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Kevin Garnett’s future determines Celtics’ ability to be competitive next few seasons 05.10.13 at 10:27 am ET
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If next season’s Celtics team does not start Kevin Garnett at power forward, prepare for a long, dark stretch. Without KG patrolling the middle in green and white, feel free to reintroduce yourself to the lottery, long losing streaks and the empty promise of rebuilding.

Doc Rivers bids farewell to Kevin Garnett in Game 6 but will it be the last time they're together? (AP)

If Kevin Garnett walks away from the Celtics following their first-round playoff loss to the Knicks, it’s going to mark the beginning of a long rebuilding era for the team. (AP)

While you miss the scowls, intensity and blocked shots after the whistle, remember that the decline of the Celtics is more complex than the team simply aging. The major problem is the Celtics actually ask Garnett to do more now than they did during the NBA finals run in 2010. Despite his age (37 on May 19) and contract (2 years, $24.3 million), Garnett still is a premier power forward and a critical piece for a team chasing a championship.

“Back in Minnesota, Kevin used to say, ‘I want to live beyond my contract,’ ” new Timberwolves president (and former coach) Flip Saunders told WEEI.com. “That meant whatever he was getting paid, whenever someone would see him in a game or in a practice, he wanted to live up to that contract and then play beyond that.”

Garnett has done exactly that in his six seasons in Boston. His playoff averages (35 minutes, 12.7 points, 13.7 rebounds, his highest playoff average since 2004) against the Knicks also demonstrated that quality basketball remains afloat in his veins. Surrounded by the right players, Garnett still can help Boston contend for a championship. After watching Garnett for 18 seasons, Kevin McHale — who drafted Garnett in Minnesota with the No. 5 pick in 1995 — still is amazed by his former student. Garnett was the first player in 20 years to go directly to the NBA from high school, and McHale recently reminisced about Garnett’s rookie training camp in Minnesota, when the 19-year-old was only a couple of months removed from his senior prom.

“I loved the kid the first day of practice,” McHale said. “He laid on the floor after his first training camp — laying on the ground with nothing left — and I said, ‘We’ve got to go again tonight.’ He went, ‘Huh?’ I said we did two-a-days, and he was like, ‘Oh my.’

“But that night he came and he laid it on the ground, played on the line, laying on the ground, playing on the line. At the end, he was laying on the ground, and I said to him, ‘Now we do two again tomorrow.’ He looked up at me and said, ‘Man, this is going to be a job.’ He hasn’t changed since then, he’s just got better.

“His ability to compete at a high level for such a long time, his love of the game, his competitive nature,” marveled McHale, “it really is fun to watch.”

Competing at a high level for an extended period of time in the National Basketball Association takes a rare talent. It is a skill that is difficult, but far from impossible. The highest standard of excellence has been set by the Spurs, a team with an aging superstar in soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan. Far from the best of friends, Garnett and the 37-year-old Duncan share very similar basketball philosophies, a fact not lost on Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

“They can look in the mirror and realize they’re both the same in so many respects as far as how they run their lives in the NBA and how they’ve run their careers,” Popovich said during his last trip to Boston. “They’re both competitive as hell, they both understand the game, they both love being on the court, and neither one of them is really that excited about the hoopla that is all around it, but they’ve also endured by taking care of their bodies and what they do in the summertime to take care of their bodies.”

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Keyon Dooling signs with Memphis Grizzlies for playoff run 04.01.13 at 12:50 pm ET
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Keyon Dooling

Keyon Dooling

Keyon Dooling is heading back to action in the NBA. He is coming out of retirement but not with the Celtics.

The 32-year-old veteran guard has agreed to terms with the Memphis Grizzlies to help them in their playoff push in the Western Conference. Entering Monday, the Grizzlies are 49-24 and in a tight three-way race with Denver and the Clippers for third place in the highly competitive Western Conference.

Dooling made the announcement Monday on his Twitter page: “I am so honored to announce that I AM BACK! I am heading to officially sign w/ @MemGrizz and am looking forward to being back on the court!”

Dooling had been serving as a player development coordinator for the Celtics before accepting the offer to play with the Grizzlies on Monday. Dooling will be playing for his seventh NBA team since entering the NBA with the Clippers at the age of 20 in 2000. Dooling has averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists in 721 career games. He averaged 4.0 points and 1.1 assists in 46 games for the Celtics during the 66-game schedule in the 2011-12 season.

On Dec. 9, 2011, Dooling and a 2012 second-round pick were traded to Celtics in exchange for the draft rights to Albert Miralles. Then at the end of last season, Dooling re-signed with the Celtics.

But after being waived by the Celtics on Sept. 20, he decided to retire from the Celtics and accept a front office/coaching position with the team. Dooling thanked GM Danny Ainge and head coach Doc Rivers on Monday after announcing his return.

Dooling is also a former Vice President for the NBA Players Association.

Dooling will join former Celtics guard Tony Allen, who also welcomed him back to the NBA via his Twitter page.

