Garnett's the leading man with Celtics

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Garnett's the leading man with Celtics

When Mickael Pietrus hit the ground with such force that he suffered a Grade 3 concussion, he was there.

When Marquis Daniels collapsed to the ground, temporarily paralyzed on the parquet last season, he was there.

And when Rajon Rondo fell to the paint, fearing he had broken his elbow during last years playoffs, he was there.

Kevin Garnett is always there.

Over the past two seasons, the Boston Celtics have coped with frightening injuries on the court as well as medical conditions that required season-ending surgeries.

They were hit with tough news before they even reached Opening Day. In December, the Cs received news that Jeff Green would require season-ending heart surgery. Months later, they were given the same diagnosis for Chris Wilcox. Fast forward one week when they learned Jeramaine ONeal needed wrist surgery that would sideline him for the remainder of the season.

Throw in injuries that hampered nearly everyone else on the team at one point or another and the Celtics were faced with adversity and uncertainty throughout the entire season.

Through it all, one voice has kept his calm squad is these distressing times. The Celtics' intense leader on the floor has also been their emotional leader in the locker room.

See how Garnetts teammates have been impacted by his commitment and dedication to them along the way as they banded together and are making a postseason push.

Mickael Pietrus: Pietrus suffered a Grade 3 concussion in March against the Philadelphia 76ers. During his recovery, Garnett was one of many teammates to reach out to him. As his lockermate, Pietrus has quickly developed a close relationship with Garnett.

He really helped me. He helped me a lot. You know KG is going to look out for everybody in this locker room and thats why I told you before, that man is not about basketball. That man is all about life. Thats what I like about KG. He looks out for everybody in this locker room.

Rajon Rondo: The fiery point guard is no stranger to hitting the floor, but last season he suffered a more serious injury that left him fearing for the future of his career. When Rondo dislocated his left elbow during the Celtics' playoff series against the Miami Heat, Garnett was, once again, the voice that kept him calm.

He was the first down there to check on Pietrus. Hes a great teammate. I think he helps you focus and breathe. I remember when Marquis got hurt, he was very vocal. When MP got hurt, he was vocal. Every time I hit the floor, hes always telling me to take my time. I havent in as serious a situation as those guys, but I think it helped them stay focused and stay calm when you have somebodys voice you can hear and try not to panic.

You know what, a matter of fact? When I hurt my elbow, he just kept saying the same thing over and over again. I was trying to stay calm but I was worried if I was ever going to play again because I thought it was broken.

I think I learn from watching him as a teammate because hes not always going to be here . . . He just doesnt panic in those situations. Hes always calm and tries to give guys time. He wants to be that voice you can focus on. If anything is that serious, you can stay focused and listen to him and what hes telling you to do. Hes not a doctor but he does a better job than a lot of the doctors Ive seen.

Brandon Bass: Bass played on three NBA teams before joining the Celtics this season, yet he had never encountered a teammate as passionate as Garnett. In the months they have spent together, Bass has already been impacted by his fellow starter.
Kevin is an emotional, passionate guy. Thats what I love. Hes been like that since the first day I got here. When MP went down, he was there talking him through the whole thing. I know MP, he knew Kev would be there for him for life. Hes one of our vocal leaders and I would say the most passionate and emotional leaders, too . . . I havent played with anyone who is as serious and passionate vocally as him . . . A lot of our sayings around here all come from KG. When were down, one of his sayings is, Keep going. If he sees anybody having a bad game or struggling in any type of way, hell say, Keep going for the guys to keep going. He talks and he goes out and gives his best effort every night, so its easy to follow someone like that.

Avery Bradley: The soft-spoken, second-year guard has quietly been listening to Garnetts words of wisdom since joining the team last season. When talking about the veteran leadership of the Celtics, Bradley specifically mentioned Garnetts encouragement and motivation.

Whenever somebody fights through adversity, all it can do is make you better. Thats what were going to do. Kevin and those guys are going to lead us through it . . . We all feel like were all brothers in here, so we all care about each other and we all want each other to be successful . . . Im telling you, Kevin plays a big part in it. He says motivational stuff before the game. You can tell everybody is mentally prepared. Even when we didnt win, we came out so strong because our leader, hes prepared every game. He prepares the same way every single game. He takes every game seriously and it rubs off on his teammates . . . You know when its game time, when we get in the circle, he makes sure everybody is ready to play. It just shows his leadership.

Keyon Dooling: Dooling is known for being a top-notch locker room guy. He is big on character and treating his teammates well, which makes Garnetts actions resonate even more with him.

