Heat find out a 'Big Three' doesn't guarantee victory


Heat find out a 'Big Three' doesn't guarantee victory

By Jessica Camerato

BOSTON - Ray Allen remembers the first time the Celtics "Big Three" took the court together.

There were so many questions on that night three years ago. Who would be part of each rotation? How many minutes would they play? Who would take the last shot?

Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett didn't have the answers.

"I remember not really knowing at some points what is going to happen," Allen said. "You don't know and I think we as a group, especially between the three of us, it didn't matter. We didn't care. Doc drew up plays and based on how the flow of the game went, the ball found who was open. We learned that and we never had an ego about it. It was just like, just win the game and move forward."

Sounds simple, right? Not only did the Celtics figure it all out, they won the NBA championship in their first season together.

But on Tuesday night, it was apparent that finding the formula for winning with three superstars isn't always that easy.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh (or "Miami's Big Three," as they've been dubbed) didn't have the answers to those questions, as they lost to the Celtics, 88-80, on Opening Night at the TD Garden.

The trio shot a combined 17-for-48 from the field (35 percent) and scored 52 points altogether. James accounted for 31 of those points, with 21 coming in the second half. They weren't exactly a triple threat for 48 minutes.

"I think right now it's a feel-out process for myself, for D-Wade, for Chris, and for the rest of the guys," James said. "I talked to those guys, it almost felt like we were being too unselfish to get each other into the flow of the game. And the reason we're here and the reason we've been successful is because we've put ourselves in a position to be aggressive at all times, no matter who's out on the court . . . We have to understand that we can't be too unselfish because we have so many options. We just have to play our game and it's going to be better for the team."

A performance like this is not a reason to write off the Heat's season. Not only is there a transition period to develop chemistry on the court, they didn't have the opportunity to do so during the preseason. Wade strained his hamstring three minutes into his first exhibition game, and Tuesday night was his first extended period of time playing alongside James and Bosh.

The Heat expect to play better as the season continues. The Celtics expect them to as well.

"You could see the fact that they haven't necessarily polished or got the whole chemistry thing down, but they will," said Garnett. "I know the similarities are there as far as them and us, and obviously we got together, but scenarios are different. In order for them to get better, they're going to have to continue to go through rough days and dog days, and that's part of it. Lord knows we went through ours, and we learned from it, and I'm pretty sure they'll do the same."

The irony is that the trio from South Beach can learn from their heated opponents.

"Everybody looks at them as the blueprint for, 'We can do it fast,' " Wade said of the Celtics. "It's not many teams that have been able to do that before. That was a special ball club that came together. It was the leadership of the Kevin Garnetts, the Paul Pierces and the Ray Allens of the world, that brought those guys together to win that championship. Of course we look at that, but we have to find our own identity. We have to figure out what works for us. We know it's a long season, no matter what people say. The highs, the lows, we'll take them and we move on."

After being in the same position himself, Allen foresees the Heat will play some games where one star will have the hot hand and the other two may struggle, or vice versa. Take Tuesday's game as an example. Allen (20 points) scored twice as many points as Garnett, but when the buzzer sounded they had found a way to share the ball and win as a team.

"We were so willing to just go with it and see who had it going, and when it happens you just kind of ride that wave a little bit," Allen said of the 2007-08 championship season. "They're going to learn a lot about themselves over these next couple of weeks and months. The important thing is, definitely we learned, that you stick together, try to figure it out, and put yourself in a good position toward the end of the season."

James, who essentially took over the game over for the Heat in the second half, has taken notice of the Celtics "we-first" mentality. He said he doesn't have to be the team's leading scorer every night in order for them to win because of their depth. As the Celtics proved, it can take giving up personal accolades to help the entire team win.

"I just think how they just sacrifice everything," James said. "Their first year together, they didn't worry about points or rebounds, anything individually. They just went out and did what's best for the team. It's not like we needed it, but you could look at that as an example and we've taken it."

After struggling to find their stride together on Opening Night, it wouldn't hurt the Heat to take a second look.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato

Phil Jackson: Knicks' biggest mistake was not trading for Jae Crowder in 2014


Phil Jackson: Knicks' biggest mistake was not trading for Jae Crowder in 2014

Knicks president Phil Jackson’s biggest mistake? Taking the job in the first place?

Well, besides that. Jackson tells Today’s Fastbreak that it was not getting Jae Crowder when he had the chance.

Here’s Jackson quote, part of a long interview with Charley Rosen: 

"I think my biggest mistake was actually this…One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics. In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder. I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn't get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo, so I took the pick, which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder."

Jackson’s timeline is actually a little off. The Chandler and Felton to the Mavs deal was actually in June 2014. The Celtics, of course, acquired Crowder at the December 2014 trade deadline in the deal that sent Rajon Rondo to the Mavericks. Still, you get the point. Jackson covets Jae Crowder, who has proven to be a little more valuable than Cleanthony Early. And, in light of where NBA salaries have gone, the five-year, $35 million deal Crowder signed with the Celtics last offseason now seems like one of the biggest bargains in the NBA. 



Can Jerebko parlay playoff starts to a bigger role with Celtics?


Can Jerebko parlay playoff starts to a bigger role with Celtics?

