OFFSEASON

Garnett OK with offensive foul call on him in closing seconds

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Garnett OK with offensive foul call on him in closing seconds

BOSTON The Boston Celtics have a long list of plays they could turn to as being that one play that meant the difference in their 82-81 loss to Philadelphia in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series.

But the play that certainly resonates with Celtics Nation more than most, was the offensive foul call by official Michael Smith against Kevin Garnett late in the fourth quarter.

Trailing 78-75 late in the game, the Celtics had the ball and were looking to tie the score.

Kevin Garnett tried to set a pick to free up Paul Pierce for a potential game-tying shot.

But we'll never know if that shot would have gone down, with official Michael Smith whistling Garnett for an offensive foul with 10 seconds to play.

"Mike (Smith) was in a position, and he called it," Garnett said afterwards. "I'm not going to make a big stink about it."

Garnett, who was called for five personal fouls - two of which were offensive fouls - wasn't totally caught off guard by Smith's call.

"I think Danny (Crawford, one of the other officials) had already gave me a warning about how I was setting the picks," Garnett said.

Garnett understands that the call will certainly get its share of attention and be talked about between now and Game 3 on Wednesday.

"But that wasn't, to me, the game," Garnett said. "We did things going up to that point that determined the game."

Still, the call being made in that situation was a bit unusual when you consider the score at the time and the fact that this is a playoff game.

"I just thought in that situation," Garnett said. "You let the players decide the game. But hey, he felt like it was an illegal pick and that's what it is."

Said Paul Pierce, "You know that's the name of the game sometimes. You know they make a call, you gotta live with it."

Not surprisingly, C's coach Doc Rivers was upset at the call which was one of several illegal pick calls made by the officials.

"I wasn't fond of it," Rivers said.

As much as the call hurt the team, Rivers was more disturbed by the team's play for the first three quarters.

And while many may focus in on that one play near the end of the game, Rivers recognizes the C's demise in Game 2 began well before the final 10 seconds of the game.

"Listen, we put ourselves in that position," Rivers said. "At the end of the day, I say it all the time, if you put yourself in a position to let someone else do something, then you can lose games. And that's what happened."

OFFSEASON

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

BOSTON -- In some circles the pursuit of Dwight Howard by the Boston Celtics is just as perplexing as Boston being one of the six teams getting an audience with Kevin Durant and, with that, a shot at the Durant sweepstakes this summer. 
 
Both serve as examples of how the Celts are no longer at the back of the line when it comes to being a potential destination for the best free agents. 
 
Of course it’s about sealing the deal, and getting the best free agents on the market under contract, and all that good stuff.
 
But before that can happen, Boston has to be seen as a place to even be seriously considered by free agents. That's exactly what we’re starting to see happen right now.
 
It’s easy to point to the Celtics having a ton of salary cap space, which in itself makes them a possible landing spot for players who we all know will be hauling in max to near-max salaries this offseason.
 
But there’s just one problem with that line of thought. More than half the league enters free agency with enough money to sign one max player.

The fact that Boston is on the short list for the summer’s top free agent (Durant) and have already secured a sit-down with one of the top centers (Howard) says a lot in terms of how far Boston has come in the eyes of players. 
 
And several factors point towards the Celtics getting an audience with other top-shelf free agents this summer if they fail to secure one or two of their top choices.
 
But let’s not kid ourselves. How others view this franchise is the reality of what the Celtics have to deal with when it comes to adding elite, upper-echelon talent like Durant. 
 
The fact that Durant is willing to include Boston in his short-list of teams is a bit of a head-scratcher when you see that the Celtics are the farthest away from the group in terms of competing for an NBA title (although an argument can be made that they are neck-and-neck with the Miami Heat along those lines). Durant has said in the past that would be something he would be looking for in whatever team he signed with.
 
The biggest selling point the Celtics have to offer Durant or any other free agent (besides money) is that they are a franchise on the rise, they have stability on the floor with Brad Stevens as the head coach, and they have stability in the front office with Danny Ainge. Both Stevens and Ainge signed long-term extensions earlier this month. 
 
And one of the perks that players who come to Boston quickly discover is the fan base, which is about as rabid a group as you'll find in the NBA.
 
There’s no mistaking they wear their emotions on their sleeves, whether it’s cheering the team on following a season-ending playoff loss, or booing the owner after the team makes a draft pick they don’t particularly care for. 
 
They bleed green!
 
Add all those things up and it’s clear that Boston has the kind of environment, the kind of culture, where a star can come and thrive. 
 
The Celtics and their fans have known this for a while.
 
Now it seems some of the game’s best players are starting to catch on, as well.

OFFSEASON

Is it curious that Kevin Durant is even giving the Celtics an audience?

Is it curious that Kevin Durant is even giving the Celtics an audience?

Mike Felger, Dan Shaughnessy and Glenn Ordway wonder why the Celtics are even getting a meeting with Kevin Durant when free agency begins. Does it mean they have a legitimate chance of signing him?