Celtics close to reuniting with Green

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Celtics close to reuniting with Green

BOSTON All that stands between Jeff Green and the Boston Celtics officially reuniting are a few crossed T's and dotted I's.
Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com on Wednesday that the long-awaited return of Green back to the Celtics should become official any day now.
"There's just paperwork stuff now," Ainge told CSNNE.com. "We're waiting to get signatures, league approval and all that stuff."
It's not clear if Green meant to get Celtics Nation fired up about his return, but there was increased speculation on Wednesday that his contract was officially done when Green sent a one-word message -- "Finally!!!" -- via Twitter.After weeks in which both sides seemingly had the framework in place for a four-year deal that's expected to average 9 million per season, multiple league sources confirmed on Wednesday that a deal would become official soon.
While some may scoff at the idea of Green coming off the C's bench pulling down what's considered a starter's salary, the Celtics are essentially banking on him -- literally -- outperforming his contract akin to what Rajon Rondo did after he signed an extension with the C's in 2009.
At the time, signing Rondo to a five-year, 55 million contract was seen in some NBA circles as a bit excessive.
He was a point guard with a not-so-great jumper (OK, a bad jumper), benefiting heavily from a talented trio of Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen (now with the Miami Heat).
But in hindsight, it turned out to be money well spent.
Rondo's shooting stroke has improved and his court vision is unmatched in the NBA.
And while his jumper isn't on par with some of the NBA's other elite point guards, Rondo's all-around game has established him as one of the game's best and brightest playmakers.
With an aging core of veterans around him, the 6-foot-1 guard -- an all-star each of the last three seasons -- has established himself as the future face of the franchise once Garnett and Pierce retire.As for Green, no one knows exactly what to expect after he missed all of last season following heart surgery.
While all indications are that he has made a full recovery and might actually be even more fit now, skepticism will remain in play until Green returns to action.
"When I sat with Jeff through the medical process and saw four different specialists about his heart, it was pretty clear that Jeff would return and that he would be in even better condition and in better shape," Ainge said in an earlier interview. "After his procedure, everything has gone great. He'll be out on the basketball court going full tilt very soon."
During his time away from the game, Green was back in Boston quickly.
He would sit on the bench, one of the first faces you see when the Celtics made a big play and the cameras panned on the sideline. A significant part of his recovery time was spent in Boston as well.
So even as fans became somewhat frustrated and concerned about the length of time it has taken for his contract to become official, the C's brass and Green's camp never wavered in their belief that the 2012-2013 NBA season would begin with Jeff Green in a Celtics uniform.
For Boston, this should complete what has been a whirlwind of a summer that included the highs of maneuvering a highly complicated sign-and-trade to acquire Courtney Lee from Houston, and the low point being Ray Allen's decision to leave Boston and play for Miami at half the salary he would have earned had he remained a Celtic.
But Danny Ainge wouldn't be Danny Ainge if he wasn't at the very least open to the idea of pulling off another deal between now and training camp.
When asked if the Green signing would be the last major deal for the C's this offseason, Ainge said, "I don't know the answer to that. It depends on what opportunities are out there, but I like where we are right now."
The roster that Ainge has assembled is arguably the deepest Doc Rivers has ever had to work with in terms of talent in both the starting lineup and coming off the bench -- and that was before the addition of Green.
His return can only improve the Celtics' chances at achieving the only kind of success that this franchise fully embraces -- winning a championship.

Beyond The Numbers: C's need to get better on the boards in second quarter

Beyond The Numbers: C's need to get better on the boards in second quarter

CHICAGO -- Following Boston's Game 3 win on Friday against the Chicago Bulls, Brad Stevens was pleased with his team's performance but cautious about feeling too good.
 
"Gotta play better in Game 4," Stevens said at the time.
 
It's Coach Speak 101 to talk about the need to improve following a victory in the playoffs.
 
But Stevens is spot-on when he talks about his team needing to make on-the-fly improvements if it is to prevail again tonight in Game 4.
 
There are many areas that have been problematic for the Celtics in this series, but none as consistently worrisome as the way they've struggled in the second quarter in all three playoff games.
 
In the second quarter the Celtics have been outscored 74-49, or by 8.3 points per game.
 
Stevens recognized this going into Game 3, which was, in part, why Isaiah Thomas was subbed out after about six or so minutes in the first quarter, and returned to play all but 24 seconds of the second.
 
Good strategy, right?
 
In theory, it made a lot of sense. Thomas is your best scorer. Points have been harder to come by in the second quarter. Put Thomas on the floor in the second and . . . point-a-palooza right?
 
Nope.
 
In fact, Boston actually had its worst second quarter of the series in Game 3.
 
The Celtics shot just 22.7 percent from the field (5-for-22) in the second quarter after having shot 34.8 and 35.0 percent, respectively, in the second quarters of Games 1 and 2.
 
But Boston struggling to score in the second quarter isn't unusual.
 
During the regular season, the Celtics ranked among the NBA's top-scoring teams in the first (12th), third (7th) and fourth (1st) quarters of games.
 
But in the second, they were in the bottom 10 (23rd) with a 25.7 points-per-game scoring average.
 
The knee-jerk reaction is to put the blame on the bench players, who typically see most of their playing time in the second quarter. But as we saw in Game 3, with Thomas out there for most of the second, problems still arise before halftime.
 
What's at the heart of their second-quarter struggles?
 
The same thing that has been an issue for Boston all season: Rebounding.
 
It's been troubling for Boston all season, but those struggles have become magnified in the second quarter of this series.
 
For the series, Boston has been outrebounded by 12.3 boards per game. And with many of those rebounds being on the offensive end, it forces the Celtics' defense to play longer than it should due to Chicago getting multiple cracks at scoring. And the Bulls aren't giving up many offensive boards, which puts an even greater premium on Boston making shots since the likelihood of getting a second or third chance at scoring is unlikely.
 
And the massive rebounding advantage has centered around Chicago's ability to dominate the boards in the second quarter.
 
If you take away the rebounding numbers in the second quarter of this series, the Celtics are grabbing just 4.3 less rebounds per game than the Bulls, which is a palatable gap for Boston to have and still be successful.
 
So an improved effort on the glass in the second quarter is exactly what the Celtics to rid themselves of what has been a first-rate problem thus far in this series.

NBA fines Rondo $25,000 for attempting to trip Crowder in Game 3

NBA fines Rondo $25,000 for attempting to trip Crowder in Game 3

CHICAGO -- This has not been Rajon Rondo’s week.
 
First there was the fractured right thumb fracture that will keep likely keep him out for the remainder of Chicago’s first-round series with Boston.
 
And now comes the news that the former Celtic will be fined $25,000 for an attempted tripping incident involving Boston’s Jae Crowder in the first half of Boston’s 104-87 Game 3 win on Friday.
 
Crowder had made a 3-pointer near the Bulls’ bench. He then turned towards the bench and started running up court. Replays show Rondo stretching out his right leg in between strides taken by Crowder.
 
When asked about what appeared to be him trying to trip Crowder up, Rondo said his right leg -- the one he had surgically repaired following a torn ACL injury in 2013 -- sometimes stiffens up when he’s on the bench so all he was doing was trying to stretch it at that time.
 
I asked Jae Crowder about the incident as he was leaving practice on Saturday at Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago.
 
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he told CSNNE.com. “Was it intentional?”
 
Apparently, the league thought so.