Friday Free Throws: KG sightings; poker for Pierce


Friday Free Throws: KG sightings; poker for Pierce

By JessicaCamerato Follow@JCameratoNBA
Welcome to the first edition of Friday Free Throws, a weekly recap of news, notes, and information that may not have made the headlines but are still worth a read.

Lets kick off the debut with a few notes on one player you dont see much about during the offseason Kevin Garnett.

Garnett was spotted last weekend in Canada, and it wasnt for the Stanley Cup Finals. Garnett was seen dining and relaxing during Montreals Grand Prix Weekend, a three-day celebration centered around the Grand Prix race.

Years after Garnett moved from South Carolina, he is still inspiring others there to hoop. Washington Wizards forward Trevor Booker held his first Tru-Ballers 5 on 5 Basketball Tournament last week in Mauldin, Garnetts hometown. Mauldin Mayor Don Godbey told the Greenville News, It was a renewal of what Kevin Garnett had started when he helped build the basketball court at Springfield Park. Trevor decided to bring it back and it was great. It was well-organized and good for the community and the citizens.

And in case you missed it during the season, Garnett is one of several athletes endorsing ZICO Coconut Water. He is currently featured on ZICOs homepage (he is the letter I) and in a promotion on their Facebook page for a free beverage. "I dont mind being the face of the coconut water boom," Garnett told CNBCs Darren Rovell in March. Theres so many people who care more and more about what is going into their body and I can help grow that awareness.

Pierce takes a gamble
Its no secret Paul Pierce thrives in high-pressure situation, but one source of preparation may surprise you. Pierce recently competed in his first World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. I think poker has really helped me develop patience and that helps me in everything I do in life, he told It helps me on the basketball court, to be more patient and to be more of a thinking player and to be smarter out there. View photos of Pierce working on his other game here.

Celtics? Lakers? Bulls? Who is the top team in the NBA?
As part of their 125th anniversary, Sporting News named their 10 Greatest NBA Teams of All Time. The Celtics made two appearances on the list at the fourth (1985-86) and fifth spots (1964-65). Top honor went to the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers were named ranked second (1971-72) and third (1986-87).

Celtics Tweet of the Week
@paulpierce34: "My 13yrs in Boston 2world series 1 NBA championship 3 super bowls know 1 Stanley cup what a place to b a sports fan"

Birthdays of the Week
Former Celtics first-round pick (11th overall) Jerome Moiso turned 33 on June 15. Moiso was drafted in 2000 and scored 35 points in 24 games during his first (and only) season in Boston . . . Allan Ray turned 27 on June 17. Ray, who played for the Celtics just prior to Ray Allens arrival, averaged 6.2 points during the 2006-07 season.

This Week in NBA History
The Celtics won their 17th World Championship on June 17, 2008 by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers, 131-92, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden. Pierce was named Finals MVP, Garnett proved anything is possible, and Brian Scalabrine delivered one of the most entertaining impromptu postgame press conferences ever.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at!JCamerato

Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

Blakely: Game 4 loss shows just how much Celtics miss Isaiah

CLEVELAND --  Down the stretch in Game 4, the Celtics were desperate for someone, anyone, who could slow down Kyrie Irving.
But short of that, Boston could have used an offensive closer, too. You know, someone like Isaiah Thomas.



The Celtics have relied on the two-time All-Star to carry much of the offensive burden this season, but he was almost always at his best in the fourth quarter.
A right hip injury knocked him out of this series after 1 1/2 games. Still, Boston managed to win Game 3 without him and, for large chunks of Tuesday night, seemed poised to beat the Cavs again on their home floor.
But as much as Game 4 was a reminder of just how special a talent Irving is (42 points, 21 in the third quarter when the game’s momentum swung in Cleveland's favor), it also provided a clue to the clueless who thought the Celtics were actually better without Isaiah Thomas.
It’s no secret that teams go to great lengths to try and use his 5-foot-9 stature against him. And as we have seen, the deeper we get into the postseason the more trouble he and the Celtics seem to encounter from a defensive standpoint.
But just as we praise Irving for being such a special talent, Thomas has shown that he, too, has offensive gifts that, throughout this season, have left many fans, media and defenders befuddled as to how “the little fella” keeps coming up with one big play, one big shot after another.
But as we have learned, he has been dealing with a sore right hip injury for several weeks. The pain and discomfort eventually became too much to bear and so the Celtics did the right thing and shut him down.
Without him, the C's are still a good team that on any given night can knock off anyone, even the defending champs.
But as Game 4 reminded us, they need Thomas in order to be their best.
When Irving torched Boston’s entire defense with jumpers, ankle-breaking crossovers, Euro-step lay-ups and free throws, the Celtics had no one to turn to who could maybe, just maybe, go back at Irving at the other end of the floor.
That's what Thomas does that makes him such a special, unique talent in this league.
He can score in a variety of ways, with the best in the NBA.
We saw that this past season, when he led all players in the Eastern Conference in scoring with a 28.9 points-per-game average.
Boston’s excellent ball movement and high assist numbers are certainly important to the team’s success. But to make a deep and meaningful playoff run, you need one or two guys who can just go get buckets regardless of what the opponent does defensively.
That’s not Avery Bradley.
That’s not Al Horford.
That’s not Kelly Olynyk.
You can search, poke and prod this roster all you want, and you'll come up empty when it comes to finding a player like that . . . other than Isaiah Thomas.
The fact the Celtics were able to avoid getting swept is a victory of sorts in itself. Boston’s coaching staff, as well as the front office, has repeatedly said that as talented as their team is, they aren’t on the same level of the defending champion Cavaliers.
And yet here we are four games into this series and the Celtics are basically a bad half of basketball away from being tied, 2-2.
It says a lot about their mental toughness, their ability to handle and navigate past adversity to give themselves a chance to be competitive against any team -- including the Cavs.
But their success this season has always been about the collective group, regardless of how many late-game shots Isaiah Thomas knocks down.
And while he has his shortcomings defensively, not having him available is going to hurt them in those late-game moments when they need a closer. It’s not a coincidence the Celtics were just 2-4 when he didn’t play during the regular season.
So as cool as it was for them to win Game 3 without Thomas, he’s still the straw that stirs the Celtics emotionally, bringing them to levels few think they're capable of reaching.
They were able to get by for one night without him, but remember this: It took Marcus Smart having an Isaiah Thomas-like game of 27 points and seven made 3’s, for them to win.
No one did anything remotely close to that Tuesday night.
They looked like the Isaiah Thomas-less Celtics, which is a look they don’t need this time of year.
Because that look is so not about winning.