Blakely: Regardless of KG's decision, Celts looking for size

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Blakely: Regardless of KG's decision, Celts looking for size

With the NBA draft two days away and Kevin Garnett's status still unresolved (publicly, at least), the Celtics' draft strategy would seem to be in flux.

But A. Sherrod Blakely thinks Celtics boss Danny Ainge has a philosophy that he can employ whether or not Garnett returns.

"I think Danny understands, year in and year out, you have to add the best players that fit what you're looking to do moving forward," Blakely told Carolyn Manno Monday on 'SportsNet Central'.

And one thing is clear: The Celtics need frontcourt help, regardless of Garnett's decision.

"Talking with Kevin throughout the season made it very clear: He hates being a center," said Blakely. "So, obviously, you have to get some guys who can take a little bit of that load off him playing that 5 spot. And there are some guys that are going to be in this draft that can help him to do that, that will be available when the Celtics are picking at 21 and 22. But the key is whether or not those guys are the right fit."

As for whether or not the Celtics use their two first-round picks to try and trade up . . .

"You know, in this draft, you're not going to find a player as good as Kevin Garnett at 1, or 2, or 10, or 12, or anywhere in the draft," said Blakely. "So moving up isn't going to necessarily fill that void.

"I think that the plan all along has to be to add talent. And that is, using the picks you have. You can get guys at 21 and 22 to help you in that frontcourt. And remember, the Celtics are going to have a lot of salary cap space this summer. So you can also address that need through free agency."

Stars, studs, duds: Jae Crowder scores game-high 6 3-pointers

Stars, studs, duds: Jae Crowder scores game-high 6 3-pointers

BOSTON – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 123-111 Game 1 win over the Washington Wizards in their best-of-seven series. 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas: To be effective with all that he’s dealing with from an emotional standpoint continues to amaze us all. Thomas, just 24 hours removed from his younger sister’s funeral, delivered yet another gem of a game with 33 points on 11-for-23 shooting with nine assists with just two turnovers.

John Wall: Showing he’s more than just a guard with speed who can score, Wall finished with a double-double of 20 points on 9-for-20 shooting, to go with a game-high 16 assists.

STUDS

Jae Crowder: The Celtics needed a solid complimentary scorer to Isaiah Thomas, and Crowder was that dude during a critical third quarter stretch for Boston. He finished with a playoff career-high 24 points on 8-for-14 shooting with six rebounds. 

Bradley Beal: Half of one of the NBA’s best backcourts, Beal showed a much-improved postseason perimeter game. Having shot less than 30 percent on 3’s in Washington’s first-round series with Atlanta, Beal was 4-for-7 from long range which was part of his team high 27 -point game. 

Al Horford: Once again Horford flirted with a triple-double, scoring 21 points on 10-for-13 shooting, to go with 10 assists and nine rebounds with a blocked shot.  

Otto Porter Jr.: He was one of the few players for the Wizards whose plus/minus in Game 1 was positive (+3). He had 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and two steals. 

Avery Bradley: The numbers don’t always tell the story when it comes to Bradley’s impact. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in Game 1, but he still managed to score 18 points on 7-for-20 shooting, in addition to grabbing five rebounds with four assists and four steals.

Kelly Oubre Jr.: He was a major factor in Washington’s fast start and with Markieff Morris’ knee injury, he may wind up starting Game 2. He finished with 12 points off the bench, shooting 5-for-8 from the field.

DUDS

Gerald Green: The Celtics remain undefeated with Green in the starting lineup, but his impact on Game 1 was nowhere to be found. He played just seven minutes without taking a single shot from the field. The only stat he registered was a turnover while his plus/minus on the floor was -13.

Isaiah Thomas scores 33 as Celtics beat Wizards in Game 1

Isaiah Thomas scores 33 as Celtics beat Wizards in Game 1

BOSTON – Two weeks ago, Isaiah Thomas was less than 24 hours removed from the death of his baby sister, Chyna Thomas. 

He played well, but it wasn’t enough to get the win because he got very little help from his teammates. 

Call it a lesson learned. 

Because 24 hours after attending the funeral of his sister in Tacoma, Washington, Thomas delivered yet another 33-point performance – just like he did in Game 1 against Chicago. 

But there was a difference on Sunday – he got some help this time. 

Thomas’ scoring coupled with a pair of teammates also cracking the 20-point plateau – Jae Crowder and Al Horford – was enough to propel Boston to a hard fought 123-111 Game 1 win over the Washington Wizards. 

Game 2 in this best-of-seven series will be Tuesday night at the TD Garden. 

This game, like most of the four regular season battles with Washington, was not easy to come by even when the Celtics seemingly had the game under control in the second half. 

After a red-hot third quarter that propelled Boston to a 15-point lead, the Celtics cooled off considerably to start the fourth. 

That’s all the Wizards needed as they opened the quarter with a 9-0 run, similar to how they began the game.  

Boston’s first points of the fourth didn’t come until Thomas made a short floater with just under eight minutes to play. 

Washington showed tremendous fight in trying to get back in the game, while the Celtics did what they needed to do in order to keep a healthy distance score-wise between themselves and the Wizards.

Indeed, the Celtics had fought too hard and for too long to blow this game. 

The Celtics didn’t take their first lead until a Crowder 3-pointer put Boston ahead 73-71 with just under seven minutes to play in the third quarter. He finished with a playoff career-high 24 points and six rebounds.

Washington soon tied it up, only for Crowder to strike again with another 3-pointer that made it a 76-73 game. 

The Celtics continued to surge ahead.

After a Marcus Smart steal, Avery Bradley moments later drained a wide open 3-pointer to give Boston an 81-74 lead to cap off a 13-3 run by the Celtics which led to a Wizards time-out with 4:45 to play in the quarter. 

Boston continued to pull away, ending the third with a 27-9 run which gave them a 95-80 lead going into the fourth quarter. 

The Wizards didn’t just come out hitting to start the game; they were absolutely smacking the Celtics around something silly as they opened the game with a 16-0 run and led by as many as 17 points in the first quarter. 

Marcin Gortat, who had a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds, did most of the damage early on. But as the game progressed, Washington’s John Wall (20 points, 16 assists) and Bradley Beal (27 points, four assists) put their imprint on the game as well.

Thomas got the Celtics on the scoreboard after being fouled on a three-point attempt. He would give Boston its first points of the game, making all three free throws with 8:04 to play in the quarter. 

The Celtics spent the rest of the first quarter facing a double-digit deficit which stood at 38-24 at the end of the first. 

Boston opened the second quarter with a 7-2 run which led to Wizards coach Scott Brooks calling a time-out with 10:27 to play in the half with Boston now trailing 40-31. 

The Celtics surge continued with the eventually tying the game up at 42-all after a Crowder 3-pointer. 

Washington regained the lead, but a 3-point play by Avery Bradley tied the game up again at 49-all.

Boston continued to hang close in the first half, which gave them the confidence to surge ahead in the second for the victory.