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Live Blog: Celtics look to keep bringing the heat as they host the Heat 04.01.12 at 1:47 pm ET
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It’s the Celtics and the Heat, and so it is worth watching. Right now, the Celtics are playing as well as they have this season, going 14-5 since the All-Star break and with six wins in their last seven contests. The Celtics have surged into first in the Atlantic Division with a 29-22 record, while the Heat are comfortably atop the Southeast Division with a 37-13 record that is the second best in the Eastern Conference.

In the only previous meeting between the two teams this year, Miami claimed a 115-107 win on its home court, though the Celtics were without Paul Pierce at the time. Sunday’s contest marks the first of three games between the two teams over the final 15 games of the year.

For all the latest news, analysis and updates from TD Garden, join the Live Blog, below.

Celtics vs. Heat

Danny Ainge talks trade deadline, Rajon Rondo and the search for a big man 03.15.12 at 11:13 am ET
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Appearing on the Dennis and Callahan Show with Dale Arnold and Kirk Minihane Thursday morning, Danny Ainge said that there is a “50-50″ chance the Celtics make a deal before the 3 p.m. trade deadline Thursday afternoon, but nothing on a large-scale appears close. (To listen to the entire interview, click here.)

“I think it’s 50-50. It may be a small deal. It may be not as exciting as what people may expect,” he said. “But we’re working hard. We’ll work hard the rest of the day until 3 o’clock.”

“I have no desire to move anybody on our team,” Ainge said earlier in the interview. “I have to look and so far I have nothing. We don’t have anything that we’re really excited about right now. If somebody steps up and ups their offer today, who knows what might happen by the trade deadline. But I’m prepared and comfortable with letting the season play out and if somebody wants to throw in first-round draft picks, or give quality young players, that’s something we have to consider.

“I have not been close because I don’t feel like we need to. I don’t want to move the guys, but I have to listen. If something becomes available I’ll pull the trigger. But based on some of the offers that we’ve had, and the interest, it’s just not worth it.”

Ainge also reiterated that he has not actively attempted to deal point guard Rajon Rondo.

“We haven’t even had discussions about Rondo,” he said. “I don’t know where all this stuff goes. He hasn’t even been mentioned since the summertime. … I’ve fielded calls, and there’s been some interest because of all the media discussion, but I haven’t reached out to anybody.

“Just to clarify, and this goes with all trades, I’m not going to confirm or deny any of that. I’m just telling you I would never do those deals. I never called and picked up and asked about those deals. But I get phone calls regularly about Rondo, and especially as the rumor mill started happening people were just assuming that it was all true so I did get phone calls as a result of those rumors. But none of those conversations had second conversations or third conversations. They were done.”

Ainge said the priority is to find a big man to relieve some of the minutes being logged by Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass now that Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal have been unavailable.

“I hope so. Not necessarily not by the end of the day today through trade, but we’ll have to get somebody eventually and we’ll see what goes on in the trades to see if any player of size come our way,” he said when asked about acquiring a big man. “It’s going to be really hard. I don’t see a way we’re going to replace Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal for anybody if they’re quality through a trade unless we give up something we really value, one of our starting players. That’s just not going to happen. So we’re going to have to find a way to get a good, serviceable big man.”

Ainge did buy into the theory that a deal at the trade deadline can often boost spirits of a contending team, but did add that he didn’t believe that was a necessarily avenue in regard to this group.

“I think our team has great chemistry and our team is maximizing it’s talent level,” he said. “I don’t think there’s necessarily change that’s needed other than we need to bolster our front line just to eat away KG and Brandon. They’re playing a ton of minutes.”

As for if the notion that the Celtics might shy away from dealing with Eastern Conference foes, Ainge said, “I would do a deal with any team if it helps us. … I’m not afraid of the competition.”

Trade Deadine: Celtics talking with Kings about J.J. Hickson? 03.15.12 at 8:18 am ET
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According to multiple reports out of the Midwest, the Celtics have had conversations with the Kings about J.J. Hickson. The 6-foot-9 forward, who is an unrestricted free agent after this season, has averaged 4.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game this season. He is coming off a 2010-11 season in which he averaged 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game.

