Notes: Celtics back in first place in the East


Notes: Celtics back in first place in the East

By A.Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON Well, so much for the Boston Celtics having to look up in the Eastern Conference standings.

After falling behind the Chicago Bulls for the best record in the Eastern Conference by half a game, the Celtics are once again at the top following Wednesday's 92-80 win over Indiana.

Both Boston and Chicago have identical 48-18 records.

The C's currently have the tiebreaker because they won two of the three regular-season matchups.

If the Celtics lose to Chicago when the teams meet on April 7, that would result in the series being even and the tiebreaker would then go to the Bulls because they have the better division record.

That's why this upcoming road trip, which includes games at Houston, New Orleans and New York, is so vital to Boston's chances of getting back home-court advantage throughout the playoffs in the East.

"We need all these games," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "This is the time of the year, this is an exciting time of the year. You smell the end coming. We smell the playoffs coming, so guys are really starting to buckle down, trying to finish the season off on a good note."

While Rajon Rondo didn't exactly dominate on Wednesday, it was clear that he was making strides in the right direction. He didn't score against the Pacers, but he did have eight assists with just two turnovers. It was a good showing for Rondo, who has been in a bit of a slump lately.

"I thought he played terrific," coach Doc Rivers said. "He played with great energy and you that third quarter, that one stretch, and even when he came back in the second quarter, I thought he played with great speed, I thought he created a lot of problems. So I was happy."

Rondo is one of the fastest players in the NBA. Jeff Green is surprisingly faster than you would think for a 6-foot-9 forward.

When asked who would win a race between himself and Rondo, Green responded, "I would win. I would definitely win."

Green quipped about running 40 yards in 4.2 seconds. "I'm pretty fast. It would be a tight match."

Moments later, Green was told about Rondo challenging world class sprinter Usain Bolt to a race a couple years ago.

"He did?" Green said when told of Rondo's challenge. "I ain't gonna do that."

Troy Murphy is a work in progress.

So far, he's progressing quite well of late.

In about 18 minutes, Murphy had six points which included an unexpected reverse dunk.

When asked if he was surprised by Murphy's dunk, Rivers said, "Yeah, yeah. I think he Murphy was surprised. I was worried about him getting hurt coming down, because I don't think he's jumped quite that high in quite some time. It was a slow-motion-reverse dunk. It was terrific."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

A Pierce-Doc-Garnett reunion with Clippers - if only for a day


A Pierce-Doc-Garnett reunion with Clippers - if only for a day

Less than a week after announcing his retirement on Instagram, Kevin Garnett was back in the gym with old friends Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers.

Cue the comeback rumors? "Anything is possible!"

The tweet from the Clippers called Garnett a “special guest” at the team’s practice on Thursday. 

Rivers, the current Clippers and ex-Celtics coach, told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan last week he was willing to bring Garnett, who has a home in Malibu, to Los Angeles for one last season but KG, 40, chose to retire. So, apparently, the reunion Thursday with Doc, Pierce and Garnett was only temporary.

The Akron Beacon Journal reported that Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, a former Celtics assistant under Rivers, wants Garnett to join his staff. 



Gerald Green's injury may give others a shot a Celtics camp


Gerald Green's injury may give others a shot a Celtics camp

WALTHAM, Mass. – Gerald Green’s hip flexor injury isn’t anything he or the Celtics are overly concerned about.

They know Green as well as any player on this roster, so him missing a couple days will have no effect on his status in their eyes.

But in shutting him down for a couple days, his absence affords a number of players an opportunity to stand up in what is an absolutely pivotal, potentially career-altering season.

James Young is in his third training camp with the Celtics and no one has a real feel for where he fits into the pantheon of NBA players.

He hasn’t played enough to call him a bust, but hasn’t done enough to feel as though he has a bright future in this league either.

And then there’s R.J. Hunter, who came into the NBA with the reputation of being a spot-on shooter.

As a rookie last season, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard struggled knocking down shots when he got playing which for most of the season, was limited.

So, what does that have to do with Green’s injury?

His absence means those two players will get more reps on the floor, providing each with potentially more chances to impress the coaching staff.

It means Young will get a few more shots at showing the added strength, weight and improved skills will enhance his chances to not just make the 15-man roster but also compete for potential minutes.

As for Hunter, he has to make shots.

It’s that simple.

While he showed potential as a rookie to do a number of things on the floor, the easiest way for him to solidify a spot on the roster is to do what he does best which is make baskets.

At the end of the day, one of these guys will not be in a Celtics uniform this season. Between now and then, every opportunity they get to impress the coaches has to be taken advantage of which is exactly what they each will get courtesy of Green’s short-term injury.