Blakely: Regardless of KG's decision, Celts looking for size


Blakely: Regardless of KG's decision, Celts looking for size

With the NBA draft two days away and Kevin Garnett's status still unresolved (publicly, at least), the Celtics' draft strategy would seem to be in flux.

But A. Sherrod Blakely thinks Celtics boss Danny Ainge has a philosophy that he can employ whether or not Garnett returns.

"I think Danny understands, year in and year out, you have to add the best players that fit what you're looking to do moving forward," Blakely told Carolyn Manno Monday on 'SportsNet Central'.

And one thing is clear: The Celtics need frontcourt help, regardless of Garnett's decision.

"Talking with Kevin throughout the season made it very clear: He hates being a center," said Blakely. "So, obviously, you have to get some guys who can take a little bit of that load off him playing that 5 spot. And there are some guys that are going to be in this draft that can help him to do that, that will be available when the Celtics are picking at 21 and 22. But the key is whether or not those guys are the right fit."

As for whether or not the Celtics use their two first-round picks to try and trade up . . .

"You know, in this draft, you're not going to find a player as good as Kevin Garnett at 1, or 2, or 10, or 12, or anywhere in the draft," said Blakely. "So moving up isn't going to necessarily fill that void.

"I think that the plan all along has to be to add talent. And that is, using the picks you have. You can get guys at 21 and 22 to help you in that frontcourt. And remember, the Celtics are going to have a lot of salary cap space this summer. So you can also address that need through free agency."

Horford's all-around play key in first regular-season game with Celtics

Horford's all-around play key in first regular-season game with Celtics

BOSTON – The Al Horford love fest continues with the veteran big man delivering yet another impressive performance for the Boston Celtics.

And this one?

Unlike his play in the preseason, Wednesday night's game counts.

Horford’s all-around play was pivotal to Boston holding on for a 122-117 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

CELTICS 122, NETS 117:

The four-time All-Star made several high-basketball IQ-type plays that in hindsight, were major key moments in Boston pushing its lead to as many as 23 points.

In the third quarter with Boston ahead 71-65, Horford took advantage of Brooklyn closing out too hard on him and drove into the lane. As the Nets defenders collapsed to take away a shot attempt in the lane, Horford swung the ball to Jae Crowder whose jumper triggered a 14-5 run.

Boston would lead by double figures until the last couple of minutes of the game.

“We have to keep playing the right way, for 48 minutes,” Horford said when asked about the team’s late-game collapse.

The late-game struggles aside, there was a lot to like about how the Celtics played throughout the first 40 minutes.

And a big part of that strong play has to be credited to Horford whose ability to help keep the ball moving allowed the Celtics to finish with 36 assists on 48 made field goals, the kind of opening night assist numbers that haven’t been seen around these parts in decades.

Horford was among those getting into the act, scoring 11 points to go with five rebounds and six assists.

To see him racking up guard-like assist numbers isn’t unusual when you consider he was third in the league last season in assists per game (3.2) for a center.

“Guys were moving the ball very well,” Horford said. “It’s kind of contagious.”

Said Crowder: “I never saw coaches clap on a three-second call. We moved the ball in the first quarter so much we got a three-second call. We passed up a lot of open shots. It just shows how unselfish we are playing as a unit.”

And while that selfless brand of basketball was on display at times last season, the addition of Horford seems to have taken it to another level.

“He opens the floor, he makes it easier for everybody; he’s always in the right spots, he’s a threat at all times,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “He can hit the 3, hit the mid-range, and also post up so he has the full package; a guy that makes it easy for everybody.”