OFFSEASON

More lineup tinkering in exhibition finale

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More lineup tinkering in exhibition finale

BOSTON Give Doc Rivers credit, he's been creative with his lineups this preseason anyways.

The Celtics ability to be 'multiple' to use a football term has allowed Rivers to experiment with many different lineups, whether starting or in-game.

In Sunday's 88-79 loss to the Sixers, Rivers was back in the lab, electing to start Jeff Green at small forward and slide Pierce to shooting guard. Rajon Rondo manned the point, while Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett made up the frontcourt. That left Courtney Lee to come off the bench, while Jason Terry sat out.

The results? Mixed. While Boston jumped out to a nine-point lead in the first five minutes, they couldn't hold it. Philly rebounded its way back in exposing a weakness from last season that doesn't appear to be fully fixed especially with big men Chris Wilcox (back) and Darko Milicic (wrist) missing the game.

Turnovers also stood out.The C's turned it over seven times in the first quarter and 20 times for the game to their 18 assists.

Rondo scored six of his 12 points in the first, and finished with a double-double (10 assists). Green, too, finished with a double-double, 12 points and 10 rebounds. Again, he looked comfortable with his teammates, and showed his athleticism and versatility on a number of occasions.

But when 12 points is tied for the team-high in points, that's usually not a good sign for success. Boston just couldn't get anything going offensively for long enough.

The Celtics went with an eight-man rotation for three-and-a-half quarters, rounding it out with Jared Sullinger and Kris Joseph. But without Terry involved in the offense, another stat stood out.

Three-pointers, or the lack thereof.

The Celtics were just 2-for-10 from the three-point line, with Lee hitting both of them. Boston had just one three-pointer in the first half to Philadelphia's five. They trailed, 51-41 going into the half.

But Rivers sent out the same starting lineup to start the third, and Boston again jumped out in front. The C's scored eight straight and went on a 12-2 run that tied the score at 53. That would be the closest Boston got to taking back the lead, as Philly went on a 9-0 run of their own.

Green scored the C's first four points of the 4th quarter to make it a two-point game, but Philly held them off and pulled way once both teams emptied the benches.

Sullinger led the bench in scoring with 11 points and six rebounds, while Lee chipped in with 10.

The Celtics are now off until Opening Night in Miami next Tuesday.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

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Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

All the free-agent focus on the Celtics has been on players -- Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard -- who they might bring in. But they have players they might lose, too.

One, of course, is Evan Turner, who's an unrestricted free agent, free to sign to anyone after July 1. But they also have two others, Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger, who could have joined Turner on the completely open market if they didn't tender them qualifying offers.

Yesterday, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, they did just that:

Zeller and Sullinger are still free to solicit offers. But, because they made the qualifying offers, the Celtics have the right to match any deal the two might receive and keep them in Boston.

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?