Friday FT's: Call Pierce the Big Three Four

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Friday FT's: Call Pierce the Big Three Four

Welcome back to Friday Free Throws, a weekly recap of the most interesting news, notes, and information that have not made the headlines but are still worth a read. In spite of the NBA lockout, there are still plenty of hoops to talk about.

Paul Pierce is picking up where Shaquille ONeal left off.

If you thought the Big Shamrock, Big Leprechaun nicknames left Boston when Shaq retired, think again.

Pierce turned 34 on Thursday and took to Twitter on his special day.

New Nik name for me this year The BiG Three Four, he tweeted.

Pierce also wrote, 34 is my number special thing r gonna happen for me this year . Let's get this lockout ova so I can show ya.

The Celtics captain shares the same birthday as Jermaine ONeal and Doc Rivers (he tweeted a birthday shoutout to them). ONeal turned 33 on October 13 while Rivers turned 50.

Pierce was one of 12 players born in 1977 playing in the NBA last season (James Posey, Jeff Foster, Vince Carter, Brian Cardinal, Peja Stojakovic, Manu Ginobili, Ime Udoka, Morris Peterson, Nazr Mohammed, Jason Terry, Kenyon Martin).

Rondo a Big Man on Campus

Rajon Rondo is one of several NBA players who has been spending time working out at the University of Kentucky during the NBA lockout. On Media Day, Wildcats head coach John Calipari gushed about the former UK guard. His praise included:

Rondo, by the way, is outstanding. I mean this guy, he is working, and he's, I told him, and I told Nazr (Mohammed) the same thing. When they are done if they want to come back and join this staff and finish up their degrees, they are welcome. They are great young people who want other people around them to get better and they are not afraid to share their knowledge and their experiences.Right now I can't tell you how hard Rondo is working, it's incredible. As this thing comes back, Rondo will have a knock out year, no question in my mind. They are going to look at who the heck is this guy in Boston because of when I'm seeing, how hard he's working.

This month Rondo is featured on the cover of Red Bulls Red Bulletin Magazine. The November issue includes the article, Style Point, and a full-page headshot of Rondo with the caption, "He pulls off his look because the only person he's out to impress is himself." Click here for more on the article.

You Dont Hang Hype in the Rafters

San Francisco Giants pitcher (and New England native) Brian Wilson showed his Celtics Pride for a recent NBA 2K12 promotion, and now hes going head-to-head with music superstar Drake in the latest round of videos. The two debated the greatest NBA team of all time, with Drake arguing in favor of the Miami Heat and Wilson, still in his green garb, defending the Cs. Some of Wilsons talking points? You dont hang hype in the rafters and Bird didn't need to dunk. He laid it up ... like a real man.

Celtics Tweet of the Week
@iambaby11: "Let us play!!!!!!"

Celtics Birthdays of the Week

Kenny Anderson, who played over four seasons with the Celtics, turned 41 on October 9. Former Celtic Bill Walker also turned 24 the 9th. He averged 4.9 points and 2.0 rebounds for the New York Knicks last season. Hall of Famer Arnie Risen was born on the same date in 1924. He played the last three seasons of his career with the C's. ... Kenny Battle, who played for the Celtics in the early 1990's, turned 47 on October 10. ... Paul Pierce, Jermaine ONeal, and head coach Doc Rivers shared a birthday on October 13 (see above) 2008 championship team member P.J. Brown, who played the final season of his 15-year career on the Celtics, turned 42 on October 14. Dwayne Schintzius, who played 16 games for the Celtics in the final season of his career, turned 43 on the same date. Ray Williams also celebrated his 57th birthday on the 14th. He played 23 games for the Celtics during the 1984-85 season.

This Week in Celtics History

On October 8, 1996, the Celtics signed Brett Szabo as a free agent. The 6-11 center averaged 2.2 points and 2.4 rebounds in his only season with the Celtics - and in the NBA. On October 13, 2006, the Celtics acquired Luke Jackson in exchange for Dwyane Jones. Jackson was waived less than two weeks later.

Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

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Kevin Durant's future a mystery as OKC collapses

OAKLAND, Calif. - As Stephen Curry dribbled out the clock in a raucous Oracle Arena, Kevin Durant could only stand and watch.

The Golden State Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals, while Durant's future in Oklahoma City is much less certain.

Two nights after blowing an opportunity to close out the defending champion Warriors at home, the Thunder got sent home for the summer when they lost Game 7 of the Western Conference finals 96-88 on Monday night.

Instead of becoming known as the team that knocked off the Warriors after their record-setting 73-win regular season, the Thunder will be remembered for a playoff collapse. They became just the 10th NBA team to lose a playoff series after taking a 3-1 lead and now head into an uncertain offseason with Durant eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

If he does leave the only franchise he has played for in his nine-year career, he will do it having failed to deliver the championship to Oklahoma City. The closest the Thunder have gotten in Durant's tenure was when they lost the NBA Finals in five games to LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2012.

They then lost in the second round the next season, in the conference finals in 2014 to San Antonio before missing the playoffs entirely because of an injury to Durant last year.

But under first-year coach Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City earned the third seed in the top-heavy Western Conference this season and then upset 67-win San Antonio in the second round. The Thunder followed that by winning three of the first four games against the Warriors, with a pair of lopsided wins at home.

But after losing Game 5 on the road, the Thunder blew an opportunity to eliminate the Warriors at home on Saturday night. Oklahoma City led by seven points with less than five minutes remaining but made only one basket and committed six turnovers down the stretch of a 108-101 loss that could haunt the franchise for years.

The Thunder responded on the road in Game 7 by taking a 13-point lead in the second quarter. But once Curry and Klay Thompson started hitting Oklahoma City with a flurry of 3-pointers, the Thunder had no answer. The Splash Brothers combined for 13 3-pointers as Golden State outscored Oklahoma City by 30 points from behind the line.

Oklahoma City's stars were no match. Russell Westbrook missed 14 of 21 from the field and shot just 36.8 percent in the three potential clinchers. Durant finished with 27 points but took only 10 shots in the first three quarters.

Durant did score seven straight points to cut an 11-point deficit to four with 1:40 remaining. But Serge Ibaka then fouled Curry on a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down, allowing Golden State to build the lead back to seven.

Durant then missed two shots and could only stare blankly when Curry ended Oklahoma City's season with a 3-pointer with 26.8 seconds left. Now the Thunder can only hope it doesn't end Durant's tenure in Oklahoma City as well.

Warriors rebound from 3-1 deficit, beating Thunder to return to NBA Finals

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Warriors rebound from 3-1 deficit, beating Thunder to return to NBA Finals

OAKLAND, Calif. -  Stephen Curry dribbled every which way and drained yet another 3-pointer in the waning moments, pulled his jersey up into his mouth and yelled to the rafters in triumph once more.

A special, record-setting season saved for the defending champs, with a memorable comeback added to the long list of accomplishments.

Now, the MVP and his teammates are playing for another NBA title - just as they planned all along.

Bring on LeBron James once more.

Curry and Klay Thompson carried the 73-win Warriors right back to the NBA Finals, as Golden State rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 96-88 on Monday night in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

Curry scored 36 points with seven 3-pointers to finish with an NBA-record 32 in a seven-game series, while Thompson added 21 points and six 3s, two days after his record 11 3-pointers led a Game 6 comeback that sent the series home to raucous Oracle Arena for one more.

The Warriors became the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win a postseason series. They return to the NBA Finals for a rematch with James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost the 2015 title in six games as Golden State captured its first championship in 40 years.

Game 1 is Thursday night in Oakland.

His signature mouthpiece dangling out and the game ball cradled in his left hand, Curry pumped his right arm as yellow confetti fell through Oracle Arena once the final buzzer sounded.

The Thunder trailing 90-86, Serge Ibaka fouled Curry on a 3-point try with 1:18 to go and the shot clock running out. The MVP made all three free throws, then a 3-pointer to seal it.

