at an absurd .429 clip, including a league-best .492 last year and an NBA-record .536 in 2010. At age 34, he’s the rare player to hit his stride when his career should be winding down. He’s an average defender in a helping scheme, at best, but his shooting could help the Celtics space the floor.

Also, Horford and Korver are both considered winning players, no small consideration when looking for guys who will buy into Stevens’ system. Might there be a match? We’ll find out in the next eight days.

Read More: Al Horford, Brooklyn picks, Celtics trade rumors, Kyle Korver

Studs and Duds: Greg Monroe, Bucks stop Celtics’ 4-game win streak

02.09.16 at 10:59 pm ET
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Feb 9, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reacts after a call in the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks won 112-111. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Stevens reacts to a call in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s loss to the Bucks. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports)

Jason Kidd may have figured out the only way to beat the Celtics — stack the bench. Kidd’€™s decision to bring Greg Monroe and Michael Carter-Williams off the bench paid off, as the Bucks defeated the Celtics 112-111 on Tuesday in Milwaukee.

The Bucks built a huge second-half lead, outscoring the Celtics 40-20 in the third quarter. Monroe was simply unstoppable, scoring 12 of his game-high 29 points in the frame. In the final six minutes the Celtics made a frantic comeback, cutting a 19-point deficit to three with 59 seconds to play, setting up a wild final minute.

A Jae Crowder 3-pointer tied the game at 109, but a Monroe layup put the Bucks back up by two with only one second remaining. On the ensuing inbounds pass — with the Celtics in the bonus — Jerryd Bayless sent Kelly Olynyk to the line for a pair of game-tying free throws. However, an overly aggressive Avery Bradley fouled Khris Middleton as he caught an inbounds pass with 0.6 seconds left. Middleton made the first before intentionally missing the second to seal the one-point victory.

Monroe, who has given the Celtics struggles in the past, was especially dominant, scoring his 29 points on 13-of-21 shooting. Massachusetts native Carter-Williams added 16 points as the Bucks bench outscored the Celtics 62-50.

Bradley and Crowder led the C’s with 18 points apiece, while four other Celtics scored in double figures.

The loss snaps a four-game win streak for the Celtics (31-22), who lost for just the fourth time in their last 16 games. The C’€™s return home to play Paul Pierce, Doc Rivers and the Clippers on Wednesday at TD Garden.

For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajon Rondo: ‘Brad [Stevens] has these guys rolling’

02.08.16 at 4:20 pm ET
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For only the second time in his career, veteran point guard Rajon Rondo returned to Boston on Sunday to face the Celtics at TD Garden.

It was just over a year ago when the Celtics surprisingly traded Rondo to the Mavericks, and since then, the rebuilding Celtics have blossomed into one of the better teams in the East. In fact, the Celtics are 62-50 since the Rondo trade and have won nine of their last 10 games after beating the Kings, 128-119, on Sunday. With the win, the Celtics (31-22) hold the third-best record in the Eastern Conference.

After the game, Rondo talked about the Celtics’ depth and credited coach Brad Stevens for the team’s recent success.

“They play well as a team,” Rondo said. “They may be 13, 14 guys deep. You never know who’s going to get it going for them each night. You look at the box score and someone is leading them in scoring different every night. So they’ve been playing well as a team. Brad has these guys rolling, believing in the system and they’re playing very unselfish.”

Rondo said he still keeps in touch with some of his old teammates, and he wished the team well.

“I sent Avery [Bradley] a text after the big shot he made the other day [against the Cavs],” Rondo said. “My young guys, Kelly [Olynyk], Jared [Sullinger]. A lot of these guys are my rookies. So it’s good to see these guys playing well. I wish them health and happiness and to continue to play and try to take the East.”

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Studs and Duds: Celtics cruise past Rajon Rondo, Kings

02.07.16 at 3:22 pm ET
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Feb 7, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Jared Sullinger (left) and Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) battle for a loose ball during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics center Jared Sullinger (left) and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins battle for a loose ball during the first half at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

The Celtics defeated the Kings, 128-119, on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

Avery Bradley opened the game hitting four of his first five shots, scoring 12 of his 25 points in the first quarter. Jared Sullinger tied his season-high with 21 points, while Isaiah Thomas added 22.

Playing in Boston for the first time as a member of the Kings, Rajon Rondo finished with 14 points, 15 assists and five rebounds.

Demarcus Cousins vacillated between looking incredibly disinterested to being the more talented player on the floor. He scored a game-high 31 points, while also pulling down seven rebounds and dishing out six assists.

The Celtics scored a season-high 46 points in the first quarter. It was the first time the Celtics scored 46 points in a quarter since 1996 and the largest first quarter total for any team in the NBA this season.

After building up a healthy 21-point lead in the third quarter, the Celtics got complacent with the basketball, committing a number of turnovers that allowed the Kings to slowly crawl their way back into the game.

Late in the fourth quarter the Kings cut the deficit to 115-109, before the Celtics were eventually able to pull away behind the strong play of Isaiah Thomas, who scored sevens points down the stretch.

With the win, the (31-22) Celtics are one game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for the third place in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics will travel to Milwaukee to play the Bucks on Tuesday.

For a complete box score, click here.  

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Which NBA players have ability to play in Super Bowl?

02.07.16 at 8:47 am ET
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“Who the [expletive] is gonna stop this basketball player?” three-time Super Bowl champion and current Houston Texans linebackers coach Mike Vrabel shouted.

As I was preparing to call a Penn State basketball game earlier this year for ESPN, I came across the bio of a former Penn State basketball player that caught my eye. Ross Travis, who stands 6-foot-7, 235 pounds, was the starting forward for Penn State the previous season, averaging five points and six boards per game. After not touching a football since the ninth grade, Travis found himself on the same playing field with Vrabel.

After playing four years of basketball as a forward in the Big Ten, Travis declared for the NFL draft after many curious observers, including myself, saw Travis move on the court and were in awe of his physical size and agility. Travis, like many other power forwards of past and present in Big Ten, was very big and athletic and had the body type to take the constant pounding below the basket.

Draymond Green, now with the Golden State Warriors who played for Michigan State, also stands 6-foot-7, 230 pounds (almost identical measurements as Travis) is equally as athletic and physical. Although Travis was undrafted by NFL, Former Penn State coach and current Houston Texans head man Bill O’Brien gave him a shot to show that he was more than just a basketball player during summer workouts.

I have always been fascinated how a star NBA player and elite athlete like LeBron James would perform in the NFL (with the proper coaching and training) as a tight end or receiver. I am sure NFL defenders will say, “There is no way a basketball player turned NFL receiver is scoring on me without getting lit up.”

I still remember my first time seeing a young Shaquille O’Neal in person while traveling to Los Angeles as a member of the Miami Heat and being in awe at how small he made our center, 7-footer Alonzo Mourning, look, and how easy he moved up and down the court with such a huge frame. At the time I was thinking, “Good luck trying to keep him out of the paint.”

Now, after hearing Ross Travis’ story, and those of others like Julius Peppers (who excelled at North Carolina in football while also playing basketball), I cannot help but imagine how a young O’Neal would be on the defensive line as a pass rusher at 7-foot-1, 300 pounds with some coaching. At a minimum I think he deflects one pass per game and perhaps with some coaching and technique (think Michael Oher) he becomes downright scary for opposing quarterbacks.

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