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Tony Allen: Celtics ‘missing a lot of pieces’ 01.03.13 at 12:21 am ET
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Grizzlies wing Tony Allen admitted, “I ain’t no analyst,” but he offered up an opinion of his former team anyway, and his diagnosis of the Celtics was about as pretty as their 14-17 record.

“They’re missing a lot of pieces,” said Allen, who left Boston for a three-year deal in Memphis two summers ago.

Somewhat offering his stamp of approval on the replacement of Ray Allen‘s 3-point shooting prowess with fellow veteran Jason Terry, Allen instead harped on the absence of players … well … like himself.

“I don’t think they’ve really got a defensive-minded guy yet,” added Allen. “I mean, they’ve got one [Avery Bradley], but I can’t say he’s 100 percent just yet. I don’t think they’ve got the center like Perk [Kendrick Perkins]. It’s kind of hard finding a guy like — a guy who clogs up the paint, talks trash to you and can actually back it up. They’re just missing a lot. I don’t know. I don’t see the same team from 2008.”

Still, Allen knows better than to bury a Celtics team that still features three pretty important members from that ’08 NBA championship team: Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett.

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NBA playoff picture, in a snapshot 04.26.11 at 6:46 pm ET
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When if ever will LeBron James and the Heat begin to trust each other? (AP)

Believe it or not, as of Tuesday afternoon, the Celtics are the only team that has finished its first-round series. While they await their first day of practice on Wednesday, NBA fans in Boston get a chance to watch what should be one of the most exciting playoffs in league history. Here’s a brief snapshot of the current playoff picture …

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Miami Heat 3, Philadelphia 76ers 1

  • Heat  97, 76ers 89
  • Heat 94, 76ers 73
  • Heat 100, 76ers 94
  • 76ers 86, Heat 82

LeBron James & Co. are just trying to finish this series, so they can get their shot at the Celtics. The problem? The Heat are still struggling with chemistry and — as a result — have a 0-1 record in close-out games so far. Meanwhile, 76ers coach Doug Collins is just glad to get another game of playoff experience under his young team’s belt.

Heat forward Chris Bosh: “We’re going to have to trust each other. We’ve been talking about trust all this time, so we’re going to have to actually do it when it counts the most. It’s easy to stress when you’re up 2-0, 3-0. … When it’s time to close and it’s time to get to those other elite teams, and we’re going to have a chance to compete against them, we have to do the same thing well, not the same thing we did [Sunday].”

Sixers coach Doug Collins: “I’m sure Doc Rivers hopes we take the Heat to triple overtime in Game 7. No question about that. One thing about the playoffs, especially when you are a team that has a lot of games under the belt, you want series to go as little time as possible.”

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Grizzlies guard Tony Allen: ‘I’m a Celtic’ 03.24.11 at 12:26 am ET
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Tony Allen spent the first six seasons of his career in a Celtics uniform and the last six months as a member of the Grizzlies, so forgive him if he blurred the lines of his allegiance following his new team’s 90-87 victory against his old team. Or don’t.

“I’m a Celtic, but unfortunately, I wear a Grizzlies jersey right now,” said Allen, who was the only member of the Memphis starting five to receive a positive response from the Garden crowd during Wednesday night’s game. “It was a nice reaction. I liked it.”

Tony Allen totaled eight points, including this dunk, against his former team. (AP)

Allen signed a three-year, $9.5 million deal with the Grizzlies this past offseason. The Celtics reportedly offered Allen two years and $5.2 million to remain in Boston.

“Yeah, it’s strange, but most importantly I was just happy about the victory and how our guys stuck together and focused for 48 minutes,” said Allen. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Celtics fans weren’t cheering when Allen’s night was done, as his eight points and seven rebounds helped the Grizzlies drop the C’s a full game behind the Bulls in the standings.

“I wanted this win more than anything,” he said. “We got it.”

Following his first game in Boston wearing any other color than Celtics’ green — the Grizzlies only appearance at the Garden this season — Allen exchanged kind words with former teammate Kevin Garnett after the final whistle.

“He said, ”Good luck the rest of the way. I miss you,’” said Allen. “He showed me love. It was an emotional day, but I’m happy with the win.”

Another former Celtic, Leon Powe, joined Allen in Memphis after the Cavaliers bought out the remainder of his contract after the trade deadline. Prior to the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers admitted that the Celtics expressed interest in Powe, but ultimately decided his knee concerns were too big a risk. Powe’s 13 points on Wednesday night begged to differ.

“Leon is a presence down there,” said Allen. “He’s a little undersized, but he’s strong. The more he puts in his work on that block, it kind of lightens the load for us. Leon’s just gotta keep being Leon.”

So, did their combined experience as members of the 2007-08 Celtics team that won the NBA title help aid the Grizzlies victory?

“I felt like I was in practice,” added Allen. “I knew all they’re plays. I knew everything they were going to run. It felt good. It was nice to see Doc with those nice suits that he wears. And it was a good overall experience coming here to Boston.”

