OFFSEASON

Rondo leads Celtics over Warriors, 115-93

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Rondo leads Celtics over Warriors, 115-93

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

OAKLAND, Calif. Inside the Boston Celtics locker room there was a chocolate cake for Rajon Rondo, who turned 25 years old on Tuesday.

The Golden State Warriors were in the gift-giving mood as well, as they seemingly gave Rondo and the Celtics anything and everything they wanted in the second half.

And the end result was Boston pulling away for a 115-93 victory that snapped a six-game losing skid at Oracle Arena.

Boston (41-14) had five players in double figures scoring, but it was the play of Rondo that stood out.

He tallied his 23rd double-double this season, finishing with 19 points and 15 assists.

"We haven't won here since I've been a Celtic," said Rondo, who was acquired by the C's on draft night in 2006. "It was key for us to get a win tonight."

On Tuesday, Rondo was getting it done both as a scorer and as a distributor.

However, he was impacting the game in other areas as well.

"Rondo, leadership-wise throughout the game, was getting on guys for taking bad shots," said coach Doc Rivers. "I just thought he was a coach on the floor. He was terrific."

Indeed, Tuesday's game was yet another example of how Rondo's game has matured over the years.

The 19 points scored by Rondo was more than he scored in Boston's two previous games combined. In addition, it was the third-highest scoring game for Rondo this season.

"I just try to take what the defense gave me," Rondo said.

For the Warriors (26-30), that would be anything and everything Rondo wanted.

Even with Don Nelson gone and Keith Smart calling the shots as the Warriors head coach, Golden State is still a horrible team defensively.

In addition to Rondo, Kevin Garnett also made the most of a Golden State defense that put up about as much resistance as a turnstile.

Garnett had 24 points and 12 rebounds for his 18th double-double this season.

But despite the Warriors playing shoddy defense, which allowed Boston to essentially get any shot it wanted, the Celtics found themselves in a 60-60 tie at the half.

Smart and his team had to feel pretty good about themselves at that half when you consider the game's tempo - as well as a lack of defense played by both teams - was clearly to their liking.

"Boston went in at halftime and they knew they had to bring it up a little bit," Smart said.

The C's cranked up the defensive pressure from the opening possession of the second half.

"That's what is good about teams like that, and San Antonio, they make adjustments," said Warriors forward David Lee, who had 17 points and 5 rebounds.

Lee was hurting the Celtics in the first half on pick-and-roll plays.

That all changed in the third quarter.

"They . . . stayed with me on the roll and made sure we were going to take jump shots rather than be able to get the ball to the rack, like we would in the first half," Lee said.

That defensive adjustment led to a slew of Golden State turnovers.

After forcing just three turnovers in the first half, it took the Celtics less than 90 seconds to equal that amount in the third quarter.

Those turnovers created a slew of easy scoring opportunities for Boston which finished with a season-high 30 fast-break points.

"We got stops. It's as simple as that," Rondo said. "We made a defensive run. That led to easy transition baskets."

The one big negative for the Celtics from Tuesday was the bruised left knee injury suffered by Kendrick Perkins.

Perkins, who suffered a torn MCL and PCL injury in his right knee during the NBA Finals last season, did not return to the floor after suffering the injury in the third quarter.

The injury doesn't appear to be serious, with Perkins telling CSNNE.com that he hopes the injury won't prevent him from playing in Denver on Thursday.

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

OFFSEASON

Celtics are anything but "a middle of the road team"

Celtics are anything but "a middle of the road team"

Charles Barkley said Friday that the Boston Celtics are a "middle of the road team in no man's land." Kevin O'Connor joined Greg Dickerson on Sports Tonight and explained just how foolish of a statement that is.

Make sure you watch the video above, but here are some of the key stats O'Connor mentions regarding the state of the Celtics.

Competitive teams rarely select at the top of the draft, but the Celtics have already done it before and could again in 2017 and 2018. Over the last 40 years, only 10 teams have won at least 45 games and used a top five pick in the draft. Here’s the list:

PLAYER TEAM WINS YEAR PICK
Greg Ballard Washington 48 1977 4
Mychal Thompson Portland 58 1978 1
Magic Johnson LA Lakers 47 1979 1
Kevin McHale Boston 61 1980 3
James Worthy LA Lakers 57 1982 1
Charles Barkley Philadelphia 52 1984 5
Sam Bowie Portland 48 1984 2
Len Bias Boston 67 1986 2
Darko Milicic Detroit 50 2003 2
Jaylen Brown Boston 48 2016 3

Two of those teams won a single championship (Washington and Detroit). Two became dynasties (Boston and the Lakers). Four of the players are Hall of Famers (Johnson, McHale, Worthy, Barkley). You’ll also find Jaylen Brown, who could be a cornerstone even if we don’t know it yet.

If they play their cards right and the Nets struggle as much as everyone expects them to, they’ll be right back in the conversation for another star next season. Due to their tremendous flexibility, that could happen through the draft, the trade market, or free agency.

For more on this topic, click here.

OFFSEASON

Carroll: Crowder doesn't understand what it takes to win in playoffs

Carroll: Crowder doesn't understand what it takes to win in playoffs

Celtics forward Jae Crowder recently said, “Toronto is not a team we’re worried about,” and Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll thinks that's a silly comment to make.

“It’s a comment from a person who hasn’t really been in the playoffs that much. That’s how I reacted to that type of comment. When you haven’t been on that level and you don’t understand what it takes to get to that level. Myself going to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals, I understand what it takes,” Carroll said on SportsNet.ca. “It’s a comment from a guy who hasn’t been on that level, who hasn’t played on that level. It sounds like a young comment.”

The Raptors won 56 games last season and went all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling in six games to the Cavaliers, so Carroll is right that he’s speaking from experience.

But you can understand the confidence Crowder has. After winning 48 games last season, the Celtics just landed Al Horford, and they have repeatedly said they’re not done making moves. So perhaps their roster will look even better on Opening Night than it does right now.

Carroll doesn’t care about that though.

“We’ll let Jae Crowder do all the talking,” Carroll said. “We’ll just fly under the radar and do what we’re supposed to do.”

The Celtics went 1-3 versus the Raptors last season. They better hope they perform better next season, or Carroll might be the one talking.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics 'won't give up much' for Okafor

Report: Celtics 'won't give up much' for Okafor

Just recently, CSNNE.com's A. Sherrod Blakely laid out a compelling case why the Celtics are far more likely to trade for Jahlil Okafor than make a blockbuster for Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin.

But, apparently, they're not willing to give up a whole lot to get him.

According to Keith Pompay of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Celtics have concerns about Okafor's off-court problems, including two incidents in Boston, and "will not give up much" to get him:

"[The Celtics] have concerns about his playing in the city after being involved in two street fights there in the early hours of Thanksgiving morning. Nor do they like the fact that the center saw a gun pointed at his head in Old City and that he was stopped for going 108 mph over the Ben Franklin Bridge."

Pompay reports the Sixers "are determined to receive equal value in any trade," which -- if the Celts actually are hesitant to bring Okafor on board -- would seem to make Okafor-to-Boston unlikely. Especially since, in the words of NBC's Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin, "Okafor would fit with the Celtics -- the guy can score inside and rebound, valuable NBA skills -- but he’s not the game-changer they need. He’s okay. He’s not the answer."

Or perhaps the two sides using the media to lower/raise the price tag.

Stay tuned.