|Glen Davis: Magic ‘capable of beating’ Celtics in playoffs||04.19.12 at 2:26 am ET|
Since being traded from the Celtics to the Magic prior to the season, Glen Davis is now 0-3 against his former team. Yet, Big Baby believes his new squad is fully prepared to defeat the C’s should they meet in the playoffs — even without the injured Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu.
“I think we’re capable of beating them,” said Davis, who totaled 27 points in the Magic’s 102-98 loss in Boston.
If the playoffs started today, the Celtics (37-26) — who clinched a fifth straight Atlantic Division title and the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed — would face the Hawks (37-25) in the first round, but the Magic (36-26) still have a shot at the fifth seed and a date with the C’s. However, Orlando may have to do it without Howard (herniated disc) or Turkoglu (fractured face), both of whom remain doubtful until the playoffs and questionable beyond.
Which is why those in the Magic locker room viewed their four-point loss in Boston as a positive, even if the Celtics were also without two stars in Rajon Rondo (back) and Ray Allen (Allen) as well as a key role player in Mickael Pietrus (knee) — all of whom are expected back for the playoffs.
“Today, we didn’t even have two of our guys,” said Davis. “They didn’t have two of their guys, but at the same time we had a big missing piece today, and we still came out there and played the right way and was in the game. So, whatever happens, happens. Whoever we play, Indiana or Boston, we are going to bring energy, and we are going to play hard, and that’s all that matters.”
|Magic drama and the Celtics postseason||04.05.12 at 3:35 pm ET|
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy blew the lid off the simmering tensions in Orlando on Thursday when he told reporters that management had informed him that star center Dwight Howard wanted him fired at the end of the year.
Or as Howard Beck from the New York Times put it:
“A well-placed Orlando Magic source claims Dwight Howard has asked the team to fire Coach Stan Van Gundy. The well-placed source? Stan Van Gundy.”
What followed was a revealing, and then awkward press conference. “It’s 12:02 right now,” Van Gundy said. “If they want to fire me at 12:05 I’ll go home and find something to do. I’ll have a good day.”
Then Howard appeared, apparently unaware of what his coach had just said. Some awkward small talk ensues and it’s clear that Howard still doesn’t know what just happened, setting up the walk-off line as Van Gundy throws Howard to the wolves: “Are you guys done with me? You can talk to him now.”
Various players have already spoken on, and off the record, in support for Van Gundy yielding a giant mess for a team that as of last week seemed fairly secure in the third spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But the Magic have lost four straight and been passed by the Pacers in the standings.
That leaves them in fifth for the moment, opposite of where the Celtics are sitting as the fourth seed. (An important note: Winning the Atlantic Division doesn’t guarantee homecourt advantage in the first round. If the fifth seed has a better record — like the Magic do know — they would get homecourt in the series.)
Regardless, the Celtics playoff positioning is a tenuous thing. They have a game and a half lead on the slumping Sixers for first place in the Atlantic Division, but also are in the middle of facing their toughest stretch of games against quality opponents. They could finish anywhere from third to seventh.
Here’s how the standings look at the moment:
3. Indiana 33-21
4. Boston 30-23
5. Orlando 32-22
6. Atlanta 32-23
7. Philly 29-25
Here’s how they look simply by record with Games Behind noted after record:
Indiana 33-21 –
Orlando 32-22 1
Atlanta 32-23 1.5
Boston 30-23 2
Philly 29-25 3.5
The Celtics play all four of those teams once and the Hawks twice, which will set up a frantic race to the finish.
|Trade deadline fallout: How the deals affect the Celtics||03.19.12 at 12:41 pm ET|
The Celtics didn’t do anything about the trade deadline, but a handful of deals have direct, or indirect ramifications for their longterm rebuilding plans.
1. Dwight Howard stays in Orlando
Skip past the drama of the past week and understand that Howard’s decision to not exercise his early termination option is huge for the Celtics. First, it keeps him away from New Jersey who planned to build a team around Howard and Deron Williams. Second, it keeps him with a Magic team that will likely remain capped out for 2012-13. Third, it removes Howard from this summer’s free agent list.
Short of Howard moving to the Western Conference, this is a positive end result for the Celtics, who can now shift their attention elsewhere.
2. New Jersey makes a panic move
After not getting Howard, the Nets traded a top-3 protected pick to Portland for Gerald Wallace in an apparent effort to keep Williams happy. Wallace is a good player and the Nets spin is that the upcoming draft lacks game-changers at the top of the draft. However, what the draft lacks in quality it more than makes up for in quantity and the Nets gave away a coveted future asset for potentially half a season of Wallace.
Williams and Wallace have ETO’s and the Nets run the risk of losing both players at the end of the season. The Nets stay the Nets, in other words. This is good for the Celtics and possibly great for the Mavericks, who will no doubt zero in on Williams this summer.
3. Portland blows it up
Now this was a demolition. The Blazers not only traded Wallace, they also dealt Macus Camby to Houston for Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet. How does this affect the Celtics? The Blazers cleared a direct path to re-sign Nic Batum, who will be a coveted restricted free agent. Batum would have been perfect alongside Rajon Rondo.
4. Denver acquires JaVale McGee
Interesting move by the Nuggets, who dealt center Nene and his 5-year, $65 million contract. While this seems curious on its face, there is a method the madness. As Mark Deeks wrote, the Nuggets likely never had any intention of keeping Nene through to the end of his deal. He was signed to be traded, which is how a proactive organization goes about its business. (New Jersey, take note).
The principal return was McGee, an athletic shot-blocking freak, known more for his LOL-worthy stunts. However, he’s also an athletic shot-blocking freak and the basketball world is beyond curious to see what happens to McGee now that he is in a structured situation on a good team with a strong-willed coach.
He’ll command huge money as a restricted free agent — again, shot-blocking freaks are rare — and Denver has the upper hand on retaining him. McGee would have been an intriguing possibility for the Celtics, but like Batum he’ll now likely be out of their reach.
|Celtics stand pat, but real work already done||03.16.12 at 10:51 am ET|
SACRAMENTO — Someone asked Danny Ainge if the Celtics were sellers or buyers at the deadline, and the answer was basically both, but the question missed the essential element of the position Ainge believes he is in with the franchise.
This has never been about this year. That was evident in December when Ainge loaded up on players with one-year contracts, and it’s been evident for the last several years when he refused to extend commitments beyond the summer of 2012. Ainge wasn’t going to deal his first-round draft picks in an attempt to put a Band-Aid on this year’s squad, and at the same time he was engaged in talks involving some of his core stars, but only if they yielded picks and players. So while he wasn’t looking to buy, he also wasn’t trying to conduct an everything-must-go fire sale.
“I was looking at both opportunities,” Ainge said. “To strengthen our team for the playoff run this year and for building up some chips and grabbing some assets for the future. We actually had a lot of conversations on both sides of that.”
The Celtics did nothing at the deadline, although they were active in talks right up until Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline. They will be active in the search for a big man to replace Chris Wilcox and possibly Jermaine O’Neal, but that will take at least a week. The deadline for players to be bought out of their contracts and waived and still be eligible for the postseason is March 23, and Ainge said the team will be patient while that process plays out.
This year’s team stays intact and will be allowed to take one final shot at pulling off some kind of a miracle run. You can call it misplaced optimism if you like, but the players and coaches truly believe they can be dangerous in the playoffs, as long as Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and especially Kevin Garnett are healthy in May.
“We have a lot of games and not very many days. So I anticipate us looking really good some nights and looking bad some nights,” Ainge said. “I have a lot of faith in our guys. They know the time and the score and they know when the lights are on. They rise to the occasion at big moments. They have a great deal of pride and experience and know-how. I’m hoping that we can get to the playoffs healthy. And add a little bit of beef between now and the playoffs and we’ll take our chances there.”
This summer Ainge will have cap room and draft picks and a handful of young players along with Pierce and Rondo to work with. No one is ever safe on the Celtics as long as Ainge is in charge, and while that may yield an uncomfortable working environment on occasion, he will never let his team get caught in a mess like the one Orlando is going through with Dwight Howard.
At the same time, he won’t let the Celtics fall down the same path as a team like the Nets, who put all their eggs in Howard’s basket only to see him scuttle their plans by letting emotion get in the way of business.
This is only the first step in Ainge’s rebuilding plan and there are only guesses as to where he goes from here. The real effort begins this summer, but the legwork already has been done.
|Irish Coffee: Danny Ainge’s dreams of Celtics future||03.12.12 at 12:10 pm ET|
We’re three days from the NBA trade deadline, and still no serious sign of a blockbuster deal involving the Celtics. Then again, the same could’ve been said last season, when Danny Ainge shipped Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and the Clippers’ 2012 first-round draft pick.
All that remains from that deal is the top-10 protected No. 1 pick, which currently slots into the low-to-mid 20s. That’s still not a bad haul for a center who is currently averaging 4.4 points (45.1 FG%) and 4.6 rebounds in 26.7 minutes, but considering the negative hype surrounding that trade it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Ainge gets cold feet on dealing any of the Old Three or Rajon Rondo.
Do I believe Ainge would ever let public perception stop him from making a deal that improves the Celtics moving forward? Not really, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it made him think twice about pulling the trigger on a deal that only marginally improves his team.
Over the next three days, teams will likely call about Rondo, which is probably the case in the latest Pau Gasol rumor in the Los Angeles Times after the Lakers beat the Celtics 97-94 (Rondo: 24 points, 10 assists; Gasol: 13 points, 13 rebounds). The same speculation was floated a couple weeks ago by HoopsWorld’s Eric Pincus.
|Trade Rumor: Celtics asked for Tyler Hansbrough, pick for Ray Allen||03.09.12 at 3:19 pm ET|
At the end of Jackie MacMullan’s excellent piece on the end of The Big Three, she quotes Pacers president Larry Bird regarding Danny Ainge’s asking price for Ray Allen.
“Here’s the thing,” Bird said. “When Danny and I talked about trading for Ray, he wanted Tyler Hansbrough and a first-round pick. If that’s the value he’s putting on Ray Allen, he ain’t getting it. That tells me he’s in no hurry to trade him.”
That jives with other talk around the league that Ainge’s price is high for one of his four All-Stars. On The Big Show on Thursday, Ainge said that he wouldn’t deal future assets to fix his bench’s problems now. He’s not desperate to make a trade, in other words.
|Trade Rumor: Six to eight teams pursuing Dwight Howard||03.06.12 at 9:22 am ET|
With less than 10 days to go until the March 15 trade deadline, the future of Magic center Dwight Howard is still cloudy.
It’s been known for some time that there are three teams on his list of preferred trade destinations: New Jersey, Dallas and the Lakers. It has also been known that Golden State would be willing to trade for Howard without assurances that he would sign an extension with them.
Magic GM told Otis Smith told the Orlando Sentinel that “six to eight” teams were still calling. Orlando is still hoping to convince Howard to stay long-term.
In other Howard-related news, the Nets announced that center Brook Lopez will be out three weeks with a sprained right ankle. Lopez has been mentioned prominently in trade talks.
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