OFFSEASON

Celtics to face lots of desperate foes

191544.jpg

Celtics to face lots of desperate foes

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Ray Allen still had a bandage above his eye two days after catching an elbow against the New York Knicks. It wasnt the first blow hes taken this season, and with the playoffs just a month away, he doesnt expect it will be the last.

Its getting down to crunch time in the NBA. Teams around the league are amping up for the postseason - leaving it all on the court and playing each game like its their last, knowing if they dont get it done, they could be packing up in April.

As the Celtics (50-20) battle for home court in the Eastern Conference, they will face a lineup of competitors fighting to stay on top - or stay in it altogether.

What I dont want to do is just make a mistake and take that mindset, like that team is not as good as we are, Allen said. Never, because for any level of sport, for any sport, youve got to respect your opponent by doing your job every single night. And I think thats where you end up losing games because you dont measure up to the competition and play them the way they should be played.

Take Wednesdays loss to the Rudy Gay-less Memphis Grizzlies as an example. The Grizzlies needed a win to maintain a two-game lead over the Houston Rockets for the final spot in the West. They got the victory and moved within half a game of the New Orleans Hornets for the seventh seed.

The Celtics, on the other hand, fell one game behind the Chicago Bulls in conference standings.

Every game means a lot to us right now, Glen Davis said after the upset. Were trying to get as many wins as possible to finish out the year strong. We want to achieve one of our goals and thats winning the Eastern Conference and having home-court advantage. Right now, were losing games and were losing time. So weve got to get it together as soon as possible.

The Celtics have 12 games left in the regular season, and the majority of their remaining opponents will be fighting for playoff seeding just like the Cs.
March 25 vs. Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats (28-42) have lost 8 of their last 10 games, dropping three games out of the eighth seed in the East. They will be desperate for a win in Boston on Friday.

March 27 at Indiana Pacers
The Pacers (32-40) are currently clinging to a three-game lead over the final spot in the Eastern Conference. Each contest could make a difference between the postseason and end of the season for this inconsistent team.

March 31 at San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs (57-14) sit atop the Western Conference, six games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers. Home-court advantage is critical for the Spurs, and this veteran club won't let up against a team like the Celtics.

April 1 at Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks (40-32) have been plummeting, dropping seven of their last 10 games. They are in risk of losing their fifth seed to the Philadelphia 76ers, who are gaining ground, making this April game critical for their postseason ranking.

April 5 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers (37-34) have been one of the hottest teams in the second half. They are inching their way up the Eastern Conference standings, and have already proven they can beat the Celtics this season.
April 7 at Chicago Bulls
The Bulls (51-19) currently have a one-game lead over the Celtics for first place in the East. After going 9-1 in their last 10 contests, they are challenging the Cs for the highly coveted home-court advantage.

April 10 at Miami Heat
The Heat (49-22) have won three straight to pull within 1 12 games of the Celtics. While they are currently ranked third in the East, expect LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to attempt a last-minute push to improve their position in the standings.

April 13 vs. New York Knicks
Theres no doubt the Knicks (35-36) will have Mondays collapse against the Celtics on their minds when they meet for the final game of the regular season. This is a potential first round match up, and neither team will go easy on the other.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

OFFSEASON

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

You’re probably thinking the summer fireworks are finished after the Celtics brought back Tyler Zeller, added ex-Celtic Gerald Green, and signed rookies Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil. It’s true, these moves do lower the likelihood of a multifaceted trade, but it doesn’t totally extinguish the odds of something seismic happening.

The Celtics still retain their flexibility, since none of these deals have actually been finalized. Even after they are, they’d still have the pieces required to make a deal work for a superstar like Blake Griffin. It’s not hard to make a valid trade for one player, but it is difficult if it’s a multi-step process like a Russell Westbrook renegotiate-and-extend trade.

“This is not necessarily what the team will be,” a source told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “There’s probably changes coming.”