Kevin is Kevin. Kevin is pretty consistent in his disposition and his demeanor every day. Hes just an amazing, amazing person to be around. Hes been great . . . Adversity builds character, brings togetherness. Unfortunately weve had some hardships but weve handled them as a team about as good as you could handle it . . . I think thats the thing in professional athletics that gets lost. Sometimes were built up as really not being normal, and were about as normal as they come. Our job is just in a public forum. There are real-life situations going on. What Jeff went through earlier in the season, what Chris is going through, what MP went through, its a lot of hardships, a lot of adversity. But together, well get through it.

Garnett is averaging 17.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in the first two games of the Celtics - Hawks series. He has played 40 minutes in each contest, including the entire fourth quarter in Tuesday's Game 2 win as the Celtics were shorthanded without Rondo (suspension) and Ray Allen (ankle).

Like many of his teammates, he is battling through bumps and bruises. Garnett, 35, is playing with a hip flexor.

CSN NBA Insiders Notebook: Trade deadline winners and losers

CSN NBA Insiders Notebook: Trade deadline winners and losers

AN ARENA NEAR YOU –  The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, so the rosters you see now are pretty much what you’re going to see for the rest of the season.

Of course there will be some teams that will bolster their roster via buyout candidates, but most of those players will have a very defined and to a greater extent, limited role with whatever new team they sign with for the rest of this season.

So who were the winners and losers during this now-completed trade season?

Our CSN Insiders examine which franchises really cleaned up during the trade season, and which teams got taken to the cleaners in addition to looking at a few teams that struck gold during the buyout season as well as some that stood pat and why that was a good – or not so good – idea.

We start off North of the border where Toronto pulled off a pair of trades that in the eyes of many league executives and coaches, probably addressed their biggest needs going forward and should solidify them as a top-four team in the East with the potential now to go as high as the number two spot.

CSN New England’s A. Sherrod Blakely takes a closer look at the Raptors deal, how it paid off almost immediately and what it means for the Eastern Conference going forward.

 

TRADE DEADLINE WINNERS

 

Toronto Raptors

By adding Serge Ibaka, the Raptors were able to address the increasingly obvious need for them to upgrade their power forward position. Ibaka was traded from Oklahoma City to Orlando because they didn’t want to pay him a near-max salary this summer. And the Magic, realizing he wasn’t a good fit for them going forward, cut ties just months after acquiring him.

Playing with the Raptors has Ibaka in a familiar position, one that he enjoyed years of success in with the Thunder. Back then, it was Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook’s team, with Ibaka as a really good No. 3 guy. In Toronto, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are Ibaka’s Durant-Westbrook all over again and that’s a good thing. In his first game as a Raptor, Ibaka had 15 points and seven rebounds in Toronto’s win over Boston.

Considering Ibaka was going to be a player Toronto planned to pursue this summer when he becomes a free agent, acquiring him now makes the Raptors the odds-on favorite to sign him.

He wasn’t the only new guy for Toronto that gave the Celtics problems.

P.J. Tucker, acquired from the Phoenix Suns, had a near double-double against Boston with nine points and 10 rebounds.

The numbers they put up help, but even more important is they provide a heightened level of toughness which multiple league executives and coaches that CSNNE.com has talked with since All-Star weekend, said was sorely lacking on their roster.

If the Raptors manage to climb the Eastern Conference standings and play their way into a deep postseason run, these two trades will be seen as instrumental in making that happen. – by A. Sherrod Blakely

 

Houston Rockets

The Rockets bolstered their playoff push in a single trade by landing former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams from the Lakers. They sent Corey Brewer and a first round pick to Los Angeles in the deal. Williams gives the Rockets another high-scoring guard to complement James Harden and Eric Gordon. The addition of Williams’ instant spark off the bench can make a difference in the grind of a postseason series. – by Jessica Camerato

 

Los Angeles Lakers

They traded their most effective player, Sixth Man Lou Williams, for a player (Corey Brewer) and Houston’s unprotected No. 1 draft pick. The biggest upside might be that the loss of Williams makes LA an even weaker team and therefore improves its own draft positioning. If the Lakers continue on the lottery-bound path they are on, it would mark the fourth consecutive season they will have a lottery (top-14) selection. – by Monte Poole  

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

OKC needed a shake up if they had any hope of making noise in the postseason. They traded two young players in Joffrey Lauvergne and Cameron Payne, along with veteran Anthony Morrow to the Bulls for Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson and a second-round pick.

McDermott instantly improves the small forward position for Oklahoma, giving them a high end shooting option for Russell Westbrook to kick to. Gibson is a solid veteran big that defends and rebounds either as a starter or off the bench.

