|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Free agents to watch in ’15||05.14.14 at 11:02 am ET|
In my last column, I wrote about some free agents who potentially could catch Danny Ainge‘s eye this summer. However, if you expect a 2007-ish rebuild to happen overnight again, I’m afraid your expectations are too high. The Celtics are going to take a couple of years to build back up, making 2015 an equally important offseason.
A lot can happen between now and next summer, but a strong free agent class is anticipated. Much like the last column, not all of the names may look like fits now, but under the right circumstances could be in the future. Following is a handful of names that should be on Ainge’s radar for 2015.
Brook Lopez – First and foremost, Lopez needs to prove he can stay healthy. He’s had serious foot issues so far in the NBA, but he also is one of the best scoring centers in the league when healthy. Lopez is a legit 7-footer, something Ainge is looking for in his next big man.
Lopez signed a four-year extension in 2012, but 2015-16 is a player option, so he could choose to opt out if the Nets begin to fade from contention. The Nets have the potential to implode over the next couple of seasons due to age and bad contracts. Even as players begin to come off the books, Brooklyn still should be over the cap for years to come, making the team’s future a delicate situation.
This signing would be a risk, but if the price is right, Lopez could be the perfect fit next to Jared Sullinger … on offense, that is. Defensively Ainge still would need to find a solution. That said, a frontcourt that features and healthy Lopez and Sullinger is scary for any team to face.
Robin Lopez – For twin brothers, Robin and Brook sure have different games. Robin is much more of a low-post defender and shot-blocker than his brother, but he is nowhere near as developed on offense.
With the scoring ability of Sullinger, Robin would be just as good a fit as his brother in Boston. Robin would not be leaned upon to score, allowing him to do what he does best — defend and rebound. He has had a ton of success in Portland this season playing alongside scorers, including in the playoffs. The more I think about it, despite Brook’s All-Star appearance; Robin is the Lopez brother to watch in 2015.
|The cold truth: Paul Pierce leads Celtics to 7th straight in epic fashion||02.10.13 at 9:15 pm ET|
The two hottest teams in the NBA rewarded hearty New England basketball fans with the game of the year in professional basketball. In a game with countless ebbs and flows, the Celtics outlasted the Nuggets, 118-114, in triple overtime Sunday night at TD Garden, earning their season-high seventh straight win in the process. The Celtics also ended Denver’s nine-game win streak, with Rajon Rondo in attendance.
In 54 spectacular minutes, Paul Pierce finished with a triple double, scoring 27 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing 14 assists. But with a chance to tie the game, his second free throw rattled in and out with 32.5 seconds left in double overtime. Ty Lawson hit jumper to put Denver up three. Pierce came down and drained a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left to send the game into triple overtime.
After missing six straight 3-pointers, Jason Terry drilled a straightaway trey with 1:33 left in triple OT to put the Celtics up 116-113. Terry finished with 26 points off the bench. Sunday marked Boston’s ninth overtime game this season, matching a franchise record for a season (1950-51 and 1953-54). Kevin Garnett was big on the boards in 47 minutes, hauling in 18 rebounds to go with 20 points.
The Celtics were 3.6 seconds from their seventh straight win when the officials overturned a Nuggets turnover out of bounds under the Celtics basket. Given a second chance, Lawson hit the game-tying layup off the glass to send the game into overtime.
There were very few empty seats in TD Garden as Celtics fans braved the elements and lack of public transportation to get to the game just 24 hours after a state of emergency was lifted in the wake of the “Nemo” blizzard.
The Nuggets entered the game with an NBA-best nine-game winning streak, beating the Cavaliers Saturday night. The Nuggets (104.8) entered the game as the third-highest-scoring team in the NBA, with only the Thunder (106.6) and Rockets (106.0) scoring more per game.