Blakely: Celtics' voices loom large in lockout

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Blakely: Celtics' voices loom large in lockout

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn The Boston Celtics got in a little bit of pre-lockout business by picking up the second-year option on Avery Bradley along with making a qualifying offer to Jeff Green, which makes him a restricted free agent.

By making the 5.9 million qualifying offer, the Celtics can match any offer made to Green who came to Boston via Oklahoma City on Feb. 24 via trade.

Normally such news would create thoughts about next season and how Bradley and Green fit into the C's mix moving forward.

But no one around NBA gave much thought to individual moves made on Thursday.

Instead, the focus remained squarely on the league's immediate future, which remains murky at best.

The NBA's owners and player's union made one last-ditch effort on Thursday to avoid the league's first lockout since the lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season.

Both sides remain far apart on several issues such as instituting a harder salary cap, shortening contracts and scaling back salaries.

"I'm not scared, but resigned to potential damage this could cause to our league," NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters in New York after both sides met for three hours in what both described as being "cordial" talks.

With so much at stake, two of the more dominant voices behind-the-scenes for the player's union have been Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Garnett gave an "inspired sermon" to the union last week in which he made it clear he was more than willing to sit out the entire season and thus forfeit all of his 18.8 million salary.

Pierce, who is the C's union representative, came into the league on the cusp of the league's last lockout in 1998.

"I've seen a lot of guys end their career during the lockout," Pierce said. "They couldn't get back to the level of play. It's always about staying ready. Even at my age, I think a lot of guys, they go through the lockout in October. November comes, guys my age get lazy, probably don't work out. And then it bites them when they lift the lockout."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Fully healthy Celtics prepare for Giannis Antetokounmpo

Fully healthy Celtics prepare for Giannis Antetokounmpo

BOSTON – Brad Stevens began his pre-game press conference with a seldom-used proclamation. 

“Everyone’s available,” he said. “Doesn’t happen very often.”

Jonas Jerebko, who did fully participate in the team’s practice on Tuesday due to a sore left knee, was questionable for tonight’s game. His availability can only help the Celtics in tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the hottest teams in the NBA. 

The Bucks (38-36) have won 12 of their last 15 games which includes a 118-108 win at Charlotte on Tuesday. 

Tony Snell lit up the Hornets for a career-high 26 points. Rookie Malcolm Brogdon had a double-double of 14 points and 10 assists. 

And then there’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, a matchup nightmare who had 20 points and eight rebounds.

“He does some things,” Stevens said. “That’s the best way to say it. He keeps adding to it. Him in transition is like, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody like him.”

Indeed, the Greek Freak has been a vital cog in Milwaukee’s resurgence from a team bound for the lottery (again), to one that could potentially wind up as the fifth seed in the East. 

“As he’s become more skilled,” Stevens said. “He continues to put you in a worst bind. He’s tough; he’s good.”

Celtics guard Avery Bradley said there’s a long laundry list of things Boston must do tonight to emerge victorious. At the top of that has to be finding ways to attack Milwaukee’s length which stands out in a league full of lanky, long-armed players.

“Ball movement, getting the ball to the next side, not letting them load up their defense, shot fakes, drawing fouls … I can go down the list,” Bradley said. “But the most important thing is moving the ball; making them defend side to side, making them have to guard us so they’re not in position to block shots or make shots tough on us.” 

Tanguay: No pressure, Al, but Celts' postseason success hinges on you

Tanguay: No pressure, Al, but Celts' postseason success hinges on you

Hey, Al Horford. No pressure, but these upcoming playoffs are on you. 

The Celtics are having a great REGULAR season. But for this postseason to be anything but regular, Al needs to come up big.

To his credit, he's done that recently. But he need to play even better in the playoffs. Better isn’t even the right word. Power. That’s it: Power. Horford needs to play with more power. 

The problem is this has never really been his game, and therefore it may prove the Celtics overpaid when they gave him a max contract. 

During his 74 postseason games with the Hawks, Horford averaged 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. This season he has averaged 6.9 rebounds for the Celtics. There's no way his rebounding numbers an be that low in the playoffs. 

I want at least 18 points and 8 rebounds per game from him over the course of the Celts post season run. And NO THREEs. I know the guy can shoot, but he needs to keep that 6-foot-10 body of his twelve feet or less from the hoop. 

So if the Celtics let you down or underperform this spring, it won't be on Isaiah. It will be on you, Al. 

Again, no pressure.