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Report: Heat front-runners to land Joe Johnson 02.26.16 at 1:32 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics returned to practice Friday in Waltham, getting ready to take on the Miami Heat on Saturday at TD Garden. 

Joe Johnson might be in the building when the two teams play but it won’t be for the Celtics

According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the Heat have emerged as the “frontrunners” to land the 34-year-old sharp-shooter, who was bought out this week by the Nets and waived. 

Once he clears waivers, Johnson is free to negotiate and sign with any team. Johnson has reportedly indicated that he’s only interested in signing with a playoff contender, which immediately put the Cavaliers at the top of the list. 

But Broussard indicated Friday that the Heat, just a game behind the Celtics in the race for third place in the Eastern Conference, are the leading contenders for Johnson. Broussard reports that sources indicate that Johnson believes he would have “a larger role and more meaningful minutes” in Miami. 

The Nets bought out the last year of Johnson’s $21.8 million deal, sending him to the waiver wire and free agency.

The Celtics enter Saturday’s 3 p.m. matinee with Miami, holding a 34-25 record while the Heat come in at 32-25. 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Joe Johnson, Miami Heat,
Brad Stevens won’t talk Joe Johnson but admits adding versatility would be ‘huge’ 02.25.16 at 6:26 pm ET
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Joe Johnson (7) shoots over New York Knicks shooting guard Arron Afflalo (4) of the Knicks in a recent game. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Joe Johnson (7) shoots over Knicks  guard Arron Afflalo in a recent game. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Before Thursday’s game with the Bucks, Brad Stevens wasn’t about to step into the speculation about soon-to-be free agent Joe Johnson

The Nets, with their new general manager Sean Marks, negotiated a buyout Thursday of Johnson’s $21 million contract and waived the 34-year-old scorer who was originally drafted by the Celtics in the 2001 draft. 

There was an ESPN report Thursday afternoon that the Celtics would have interest if he clears waivers.

But because Johnson hasn’t, Stevens wasn’t going to comment despite being asked how much he might like having another scorer. 

“We’re not allowed to talk about it,” Stevens said. “I’ve got no … I’m not going to talk about whether or not veteran or young [player], if we add to it, it’ll be to help our team with increased versatility. Otherwise, there would be no reason to add somebody just to add somebody.”

The Celtics have had an open roster spot since waiving David Lee last week and buying him out. The team also assigned second-year forward James Young to the D-League Red Claws earlier Thursday (for an eighth time this season), fueling more speculation that they were greasing the skids to bring someone in. 

“That’s something that Danny’s looking at, Danny’s trying to figure out,” Stevens said. “We talked about it occasionally. But like I said before, we haven’t been in any rush to fill that spot and we’ll fill it if we need to. Sometimes, those things happen as result of injuries. Sometimes those things happen as result of needs. Each team has its own particular needs. I think we’ve got some that we could potentially benefit from using that last roster spot but we’ll see. We’ll see.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Joe Johnson,
Report: Celtics have interest in Brooklyn buyout candidate Joe Johnson at 2:33 pm ET
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The Celtics drafted Joe Johnson with the 10th pick in the 2001 draft before shipping him to Phoenix halfway through his rookie season. Could a homecoming be in his near future?

According to an ESPN report, Johnson and the Nets have begun buyout discussions that would free Johnson to sign with a contender, and the Celtics are among the teams interested in his services.

Johnson, 34, will be postseason season eligible as long he is released by Tuesday, and in a WFAN radio interview on Thursday, new Nets GM Sean Marks said he’d do his best to accommodate the former All-Star.

“I think he’s deserved the right to,” Marks said when asked if Johnson could join a team headed for the playoffs.

The Celtics will have a steep hill to climb to convince Johnson to sign, however, because if the veteran wants his first title, either Cleveland or Oklahoma City would seemingly offer a better chance of getting it.

Johnson is averaging 11 points a game for the Nets, down from his career mark of 17.0.

Read More: Celtics, Joe Johnson,
Irish Coffee: 5 questions Celtics must solve in Game 6 05.09.12 at 2:04 pm ET
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In many ways, the Game 5 loss was simply a string of statistical Celtics anomalies that favored the Hawks.

  • After making 21-of-82 treys in Games 1-4 (25.6%), The Hawks shot 7-of-16 from 3-point range (43.8%).
  • The Hawks committed four more turnovers (18-14), but the Celtics scored four fewer points off them (21-25).
  • After the Celtics kept pace on the glass in Games 1-4 (174-178), the Hawks won the Game 5 battle, 41-33.
  • Paul Pierce air-balled a would-be go-ahead 20-footer with 18 seconds remaining.
  • Rajon Rondo lost his sure handle and failed to deliver a pass while time expired.

