Celtics blown away by Miami, 100-77

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Celtics blown away by Miami, 100-77

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI A year ago this time, there were questions about the Boston Celtics' toughness, about their ability to lock in to opponents, about whether they had any Celtic pride left.

Well, here we are once again asking a lot of those same questions following a 100-77 drilling at the hands of the Miami Heat on Sunday.

The margin of defeat was the largest any Celtics team has endured this season, and it came in what was arguably the biggest game of the season.

Red flags, anyone?

Celtics Nation isn't the only one unsure of what to make of this team right now.

"Especially going into the playoffs," said a visibly dejected Paul Pierce, who had a team-high 24 points. "You expect a little more urgency, especially in the last week of the season. But we understand what it is. The hustle game, it's killing us."

Miami outscored Boston 18-3 in second-chance points. They rebounding margin was plus 16 for the Heat. Miami had a 12-3 advantage in fast-break points.

It was without question the most dominated the C's have been in a game this season.

"They just outplayed us," said Jermaine O'Neal, who had zero rebounds for the second straight game.

Of course, his struggles by no means should be considered an isolated issue.

As you look at the entire Celtics roster, all of them contributed to Sunday's slaughter.

And the lopsided nature of the game was surprising when you consider the Celtics opened the game with an 8-0 run that was soon extended to an 11-2 lead. But as the quarter wore on Boston found itself holding on for dear life, and it ended with the Celtics on top by a single point, 22-21.

"The first quarter, we were playing great," said coach Doc Rivers. "We got away from what we were doing. We got the lead and I thought we just stopped doing exactly what we were doing on offense; that stretch of turnovers gave them life and got them back in the game."

Said Pierce: "We went away from what we were doing best. At the end of the day, today was all about a great game - a grind game - and they won that war."

Normally, such games work in the Celtics' favor.

But as the playoffs loom around the corner, Boston is starting to come up short more often than not when facing the better teams in such gritty, grimy-type games.

And they're coming up short against teams like Chicago and Miami, the kind of teams they'll have to go through in order to bring Banner 18 back to Boston.

The Bulls loss, last Thursday night, wasn't all that big a shock. No one in the NBA has been playing better than the Bulls lately. And even if the Celtics had won, they would have still needed some help in order to unseat the Bulls for the top spot in the East.

But the Heat loss really hurts.

Boston (55-25) won the first three meetings against Miami this season, and began Sunday's game playing for the sweep.

But after the Heat closed out the first playing well, they just continued to pull ahead and eventually take over the game - and with it, the inside track for the second seed in the East.

Miami (56-24) must simply win its two remaining games - both on the road at Atlanta and Toronto, respectively - in order to finish at No. 2.

As for the Celtics (55-25), they find themselves limping into the playoffs for the second straight season.

While there are certainly some who will take solace in the fact that they did essentially the same thing last year and managed to get to the NBA Finals, players and coaches agree the hole they've dug for themselves this year is much deeper - and will be a lot more challenge to come out of.

"It's a different team," said Rajon Rondo. "Not the same. I don't compare it at all to last year, or the year we won it. Everything is different."

Rondo's right.

Everything is different.

So far, not for the better.

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

Source: Celtics offseason focus is an All-Star frontcourt addition

Source: Celtics offseason focus is an All-Star frontcourt addition

WALTHAM, Mass. – No matter how an NBA team’s season ends, change is inevitable.
 
And while there’s no doubt that the Celtics are on the right track in terms of their ascension in the NBA, it's too soon to tell how many players on the Celtics’ 15-man roster that Danny Ainge, the president of basketball operations, will bring back next season.

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“One thing I do know. He’ll make the best decisions for the team and if players don’t end up being back here, I wish the best for them,” said Avery Bradley.  “Those are my brothers. We all had a special year. I appreciate everything, all the time I had with them. I’d love for all those guys to be back. We’ll see.”
 
And with Boston coming off its first trip to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012, adding just any player won’t cut it.
 
The Celtics’ mindset now isn’t just to improve, but get good enough to where they can better compete with the likes of Cleveland, which just ended the Celtics’ season with a Game 5 thumping.
 
The most significant move made by the Celtics last offseason was the signing of Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract.
 
Like most of his Boston teammates this season, Horford is eager to see what changes are in store this summer.
 
“We just have to wait and see,” Horford said. “We had such a good year. A lot of positive things. It’ll be interesting to see what Danny, the organization feels is going to be the next step.”
 
Multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com in recent weeks that the Celtics are focused on landing an All-Star caliber talent in the frontcourt.
 
That makes sense when you consider how guard-dominant the Celtics were this season and how that had a negative impact on the team’s rebounding and, to a lesser degree, their defense as a whole.
 
Gordon Hayward has emerged as a target, but all indications – for now at least – point toward him returning to Utah.
 
The Celtics may pursue Los Angeles Clippers big man Blake Griffin. Although like Hayward, he too is expected to re-sign with his current team for a max contract (for Griffin that would be five years, $175 million).
 
While trades are certainly in the cards for Boston, at this point the Celtics seem more inclined to improve their overall talent base via the draft and free agency.
 
“It’s always a good thing when you have the opportunity to add value to your team and don’t have to change your team too much,” said Celtics’ reserve Gerald Green, who will be a free agent this summer. “I’m going to be very interested to see what they do as far as building a team. We’re in a good place right now as far as being where we want to be organization-wise. I feel like we’re one or two steps away from actually being at the Finals. I think Danny has some things to think about, but I’m sure he’s going to do the job. I’ve seen Danny go to work in these situations. He always makes the team better. I’m pretty sure he’s got something planned that, at the end of the day, is going to make this organization better.”
 
Indeed, the Celtics could very well strengthen their position for next season by simply locking up some of their core players who may hit the free agent market soon.
 
Boston may look to work out an extension with Isaiah Thomas before the start of this season. Because if he hits free agency in the summer of 2018, he will be poised to command a salary that in year one would be worth more than the entire four-year, $27 million deal he signed with Phoenix in 2014.
 
“Boston’s changed my career, changed my life,” Thomas said. “I would love to be here long-term and win championships here. But as you guys know, it’s a business and anything can happen. I know that and understand that. But I would love to be here. This has been everything to me. This city, this organization … it’s been good.”

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet

It was still a banner year for Celtics, according to Bleacher Report tweet


Minutes after the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, the folks at Bleacher Report tweeted a video that celebrated the C’s one victory in the series. 

Ouch. 

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There are 17 Celtics championship banners that actually exist and hang at TD Garden. You won’t be seeing one for being a “finalist” or celebrating an actual sweep, such as Spurs over Cavs in the NBA Finals.