The Thunder gave up two young pieces in the deal, but they are in “win now” mode as they try to move up in the Western Conference standings. And while there were certainly more high profile moves made at the trade deadline, the Thunder can now set their sights on being more than just a team in the playoffs. These additions give them the kind of depth that’s required in the postseason to potentially knock off a higher-seeded team. – by James Ham

 

Orlando Magic

If you factor in all that the Magic gave up to acquire Serge Ibaka, only to trade him away for a good but not great player in Terrence Ross, there’s not a lot to like about the deal, right?

Not true.

Trading away Ibaka on many levels was a classic example of addition by subtraction.

The trade of Ibaka has allowed the Magic to play Aaron Gordon at his correct position at power forward.

The glut of forwards/centers had coach Frank Vogel trying to force Gordon to play at small forward which didn’t suit his strengths. He lacks the ball-handling and shooting to make that a natural transition.

“Everybody is now in their right position,” Vogel said. “Aaron being a four is better for him. He did well at the three defensively, but he’s better at the four.” – by J. Michael

 

Golden State Warriors

They took calls but made none of their own. The Warriors own the league’s best record, its No. 1 offense and its No. 1 defensive rating. They have no glaring needs. They may explore the buyout market if there is an intriguing candidate, but there is zero urgency. – by Monte Poole

 

Washington Wizards

The addition of Bojan Bogdanovic isn’t the sexiest deal to be swung during this trade season, but it meets what has clearly been one of Washington’s biggest weaknesses – depth.

Specifically, Washington needed to add a scorer off the bench which is exactly what Bogdanovic has the skills and talent to provide.

The Wizards haven’t ruled out another move in the free-agent market to help with the bench with a possible playoff run looming.

Trey Burke hasn’t been adequate as John Wall’s backup, Tomas Satoransky might not be ready for the role yet and Kelly Oubre hasn’t done the job behind Otto Porter.

The next move, if there is one, could be for the best player available but a creator with the second unit is desperately needed. – by J. Michael

 

LOSERS

Sacramento Kings

The Sacramento Kings hit a hard reset button on All-Star Sunday, dealing center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for a package that included rookie Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and a first and second round pick.

Sacramento received below market value for their franchise cornerstone and started a youth movement that was long overdue. They now have four first round picks from the 2016 NBA Draft and potentially two first round picks in the highly touted 2017 NBA draft.

The Kings sat just a game and a half out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff chase at the time of the move. They have been raked over the coals in the media for their handling of Cousins, including making promises to not only keep the star big, but hand him a $219 million extension this summer. They chose to reboot the franchise, calling for an improved culture. – by James Ham

 

Philadelphia 76ers

They had a logjam in the frontcourt with too many bodies, and they managed to clear it out a bit by trading Nerlens Noel to Dallas for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a heavily protected 2017 first-round pick.

But that in itself doesn’t make this a good deal.

In fact, it was one of the worst deals made at the trade deadline and here’s why.

They knew Bogut would seek a buyout immediately, so whatever benefit he could have provided in terms of his play, was out the window.

Move along to Anderson, a late first-round pick in 2015 who has shown signs of being a 3-and-D kind of player. He’s a solid addition, but Noel is a better player and has significantly more upside.

But the saving grace is the draft pick right?

Nope.

The pick will likely wind up being a second-rounder this year and in 2020.

So just to recap: Philly gave away a starter in Noel, and in return they wind up with a wing player who may play his way into the regular rotation eventually along with a pair of second round future draft picks. Knowing this deal will make the Sixers a weaker team, it’s almost like Sam Hinkie never left. – by A. Sherrod Blakely

 

Los Angeles Clippers

Their pursuit of another wing shooter came up empty, as did their perpetual search for a legitimate small forward. On the other hand, as a group that has been crippled by injuries to key players, they’ll be happy to have a healthy starting five once Chris Paul is back and effective. – by Monte Poole

 

New York Knicks

So, the Knicks are all still there. Between Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, at points leading up to the deadline it seemed like a player could be on the move. In the end, the team remained intact. No better, no worse, just the same. Which in this season, the same isn’t necessarily the best outcome. New York needed to make a move to shake up a roster that’s once again underachieving. No one expected the Knicks to be among the top three or four clubs, but they were seen at the very least as a legit playoff contender. Of course there’s still time for them to get back in the postseason picture. But with all the drama surrounding this team, it’s unlikely their direction will change anytime soon which means another season ending without a playoff berth – by Jessica Camerato

 

Boston Celtics

This team has been fireworks-in-waiting for years now, seemingly on the cusp of a big deal that ultimately turns into a big dud. It’s hard to be critical of a team that has endured as many injuries as they have this season and still find themselves in second place behind the NBA defending champion.