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Fast Break: Grizzlies attack Celtics 03.23.11 at 10:06 pm ET
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Leon Powe and Tony Allen combined for 21 points and seven rebounds against their old team, and the Celtics fell a full game behind the Bulls in the race for the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed after a 90-87 loss to the Grizzlies (40-32) Wednesday night at the Garden.

Rajon Rondo missed 10 of his 12 shots from the field — including what would have been the go-ahead runner with 19 seconds left – but managed 11 assists and 11 rebounds for the Celtics (50-20). The C’s had two more chances to tie the game trailing 90-87 with 13 seconds remaining, but the first attempt ended up in a Glen Davis missed a 3-pointer. Memphis’ Marc Gasol missed both free throws on the other end, and Paul Pierce (game-high 22 points) had a chance for a triple — but that fell short, too.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Slow shooting start: The Celtics shot just 5-of-15 (0-for-2 from 3-point range) from the field in the first quarter, and the Big Four were to blame, making only 2-of-11 attempts. In fact, Tony Allen had more points in the opening 12 minutes as Pierce and Ray Allen combined. Of course, anybody with two points could’ve made that claim. As a result, the Celtics trailed 20-15 and found themselves once again playing from behind in the early going.

Leon Powe: Prior to the game, Doc Rivers said the Celtics had interest in Powe as a buyout option, but hesitated based on the condition of his knee. Well, the knee appeared just fine against the C’s, as Powe (at one point) led all scorers on Wednesday. He finished with 13 points.

The Grizzlies other bigs — Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph — also combined for 24 points and 19 rebounds. O’Neal brothers, where art thou?

Taking care of the ball: The Celtics committed 20 turnovers — leading to 16 Grizzlies’ points – and the biggest culprit was their center, Nenad Krstic. After a 2-for-2 start from the field, it wasn’t a good night for Krstic overall. The C’s big man committed four of those turnovers, missed his final four shots and committed more fouls (5) than he grabbed rebounds (2).

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Rajon Rondo attacking the basket: With the Celtics falling behind by 10 early in the second quarter, Rondo sliced to the basket, took on a defender and wrapped a layup underneath him. The C’s closed out the half on a 21-10 run that included a nice give-and-go between Rondo and Delonte West, a nifty Rondo pick that resulted in an and-one for Glen Davis, and a heads-up play in which Rondo fired a ball off a Grizzly to prevent a turnover.

At the break, Rondo had already accumulated six points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, prompting some early triple-double whispers throughout the Garden.

Free-throw shooting: Entering the game, the Celtics ranked in the middle of the pack (16th) in terms of team free-throw percentage (76.4), but they’ve picked it up of late, shooting a combined 63-of-78 (80.8 percent) in their last three victories. Wednesday night was no different, as the Celtics made 22-of-23 free-throw attempts (95.7 percent) in defeat.

3-point shooting … until the final seconds: After starting 0-for-2 from beyond the arc, the Celtics made seven of their next 11 longballs. Two back-to-back treys from Allen in the second quarter helped the Celtics draw within two points. And a Pierce triple late in the fourth quarter brought the C’s within one at 86-85 with three minutes remaining in the game. But the Celtics missed those two game-tying attempts in the final 13 seconds.

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Preview: Grizzlies at Celtics, Game 70 at 2:55 pm ET
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In advance of Wednesday night’s game between the Celtics (50-19) and Grizzlies (39-32) at the TD Garden (7:30 p.m.), we caught up with Chip Crain at the “3 Shades of Blue” blog. He answered our five most pressing questions on the Western Conference’s current eighth seed (He did the same for a preview of November’s 116-110 C’s overtime victory) …

The brawl between Tony Allen (left) and O.J. Mayo lit a fire under the Grizzlies. (AP)

1. In the wake of the Tony Allen-O.J. Mayo brawl fiasco, has the team dynamic or chemistry changed?

Yes and No. The fight is one of those things that should never have reached the media first of all. “What happens on the team plane stays on the team plane,” so to speak.

I imagine players get into scraps from time to time during an 82-game season. What made this one so newsworthy was that it involved a well-known player (Mayo), the man who recently took his starting job (Allen) and the severity of the beating (Mayo had a black eye for over a week).

What happened was that Mayo was upset over not being the starting shooting guard once Xavier Henry, who originally started in place of Mayo, was hurt. Instead, Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins turned to Allen.

Allen is not a quiet personality. His talking probably irritated Mayo long before the plane flight, but the gambling debt was the last straw. Mayo was pouting and completely in the wrong, and the beating he received was likely justified.

It was unfortunate that it happened, embarrassing that it was reported in the media but it did have a silver lining. The team bonded together after it. Instead of the battle splitting the team apart, they became more focused and united on the team goals. The Grizzlies were 15-19 at the time of the disagreement. They are 24-13 since.

2. What led to Tony Allen getting a starting spot, and why has he been so successful?

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