Well, yeah. Changes have to come. The Celtics don’t really have a choice here.

Assuming Jaylen Brown is signed, they’ll have 18 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts. So at least three players will have to be exported before the season, since the NBA requires a maximum of 15 players on a roster.

Here’s a look at the Celtics’ current projected depth chart:

  STARTERS BENCH RESERVES ON THE BUBBLE
FRONT COURT Amir Johnson Kelly Olynyk Tyler Zeller  
Al Horford Jonas Jerebko Jordan Mickey Ben Bentil*
Jae Crowder Jaylen Brown* Gerald Green James Young
BACK COURT Avery Bradley Marcus Smart RJ Hunter John Holland*
Isaiah Thomas Terry Rozier Demetrius Jackson  

So, something has to happen. It’s just a matter of what. You can choose to believe the Celtics aren’t actually trying to make a blockbuster move. Or you can choose to believe the signals that have been firing off this month from the Celtics themselves indicating they’re “not done.”

It wouldn’t be difficult for the Celtics to get closer to 15 players by completing a blockbuster trade for a player like Griffin.
 
Perhaps some combination of veterans (Amir Johnson, Avery Bradley, and Jonas Jerebko) with youth (Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, and James Young) and draft picks (2018 Nets pick) could bring in Griffin and Paul Pierce.

Saturday’s moves make sense regardless of any transactions to follow.

Zeller is a bargain at just $8 million as a steadying presence on both ends of the floor. But, if Johnson were dealt, he’d be able to slide right up the depth chart as the team’s backup center.

Green shot 37.2 percent on spot up threes, per SportVU, over the past three years, so he provides spacing as a scorer who can catch fire. Considering Brad Stevens’ track record of sapping every ounce of talent out of each of his players -- hello, Jordan Crawford! -- it’s possible the Celtics will be getting the Green who scored an efficient 15.8 points per game just two years ago in Phoenix, and not the subpar Green who struggled to stay on the court last year in Miami.

If one or two of Boston’s young wings were dealt, Green, on a mere veteran minimum contract, would have an even easier path to playing time as a spark off the bench.

It’s difficult to read into the signings of second-round picks Jackson and Bentil, but either way the should both spend the season developing with the Celtics’ D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

The Celtics haven’t made a move yet, but they also haven’t done anything to suggest they’re entirely done. These moves could be precursors to something significant, or not. But at the least they provide depth to an already impressive roster.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics agree deal with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

celtics_tyler_zeller_122115.jpg

Report: Celtics agree deal with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

On a busy Saturday for the Celtics, they have brought back center Tyler Zeller and agreed to deals with draft picks Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reported.

Earlier Saturday, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported that the Celtics will sign guard Gerald Green. 

Himmelsbach reports that Zeller's is a $16 million, two-year deal with the second-year not guaranteed. Jackson, the point guard from Notre Dame who was the 45th overall selection in the draft, has a guaranteed deal and Bentil, the forward from Providence who was the 51st player drafted, has a partially guaranteed deal. 

Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald reported that the second-year of Zeller's deal is a team option and that Green agreed to a one-year deal at the $1.4 million veteran mininum based on his nine years of NBA service.

The 7-foot Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.8 minutes a game last season. 

R.J. Hunter, James Young, Bentil and John Holland are in position to fight for the final roster spot, Himmelsbach reports, pending more deals, which the Celtics are reportedly working on. A source told Himmelsbach, that while there are probably changes coming, "There is no big deal right now." 

Bulpett reported that Celtics' talks with the Philadelphia 76ers involving a deal for Sixers' big man Jahlil Okafor have, according to sources, grown "stale" and that the moves Saturday put 2014 draft pick James Young's roster spot in jeopardy.

With Green, Zeller, and No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have has 15 guaranteed contracts and three partial or non-guaranteed deals. 

 

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

boston-celtics-gerald-green-072216.jpg

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin.