O'Neal delivers finest Celtics performance

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O'Neal delivers finest Celtics performance

BOSTON -- For some veteran players, a condensed season means conserving minutes and limiting time on the court to preserve energy for the next game.

Jermaine ONeal wants the opposite of that.

On Friday night, ONeal played nearly 29 minutes in the Celtics' win against the Detroit Pistons. He scored a team-high 19 points (7-for-9 FG) and grabbed seven rebounds. It was his highest point total since last April in which he scored 15 points in 36 minutes.

ONeal, who had not played more than 22 minutes the first three games of the season, was able to find his rhythm -- and the basket.

I was able to be effective by playing extended minutes, he said after the Celtics' 96-85 victory. I think when you can get a rhythm, you can get a flow, you can get comfortable with what the team is doing.

You look at the first couple of games, I was in and out of there so fast, it was almost impossible to get any flow to the game. But more than anything, concentrating on the task and thats setting screens, rolling to the basket, try to get to the open spot, and this team is about a team. Its about finding the open guy and helping the next guy get his shot. Tonight it just was falling for me.

Coach Doc Rivers was complimentary of the big mans performance after the game.

He was terrific, said Rivers. He gave us a great lift, played with great energy. He made shots, but the offensive part, to me, came from doing his job, really. I told him that. I thought he was really focused on setting picks and rebounding and doing all the little things.

Its funny, we just talked about this as a group and I said, Guys who do that, its amazing how you get rewarded somehow. And thats what happened, to me. He kept setting picks on Ray Allen. And listen, JOs no dummy. If you set a pick on Ray, everyones jumping to Ray and he kept slipping it. He sought it early in the game, and thats brilliant. He did his job by getting Ray open and he benefited from it, and we benefited from it.

Allen, who scored 17 points, appreciated his teammates efforts.

He was huge, Allen said of ONeal. He showed his length, his presence, he rotated over, he made guys miss around the basket. Even if he wasnt in position, he gradually saw them coming and he gave us great position deep in the paint. And he made his shots. He played a great game for us.

On paper, Friday night was ONeals best game since joining the Celtics last season. He agrees with that assessment on the offensive end, but points that he judges his overall performance on more than just scoring baskets. He looks to continue staying out of foul trouble early and helping the team on the defensive end.

Im not going to let the offensive end dictate, and I know people are always going to judge that part of me how I helped the team based off that, he said. air or not, thats just how people are. But defensively and rebounding is where Im going to judge myself and thats my role.

Ive heard people ask me, Why would you accept that role? Because thats what you do on a championship-caliber team. You accept your role and you get into that position and you own that position. Thats what I want to do.

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. 

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.

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
 
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.

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Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
 
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
 
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
 
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
 
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
 
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
 
How different is anyone's guess.
 
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
 
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
 
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
 
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
 
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
 
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
 
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
 
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
 
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."