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Celtics lose early lead and game to Sixers 07.06.10 at 8:30 pm ET
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76ers 86, Celtics 69

After coming up short on Monday against the more talented Thunder squad in the first day of Summer League, the Celtics once again lost a lead on Tuesday in a loss to the 76ers.

Boston (0-2) came out and quickly took an early 15-3 lead in the first quarter on the strength of Tony Gaffney’s play. After struggling in nearly 25 minutes of play on Monday, Gaffney was much more productive and filled the stat sheet against Philadelphia with 10 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot.

The 76ers (2-0), however, went on a 20-4 run through the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter to take a six-point lead. Boston was unable to cut down the deficit and went into halftime trailing by four points.

Philadelphia continued its strong play in the second half and built its lead up before eventually winning, 86-79. The 76ers had five players in double digits, with Jodie Meeks leading the way with 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field and 2-for-3 shooting from beyond the arc. Jaycee Carroll and Luke Harangody each had a team-high 14 points for the Celtics, with Harangody pulling down a game-high 12 rebounds.

Boston couldn’t find its stroke from 3-point land, where it was only 1-for-11, compared to 5-for-11 for Philadelphia. The Celtics also struggled to keep possession of the ball, turning it over a total of 20 times. Point guard Oliver Lafayette committed five turnovers himself after being hounded by second-year man Jrue Holiday on the perimeter.

Boston returns to action tomorrow at 1 p.m. when it squares off against the Bobcats.

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NBA draft: What they’re saying about C’s pick 06.22.10 at 1:53 pm ET
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SOme prognosticators expect that Florida State center Solomon Alabi will end up patrolling the paint for the Celtics. (AP)

Some prognosticators predict that Florida State center Solomon Alabi will end up patrolling the paint for the Celtics. (AP)

If we didn’t know what needs the Celtics had to fill in the NBA draft before the playoffs, we sure do now. A disappointing loss in Game 7 of the NBA finals gave us more than heartbreak, it also gave us an idea of what Boston could target on Thursday night when the nation gets introduced to the next wave of young talent.

Two needs seem to stand out. One is a big man who can provide rebounding and toughness in the paint. With an aging Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace, this is something the Celtics had to address in the offseason regardless. However, after the news of Wallace considering retirement and Kendrick Perkins suffering a severe knee injury, it’s even more necessary.

The second need, in some part due to the possibility of Ray Allen not returning, is a scoring shooting guard or small forward. Even with all the weapons Boston had this season, it struggled at times on offense, especially with the second unit. Retooling the bench with another scorer or replacing Allen, whether he leaves or not, is at the top of the list.

Looking around the web, there is a wide variety of opinions on whom the Celtics could select at No. 19 in the first round. The general theme though, is that Boston is going to pick either a big man or scorer. Florida State center Solomon Alabi is a player many prognosticators have pegged to be taken by Boston.

My NBA Draft and Hoops World predict Alabi will be slotted at No. 19 to give the Celtics the length they’re looking for. Alabi has excellent size and potential but is very raw on the offensive end of the floor. Defensively, he’ll be a presence in the post as witnessed by his 2.3 blocks per game as a sophomore. In terms of rebounding, which Boston will look for, Alabi pulled down a lackluster 6.2 boards and needs to improve in that area. Hoops Hype also has the Celtics selecting Alabi, whom they compare to the Grizzlies’ Hasheem Thabeet.

NBADraft.net and Drafttek both have Boston grabbing Oklahoma State star James Anderson. The shooting guard has good size and a strong frame, making him an offensive threat from nearly every area on the court. Anderson’s shooting range translates well to the next level and he’s incredibly effective in catch-and-fire situations. NBADraft.net compares him to former Magic player Nick Anderson and current Heat sniper Daequan Cook.

Another shooting guard that could be taken by Boston is South Florida product Dominique Jones, whom Yahoo! Sports and Draftology predict at No. 19. Jones was a big-time scorer as a junior when he averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 free throw attempts per game. He’ll bring instant offense and has the ability to go on big scoring runs, making him an intriguing pick for the Celtics.

At Sports Illustrated, Ian Thomsen’s version 2.0 mock draft has Boston going after Washington senior Quincy Pondexter. The 6-6 small forward is projected by most other sites as going late in the first round or early in the second.

The Hoop Doctors have Butler standout Gordon Hayward going to the Celtics. The 6-8 small forward led his team to the national championship and made a name for himself with strong performances throughout the tournament.

Fanhouse expects Boston to select the second Georgia Tech big man in the draft in Gani Lawal. Playing alongside start freshman Derrick Favors, the 6-9 power forward naturally saw his numbers decrease but still exhibited good defense and effective rebounding.

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Mannix on D&C: ‘I don’t see’ Ainge leaving for Phoenix 06.22.10 at 10:20 am ET
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Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to talk about the Celtics and all things NBA. He touched on the possibility of Doc Rivers leaving the Celtics, the NBA draft, and coaching changes around the association.

