Celtics grab a win, dodge a bullet

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Celtics grab a win, dodge a bullet

The Garden will be rocking when the Bruins take the ice tonight, and I'll have something on the B's a little later this afternoon. But first, I want to quickly touch on Wednesday night's Garden fiesta.

First of all, the Celtics are on another planet.

Last night, they were up against a young, athletic, well-rested and massively-motivated Hawks team, whose star, Josh Smith, was hotter than Minka Kelly. On top of that, the C's were less than 24 hours removed from their biggest regular season win in years, had traveled through the night and didn't make it back to Boston until 3 a.m. To make matters worse, they were forced to play without their new sixth man and still-crunch time shooting guard Ray Allen. And it didn't help that all three refs had money on the Hawks.

Still, through it all, the Celtics came out on top. They've now won four straight, eight of their last 10, and 11 of their last 14 games. For the first time all season, they now own home court advantage in the playoffs and are only two games behind the Pacers for the third seed in the East. As a result, the vibe around this team is better than it's been at any point since the Kendrick Perkins trade. Whether or not anyone really believes the C's have what it takes to win four four-game series and hoist another trophy, I'm not sure. But everyone's having fun. And after all this team has been through since that aforementioned trade, peace and happiness alone almost feels like a victory.

But for all the goodness that came out of last night's win, the memory that will stick with me most is much more somber. A reminder that even though the C's are currently on another planet, they're at the same time so perpetually close to plummeting back to Earth.

"Noooo!"

"It's like we've just been waiting for that."

"Bass = done"

Those were three texts that simultaneously popped up on my phone during last night's overtime, in the seconds after Brandon Bass collapsed to the parquet, clutching his knee, after suffering an injury that looked like every ACL tear that we've ever seen.

In that moment, the Celtics were done. All they'd achieved, all the strides they'd made since the All-Star Break, since the trade deadline, since they embarked on this ridiculous April schedule, were crumpled up in a ball and shoved down our throats. And it hurt.

Of course, Bass got up. Somehow, by some ridiculous stroke of luck, not only was his season saved, but he was able to finish the game. He helped carry the Celtics to victory. But in that brief moment, we were all reminded of just how fine a line the C's are walking on this unbelievable, inexplicable run back to the top of the Eastern Conference.

On that note, I'd just like to give a quick shut out to the Basketball Gods:

"Guys, we get it! No need for anymore reminders!"

Next up for the Celtics, three road games in three days.

Next up for Boston, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

I'll have more on that coming up next.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Update: Three-way Cavs, Nuggets, Pacers deal for George 'very unlikely'

Update: Three-way Cavs, Nuggets, Pacers deal for George 'very unlikely'

We knew back on the night of the draft that as the Cavaliers desperately looked for a way to pry Paul George out of Indiana, they started involving third teams in the talks (because Indy had no interest in Kevin Love for Paul George straight up, not should they). Phoenix was involved, but that fizzled. So did talks involving Denver.

But those latter ones didn’t die the night of the draft, according to reports that came out over the weekend. Denver, Cleveland, and Indiana were still talking about a three-team deal that would land Love in Denver and George in Cleveland. The challenge for Cleveland was finding the combination of young players and draft picks that Indiana wants in a deal — Indy is rumored to want a lottery pick (preferably high lottery) and a young player or players.

Now that Denver three-team is “very unlikely” to happen, according to Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Click here for the complete story.

NFL's Top 10 list revealed Monday night: Where does Tom Brady wind up?

NFL's Top 10 list revealed Monday night: Where does Tom Brady wind up?

NFL players vote every year on which players should make up the list of the best their game has to offer, but it's an imperfect system. And that's probably putting it lightly. 

The NFL Network will reveal the final 10 players on its annual Top 100 list Monday night at 8 p.m. It will be an order that has been chosen by some players, not all. Of those who took part, some hastily made their way through a handful of names at the end of last season handing over their choices. 

Yet it's the list the league ends up with, for better or for worse, prompting responses like JJ Watt's when he found out he was No. 35 this year after playing in three games last season. 

On NFL.com, the Top 100 list is described as the answer to the question, "Who are the top 100 players in the NFL today?" If that's the criteria -- and not simply performance in 2016 -- then Watt's complaint actually doesn't hold much water. If he's healthy, no one would argue that he's one of the best 35 players "in the NFL today."

This year, several Patriots players from 2016 made the cut: Rob Gronkowski (No. 23), LeGarrette Blount (No. 80), Julian Edelman (No. 71), Dont'a Hightower (No. 94) and Malcolm Butler (No. 99). 

Tom Brady will be the last of Bill Belichick's players to be named. He's lumped into a Top 10 that will include Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Ezekiel Elliott, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, Von Miller and Khalil Mack.

Here's what we think the list should look like when the curtain falls on the finale of this flawed endeavor:

10. Elliott
9. Beckham
8. Bell
7. Brown
6. Ryan
5. Jones
4. Miller
3. Mack
2. Rodgers
1. Brady