OFFSEASON

Celtics know importance of Game 5 vs. Sixers

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Celtics know importance of Game 5 vs. Sixers

WALTHAM At this point, there's no point in reminding the Boston Celtics that Game 5 is, you know, kind of a big deal in this series.

With the series knotted up at 2-2, Game 5's winner will be in great position to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals where a sure-to-be-bludgeoned Miami-Indiana series winner will be.

But if you expect Celtics coach Doc Rivers to deliver a Knute Rockne-esque speech to his players leading into Monday's Game 5 tilt against the Philadelphia 76ers . . . that's just not going to happen.

"I don't think I have to talk about it a whole bunch," Rivers said. "It's a swing game; but it's a swing game for both teams. Game 5s and Game 7s are pretty much the same."

With the one difference being a Celtics loss in Game 5 means they'd have to win the final two games of the series, the first on the road and another at home.

That would flow well with the team's season-long knack for making most situations tougher than they should be.

But there's no "maybe next game" following a Game 7 loss.

The season is over and you're making plans for offseason beach shores, and for some of the Celtics, offseason surgery.

Boston wants no part of that, which is why Monday night's Game 5 battle should be one of the C's better performances this season.

Having an extra day in between games certainly bodes well for the many Celtic players dealing with an assortment of bumps and bruises.

But that extra time off means one more day to think about the opportunity they let slip away in Game 4.

"If we had played today, it would have been over, gone," Rivers said when asked about whether the team would have trouble moving past the Game 4 loss. "We don't play today, so that may allow it to stick a little longer. But for the most part, you get over it. You have no choice."

Indeed, the Celtics have had their share of tough defeats both in the regular season and in the playoffs.

More often than not, they don't just bounce back with a better performance.

They respond with some of their best individual and collective performances, the kind of track record that leads one to expect a Celtics team in Game 5 to play at an extremely high level.

"A lot of it is mental, preparation, understanding what it takes," said Paul Pierce. "All of those things, a combination of those things, really helps us out being a veteran ball club."

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics secure meeting with Dwight Howard

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Report: Celtics secure meeting with Dwight Howard

In February, the Boston Celtics were involved in trade deadline talks with the Houston Rockets involving center Dwight Howard.

It appears the team still has interest in the free-agent big man. 

According to ESPN, the Celtics have secured a meeting with Howard after July 1.

Howard, 30, became a free agent after declining a player option that would have paid him more the $23 million in 2016-17 

OFFSEASON

Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

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Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

BOSTON -- When you’re the Boston Celtics and you have your sights set on a star like Kevin Durant, the potential impact on your roster is undeniable.

That’s a good thing, right?

Well . . . not exactly.

One of the options that the Celtics are considering during the free agency period is whether to waive Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko before July 3 which would create additional salary cap space to potentially sign Durant and another near max-salaried player.

But here’s the problem.

Boston could potentially waive Johnson and Jerebko, fail to get Durant or another elite free agent and see the duo gone for nothing in return while they play their way into a big contract toiling in the NBA’s basement with one of the league’s worst teams.

How you ask?

Multiple league sources contacted by CSNNE.com Tuesday night indicated that if the Celtics waive both players, it’s “very likely” that both will be claimed off waivers.

According to a league office official, waiver priority goes to the team with the worst record attempting to claim a player.

And what team had the worst record in the NBA last season?

Yup. The 10-win Philadelphia 76ers.

And what team was right behind them, or ahead depending on how you look at things?

The lowly, 17-win Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson is due $12 million next season while Jerebko is due to earn $5 million, chump change in this new age of the NBA with the 2016-2017 salary cap expected to be around $94 million.

In addition, both players would join clubs in contract years. Couple that with each being relatively productive and there’s the potential for each player to have a really big season.

Johnson was the Celtics’ top rim-protector last season, in addition to being a solid pick-and-roll defender. He also averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds with 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game. 

And Jerebko shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range last season, and finished up the playoffs in the starting lineup.

The Celtics are well aware of how valuable both players were to Boston’s success last season, and how their production relative to their contracts makes them extremely important to whatever team they play for.

To lose them for what would essentially be a lottery ticket in the Durant sweepstakes, is certainly a gamble that it remains to be seen if the Celtics are willing to take.

Best-case scenario for Boston is to know where they stand with Durant within the first 24 hours of free agency which would then allow them time to make a more informed decision about Johnson and Jerebko’s futures.

As you can imagine, the Celtics are as eager as any team to know what Durant plans to do this summer.

Because the way things are starting to take shape with Boston’s pursuit of the former league MVP, he’s going to have an impact on the Celtics’ roster one way or another.