Of course, there are reasons for those anomalies, so how must the Celtics adjust to avoid a Game 7 on the road?

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Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley
Josh Smith: Celtics ‘running plays way more harder’ 05.07.12 at 12:58 am ET
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After the Celtics and Hawks were separated by just four points through the first three games of their series, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce & Co. put a 22-point whooping on Atlanta, and it wasn’t even that close.

The Celtics led by as many as 37 points, taking a 3-1 series lead with a chance to end the series on Tuesday.

“They shot the mess out of it tonight,” said Hawks forward Josh Smith, who returned from the left knee injury that kept him out of Game 3. “I’m watching it and being real observant when I’m on the bench. They’re just running the plays way more harder than we are. Whatever play is called, you know, Ray Allen is running off screens 100 miles per hour, Paul Pierce is finding a way to get open, the bigs are setting screens, getting the guards open.

“We have to try to duplicate what they do,” added Smith. “We have to try to get open. They’re trying so hard for Joe [Johnson] not to catch the ball. They’re being real physical with him, so we have to be able to match their physicality and be able to try to return the favor a little bit, see if they like it and stop being so passive.”

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Read More: Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Joe Johnson
Three reasons the Celtics should be wary 05.03.12 at 12:06 am ET
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Here’s how fast things can change in the playoffs. With seven minutes left in the third quarter of Tuesday’s Game 2, the Celtics were down 11 points on the road and in danger of going down 2-0 in their first round series with the Hawks. Rajon Rondo was at the team hotel serving his suspension. Ray Allen was at the end of the bench in a suit, trying to console his replacement Mickael Pietrus, who had been benched.

They had not made a single 3-pointer in the series and Paul Pierce was in the midst of a 2-for-11 stretch after a hot start. Then Keyon Dooling finally broke through from behind the arc, Pierce went supernova and the defense grounded the Hawks into fine powder.

Now, the Celtics are coming back to Boston with a split and facing a Hawks team that may be without forward Josh Smith, who strained his left patella ligament and is listed as “doubtful” for Friday’s Game 3. They have two days to rest between games, a nice scheduling gift from the league, and if they take care of business at the Garden where they posted the third-best home record in the Eastern Conference, the Celtics could be in full command of this series by the end of the weekend.

Oh, and the top-seeded Bulls were blown out by Philadelphia in their first game without Derrick Rose.

But that’s getting way ahead of things.

The Celtics and Hawks have played five games this season, including the playoffs, and all five have been tight, tense affairs with the Hawks scoring 421 points to Boston’s 419. If Smith is out for an extended period of time, that changes the equation dramatically, but it’s not as if the C’s don’t have injury concerns of their own. From the beginning, this promised to be a close series and the two games have lived up to that promise.

Here’s three reasons why it’s far from over: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Kevin Garnett
How did the Celtics lose Game 1? We’ll count the ways 04.30.12 at 1:35 am ET
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ATLANTA — Well before Rajon Rondo lost his cool, the damage had been done to the Celtics in their playoff opener against the Hawks. It started in the first quarter when Atlanta raced to a 20-6 lead before six minutes had gone off the clock. It continued in the next 42 minutes, when they couldn’t make shots and every offensive possession carried with it an eerie reminder of the first half of the season.

“I don’€™t know if we kind of eased into the game,” Paul Pierce said. “It’€™s hard to tell. We establish ourselves early defensively. We definitely didn’€™t do that. They got every loose ball. They got every 3-point shot. They got everything they wanted in the first, and then it was like in a boxing match. You sit there and you’ve got your guard up, then you take your guard down, you take a punch and you’€™re like, Ok, we’€™re in a fight. We’ve got to realize we’€™re in a fight from the jump.”

The Celtics realized that too late, and after an 83-74 loss they now find themselves in the unenviable position of having to make up ground without homecourt advantage to sustain them. Over the final three quarters, the Celtics actually outscored Atlanta, 56-52, playing the kind of grimy, sludge-ball everyone expected in this series.

“This is a long series,” Pierce said. “You have to win four games and we just have to learn from our mistakes. Learn from the first quarter, learn from what we did better in the second and third quarters, and we’ve got to learn to keep our composure.”

It will be much harder if Rondo is suspended (click here for more on that story), but the blueprint is there. Assuming they can shoot better than 39 percent, there’s no reason they can’t get back into the series. Still, there’s a lot to work on between now and Tuesday’s Game 2.

Among the areas that need improvement:

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Read More: 2012 Playoffs, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Kevin Garnett
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