The reports come via tweets from Sam Amico (“Celtics having conversations with Kings about JJ Hickson, source says”) and Vincent Goodwill (“Wilcox being out for the year means the Celtics will be on the serious hunt for a big before tomorrow … JJ Hickson is right in front of me”)

(Hat tip to Celtics Blog)

Read More: J.J. Hickson, NBA Trade Deadline,
Warriors send Monta Ellis to Bucks for Andrew Bogut, Stephen Jackson 03.13.12 at 9:24 pm ET
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Golden State has agreed to a deal that would send guard Monta Ellis and two players to Milwaukee for center Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson, according to Yahoo! Sports. According to multiple reports, the Bucks also will receive forward Ekpe Udoh and center Kwame Brown.

The 27-year-old Bogut, who was the first overall pick of Milwaukee in the 2005 draft, has been dogged by injury over the course of his career. He’s averaged 12.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in his seven years in the NBA. The 33-year-old Jackson — a fan favorite in the Bay Area when he played with the Warriors from January 2007 until November 2009 — also brings a jolt of offense to Golden State, as he’s averaged 16.1 points per game since he arrived in the league in 2000.

Ellis, in his seventh year in the league, has career averages of 19.6 points and 4.4 assists.

The Celtics will get their opportunity to see the new-look Warriors right out of the gate — Boston will face Golden State Wednesday in the Bay Area.

Read More: Andrew Bogut, Ekpe Udoh, Kwame Brown, Monta Ellis
Trade Rumor: Lakers, Celtics talked Rajon Rondo last week? 03.12.12 at 9:01 am ET
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According to a report in The Los Angeles Times, the Celtics and Lakers talked about a trade for Rajon Rondo. The discussions didn’t get anywhere, according to the story, with the Lakers evidently unwilling to include Pau Gasol in any deal. Rondo had 24 points and 10 assists in the Celtics’ 97-94 loss to the Lakers Sunday.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told The Big Show in his March 1 appearance that he was not actively attempting to trade Rondo.

Read More: Danny Ainge, NBA Trade Deadline, paul gasol, Rajon Rondo
Report: Josh Smith wants out of Atlanta 03.09.12 at 12:18 am ET
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Hawks forward Josh Smith is having one of his best seasons, averaging 17.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per game for a team that has stayed in the thick of the playoff chase without Al Horford. But the 26-year-old Smith has had his problems in Atlanta, and Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Smith would like to be traded before the March 15 deadline.

Cunningham writes:

By the end of last season Smith wanted out of Atlanta because he believed he was singled out for unfair criticism by coaches and media. Those concerns have died down for the most part this season but now Smith believes he needs a fresh start with a franchise where he can better reach his potential on and off the court, according to one of the people with knowledge of Smith’€™s thinking.

The Hawks have been fielding phone calls on Smith, with the Warriors mentioned as one possibility. The Celtics have been very loosely tied to the forward, but team officials shot down a report last week involving Kevin Garnett.

Smith, who played his high school ball at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia with Rajon Rondo, remains friends with the All-Star guard and he has one year left after this season on a contract that pays him $13 million.

Read More: Josh Smith, Kevin Garnett, NBA Trade Deadline, Rajon Rondo
Report: Celtics-Hawks talks were ‘purely exploratory’ 03.03.12 at 1:12 pm ET
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Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via twitter) said that while the Hawks and Celtics had discussed the possibility of a deal, such conversations remained preliminary.

Tweeted Wojnarowski: Atlanta did express an interest to Boston about Ray Allen or Kevin Garnett, but purely exploratory conversations, sources said.

Wojnarowski’s report comes one day after another rumor suggested that the Celtics were interested in acquiring forward Josh Smith from the Hawks while dangling Kevin Garnett.

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Josh Smith, Kevin Garnett, NBA Trade Deadline
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