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

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

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Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on oregonlive.com, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

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How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
 
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
 
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
 
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
 
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
 
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
 
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
 
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
 
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
 
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
 
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
 
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
 
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
 
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
 
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
 
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
 
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
 
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”