Celtics' strong second half beats Bucks, 89-83

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Celtics' strong second half beats Bucks, 89-83

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MILWAUKEE Nobody had any idea how Nenad Krstic would fit in with the Boston Celtics.

He was, after all, the "other" guy in the blockbuster trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder that netted the C's Jeff Green.

Regardless of what many thought his role might be, Krstic is making a major impact for the Celtics.

He certainly did on Sunday as Boston rallied for an 89-83 win over the pesky Milwaukee Bucks.

Milwaukee trailed 84-82 with the ball, but Brandon Jennings missed a wide-open base-line jumper.

Kevin Garnett grabbed the rebound.

Moments later, Garnett nailed a jumper that put the Celtics ahead, 86-82.

And in the game's closing seconds, Garnett came up with a blocked shot that sealed the victory.

Aside from Garnett's late-game heroics, it was the play of Krstic early on that proved instrumental in the Celtics extending their winning streak to five straight.

Krstic, who has started every game since being acquired by the Celtics, had 17 points along with 4 rebounds.

"He finishes so well and so much better than I knew," said coach Doc Rivers. "The guys are very comfortable with him."

Krstic being compared to Kendrick Perkins are inevitable. Perkins was the C's starting center, a job that now belongs to Krstic.

And while Perkins certainly had a way of impacting the game for the Celtics, the same can be said for Krstic.

Rivers recalled how Krstic handles a certain play where the big man pops out, and may be left open for a jumpshot.

Krstic took the shot and made it on Sunday.

"We've been running that play since I've been here," Rivers said. "That may be the first time that big has taken that shot. That was terrific to see. That makes that play even better, when you have a big that they can't sink in to take away Paul's post-up. If he can do that, that's going to make us really good."

Krstic said all of his Celtics teammates have been helpful, but Kevin Garnett's contributions have stood out.

"All credit goes to Kevin," Krstic told CSNNE.com. "He's accepted me from first day. KG has been like a mentor to me; on the court, showing me all the plays. Even on the court, he talks, helps me get in the right position on defense. He has been great to me."

Garnett says Krstic has caught on quickly to the Celtics' style of basketball.

"All it is, is hard work, commitment and some effort," Garnett said. "He's going to help us."

He did on Sunday in a game in which the Celtics starters and reserves were both out of sync early on.

In the fourth, the Celtics got a bunch of defensive stops and some timely shots, one of which was a 3-pointer by newly acquired Sasha Pavlovic that gave the Celtics a 72-65 lead, their largest of the game at that point.

Boston's play down the stretch was a far cry from how it started the game.

The Celtics fell behind 20-10, but reeled off 10 straight to tie the score.

Boston managed to take a slim 27-26 lead after the first quarter following a 3-pointer by Paul Pierce with 29 seconds remaining.

The second quarter was dominated by the Bucks as they pulled ahead by as many as 10 points.

Boston's problems were obvious -- turnovers.

The C's coughed up the ball seven times in the second quarter, which led to five points for the Bucks.

It wasn't necessarily the points that Milwaukee generated from Boston's mistakes.

More to the point was how those miscues disrupted the Celtics from getting into a good flow offensively.

Even with a slew of turnovers and poor play from both the starting unit and the patch-work bench -- Boston only had nine players suited up -- the C's were down by just six points at the half.

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

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

BOSTON – It appears there may be an answer to the mystery surrounding Josh Jackson’s decision to not work out for the Boston Celtics leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft.

While conventional wisdom tells us that such decisions are often made by the agent who in this case is former NBA player B.J. Armstrong.

Boston instead selected Jayson Tatum at No. 3 with the Phoenix Suns scooping up Jackson with the No. 4 pick.

MORE: Danny Ainge on Josh Jackson: 'He didn’t want to play for the Celtics'

During Jackson’s introductory press conference, there was a sense that it wasn’t necessarily Armstrong who strong-armed Jackson into not working out for the Celtics. But apparently, he got an assist from Suns General Manager (and ex-Celtics assistant GM) Ryan McDonough.

A reporter asked McDonough if Phoenix may have encouraged Jackson to cancel his workout with the Celtics who were flying into Sacramento, Calif. to watch Jackson workout only for it to be canceled after they had departed which as you can imagine, did not go over well with Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations.

“I’d like to consult my attorney B.J. Armstrong (Jackson’s agent),” McDonough said, smiling.

The more McDonough talked, the clearer it became that he and Armstrong were in cahoots to do all they could to get Boston to pass on Jackson at No. 3 which as McDonough mentioned, doesn’t break any rules.

“You guys all know my history with the Celtics and the respect I have for Danny Ainge and the organization,” McDonough told reporters on Friday. “But I think you guys who know me well know how competitive I am. Look, it is a competition. The Celtics were ahead of us at No. 3 and they could have selected whoever they wanted to. I think they got a very good player in Jayson Tatum, but that doesn’t mean B.J. and I and … other members of my staff couldn’t talk and try to formulate the best plan to get a player we were really high on to a place we felt he really wanted to go and would be a great fit for him.”

McDonough is right in that no rules were broken if he and Armstrong did decide to work together in an effort to get Jackson to Phoenix.

But to cancel the workout after the Celtics executives and head coach Brad Stevens had left, forcing them to spend a night on the road for a workout that Jackson’s camp probably knew wasn’t going to happen well before the Celtics contingent boarded for Sacramento … not cool.

Here are words I thought I would never say … the Ball clan got it right.

They told Boston from the jump that Lonzo Ball wasn’t going to work out for them, so the Celtics knew he didn’t want to be a Celtic from the very beginning.

Jackson’s actions said the same, but his words kept hope alive that he would work out or at the very least, talk to the Celtics organization – neither of which happened.

He kept referring to the fact that he didn’t think Boston was interested in him when they had the number one pick (that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if they asked him to work out for them; otherwise, what’s the point from the Celtics'  perspective of asking to work out a guy they had no interest in drafting?)

After they traded down to the number 3 pick, a deal that was cemented last weekend, Jackson said there wasn’t time to do a workout for Boston.

The draft was nearly a week away and he didn’t have time to work out for a team that had the third pick overall knowing that the top two picks (Markelle Fultz at No. 1 and Lonzo Ball at No. 2) were essentially accounted for?

“If I could have, I probably would have worked out for them,” Jackson said (with a straight face). “But I think everything worked out for the best.”

Yup.

Boston will once again be among the better teams in the East and will contend for the best record like they achieved this past season before their season ended in the Conference finals to Cleveland. 

Jackson will spend his rookie season playing a lot of minutes with a Suns team that probably won’t win as many games as he did a year ago at Kansas (33).

Enjoy.

Report: Celtics could land George if they sign Hayward

Report: Celtics could land George if they sign Hayward

As rumors swirl in this post-draft, pre-free agency week for the NBA, Adam Kaufman of 98.5 The Sports Hub reported Friday that the Celtics could land long-rumored target Gordon Hayward AND trade for Paul George. And Kaufman says George would be more than just a one-year rental.

Kaufman elaborated on a possible George deal on his "Celtics @ 7" show Saturday. He said the trade with the Indiana Pacers wouldn't cost Boston next year's Brooklyn pick, rather it would be the first-round pick (Lakers 2018 or Kings 2010) acquired this week from the Philadelphia 76ers when Boston traded down the No. 1 for No. 3, along with Jae Crowder and another salary filler. 

MORE CELTICS: 

Before you run out and buy that No. 13 Celtics Paul George jersey, Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com explains how financially disadvantageous it would be for George - long thought to want to head to the Lakers - to do this.