|Danny Ainge: Big part of the second half involves getting Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce healthy||02.28.13 at 5:24 pm ET|
In his weekly appearance on “The Big Show” Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge talked about a variety of topics, including why Boston didn’t make more deals at the trade deadline and the health of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Ainge was asked as to whether he was concerned at all about the fatigue level of Pierce and Garnett, the latter of whom sat out Friday’s game against the Suns.
“Yes, I always am. Paul and KG have been incredibly durable throughout their entire careers,” Ainge said. “They take good care of themselves, but I do think that they need rest. If we have any chance of winning playoff basketball games, we need those guys fresh, healthy. Paul’s neck thing I think comes and goes, but there was a stretch I think when we were in that losing streak, I actually think that might have been one of the biggest factors. Paul was not 100 percent and yet he continued to play. That’s just who Paul is.
“I think Doc is determined to cut those guys’ minutes down now that we have a little bit more depth on the bench and we get some more bodies in here. That’s a big part of the second half of the season — getting them healthy.”
Ainge also talked about the remarkable run of LeBron James, calling him the “best player in our game today, without question. When it’s all said and done, he could be one of the best players of all time.”
“He’s one of those guys, the first time I ever saw him, in the first five minutes, I questioned whether he could be one of the best basketball players who ever lived,’ recalled Ainge. “And he was 17 years old at the time and he had a similar body — he’s probably 10 or 15 pounds heavier now, but he was so gifted, because he not only could shoot, pass and dribble, but he was the smartest guy on the court. The most intense guy on the court. The most unselfish guy on the court.
“I’ve been one of those people who know that LeBron is not perfect, and he’s been under the microscope since he’s been a young man. I think he’s done a pretty good job handling all this stuff and he continues to get better. Now, people are having to have the conversation about him and Michael Jordan. I think it’s still too early, but he’s getting better. And like Michael, now he’s starting to make mid-range jump shots, 3-point shots, and he’s virtually unguardable with one person. You need two and three people to guard him. If he’s making shots, you just have to tip your cap and pray that he misses.”
Here are some more highlights of the Q&A:
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|Happy flight: Paul Pierce, Celtics knock off Jazz in overtime||02.26.13 at 12:08 am ET|
The Celtics bounced back from a loss in Portland on Sunday night to close out a challenging five-game Western Conference swing with a victory in Utah, claiming a 110-107 win in overtime against the Jazz. Paul Pierce broke a 99-99 tie with a 3-pointer, the first of his three consecutive baskets in overtime that put the Celtics in control of the game’s final minutes. Kevin Garnett added four points in overtime, and Courtney Lee helped to ice the game with a pair of free throws with one second left on the clock. Randy Foye‘s attempt to tie the game with a last-second 3-pointer missed the mark, permitting the Celtics to close out their road trip with a 2-3 mark to start the second half.
The strong overtime period continued a roller-coaster second half in which the Celtics outscored the Jazz 32-19 in the third quarter, only to see the Jazz go on a 13-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter that gave Utah an 85-82 lead. However, the Celtics recovered in time to send the game into overtime in a 97-97 deadlock. Pierce missed a chance to give Boston the win when he could not convert a turnaround jumper at the end of regulation, but he made up for the miss by taking over in overtime.
Pierce led the Celtics with 26 points while adding seven rebounds and eight assists. Garnett added 13 points and 10 boards, while Avery Bradley tallied 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 26 points.
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|Celtics continue road sputter in Portland with loss to Blazers||02.24.13 at 11:40 pm ET|
The Celtics lost for the third time in four games since the All-Star break, falling to Portland, 92-86. Though Boston erased an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit with a 12-4 run that resulted in a Kevin Garnett game-tying layup with 1:46 to go, Damian Lillard responded with a three-point play on a layup just 14 seconds later that put the Blazers ahead for good, as Portland went on to snap its seven-game losing streak.
Guard Wesley Matthews posted 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting to lead the Blazers, though Portland’s dominance on the boards proved a difference-maker. Portland grabbed 47 rebounds, 11 more than the Celtics corralled.
In defeat, the Celtics were led by Paul Pierce (23 points) and Garnett (20 points), but the team lacked offensive production from the rest of its rotation. Celtics newcomer Jordan Crawford was held scoreless in 12 minutes, missing all four of his shots.
