Friday Free Throws: KG sightings; poker for Pierce

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Friday Free Throws: KG sightings; poker for Pierce

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com 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 PokerListings.com. 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 http:twitter.com!JCamerato

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – For most of his life, basketball has come easy to James Young.
 
So, the idea that in training camp he wasn’t just fighting to get playing time but also to stay in the NBA, was a jarring eye-opener.
 
To Young’s credit, he rose to the challenge and beat out R.J. Hunter for the Celtics' final roster spot.
 
And while Young’s playing time has been sporadic, he has done a much better job of maximizing his opportunities.
 
So, as the Celtics roll into Detroit to face the Pistons, Young finds himself playing his best basketball as a pro, good enough to make coach Brad Stevens not hesitate to put him in the game in the fourth quarter of a close matchup.
 
“It’s exciting to come back home,” Young, who grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., told CSNNE.com. “A lot of my family will be there. I’m not thinking about me. I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team.”
 
And lately, he’s getting an opportunity to do just that beyond being someone who helps in practice.
 
We saw that in the 107-97 loss at Toronto on Friday. Young came off the bench to play four minutes, 36 seconds in the fourth quarter with only two other Celtics reserves, Marcus Smart (8:39) and Jonas Jerebko (5:10) seeing more action down the stretch.
 
“It means a lot,” Young said. “He’s starting to trust me a little bit more. That’s a good thing. I’m just trying to do little things; rebound, get defensive stops and score when I get a chance.”
 
The fact that his scoring is just starting to take shape helps shed some light on why he has been buried so deep on the Celtics bench.
 
For his first couple seasons, Young seemed a hesitant shooter physically overwhelmed by opponents too strong for him to defend as well as too physical for him to limit their effectiveness.
 
But this season, he has done a better job at holding his own as a defender while making himself an available scoring option who can play off his teammates.
 
Young is averaging just 2.9 points per game this season, but he’s shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3’s, which is also a career-high.
 
Getting on the floor more often has in many ways provided yet another boost of confidence to Young.
 
“I’m getting used to the flow of the game playing more consistently,” Young said. “I know what to do. It’s slowing up a little more and it’s getting easier.”
 

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
 
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
 
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
 
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
 
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
 
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
 
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
 
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
 
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
 
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
 
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
 
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
 
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
 
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
 
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
 
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
 
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
 
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
 
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
 
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
 
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
 
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
 
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
 
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.