Blakely: Celtics' voices loom large in lockout

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Blakely: Celtics' voices loom large in lockout

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn The Boston Celtics got in a little bit of pre-lockout business by picking up the second-year option on Avery Bradley along with making a qualifying offer to Jeff Green, which makes him a restricted free agent.

By making the 5.9 million qualifying offer, the Celtics can match any offer made to Green who came to Boston via Oklahoma City on Feb. 24 via trade.

Normally such news would create thoughts about next season and how Bradley and Green fit into the C's mix moving forward.

But no one around NBA gave much thought to individual moves made on Thursday.

Instead, the focus remained squarely on the league's immediate future, which remains murky at best.

The NBA's owners and player's union made one last-ditch effort on Thursday to avoid the league's first lockout since the lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season.

Both sides remain far apart on several issues such as instituting a harder salary cap, shortening contracts and scaling back salaries.

"I'm not scared, but resigned to potential damage this could cause to our league," NBA commissioner David Stern told reporters in New York after both sides met for three hours in what both described as being "cordial" talks.

With so much at stake, two of the more dominant voices behind-the-scenes for the player's union have been Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Garnett gave an "inspired sermon" to the union last week in which he made it clear he was more than willing to sit out the entire season and thus forfeit all of his 18.8 million salary.

Pierce, who is the C's union representative, came into the league on the cusp of the league's last lockout in 1998.

"I've seen a lot of guys end their career during the lockout," Pierce said. "They couldn't get back to the level of play. It's always about staying ready. Even at my age, I think a lot of guys, they go through the lockout in October. November comes, guys my age get lazy, probably don't work out. And then it bites them when they lift the lockout."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

Stars, studs and duds: Olynyk finding his stride off Celtics bench

BOSTON – It’s easy to forget that Kelly Olynyk went several months without doing anything basketball-related as he was on the mend from shoulder surgery.

His return had its share of ups and downs, but it seems the 7-foot center has found his stride and he’s making opponents pay for it.

For the second time in as many games, Olynyk came up big for the Celtics as Boston continued on its winning ways with a 108-98 win over Charlotte.

Olynyk, who scored a season-high 26 points in Boston’s win at Atlanta on Friday, had an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Hornets on Monday.

Assertive. Aggressive. Contract year.

It doesn’t matter how you describe what or why Olynyk is ballin’ so hard lately.

The point is he’s doing it a better job of recognizing opportunities to make plays and executing whatever role he’s being asked to play.

“Just feeling good with the second unit,” Olynyk said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive and help the starters out.”

In the past, teams have mixed up their defensive coverages on Olynyk which frequently left him being guarded by a quicker but smaller player, or a big man with limited mobility.

Often Olynyk settled for long range shots and 3’s, regardless of the defender.

But as we’ve seen the last couple of games, he has hurt teams with his scoring around the rim which has in turn opened things up for his teammates or himself.

“We need him to play like that all the time,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “When he’s aggressive, looking for his shot, shooting open shots, even getting in there getting rebounds, offensive put-backs, that only helps us as a unit. And he’s done a great job of that the past couple games. We need that from him.”

And as he gets further removed from his offseason surgery, opportunities for him to be an impactful player for Boston will only grow.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game.

 

STARS

Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics win, and Isaiah Thomas has another offensive flurry in the fourth quarter. So what else is new? He led all scorers with 35 points which included 17 in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker

He’s still playing at a level that puts him in the All-Star conversation, but it’s not going to happen with the Hornets continuing to struggle. They’ve lost five in a row now despite Walker’s 24 points on Monday.

 

STUDS

Al Horford

Boston is playing more inside-out basketball of late, and that’s opening things up for both Horford and his teammates. Against the Hornets he had 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting along with six rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Olynyk

For the second straight game, Olynyk had a strong, impactful performance for the Celtics utilizing his strengths as a perimeter threat and a 7-footer who can take advantage of smaller defenders around the rim. He finished with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting to go with nine rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Marvin Williams

He was the only other Hornet besides Kemba Walker who really impacted the game significantly. Williams had 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range.

Jae Crowder

The 6-foot-6 Crowder continues to have a sneaky-good season for the Celtics, particularly with his 3-point shooting which ranks among the league leaders. On Monday he had 15 points which included a trio of 3-pointers to go with seven rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

 

DUDS

Nicolas Batum

Avery Bradley put most of his effort and attention into defending Batum and man, did it ever pay off. Batum grabbed 10 rebounds, but wound up missing nine of his 11 shots from the field to finish with just four points.