What does the future hold for Garnett?


What does the future hold for Garnett?

By A.Sherrod Blakely

BOSTON In the aftermath of the Boston Celtics' season-ending loss to the Miami Heat on Wednesday, Kevin Garnett was nowhere to be found inside the locker room.

Having already boarded the team bus, Garnett's actions made it quite obvious that he was ready to move on.

The question remains, though: Where to?

Will he return to Boston for one final season, or will he call it a career?

When you look at the core pieces to the Green machine, Garnett's status is the only one with a high degree of uncertainty.

Coach Doc Rivers said he's "leaning heavily" towards coming back next season, with multiple reports on Thursday indicating the Celtics and Rivers were working towards a new multiyear contract. Ray Allen, who can opt out of his contract (worth 10 million next season), has indicated that he plans on returning to the C's as well.

Pierce signed a four-year, 61.3 million extension last summer that'll take him through the 2013-14 season while Rondo's contract runs through 2014-15.

That leaves the return of Garnett, the anchor of the Celtics' defense, very much in limbo.

During the season, Garnett would not address his future specifically. But he dropped a number of hints that would lead you to believe that retirement was something he was at least giving some thought.

"Obviously, we're singing the Boys II Men theme here, 'End of the Road,' " Garnett said recently. "But it's all good. I paid my dues. I put down the blood, sweat and enough tears and I'm happy where where I'm at in life. No complaints."

This most recent playoff series brought out the best and worst of Garnett.

In Game 3, Garnett's 28-point, 18-rebound night led to the C's lone victory in the series. He followed that up 48 hours later with a 1-for-10 shooting night, the worst shooting performance of his career.

That sequence speaks volumes about how Garnett's role with the team has changed.

For years, Garnett has been one of the NBA's top players because being good was never enough. The 6-foot-11 forward has worked tirelessly on his game, which is deeply rooted in playing tough defense.

But Garnett, who will turn 35 years old next week, also has the ability to stretch defenses with his perimeter game as well.

After having spent almost half of his life in the NBA, it's clear that Garnett has lost a step or two at both ends of the floor. And while he's still an effective player, those times of dominance that fans have come to expect, are fewer and farther between.

Rivers knows all too well that there will come a day when his days of coaching Garnett will end.

"I say it all the time, if you can coach one guy or work with one guy in your career, you should work or coach with Kevin Garnett at one point," Rivers said. "He's a pro's pro. He understands when he doesn't play well. And when he plays well, he comes back the next day to play better. That's just the way he is."

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

Celtics force overtime, come up short in 127-123 loss to Blazers

Celtics force overtime, come up short in 127-123 loss to Blazers

BOSTON – For the second time in as many games, the Boston Celtics ran into a team that played with a greater sense of desperation.

And the result was yet another defeat as the Portland Trail Blazers, playing their second game in less than 24 hours, were able to get off their losing skid with a 127-123 overtime win over the Celtics.

Boston (26-17) has now lost back-to-back games at home, while the Blazers (19-27) snapped a four-game losing streak.

In the extra session, Portland jumped out to a 117-113 lead only for Boston’s Al Horford scoring on a bank-shot in the paint and Thomas draining a go-ahead 3-pointer for Boston.

Portland regained the lead when Al-Farouq Aminu made a pair of free throws with 59.3 seconds to play to make it a 119-118 game.

Boston soon fell behind 122-118, but a pair of Thomas free throws with 44.8 seconds to play made it a two-point game.

Mason Plumlee scored with 24 seconds to play in overtime, and an Al Horford miss – rebounded by Plumlee who was then fouled by Horford – essentially put the game away with 13.5 seconds to play.

Boston found themselves down late in the fourth quarter and seemingly headed towards defeat, only to get an unexpected lift in the final seconds from Terry Rozier.

Trailing by three points late in the fourth, Boston had one last chance to force overtime so who did they turn to?

If you were thinking Thomas which is what the Blazers and most fans were thinking, you would have been dead wrong.

The fourth quarter may be Thomas’ time to shine, but at that point in the game it was Rozier’s moment as he drained a 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left that ultimately forced overtime. He finished with 15 points, three rebounds and three assists off the bench.

The Blazers came into the game with the kind of potent scoring punch in the backcourt that strikes the fear into the heart of any defense, let alone one that has been as up and down as the Boston Celtics this season.

For most of the game, Portland’s 1-2 punch of Damian Lillard (28 points) and C.J. McCollum (35 points) lived up to the lofty billing as they combined for 63 points.

McCollum and Lillard both did their share of damage down the stretch, but it was their bench – specifically Meyers Leonard – whose play kept Portland in the game early on.

He finished with 17 points off the bench.

Boston led 65-56 at the half, but soon found itself in a 67-all game after McCollum made the second of two free throws.

But Boston countered with a put-back basket by Kelly Olynyk and a 3-pointer from Isaiah Thomas to push Boston’s lead to 72-67.

Once again the Blazers fought back and eventually took the lead 74-72 on a powerful put-back dunk by Haverill (Mass.) native Noah Vonleh.

Brad Stevens had seen enough of his team getting pushed around, as he called a time-out with 5:31 to play in the quarter.

It didn’t help as Portland continued to bully their way around the rim for second and third-shot opportunities with their lead peaking at 78-72 following a put-back basket by  Plumlee.

But the Celtics responded with a 7-2 spurt capped off by an end-to-end, driving lay-up by Rozier that cut Portland’s lead to 80-79 with 2:44 to play in the quarter. Boston continued to be within striking distance as the third quarter ended with the Celtics trailing 88-86.