Shaq's energy lifts Celtics over Pistons


Shaq's energy lifts Celtics over Pistons

By JessicaCamerato

BOSTON -- One of the benefits of having a 7-foot-1, 325-pound big man on a roster is the fact that he has big shoulders.

On Wednesday night, Shaquille ONeal used them to carry the Boston Celtics to victory over the Detroit Pistons.

The whole team was flat, he said. I just had to pick it up.

ONeal didnt like what he saw as the watched his team struggle against their 15-win opponents. After beating the Orlando Magic two nights earlier, he knew they were not playing up to their potential.

In a game with 13 ties and 12 lead changes, ONeal wanted the Celtics to put the Pistons away. When he checked back in with just over eight minutes to go, he made sure that happened.

We just try to go out and do whatever coach Doc Rivers asks, he said. I just tried to get every rebound, try to hustle, diving on the floor, just trying to get everybody going.

Over a span of five-and-a-half minutes, ONeal gave the Celtics the spark they needed to pull away with an 86-82 win.

He began with an alley-oop from Rajon Rondo and followed that with a layup 40 seconds later. He then picked off two steals and converted on a three-point play (a game-tying free throw, as a matter of fact), while grabbing three rebounds along the way.

By the time ONeal returned to the bench with 1:28 to go, the Celtics had erased an eight-point deficit and reclaimed momentum.

ONeal finished the night with 12 points and a season-high 12 rebounds.

I thought Shaq was the difference in the game with his energy, said Rivers. Forget his size and all that -- his size and energy. I thought Shaq was he won the game for us tonight. He did all the little things -- crashed the glass, was physical, blocked shots. He was absolutely wonderful tonight.

At 38 years old, ONeal was not run down by this kind of hustle. He played 25 minutes and felt energized on the floor.

Im in excellent shape, he said. Im only playing 19, 20 minutes a game. I could do that with my eyes closed. There really is no excuse for me to be tired. Im not really tired. Doc does a great job of managing my minutes. But we were down 10 and I just felt like I had to do something -- dive on the floor, knock people around, get the crowd involved, and I think that helped a little bit.

In spite of the win, ONeal is still critical of himself and his team. Thats how players constantly improve, after all. He is bothered that he missed two free throws in the fourth quarter -- But keep in mind, when we really, really, really need them, Ill be there and you wont have to worry about it. Studies show, he said -- and would like to see the Celtics come out swinging regardless of who they are playing.

We knew that we were out there messing around, not helping too much, not focused, he said. Its kind of hard getting up for teams like that. But if you want to win the whole thing, you have to get up for every game. We have to realize that teams are going to come in here and play way above their heads, and we have to be ready for that.

Fortunately for the Celtics, ONeal was prepared for victory when it counted.

It was a slow game, it was an ugly game, he said. I just wanted to do my part and try to get us close to where we would be able to win.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot


Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot

WALTHAM, Mass. – With the Celtics waiving Ben Bentil on Friday, Danny Ainge confirmed what has been reported for weeks: the final roster spot for the Celtics will come down to James Young and R.J. Hunter.

“It’ll probably go down to the wire, down to Monday,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.

Boston currently has 16 players in camp with guaranteed contracts. The league-maximum of 15 players has to be met by Monday at 5 p.m.

“We’re continuing to evaluate and look for opportunities out there,” Ainge said. “If there are any deals to be had which we’ve been looking for, for a few months. Both of those guys [Hunter and Young[ have played very well and have made the decision very difficult.”

Having to make a tough call at the end of training camp is nothing new to Ainge.

But this time around is very unique.

It’s highly unusual for a team to have to waive a former first-round pick that they selected.

Young was the 17th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by Boston, while Hunter was selected by the Celtics with the 28th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

“Sometimes the decision is made for me. It’s really easy,” said Ainge. “But this year it hasn’t been that way. Both of those guys have had some outstanding moments in practice, in training camp and in games. So it’s been challenging.”

Boston being in this roster conundrum is due to having lots of draft picks in recent years that either didn’t turn into impact players initially, or were unable to be flipped for more established talent via trade.

In Young’s draft class, Boston selected him with the 17th pick after picking Marcus Smart with the sixth overall pick.

And in 2015, Boston picked Terry Rozier with the 16th overall pick and Hunter with the 28th overall selection. In the second round of that draft, Boston nabbed Jordan Mickey with the 33rd overall pick and Marcus Thornton at No. 45.

Last year’s draft was an even bigger haul for the Celtics, who went into the draft with a record-eight picks.

They traded two of the picks to Memphis, but used the other six which included Jaylen Brown with the third overall selection.

Ainge reiterated that the Celtics like what both players are doing, but doesn’t anticipate a trade scenario presenting itself that would result in both players sticking with the team.

“Unlikely, but always possible,” said Ainge when asked if it were possible for both to remain Celtics.

Both players are still on their rookie contracts, so that along with the increased salary cap teams have now makes each of them a low-risk addition.

However, most of the teams in the NBA have a full roster and the ones that don’t have a couple players in mind to fill out whatever openings exist.

That means there’s a decent chance that Hunter or Young will be waived, clear waivers and can then sign with a team of their choosing.

It sounds good, only if there’s a team to sign with which as stated earlier, is far from a given.






Report: Celtics offering Young or Hunter for second-round pick


Report: Celtics offering Young or Hunter for second-round pick

The Celtics continue to offer James Young or R.J. Hunter for a second-round pick, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical reports.

The Celtics need to be down to 15 players by 5 p.m. Monday. Young and Hunter are on the bubble to make the roster. For CSN Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely’s look at the candidates for the final roster spot, click here.