Talking Points: Celtics 91, Knicks 89

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Talking Points: Celtics 91, Knicks 89

BOSTON Point guard Rajon Rondo told CSNNE.com that whenever he returned to the Boston Celtics lineup, he would be a mere shell of himself for a while.

He wasn't kidding.

Rondo, back in the starting lineup after missing eight straight with a right wrist injury, was among the Celtics to pick his game up in the second half as the Celtics rallied for a 91-89 win.

There were a bunch of big shots down the stretch for Boston, but none bigger - or as improbable - as Paul Pierce's 24-foot heave with 14.4 seconds to play.

On the shot, Pierce was stripped by Iman Shumpert. In the mad scramble for the ball, Pierce came up with it and just launched a shot towards the basket in hopes of beating the shot clock.

The shot seemed too good to be true.

And after the officials reviewed the play, apparently it was.

The replay showed Pierce got it off a split second after the shot clock expired.

That put the pressure to win on the Celtics' defense, which came through with just enough stops to extend their home court dominance over the Knicks to 10 in a row.

With the win, Boston (12-10) now finds itself two games over .500 for the first time this season, while the Knicks (8-15) continue to struggle having now dropped 11 of their last 13 games.

Much of the focus coming into the game was on Rondo, whose return seemed inevitable based on his participation in the C's shoot-around on Friday morning. He finished with seven points, seven assists and five rebounds.

As much as the attention leading up to the game was on his wrist, all eyes soon fell on him because of a different injury.

It was his right eye, which apparently got a little too close to Shumpert which resulted in a swollen eye that made Rondo look like Little Mac from Nintendo's Punch-Out.

Banged up wrist. A right eye that was blackening with each passing second.

It wasn't Rondo's best look.

And for most of the first half, it wasn't one of Rondo's better games, either.

Boston trailed 55-49 at the half, and Rondo had one point and three assists.

The second half saw a more aggressive Rondo, whose scoring helped the C's cut into a New York lead that reached double digits.

Boston found itself within one possession after a Chris Wilcox put-back basket as the third quarter came to an end.

The C's inched a little closer when Brandon Bass made a pair of free throws to cut New York's lead to 77-75.

Boston got even closer with a pair of Wilcox free throws that tied the game at 77 and later, a Bass jumper to tie the game at 79.

That's when the Big Three took over, with a Ray Allen 3-pointer giving the C's an 82-79 lead that it was able to maintain for the rest of the game.

Celtics like Butler, but Bulls not making him easy to acquire

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Celtics like Butler, but Bulls not making him easy to acquire

BOSTON – It’s no secret that the Boston Celtics are among the many teams that would love to swing a deal to acquire Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

Well for now at least, it appears the Bulls aren’t willing to budge off moving their all-star small forward.

A league source tells CSNNE.com that the Bulls, while still open to listening to offers for Butler, are telling teams that are inquiring about his availability that their plan for now is to keep him in the fold.

And while there was some thought that a top-3 pick coupled with a few decent players might be enough to entice the Bulls to pull the trigger on a deal to trade Butler, CSNNE.com has been told such an offer would have to include at least one “legitimate, NBA starter” for the Bulls to even possibly consider trading him.

“And that might be a stretch,” the source indicated.

Any deal involving Butler to Boston from Chicago’s perspective, would most likely have to include Jae Crowder who is one of the best bargains in the NBA – and will be so for years to come.

With the increased salary cap on the horizon this summer for teams, the five-year, $35 million deal Crowder signed last summer is looking like an absolute steal on the Celtics’ part.

Meanwhile, Butler just completed the first year of a five-year, $92.3 million contract which raises questions if you’re the Celtics as to whether the difference in their salaries makes doing such a deal worth it.

If you’re the Celtics, such a deal would be a significant bump in paid-out salaries but it would also better position Boston to acquire a second superstar a la Kevin Durant who will be a free agent this summer.

There are a number of options for the Celtics to consider in their current rebuilding process, with one possibility being to fall back on the ‘07 “blueprint for success.”

Boston used the No. 5 overall pick (Jeff Green) as part of a trade with Seattle (now Oklahoma City) that helped the Celtics land Ray Allen.

A couple of months later, Boston was able to engineer a trade for Kevin Garnett who played for Minnesota at the time.

And the rest was Banner 17 history.

Without acquiring Allen, there was no way the Celtics were going to land Garnett.

And if the goal for the Celtics is to catapult itself to being a title contender sooner rather than later, they’re going to have to acquire an elite, all-star caliber talent before they have a serious shot at Durant.

Could Butler be this year’s Ray Allen?

At this point, the Bulls have no intention of allowing that to happen.

More likely than not, the Celtics will have to go in a different direction which may result in Boston pulling off a deal for Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.

Like the Bulls, the Kings are saying all the right things now about not wanting to trade him.

Celtics work out Finney-Smith, five others on Wednesday

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Celtics work out Finney-Smith, five others on Wednesday

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics brought in six players for workouts on Wednesday. Here’s a glimpse at each player, all of whom are considered potential second-round selections or prospects likely to go undrafted.
 

Dorian Finney-Smith

6-8, 220, Florida

Position: Forward

Summary: Was second-team All-SEC by coaches and third-team all-conference by the AP. Led Gators in scoring (14.3) and rebounds (8.3) for the second and third consecutive seasons, respectively.

Projected draft status: Second round.

 

Quincy Ford

6-8, 225, Northeastern

Position: Guard/Forward

Summary: Averaged 16.4 points, 7.0 rebounds while shooting 34.8 percent on 3s. Underwent season-ending back surgery that sidelined him for the 2013-2014 season. Bounced back with a pair of solid seasons, the last of which earned him a spot of on the NABC All-District Second team as well as the All-CAA Second team.

Projected draft status: Late second, undrafted.

 

Marcus Georges-Hunt

6-5, 216, Georgia Tech

Position: Guard

Summary: Averaged 16.7 points, shooting 45.4 percent from the field while dishing out a team-high 3.3 assists per game. Has a knack for getting to the free throw line, evident by him ranking 13th in free throws made and 18th in free throw attempts.

Projected draft status: Undrafted, maybe late second round.

 

Sheldon McClellan

6-5, 200, Miami

Position: Guard

Summary: A transfer from Texas, McClellan averaged 16.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists for Miami this past season while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 40.6 percent on 3s. Has a lot of tools that are intriguing to the NBA, but consistency and decision-making are areas of uncertainty about where he’ll eventually land.

Projected draft status: Second round pick.

 

Mike Tobey

7-0, 260, Virginia

Position: Center

Summary: Turned a few heads during Portsmouth Invitational when he averaged 12 points per game. Appeared in all 37 games this season with Virginia, but only had seven starts. Shot a team-best 60.1 percent from the field and was second on the team with 22 blocked shots.

Projected draft status: Undrafted.

 

Jameel Warney

6-8, 260, Stony Brook

Position: Power forward

Summary: The best player in Stony Brook history, Warney was a double-double machine this season in which he averaged 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds to go with 3.0 blocked shots. An Honorable mention All-American, Warney was the America East Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Does not have much of a face-the-basket game but does provide a nice strong presence defensively.

Projected draft status: Second round to undrafted.

Draper: Better financial option for Durant to stay in OKC one more year

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Draper: Better financial option for Durant to stay in OKC one more year

A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper discuss the chances the Boston Celtics land Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler or DeMarcus Cousins.