C's motivation won't be an issue against Heat

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C's motivation won't be an issue against Heat

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

MIAMI The Boston Celtics' Big Four share an NBA title from 2008, and came within a few minutes of a second championship last year.

The Celtics have won nearly 75 percent of the regular season games (233-92) played since Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined forces with Paul Pierce and an up-and-coming point guard, some guy named Rajon Rondo.

You don't have that kind of success without understanding how to perform in big games.

And Sunday's game against the Miami Heat?

They don't get much bigger than that for the Celtics before the playoffs.

Both teams share the No. 2 spot in the East with identical 55-24 records.

But the Celtics hold the tie-breaker because they swept the first three games of the regular season series. Because of that, the C's would get the higher seed if they finished in a tie.

Which brings us back to Sunday's game.

Knowing what's at stake, it's a given the Celtics would come out with great energy and focus.

But as we've come to find with this team, nothing should be taken for granted.

That's why Celtics head coach Doc Rivers isn't too keen on proclaiming that his team will be ready to play at a high enough level to win on Sunday.

"It does bother me because if we would have done our job, this would have been decided," Rivers said. "And that's what bothers me. Now, we've put ourselves in this position."

And only they can get themselves out of it.

To do so, Boston will have to continue its dominance of the Heat. Boston has won its last three road games against Miami, and seven of the last eight at America Airlines Arena.

But those games featured a different team.

And the stakes back then weren't nearly as high as they are now.

The Celtics players know that there have been times lately when their sense of urgency deserves to be questioned.

But they don't see that as an issue on Sunday.

"I expect everybody to be ready," said Boston's Allen. "A game like that I don't look over my shoulder, wondering if guys are going to be ready to play."

Pierce had similar thoughts on the C's approach to Sunday's nationally televised matchup.

"This is a big game for us," Pierce said. "That's what we are playing for, for the home court advantage. Not only for the first round, but hopefully we will see them in the second round. This is a big game for us when you are talking about seeds and trying to advance in the playoffs. It's huge."

And while the Celtics have shown a certain dominance over the Heat, even with all their highly regarded additions, there's no mistaking that the Miami Heat team they see on Sunday will come in with a playoff-like mentality.

"You are going to get an extremely hungry team in Miami for a lot of reasons," Rivers said. "We're going into a hornet's nest and we're going to have to deal with it."

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

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas is ‘our leprechaun’

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Ainge: Isaiah Thomas is ‘our leprechaun’

The Celtics will be represented at the NBA Draft Lottery by guard Isaiah Thomas. Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge discussed this and more on Wednesday.

Celtics like Butler, but Bulls not making him easy to acquire

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Celtics like Butler, but Bulls not making him easy to acquire

BOSTON – It’s no secret that the Boston Celtics are among the many teams that would love to swing a deal to acquire Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

Well for now at least, it appears the Bulls aren’t willing to budge off moving their all-star small forward.

A league source tells CSNNE.com that the Bulls, while still open to listening to offers for Butler, are telling teams that are inquiring about his availability that their plan for now is to keep him in the fold.

And while there was some thought that a top-3 pick coupled with a few decent players might be enough to entice the Bulls to pull the trigger on a deal to trade Butler, CSNNE.com has been told such an offer would have to include at least one “legitimate, NBA starter” for the Bulls to even possibly consider trading him.

“And that might be a stretch,” the source indicated.

Any deal involving Butler to Boston from Chicago’s perspective, would most likely have to include Jae Crowder who is one of the best bargains in the NBA – and will be so for years to come.

With the increased salary cap on the horizon this summer for teams, the five-year, $35 million deal Crowder signed last summer is looking like an absolute steal on the Celtics’ part.

Meanwhile, Butler just completed the first year of a five-year, $92.3 million contract which raises questions if you’re the Celtics as to whether the difference in their salaries makes doing such a deal worth it.

If you’re the Celtics, such a deal would be a significant bump in paid-out salaries but it would also better position Boston to acquire a second superstar a la Kevin Durant who will be a free agent this summer.

There are a number of options for the Celtics to consider in their current rebuilding process, with one possibility being to fall back on the ‘07 “blueprint for success.”

Boston used the No. 5 overall pick (Jeff Green) as part of a trade with Seattle (now Oklahoma City) that helped the Celtics land Ray Allen.

A couple of months later, Boston was able to engineer a trade for Kevin Garnett who played for Minnesota at the time.

And the rest was Banner 17 history.

Without acquiring Allen, there was no way the Celtics were going to land Garnett.

And if the goal for the Celtics is to catapult itself to being a title contender sooner rather than later, they’re going to have to acquire an elite, all-star caliber talent before they have a serious shot at Durant.

Could Butler be this year’s Ray Allen?

At this point, the Bulls have no intention of allowing that to happen.

More likely than not, the Celtics will have to go in a different direction which may result in Boston pulling off a deal for Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.

Like the Bulls, the Kings are saying all the right things now about not wanting to trade him.

Celtics work out Finney-Smith, five others on Wednesday

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Celtics work out Finney-Smith, five others on Wednesday

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics brought in six players for workouts on Wednesday. Here’s a glimpse at each player, all of whom are considered potential second-round selections or prospects likely to go undrafted.
 

Dorian Finney-Smith

6-8, 220, Florida

Position: Forward

Summary: Was second-team All-SEC by coaches and third-team all-conference by the AP. Led Gators in scoring (14.3) and rebounds (8.3) for the second and third consecutive seasons, respectively.

Projected draft status: Second round.

 

Quincy Ford

6-8, 225, Northeastern

Position: Guard/Forward

Summary: Averaged 16.4 points, 7.0 rebounds while shooting 34.8 percent on 3s. Underwent season-ending back surgery that sidelined him for the 2013-2014 season. Bounced back with a pair of solid seasons, the last of which earned him a spot of on the NABC All-District Second team as well as the All-CAA Second team.

Projected draft status: Late second, undrafted.

 

Marcus Georges-Hunt

6-5, 216, Georgia Tech

Position: Guard

Summary: Averaged 16.7 points, shooting 45.4 percent from the field while dishing out a team-high 3.3 assists per game. Has a knack for getting to the free throw line, evident by him ranking 13th in free throws made and 18th in free throw attempts.

Projected draft status: Undrafted, maybe late second round.

 

Sheldon McClellan

6-5, 200, Miami

Position: Guard

Summary: A transfer from Texas, McClellan averaged 16.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists for Miami this past season while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 40.6 percent on 3s. Has a lot of tools that are intriguing to the NBA, but consistency and decision-making are areas of uncertainty about where he’ll eventually land.

Projected draft status: Second round pick.

 

Mike Tobey

7-0, 260, Virginia

Position: Center

Summary: Turned a few heads during Portsmouth Invitational when he averaged 12 points per game. Appeared in all 37 games this season with Virginia, but only had seven starts. Shot a team-best 60.1 percent from the field and was second on the team with 22 blocked shots.

Projected draft status: Undrafted.

 

Jameel Warney

6-8, 260, Stony Brook

Position: Power forward

Summary: The best player in Stony Brook history, Warney was a double-double machine this season in which he averaged 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds to go with 3.0 blocked shots. An Honorable mention All-American, Warney was the America East Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Does not have much of a face-the-basket game but does provide a nice strong presence defensively.

Projected draft status: Second round to undrafted.