The Celtics fell to 1-3 on their current Western Conference swing, and now face a need to bounce back on Monday in Utah before heading back home. The Celtics are 9-18 on the road this year.
For a complete recap, click here.
|Getting the start for Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green leads Celtics past Suns||02.23.13 at 7:00 am ET|
Getting his first start in nearly two years, Jeff Green helped lead the Celtics to a 113-88 win over the Suns in Phoenix Friday night.
Green scored 31 points on 11-for-14 shooting from the floor, with Chris Wilcox, Avery Bradley and Jason Terry each chipping in which 13 points. Newly-acquired Jordan Crawford netted 10 points in in his Celtics debut.
“Jeff was phenomenal,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers told reporters. “We started the game running a set we had never run in our lives. We literally drew it up right before the game. They just had the basketball IQ to keep working and they actually showed us options we didn’t know we had.”
Green was starting in place of Kevin Garnett, who was getting the night off with the Celtics playing their third game in four nights. The forward’s performance also helped make up for Paul Pierce’s night, with the Celtics’ captain scoring just eight points on 3-of-5 shooting.
The Celtics, who held a 53-41 advantage at halftime, led by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter.
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|As trade deadline approaches, Celtics get blown out by Lakers||02.21.13 at 1:14 am ET|
The Celtics gave up 36 first-quarter points to the Lakers, and their defense remained porous for the rest of the night in a 113-99 loss in Los Angeles. The defeat, which came with just over 12 hours left until the NBA trade deadline, was the second in as many games at the start of a five-game trip against Western Conference teams.
Dwight Howard was dominant in the post for the Lakers, hitting 10-of-13 shots en route to 24 points and 12 rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass. Howard and Earl Clark (14 points, 15 rebounds) gave Los Angeles a huge advantage on the boards, with a 48-34 advantage on the glass. Seven Lakers finished the night in double figures in a well-balanced attack that consistently found clear lanes to the bucket against the Celtics.
In defeat, Paul Pierce — at a time when he’s been subject to trade rumors — scored 26 points with four rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes. Courtney Lee added 20 points.
The Celtics now have two days to regroup before they face the Suns in Phoenix. Given the uncertainty inherent in the hours leading up to the trade deadline, it remains to be seen what the composition of the team will be when it next takes the floor.
|False start: Celtics stumble in Denver to open second half||02.19.13 at 11:27 pm ET|
In their first game following the All-Star break, the Celtics couldn’t keep pace with the Nuggets in a 97-90 loss in Denver on Tuesday night.
Playing a Nuggets team that, at 23-3, is one of the most dominant at home in the NBA, the Celtics’ balanced offensive attack proved insufficient. After arriving at halftime with a 50-49 lead, the Celtics were outscored 29-20 in a game-changing third quarter, with the eight-point deficit entering the final period proving too much to overcome.
In defeat, the Celtics featured five scorers in double figures, led by Jeff Green‘s 20 points off the bench on 8-of-12 shooting. Avery Bradley chipped in with a season-high 17.
However, Paul Pierce struggled both from the floor (shooting 2-for-14 en route to 10 points) and with foul trouble, fouling out in the final seconds. The Nuggets attempted more than twice as many free throws as the Celtics (34 to 16).
The Nuggets were led by forward Danilo Gallinari, who had 26 points, and guard Ty Lawson, who had 24 points along with six rebounds and six assists.
Boston falls to 8-16 on the road with four games remaining on the current Western Conference swing. The Celtics are 28-25 on the season.
For a complete recap, click here.
|Report: Clippers put Kevin Garnett trade talks with Celtics on hold||02.19.13 at 10:46 pm ET|
According to Yahoo! Sports, the Clippers have halted talks with the Celtics regarding a deal that would send Kevin Garnett to Los Angeles and DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe to Boston.
The report states that the Celtics are “eager to continue the conversation on the deal,” but it is unclear if the Clippers will move forward with any trade unless star point guard Chris Paul pushes Los Angeles to complete such a transaction.
The Celtics also reportedly won’t consider any other combination of players for Garnett, focusing solely on Jordan and Bledsoe.
Sources told Yahoo! Sports that if the Celtics do trade Garnett, they would also move Paul Pierce, with the report suggesting the Celts captain might be included in a deal for Atlanta’s Josh Smith.
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