Because of their lofty position, the Celtics’ focus was primarily on landing a major player like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler or Indiana’s Paul George.

The Celtics struck out on both of those guys and wound up keeping their current roster intact.

Adding insult to injury, two players – Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker – were both players Boston was in the mix for in terms of signing only to get serious love from Toronto which traded for both players. When the Celtics opened their post All-Star break portion of the schedule in Toronto, Ibaka and Tucker were huge factors in the game’s outcome. The Celtics did try to get in on acquiring the soon-to-be bought out Andrew Bogut only to learn that he’s likely signing with Cleveland. – by A. Sherrod Blakely

 


BUYOUT WINNER

Cleveland Cavaliers

Indeed, the rich will get richer in the East with the Cavaliers on the cusp of adding both Andrew Bogut and Deron Williams who became unrestricted free agents. Bogut is nearly complete with a buyout after he was traded to Philadelphia from Dallas, while Williams was waived by the Mavericks when they could not find a partner to swing a trade for his services.

With Bogut, the Cavs add one of the best defensive centers in the NBA. Injuries have limited his impact this season, but the load he’ll be asked to carry is relatively small compared to what the former No. 1 overall pick has been tasked with elsewhere.

As for Williams, he gives them a ready-to-roll backup point guard. When Kyrie Irving takes a rest, LeBron James has often been shifted to being the primary ball-handler. But the addition of Williams gives the Cavs another choice coming off the bench of a player who has played this game for a while and has a solid understanding of how to run a team effectively. – by A. Sherrod Blakely

 

 

DENNIS SCHRODER OFF TO A ROUGH START AFTER ALL-STAR BREAK

When the Hawks opted to move on from Jeff Teague, the assumption was that Dennis Schroder was ready to be the starting point guard.

Coming out of All-Star break, Schroder has served a one-game suspension for not reporting to the team on time and then was benched for the first half of the next game because he missed the team bus.

Going into Monday, the Hawks had a three-game losing streak by a total of 53 points.

“We continue to hold our entire roster, all of our players, accountable,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Our culture is important to us. Respect for your teammates is important to us. That’s our job and that’s our organization’s job is to continue to build on our culture.” – by J. Michael

 

KNICKS WAIVE JENNINGS, ROSE NEXT?

Brandon Jennings had expressed a desire to join a title-contending team. Well he got his wish – partially anyway – when the New York Knicks waived him on Monday. The eight-year veteran will surface with another team, but the question is where? The Cavaliers may have an agreement in principle with Deron Williams who was waived by Dallas, but could they have a change of heart and pursue Jennings instead? Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reports that the Knicks might also be interested in waiving Derrick Rose. The Knicks are a bad team and judging by some of the moves being made by the front office, they’re not going to be better anytime soon. – by A. Sherrod Blakely

Avery Bradley (Achilles) returning to Celtics lineup vs. Hawks

Avery Bradley (Achilles) returning to Celtics lineup vs. Hawks

BOSTON – The wait is finally over for the Boston Celtics and Avery Bradley.

Bradley will return to the Celtics starting lineup tonight after having missed the previous 18 games (and 22 out of 23) with a right Achilles injury.

“I’m excited to be back out there,” Bradley said. “I can’t wait for the game to start.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will play with a minutes restriction for the first week, and adjust accordingly.

“I wanted to come back four weeks ago,” Bradley said. “But I have to do what’s smartest. Those (medical) guys know better than me. It was tough listening to them. But we came to a compromise I guess you could say and I can play tonight. I’m happy with that decision.”

Bradley said the training staff wanted him to get more practices playing at the level he’s accustomed to, prior to returning to action.

But with the Celtics’ schedule, practice time would be few and far between so limiting his minutes initially is indeed a compromise of sorts.

Although rookie Jaylen Brown has done a solid job filling in for Bradley with the first unit, Stevens had every intention of Bradley returning as a starter.

“He’s our starting two-guard,” Stevens said. “We started the year really well as far as that group playing together. We haven’t had that group playing together very often. Jaylen and Marcus (Smart) are both able to give us a lot off the bench as well as if we need to plug them into a (starting) lineup later on. We feel good about that.”

As far as handling Bradley’s minutes this week, Stevens has a very simple approach to what he needs to do.

“I’m just going to play him in the first couple of stints,” Stevens said. “And when his minutes run out he won’t play anymore. It is hard if you’re trying to save minutes for the end. I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense with getting stiff, sitting for a long time, coming off a long lay-off.”

Bradley is the Celtics’ second-leading scorer at 17.7 points per game along with a team-high 6.9 rebounds. A first-team All-NBA Defender last season, Bradley is also shooting a career-high 40.9 percent from 3-point range.