OFFSEASON

Is this the final run for the C's Big Four?

760044.jpg

Is this the final run for the C's Big Four?

BOSTON For the most die-hard Boston Celtics fan, the thought seems real but inconceivable at the same time.

When the Celtics take to the floor tonight in Game 7 of their second round playoff series against Philadelphia, it could very well be the last time the Big Four - Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo - play together.

Garnett and Allen will become unrestricted free agents this summer, and are sure to draw considerable attention from teams besides the Celtics. There's no telling if Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will look to potential trades involving Pierce or Rondo in his efforts to bolster the C's roster.

It adds another dimension of uncertainty heading into a game that would not be happening if the C's played with the kind of consistency one expects from a veteran team whose core players have won a championship, facing a team as young and inexperienced as the Sixers who are getting their postseason baptism by fire.

Allen, who has been on the trading block more than any other member of the Big Four, is well aware that tonight's game may very well be his last in a Celtics uniform.

It is something that Allen says he has given no serious thought to simply because it is part of the been-there, answered-that line of questioning he and the rest of the Big Four usually get this time of year.

"It seems like we've been ruled out so many times before, so many years before," Allen said. "It's just another opportunity to go out and be who we are. So we're not worried about what's beyond today, what's beyond tomorrow. We'll worry about what we have in the present day."

Said Rondo: "I don't think about it at all. I just try to focus on the task at hand with the guys we have, which is Paul, Kevin, myself and the rest of the guys. Right now, we're excited about playing Game Seven."

Of the Big Four, Garnett's future is the one that's most intriguing. After there was some talk early in the season that he'd give some thought to retiring, Garnett turned back the hands of time and turned up his level of production after the all-star break.

And all talk about his future, he has quickly dismissed it and immediately shifted talks back towards this team, this season.

The focus right now is the playoffs," Garnett said. "I havent given it that much thought, to be honest. Were definitely aware of it."

Especially Pierce, who has probably talked more candidly about this being the potential final run for the Big Four before some - if not all - go their separate ways.

Pretty much the last couple of years weve been feeling like that," said Pierce, who added that the goal is to, "win another championship, regardless of whether this is going to be our last time together. We dont know what the future is going to hold for all of us, with KG in the last year of his contract, Ray in the last year of his contract; trade speculations have been going on, theres talk about rebuilding. There is a sense of urgency with us.

OFFSEASON

Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

celtics-stevens-cloesup.jpg

Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

New England fans will get their first glimpse at the 2016-2017 Boston Celtics when they kick off their preseason schedule on October 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers at UMass-Amherst’s Mullins Center.

That game will feature two of the top three picks in last month’s draft as Ben Simmons, the top overall pick, will face Jaylen Brown, who was drafted by the Celtics with the third overall pick.

Boston’s 7-game schedule features no back-to-back games, but they do face the Charlotte Hornets in their second and third preseason games on Oct. 6 (in Greensboro, N.C.) and Oct. 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Here’s a look at Boston’s full preseason schedule:

DATE               OPPONENT                  LOCATION                                                        TIME
Oct. 4               Philadelphia 76ers         UMass-Amherst Mullins Center (Amherst, MA)     7:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 6               Charlotte Hornets          Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, NC)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 8               Charlotte Hornets          Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)                  3:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 13             Brooklyn Nets               Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)                          7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 15             New York Knicks           Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 17             Brooklyn Nets               TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 19             New York Knicks           TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET

OFFSEASON

Rivers dismisses Griffin-to-Boston rumors, wants Pierce to retire with Celtics

ap_05062904075.jpg

Rivers dismisses Griffin-to-Boston rumors, wants Pierce to retire with Celtics

Doc Rivers appeared on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski and dismissed the Blake Griffin trade rumors, claiming that “bloggers” who “have nothing to do with the sport” were the cause of the Blake-to-Boston gossip.

“We are hoping that Blake ends his career playing for the Clippers,” Rivers told Woj. “No team is calling because teams know we don’t have any interest. It just tells you the different times. Things have changed. Everyone believes that they’re media now. There are so many good, credible guys, but then there’s some of the guys who are bloggers and have nothing to do with the sport.”

Rivers went on to explain that his youngest son, Spencer, even took the time out to trace the source of this "groundless" rumor.

“Danny [Ainge] and I have talked twice this summer. One was about the British Open, and the other was about another golf tournament. That’s about it,” Rivers explained. “But my son traced [where this rumor started] it to I think a Boston radio talk show and the guy didn’t say that we had been talking, but that Blake would be one of the guys the Celtics should go after. That started the next step, and then the next thing you know, it blew it up.”

Glenn Rivers sounds more like a politician than a doctor. Everyone knows politicians lie.

So Doc says he’s spoken to Danny only twice this summer -- both times about golf and “that’s about it.” But it's good to know they did apparently find the time to lay the groundwork for Paul Pierce to retire with the Celtics, if he does choose to call it a career.

“If Paul does decide to retire, we’re gonna make sure that Boston picks him up for one day and he retires a Celtic because that’s what he should retire as,” Rivers said. “We have all that in place. We just don’t know what he’s gonna do.”

Allowing Pierce to retire as a Celtic would be the right thing to do, for sure. He spent 15 seasons with the Celtics, won a title, and someday No. 34 will be hanging in the rafters. Ainge has also made it clear before that he'd love for Pierce to take on some type of front office role with the team after he retires from his playing career.

But Blake is the guy Celtics fans want now, so it’s understandable Doc would dispel the rumors regarding his four-time All-Star.

It doesn’t mean those conversations didn’t take place because trade talks happen every single day in the NBA. But considering Doc spent the opening minutes of the podcast discussing Blake, it certainly makes it seem like a deal is dead. At least for now.