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – Considering all the different storylines that developed among the Celtics at the end of last season and this summer, it’s easy to forget that Jonas Jerebko was in the starting lineup.

With sporadic minutes in the regular season, Boston found itself trailing the Atlanta Hawks 2-0 in their best-of-seven playoff series.

So what did coach Brad Stevens do?

He shook up the starting lineup by inserting Jerebko. who helped Boston even up the series at two games apiece before the Hawks bounced back and ended the Celtics season after six games.

Those last four games against the Hawks – the only games Jerebko started all season - served as a reminder to many that the 29-year-old could still be an impact performer.

It was the kind of run to close out the season that Jerebko will certainly be focused on trying to build upon this season.

The ceiling for Jerebko: Starter

While he will likely begin the season as a reserve, Jerebko will certainly come into camp with a little more bounce in his step courtesy of a strong showing in the playoffs.

After averaging just 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 15.1 minutes in the regular season a year ago, Jerebko became a major force in the playoffs for Boston.

In his first game as a starter, Jerebko had a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds as Boston won Game 3, 111-103.

He was even more impactful 48 hours later with another a second straight double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) in yet another Celtics victory.

The Hawks made some adjustments in Games 5 and 6 to close out the series, but it wasn’t before Jerebko had put together the best postseason stretch of his career.

Compared to the regular season, Jerebko more than doubled his playing time in those final four games by averaging 31.3 minutes to go with 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Jerebko will be hard-pressed to return to that role at the start of this season.

Boston signed Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract, so you know he’s starting.

And Amir Johnson’s defense and ability to run the floor so effectively will likely result in him resuming a starting role, too.

That leaves Jerebko joining what looks to be a very talented and deep Celtics bench.

Even though he’s unlikely to start, Jerebko will get his share of opportunities to play.

At 6-foot-10, Jerebko has the size to play both power forward and center. And depending on the opposing team’s lineup, Jerebko has the potential play some small forward as well.

It was that versatility that made Stevens turn to Jerebko in the playoffs last season to replace Jared Sullinger, who signed with the Toronto Raptors in the offseason.

And while the idea of Jerebko as a starter seems a bit far-fetched at this point, he is yet another Celtics reserve who has proven himself to be ready to play and play well when given an opportunity to step on the floor regardless of what that role may be.

The floor for Jerebko: Seldom-used reserve

Despite a strong finish last season, Jerebko will once again have to fight and claw for any minutes on the floor. While the Celtics certainly were aided by his versatility, this season’s roster has a number of players who, like Jerebko, can play multiple positions at both ends of the floor.

NBA veteran Gerald Green is 6-8 and will play shooting guard and small forward. But depending on the lineup, it’s not a stretch to envision him playing some power forward. Ditto for rookie Jaylen Brown and starting small forward Jae Crowder sliding up one position.

Beginning the season on the rotation fringes is nothing new to Jerebko, whose role was very much up in the air when the Celtics traded Tayshaun Prince to Detroit prior to the 2015 trade deadline for Jerebko and Gigi Datome.

Gradually, Jerebko earned his minutes and proved he was indeed a valuable piece of what Stevens and the Celtics were trying to build here in Boston.

And now, with a season-plus of time with the Celtics under his belt, Jerebko finds himself once again being challenged to show that he’s more than just a body on the roster.


Report: Celtics renounce draft rights to 2013 pick Colton Iverson


Report: Celtics renounce draft rights to 2013 pick Colton Iverson

By Dan Feldman, NBCSports.com Pro Basketball Talk

The Celtics bought the No. 53 pick in the 2013 NBA draft to get Colton Iverson out of Colorado State, and he thanked them by allowing them to keep his rights the last three years.

Iverson rejected the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum, teams must extend to retain exclusive negotiating rights to a second-round pick – year after year to sign overseas. Accepting the tender would’ve likely meant Iverson going to Boston’s training camp and getting waived. Perhaps, the timing of that would’ve limited his European options that year. But it would’ve made him an NBA free agent – or, best-case scenario, he could’ve made the Celtics and drawn an NBA paycheck.

As it was, Iverson limited himself to joining Boston and only Boston. If another NBA team wanted Iverson, it would have had to trade for him.

And what does Iverson get for that loyalty? A Celtics contract with at least a partial guarantee?


Just a head start on finding another team – which he could’ve gotten for himself three years ago.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

This is why second-round picks should be more aggressive about accepting the required tender. Even if you get waived, you open NBA options.

Iverson is a strong 7-foot center who plays with physicality. He can help in certain matchups, and he’d make sense as a third center on teams that have first- and second-stringers playing a different style.

But Iverson is 27, and his NBA window may be closing if it hasn’t already.

It’s a shame he spent so many years beholden to Boston, which didn’t want him.

It was probably just courtesy of the Celtics to renounce his rights now rather than have him sign the tender. They would have guaranteed him no money with the tender, and they could have gotten a few minor benefits with it – an extra body for training camp, the ability to assign his D-League rights to their affiliate after waiving him and the slightest chance he impresses enough in the preseason to hold trade value.

But them forgoing those potential advantages, even if out of courtesy, also sends a signal about how little they value him. Teams don’t do these types of favors for players they actually covet.