“I’ve talked to a few coaching friends of Doc in the last 72 hours, and every one of them, the consensus is that he’s probably going to walk away,” Mannix said. “For all the reasons that he enumerated, there’s nothing remotely surprising about it. They feel like it’s time, they feel like it makes sense. He’s taken the team or the team has gone as a current group as far as they possibly can go and now is a great situation to leave.”

Mannix also spoke about what it will take to re-sign Ray Allen and bring him back for next season.

Below are highlights from the conversation. Visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page to hear the interview.

On Doc Rivers:

I’ve talked to a few coaching friends of Doc in the last 72 hours, and every one of them, the consensus is that he’s probably going to walk away. For all the reasons that he enumerated, there’s nothing remotely surprising about it. They feel like it’s time, they feel like it makes sense. He’s taken the team or the team has gone as a current group as far as they possibly can go and now is a great situation to leave. Nothing that’s new as far as I was being told, but the tug of the family in Florida and wanting to watch his kids grow up have really weighed on Doc a lot more this year than they have in years past. So the consensus is around the league that he’s going to walk away.

On Danny Ainge leaving:

That’s an interesting thing that’s not being talked about a lot, that the Phoenix Suns now have an opening in their general manager position and Danny has very strong ties to Phoenix, having coached there, played there, I believe he still has a home there in the offseason. He just has a very strong connection there. It’s possible that [owner] Robert Sarver could come in with some kind of sweetheart deal and try to entice Danny there. For obviously, with the same reasons we’re talking about Doc, this thing may have played itself out for Danny. He won a championship, he brought them to two NBA finals, he accomplished a lot with this Celtics team. Read the rest of this entry »

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NBA mock draft 2.0 06.22.10 at 6:48 am ET
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Kentucky point guard John Wall is holding steady at No. 1. (AP)

Kentucky point guard John Wall is holding steady at No. 1. (AP)

On Thursday night, the next batch of young talent enters the NBA in the 2010 draft. The consensus No. 1 pick by the Wizards remains John Wall, and Evan Turner is most likely to be selected second by the 76ers. However, since our last mock, there have been players who have seen their stock rising.

Two of those players are Luke Babbitt from Nevada and Paul George from Fresno State. Babbitt’s offensive prowess and shooting ability have teams considering him in the second half of the lottery. George’s athleticism and and NBA body make him one of the best small forwards in this draft, tempting teams to give him another look.

Also, an international player makes his first appearance in our mock at pick No 21. Power forward Kevin Seraphin from France is a raw talent with a lot of potential, something that teams have reached for in past drafts when evaluating players from overseas.

While Seraphin makes his way into our first round, another international player in Donatas Motiejunas is left off after deciding to withdraw from the draft. Unlike many of the previous drafts, this one doesn’t boast exceptional international talent. Excluding the first few picks, it also seems like one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory.

1. Washington

John Wall, Kentucky, Fr., PG, 6-foot-4, 196 pounds

Wall is the no-brainer No. 1 pick in this draft. Possessing incredible quickness and athleticism that allows him to drive by defenders in a Rajon Rondo-like fashion, he will give Washington a true point guard to play alongside Gilbert Arenas.

2. Philadelphia

Evan Turner, Ohio State, Jr., SG, 6-7, 214

Turner was the best player in college basketball this past season and is far from just a consolation prize after Wall. With the ability to play three positions with his size, Turner is a versatile scorer who can create his own shot at any time. Think Brandon Roy with the ability to fill up a stat sheet. Though Philadelphia could use a frontcourt player, this is a case of taking the best player on the board — and a really good one at that. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aftermath of finals roundup 06.18.10 at 4:01 pm ET
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After the final buzzer sounded on Thursday night’s Game 7, the Celtics’ improbable run at banner 18 ended as Kobe Bryant and the Lakers repeated to win their second consecutive title. Despite the NBA season coming to an end, storylines after the game flowed like the streamers and confetti in the Staples Center. Here’s a roundup of what national and local writers are saying after the finale of a classic series.

– Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote a column on this being Kobe Bryant’s most difficult title out of his five championships. After struggling in Game 7 and nearly shooting the Lakers out of the game, Bryant began to trust his teammates, especially in the fourth quarter, which brought him another ring.

– With his fifth ring, Bryant surpasses Magic Johnson as the greatest Laker of all time, writes Chris Broussard of ESPN. Magic, who has also won five championships, always won with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whereas Bryant has done it with and without Shaquille O’Neal, contends Broussard. Against other Lakers greats such as Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain, Bryant outranks them with his handful of rings.

– Though he coached a team to a championship for the 11th time in his career, Phil Jackson’s future is uncertain. T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times writes that Jackson has no idea where or he’ll be next year and that his salary might be too rich for the Lakers.

– Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe feels that Pau Gasol and not Kobe Bryant is the true MVP of the finals. Ryan writes that Gasol was the real closer with his offensive rebound and basket in the final two minutes to cap off his 19-point, 18-rebound effort. While Bryant had some great performances in the series, it was Gasol who was the most consistent Laker.

– On the Boston side, Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports views a lot of changes on the way for the Celtics. The most uncertainty is with the decision coach Doc Rivers will have to make on whether or not to return. The 48-year-old could depart the Celtics to spend more time with his family in Orlando and watch his sons play basketball.

– Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston writes that despite being an unrestricted free agent this summer, Ray Allen still wants to return to the Celtics. The question will be how much is Boston willing to pay and will Allen take a discount to stick with a very close group? Forsberg feels that at 35, Allen is getting up in age and likely won’t see a contract more than two years.

– The most surprising piece of information that came out after Game 7 was the news that Rasheed Wallace could retire after only one year with the Celtics. Gary Dzen and Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe write that after the loss, Rivers revealed that Wallace might walk away from the game. Wallace struggled to get through Thursday night after experiencing cramps and strains as he filled in for the injured Kendrick Perkins at center. The 35-year-old has played in three finals and made four All-Star teams.

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Simmons on D&C: Officiating is the headline of finals 06.10.10 at 10:39 am ET
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Bill Simmons

Bill Simmons

ESPN columnist Bill Simmons joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Thursday morning and talked about the quick turnaround from Game 2 in Los Angeles to Game 3 in Boston, the inconsistencies of the officials, and the sloppiness of both teams in the series.

Following are some highlights. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On Game 3:

I was worried about Game 3 because it was 48 hours after Game 2, cross country trip, and it just seemed like, “Uh oh, this is going to be bad.” If you look at what happened in the game, Kobe [Bryant] had a bad game, [Paul] Pierce and [Ray] Allen both had bad games, the only old guy who had a good game was [Kevin Garnett] and KG didn’t play a lot in Game 2 because he was in foul trouble. My biggest fear about this whole series is that they just wasted an epic KG game and I’m not sure how many he has.

On the inconsistency of the officials:

I think for the most part in the finals, the right team is going to win each game. That’s what bothered me about Game 3 was basically both teams didn’t play well and it came down to officiating. If we’ve learned anything from the Celtics team this year, for whatever reason, the officiating determines how they’re going to do. … It just seems like so many things are predicated on how the officials decide beforehand, “This is what we’re going to do tonight.”

That’s my biggest problem with NBA officiating. Why can’t they just call it the same way every game? … Should we go to a system where there’s just three refs for the entire finals, the same three every game. There just has to be a better solution. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three things that went right and wrong in Game 3 06.09.10 at 12:23 am ET
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On Tuesday night at the TD Garden, Ray Allen followed his historic night in Game 2 with one of the worst performances in his Boston career. The Lakers also held the rest of the Celtics offense down, winning Game 3, 91-84, to take a 2-1 series lead (click here for the full recap). The lone bright spot for Boston was Kevin Garnett, who returned to his 2008 finals form. Game 4 is set for Thursday night.

What Went Right

KG answers the call: After having difficulties against the LA big men in the first two games of the series, Kevin Garnett came out of the gates in Game 3 and seemed like a different player. The Celtics found him early as he recorded the first six points of the game, including two field goals on alley-oops from Rajon Rondo. He was back to being KG in the paint, using his wide assortment of moves to score on Pau Gasol. KG answered the bell with 25 points, but didn’t get much help from Ray Allen or Paul Pierce, who both had trouble scoring.

Defense in the second half: Boston allowed 52 first-half points. The second half, however, was a different story as the Celtics tightened up the pressure on the defensive end. Los Angeles managed only 15 points in the third, and Kobe Bryant struggled to get into a rhythm, finishing the night with 29 points on 10-for-29 shooting.

Containing the bigs: After torching Boston for a combined 46 points in Game 2, Gasol and Bynum managed a pedestrian 22 points in Game 3. They still controlled the boards with 10 rebounds each, but couldn’t find the same scoring opportunities they did in the first two games of the series. Bynum and Gasol also didn’t have the same success challenging Boston shots, combining for only three blocks.

What Went Wrong

Ray Allen loses stroke: Allen seemed to forget to pack his shot when leaving for Boston after his historic performance in Game 2. Surprisingly, Allen didn’t make a single field goal in the entire game, finishing 0-for-13 overall and 0-for-8 from beyond the arc. His lack of shooting was easily the difference in the game.

Pierce struggles: When Boston needed points the most, Pierce wasn’t able to get it going until late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting, but was whistled for five fouls, causing him to play only 34 minutes.

Offense goes stagnant: A fast start quickly fizzled as the Celtics offense struggled at the end of the first quarter. Boston scored only 17 points in the opening period and had difficulty finding offense with its second unit. The Celtics held the Lakers to 91 points but only managed 84 points themselves. Boston’s defense played much better in the second half, but if it can’t score over 90 points, this series will be short.

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