OFFSEASON

Garnett goes cold in Game 4

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Garnett goes cold in Game 4

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON On some nights, Kevin Garnett can still be the best player on the basketball court.

On others, not so much.

The Boston Celtics got the latter on Monday, as Garnett's struggles contributed to the Celtics losing a heart-breaking 98-90 Game 4 matchup in overtime to the Miami Heat.

With the loss, the C's trail the Heat 3-1 in the best-of-seven series that now shifts back to Miami, where the Heat can close out the C's on Wednesday.

Garnett, who was unstoppable in Boston's Game 3 win, turned in arguably the worst playoff game of his illustrious Hall of Fame career.

He finished with just seven points, missing 9 of his 10 shots from the field -- the worst Garnett has ever shot from the field in a playoff game.

"I didn't have the rhythm I had the other night," a somber Garnett said following the loss. "I was expecing them to make some adjustments."

Miami did just that by sending an occasional double-team or tilting a defender towards him from time to time.

As impressive as the Heat's defense may have been on Garnett, his struggles were deeper than that.

On far too many possessions, Garnett fell back into the mentality of a facilitator instead of someone looking to score.

"They trapped him a couple times, and I thought he was probably looking more for traps," said coach Doc Rivers. "He was looking to be a passer to me, more than being an aggressive scorer."

One of the many strengths of Garnett's game is his willingness to get others involved in the scoring.

But there are games when the C's count on him heavily to carry the load as a scorer.

Game 3 on Saturday and Monday's Game 4 were a couple of those games.

Reasons for Garnett's struggles are plentiful. One might be that he was too tired and worn down to make an impact after having so little time in-between games. Another would be the always reliable, "He's too old."

Making matters worse, Garnett's struggles occurred on the same night that the man he lit up in Game 3, Chris Bosh, went off for 20 points and 12 rebounds. None of Bosh's plays were bigger than his tip-in with 24.2 seconds to play in overtime, which put the Heat ahead by five points.

When asked about Bosh's game, Garnett would only answer with, "Next question."

It was a fitting response, when you consider his play will raise a number of questions for the Celtics as they head into Game 5 at Miami on Wednesday.

Which Kevin Garnett will show up? The one that dominated Bosh in Game 3 or the one that was a no-show in Game 4?

Are Garnett's struggle because he's old, injured, or some combination of the two?

While those are all trendy topics to discuss, there's only one question that Celtics fans want to know.

Do the C's have enough confidence to go into a hostile environment like Miami and come away with a victory?

"We've never lacked confidence, and when our backs to the wall we've shown great resilience," Garnett said. "We'll see what we're made of."

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

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

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Report: Celtics make qualifying offers to Zeller, Sullinger

All the free-agent focus on the Celtics has been on players -- Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard -- who they might bring in. But they have players they might lose, too.

One, of course, is Evan Turner, who's an unrestricted free agent, free to sign to anyone after July 1. But they also have two others, Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger, who could have joined Turner on the completely open market if they didn't tender them qualifying offers.

Yesterday, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, they did just that:

Zeller and Sullinger are still free to solicit offers. But, because they made the qualifying offers, the Celtics have the right to match any deal the two might receive and keep them in Boston.

OFFSEASON

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

BOSTON -- In some circles the pursuit of Dwight Howard by the Boston Celtics is just as perplexing as Boston being one of the six teams getting an audience with Kevin Durant and, with that, a shot at the Durant sweepstakes this summer. 
 
Both serve as examples of how the Celts are no longer at the back of the line when it comes to being a potential destination for the best free agents. 
 
Of course it’s about sealing the deal, and getting the best free agents on the market under contract, and all that good stuff.
 
But before that can happen, Boston has to be seen as a place to even be seriously considered by free agents. That's exactly what we’re starting to see happen right now.
 
It’s easy to point to the Celtics having a ton of salary cap space, which in itself makes them a possible landing spot for players who we all know will be hauling in max to near-max salaries this offseason.
 
But there’s just one problem with that line of thought. More than half the league enters free agency with enough money to sign one max player.

The fact that Boston is on the short list for the summer’s top free agent (Durant) and have already secured a sit-down with one of the top centers (Howard) says a lot in terms of how far Boston has come in the eyes of players. 
 
And several factors point towards the Celtics getting an audience with other top-shelf free agents this summer if they fail to secure one or two of their top choices.
 
But let’s not kid ourselves. How others view this franchise is the reality of what the Celtics have to deal with when it comes to adding elite, upper-echelon talent like Durant. 
 
The fact that Durant is willing to include Boston in his short-list of teams is a bit of a head-scratcher when you see that the Celtics are the farthest away from the group in terms of competing for an NBA title (although an argument can be made that they are neck-and-neck with the Miami Heat along those lines). Durant has said in the past that would be something he would be looking for in whatever team he signed with.
 
The biggest selling point the Celtics have to offer Durant or any other free agent (besides money) is that they are a franchise on the rise, they have stability on the floor with Brad Stevens as the head coach, and they have stability in the front office with Danny Ainge. Both Stevens and Ainge signed long-term extensions earlier this month. 
 
And one of the perks that players who come to Boston quickly discover is the fan base, which is about as rabid a group as you'll find in the NBA.
 
There’s no mistaking they wear their emotions on their sleeves, whether it’s cheering the team on following a season-ending playoff loss, or booing the owner after the team makes a draft pick they don’t particularly care for. 
 
They bleed green!
 
Add all those things up and it’s clear that Boston has the kind of environment, the kind of culture, where a star can come and thrive. 
 
The Celtics and their fans have known this for a while.
 
Now it seems some of the game’s best players are starting to catch on, as well.

OFFSEASON

Is it curious that Kevin Durant is even giving the Celtics an audience?

Is it curious that Kevin Durant is even giving the Celtics an audience?

Mike Felger, Dan Shaughnessy and Glenn Ordway wonder why the Celtics are even getting a meeting with Kevin Durant when free agency begins. Does it mean they have a legitimate chance of signing him?