And Golden State's beloved "Strength In Numbers" catchphrase coined by Coach of the Year Steve Kerr was needed in every way on this night to do it.

Andre Iguodala joined the starting lineup for just the second time all season and the 2015 NBA Finals MVP hung tough against Kevin Durant, who scored 27 points on 10-for-19 shooting. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.

Oklahoma City won Game 1 108-102 at deafening, soldout Oracle Arena, so Golden State never envisioned this one coming easily.

It just took a quarter and a half for Thompson to warm up after he hit an NBA playoff-record 11 3-pointers for 41 points in a 108-101 win Saturday at Oklahoma City that sent the series to a decisive seventh game back home in the East Bay.

He missed his initial seven shots before hitting a 3 6:02 before halftime, energizing the Warriors in their first Game 7 at home in 40 years.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Thompson and Iguodala pulled the Warriors within 54-51 with 7:57 left in the third. They tied it on Curry's 3 at 7:21 and he followed with another 3 to give his team the lead.

Curry and Thompson each topped the previous record for 3s in a seven-game series, 28 by Dennis Scott and Ray Allen. Curry hit one over 7-foot Steven Adams in the third, and Thompson wound up with 30.

Iguodala replaced Harrison Barnes in the starting lineup for just his second start of the season and first of the playoffs, and what a move by Kerr and his staff, who did the same thing last year in crunch time. Iguodala made a pretty bounce pass through the paint to Draymond Green for Golden State's first basket of the game, and his smothering defense on Durant kept the Thunder star without a shot until his 3 at the 5:45 mark in the first. Durant had just nine points on five shots in the first half.

But Oklahoma City dictated the tempo with snappy passes and the hard, aggressive rebounding that had been such a part of its success this season. The Thunder couldn't maintain it.

The Warriors, who began 3 for 11 from long range and 9 of 32 overall while falling behind 35-22, lost their last Game 7 at home: 94-86 to Phoenix in the Western Conference finals on May 16, 1976.

2017 NBA title odds are out, Celtics rank second in the East

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2017 NBA title odds are out, Celtics rank second in the East

Teams are still fighting for the 2016 Larry O’Brien Trophy, but the 2017 NBA title opening odds have already been released by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Warriors unsurprisingly come in as heavy 3/2 favorites. The Cavaliers already punched their ticket for this year’s finals and are second, with 5/2 odds. Then there’s the Spurs, Thunder, and Clippers, as you’d expect rounding off the top five.

But then there’s the Celtics with 20/1 odds -- sixth-best in the NBA -- to raise Banner 18.

With eight draft picks and a chunk of cap space, the Celtics are in a position to capitalize on any opportunities that may come their way. There is a lot of uncertainty at this point in the NBA calendar, so Vegas must be hedging their bets on the Celtics making a leap towards contender status.

Celtics fans will also be happy to know the Nets have 500/1 odds to hoist the trophy next season, which ranks last of all teams. The Celtics have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in the 2017 draft, which could give them another swing at a superstar prospect.

For full draft profiles of players the Celtics could draft this year, click here.

Team Opening odds
Golden State Warriors 3/2
Cleveland Cavaliers 5/2
San Antonio Spurs 6/1
Oklahoma City Thunder 8/1
Los Angeles Clippers 16/1
Boston Celtics 20/1
Toronto Raptors 25/1
Miami Heat 25/1
Chicago Bulls 40/1
Atlanta Hawks 40/1
Minnesota Timberwolves 60/1
New Orleans Pelicans 60/1
Houston Rockets 60/1
Portland Trail Blazers 60/1
Memphis Grizzlies 80/1
Utah Jazz 80/1
Charlotte Hornets 80/1
Washington Wizards 100/1
Indiana Pacers 100/1
Dallas Mavericks 100/1
Milwaukee Bucks 100/1
Detroit Pistons 100/1
Los Angeles Lakers 100/1
New York Knicks 100/1
Sacramento Kings 100/1
Philadelphia 76ers 100/1
Orlando Magic 100/1
Denver Nuggets 100/1
Phoenix Suns 300/1
Brooklyn Nets 500/1