Trade bolsters C's chances of getting out of the East

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Trade bolsters C's chances of getting out of the East

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SALT LAKE CITY When the season began, the Boston Celtics were a team built for one thing: to knock off the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.

But the C's are well-versed on not getting too ahead of themselves.

A bunch of teams in the East did that last season, which opened the door for the Celtics to make an unexpected and improbable run to the NBA Finals as a fourth seed.

So while so much attention surrounding the Celts' recent trades has centered around how it will affect their chances of bringing home Banner 18, overlooked has been its potential impact on them getting out of the Eastern Conference.

When you look at the teams that the Celtics will have to, in all likelihood, battle to get to the Finals, they all have one thing in common - high-impact players at the small forward position.

LeBron James in Miami. Luol Deng in Chicago. Carmelo Anthony in New York. Joe Johnson in Atlanta. Hedo Turkoglu in Orlando.

Now, Boston's Paul Pierce can more than hold his own with the best of them.

But to think the Celtics won't need additional help at that position is just not being realistic.

When you look back at the success that the C's had a year ago in the playoffs, it was due in part because of their ability to attack teams in waves.

Pierce was Boston's best threat at the small-forward position, but the contributions made a year ago by Tony Allen (now with the Memphis Grizzlies) cannot be ignored. And when you look back at the 2008 title team, James Posey's play was vital to the title run as well.

Von Wafer has done a solid job of helping fill that void at the backup-small forward position, but the Celtics knew they needed an upgrade if they were going to have the kind of season they envision.

The anger and outrage that followed the Perkins trade has subsided some, which is allowing Celtics Nation to see this deal for what it really is.

Of course Perkins' contract was a factor, and his health to a lesser extent.

But this deal was driven primarily with one goal in mind: to give the Celtics a better chance of getting out of the Eastern Conference.

And as it should be, making that kind of improvement should come with a hefty cost; in this instance, it was losing Kendrick Perkins.

But it is the price Danny Ainge had to pay to ensure that the C's, at the very least, were going to have a shot at being one of the last teams standing.

The addition of Jeff Green is supposed to help lessen some of the wear and tear on Pierce, who hasn't had a legit backup at the small-forward position since Marquis Daniels (now with the Sacramento Kings) went down with a bruised spinal cord injury on Feb. 6 against Orlando.

You can count Pierce among those upset initially by the trade.

But as the shock wore off and he started to see the potential with the trade, Pierce seems to have a better feel for how this may be exactly what the C's need right now to deal with a league filled with high-scoring, high impact players at the small forward position.

"That's going to be huge as far as matchups," Pierce told CSNNE.com about the addition of Green, who, at 6-foot-9 and 235 pounds, can play both forward positions. "When you start looking at the playoffs, you look at the number of guys I've had to guard over the years, you look at LeBron, Turkoglu and now possibly Carmelo Anthony, who was recently traded to New York from Denver. You bring in a guy that can definitely match up with them if I get into foul trouble or anything like that."

But Pierce also believes that he and Green can cause major problems for opponents when they're on the floor together.

"We can definitely play together, and force teams to really pick their poison," Pierce said. "He's a guy that can play on the perimeter and post-up, and be a major matchup problem. I can present that too at the wing. Having Jeff, it definitely gives us some versatility in that aspect."

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

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

Bradley still hurting, will miss Celtics game vs. Trail Blazers

WALTHAM, Mass. – The right Achilles’ strain that has kept Avery Bradley out of five of the Celtics’ past six games, will continue to keep the 6-foot-2 guard sidelined.
 
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bradley will not play Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 
Stevens added that no additional tests have been taken and the Achilles’ itself is structurally fine.
 
“He’s got a lot of soreness around it, and that’s one of those things you have to be ultra-careful with,” said Stevens, who later added that Bradley would not practice with the team today. “When he [Bradley] came back, he said he felt a lot better, and then he played and the next day he practiced. We didn’t do anything live but he did a lot of cutting and did not feel near as good. That’s why he didn’t play Wednesday.”
 
The absence of Bradley was clearly felt in a 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday, a game in which Knicks guard Derrick Rose – the man Bradley would have likely spent defending most of the game – scored 30 points.
 
This season, all-NBA first team defender is  the Celtics’ No. 2 scorer at 17 points per game along with averaging a team-best 6.9 rebounds.
 
In addition, Bradley is shooting a career-best 40.9 percent from 3-point range, as well as dishing out 2.4 assists per game, which also represents a career-high for the 26-year-old.


 

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown still undecided on All-Star dunk contest

WALTHAM, Mass. – To dunk or not to dunk with the best in the NBA?
 
That is the question Celtics rookie forward Jaylen Brown is grappling with these days.
 
The 6-foot-7 Brown confirmed that he has been invited to be part of the league’s Slam Dunk competition at All-Star weekend, but hasn’t made up his mind as to whether he will participate.
 
Brown said he’ll likely make a decision about it sometime this weekend.
 
While he certainly understands that is indeed an honor for any player to be asked to participate in All-Star weekend, Brown said his trepidation about being part of the slam dunk competition has a lot to do with its potential impact on his body and how that may affect his ability to recharge over the weekend and get ready to finish out his rookie season strong.
 
If he decided to enter the contest, he would be facing some really stiff competition from last year’s winner Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon, whose battle last season put their slam dunk competition among the best ever.
 
Facing tough competition is not something that concerns Brown.
 
“I’m not worried about anybody or anything,” Brown said. “I think I have a lot to offer. Just like your rookie year, your body and everything … it’s a lot. All those dunks, they look cool but it takes a toll on your body for sure. I want to put myself in the best position to help the team.”
 
While his focus has been on the Celtics, Brown acknowledged he has been getting a few tips on the competition from teammate Gerald Green, who is also a former Slam Dunk champion.
 
“[Gerald] Green has been coaching me up, giving me a lot of good ideas I wouldn’t have thought on my own,” Brown said. “If I do decide to do it, it’ll be some stuff [nobody] has seen before.”