East All-Stars fall short in flashy affair, 148-143

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East All-Stars fall short in flashy affair, 148-143

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES Teamwork. Crisp ball-handling. Defense.

Keeping with what has been an All-Star game tradition, you didn't find any of those traits in heavy supply on Sunday.

So it should come as no surprise that the Boston Celtics' All-Star quartet had little impact as the West held on for a 148-143 win.

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo were all All-Stars prior to Sunday's game.

Their success in Boston has been due in large part to their collective efforts, and not necessarily because of their individual skills.

NBA All-Star games are not conducive to players who are at their best in a team-oriented system.

"It's more of a pick-up game setting," said Pierce, playing in his ninth All-Star Game. "It's kind of hard. You're not in a system. You're in a free-flowing game. Usually it's made for the better athletes, the guys that can get up and dunk and put on a show."

That certainly was what the Staples Center crowd got from one of their own, Kobe Bryant.

Bryant finished with 37 points and 14 rebounds, and was an obvious choice in claiming his fourth All-star game MVP award.

"Let's be honest, Kobe had it going, to say the least," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Eastern Conference squad.

As for the Celtics' fantastic four, Rondo had the best game statistically.

He finished with eight assists and six points. Allen led all Celtics in scoring, with nine points. Pierce chipped in with six points.

One of the few Celtics highlights came in the fourth when Garnett, who had four points and five rebounds, grabbed a rebound and launched a long outlet pass to Allen who soared in for a dunk.

For Garnett, Sunday's game was his 14th consecutive All-Star appearance, which ties an NBA record he now shares with Jerry West, Karl Malone and current Celtics teammate Shaquille O'Neal.

"To be in your prime and play All-Star caliber basketball is a compliment to you and your work ethic," Garnett said. "I'm just fortunate I was here with three others, coaching staff and guys in the organization. If this is the last one, couldn't go out a better way."

Aside from Rondo, there's no telling if any of the other three Celtics will ever be back as All-Stars.

Allen has shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon, but you have to believe at some point Sugar Ray's jumper won't be nearly as sweet as it is. Pierce is getting up in age, and his game will also likely undergo a decline in the coming years. Ditto for Garnett.

But for one night, in Los Angeles of all places, the four pillars to the Celtics' resurgence played on the grandest stage of them all.

And while it certainly would have been nice if one or all of them put up big numbers, that's never been their style since donning a Celtics uniform.

Boston has been so successful because despite their immense talent, each has sacrifice some facet of their game in order to help the C's remain a title contender.

When you spend years making those kind of sacrifices, it's hard to imagine tossing that to the side for one night.

So as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James (29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists) battled it out for the All-Star Game MVP award, you could find Garnett and company on the bench, cheering on their rent-a-teammates like James and New York's Amar'e Stoudemire (29 points, six rebounds).

And while all involved agree that the free-flowing nature of the game didn't necessarily jive with what the Celtics do best, that shouldn't detract from what will surely be a memorable weekend.

"I'm just trying to enjoy myself, enjoy the moment," Rondo said. "I'm just trying to enjoy myself."

Having three teammates there, plus the entire Celtics coaching staff, certainly helped.

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.