Celtics 'take a step back' in loss to Hornets


Celtics 'take a step back' in loss to Hornets

BOSTON There was a sense of deja vu for the Boston Celtics following Wednesday's 90-78 loss to the New Orleans Hornets.
A fast 21-10 start by Boston which included lots of shots going down, followed by a stretch in which no Celtics player could make a basket or get a free throw to go down.
And the C's second unit, so strong of late, could not deliver at either end of the floor.
It was as if the C's had gone back in time to say, seven or so games ago when they were a sub-.500 team and looked nothing remotely close to being a playoff team let alone one capable of making a deep playoff run.
"You start feeling good about yourselves and you take a step back," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "So I always look at me first, honestly, and I just think there's things that as a coach you've got to just keep trying to do."
In hindsight, Rivers said he probably should have played Leandro Barbosa sooner. Barbosa played less than three minutes on Wednesday but still managed to score seven points which was more than all but one Celtics reserve (Jason Terry, 12 points).
"He's an energy guy," Rivers said.
And there was no doubt the C's were lacking energy players, all game long from the starters as well as the bench.
While the Celtics bench has been able to bail out the starters in a number of games recently, they for a change were unable to build off of a strong start by the starters.
"The second unit, we take full responsibility," said Sullinger whose minutes were limited some because of -- what else? -- foul trouble. "The first unit had a rhythm going and the second unit came out and it was stagnant. We didn't move the ball like we did, we didn't defend like we did, so the second unit takes full responsibility."
While the second unit certainly didn't have one of its better games, the C's struggles were across-the-board on Wednesday with much of it having to do with the Hornets playing with more energy.
"There was a lot of inconsistency especially after the first eight minutes," said Paul Pierce. "We got out to a good lead and then we just broke down too many times. We got momentum, we'd lose it, just break downs defensively. It was just an inconsistent night on both ends of the court."
And for now, that is how this loss can be characterized ... as just one of those nights.
"You're human," Rivers said. "You have them. You start feeling good about yourselves and you take a step back."
But there's no time to reflect too long on Wednesday's loss, not with the Chicago Bulls coming to town on Friday.
"We won't let this game affect our next game," said C's guard Avery Bradley. "We just want to go on and keep building. We took some steps back tonight. But we'll into the gym tomorrow and prepare for Chicago and worry about the next game."
Said Sullinger: "We're just gonna start another streak; that's what we said when we came in here."


Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant


Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

BOSTON -- When you’re the Boston Celtics and you have your sights set on a star like Kevin Durant, the potential impact on your roster is undeniable.

That’s a good thing, right?

Well . . . not exactly.

One of the options that the Celtics are considering during the free agency period is whether to waive Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko before July 3 which would create additional salary cap space to potentially sign Durant and another near max-salaried player.

But here’s the problem.

Boston could potentially waive Johnson and Jerebko, fail to get Durant or another elite free agent and see the duo gone for nothing in return while they play their way into a big contract toiling in the NBA’s basement with one of the league’s worst teams.

How you ask?

Multiple league sources contacted by Tuesday night indicated that if the Celtics waive both players, it’s “very likely” that both will be claimed off waivers.

According to a league office official, waiver priority goes to the team with the worst record attempting to claim a player.

And what team had the worst record in the NBA last season?

Yup. The 10-win Philadelphia 76ers.

And what team was right behind them, or ahead depending on how you look at things?

The lowly, 17-win Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson is due $12 million next season while Jerebko is due to earn $5 million, chump change in this new age of the NBA with the 2016-2017 salary cap expected to be around $94 million.

In addition, both players would join clubs in contract years. Couple that with each being relatively productive and there’s the potential for each player to have a really big season.

Johnson was the Celtics’ top rim-protector last season, in addition to being a solid pick-and-roll defender. He also averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds with 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game. 

And Jerebko shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range last season, and finished up the playoffs in the starting lineup.

The Celtics are well aware of how valuable both players were to Boston’s success last season, and how their production relative to their contracts makes them extremely important to whatever team they play for.

To lose them for what would essentially be a lottery ticket in the Durant sweepstakes, is certainly a gamble that it remains to be seen if the Celtics are willing to take.

Best-case scenario for Boston is to know where they stand with Durant within the first 24 hours of free agency which would then allow them time to make a more informed decision about Johnson and Jerebko’s futures.

As you can imagine, the Celtics are as eager as any team to know what Durant plans to do this summer.

Because the way things are starting to take shape with Boston’s pursuit of the former league MVP, he’s going to have an impact on the Celtics’ roster one way or another.