OFFSEASON

Celtics-Knicks Factbox: Game Three

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Celtics-Knicks Factbox: Game Three

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

The Boston Celtics put together their most complete game of the playoffs, easily defeating New York, 113-96. Boston now has a 3-0 series lead with a chance to close it out on Sunday.

Star of the game: Lots of worthy candidates for this, but the play of Paul Pierce stood out for several reasons. You love the fact that he had a game-high 38 points on an efficient 14-of-19 shooting night. Even more impressive than that was the way his defense on Carmelo Anthony, which set the tone for the C's overall play defensively against the Knicks' top scorer in this series. Anthony had just 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting from the field.

Studs: Rajon Rondo looked a lot like the Rajon Rondo we saw early in the season whose play was worthy of at least being mentioned among the top players in the game. He finished with his fourth career triple-double, scoring 15 points to go with 11 rebounds and 20 - yeah, that's right - 20 assists. And as usual, Ray Allen continues to deliver big games that far too often get overshadowed by the play of his teammates. Rarely has 32 points seemed to come as easy as it looked for Allen, who drained eight of his 11 3-point attempts.

Duds: The back spasms that cut Amar'e Stoudemire's night short in Game 2, were clearly an issue for him Friday night. When he drove to the basket, he didn't have nearly the explosiveness that we've come to expect. And when he shot jumpers, there was little to no lift on the shots. The end result was a seven-point game on 2-for-8 shooting from the field.

Key stat: The Celtics, the worst rebounding team in the NBA during the regular season, were plus-10 (44-33) on the boards Friday night. Many of those rebounds were offensive grabs, which factored into the Celtics having a 22-15 advantage in second-chance points.

What to look for in Game 4: Can Rondo, Pierce and Allen continue to dominate the Knicks the way they did in Game 3? Can Amar'e Stoudemire (back spasms) get healthy enough between now and Sunday to give them more than seven points on 2-for-8 shooting? And what about Chauncey Billups? Will his left knee injury heal in time for him to return on Sunday? Speaking of returning, what about Shaquille O'Neal? Even if he's healthy enough to play, do you play him with a 3-0 series lead and risk him getting hurt prior to a second-round matchup with Miami?

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

OFFSEASON

Celtics’ Young has seen first-hand the work Durant puts in

Celtics’ Young has seen first-hand the work Durant puts in

BOSTON – We have all seen what Kevin Durant can do in games. He’s a near 7-footer with lethal shooting range who, on most nights, makes the game look so easy.
 
Still, he is often praised for his work ethic in practice and offseason workouts, something Celtics guard/forward James Young knows from first-hand experience.
 
Last summer, Young spent time working out in the summer with Durant, who, like Young, is represented by Rich Kleiman of Roc Nation Sports.
 
Durant, the top free agent on the market this summer, has narrowed his list of potential teams to play for next season to six.
 
The Celtics made the cut and will get a face-to-face meeting with Durant this weekend.
 
You can add Young to the list of Celtics who would love to call Durant a teammate.
 
“He would mean a lot to the team,” Young said. “He would help the team out.”
 
The in-game production generated by Durant speaks for itself.
 
In nine NBA seasons, he has career averages of 27.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocked shots per game.
 
But just as impressive is what the 6-foot-11 forward does out of season.
 
“He was focused the whole time; 110 percent,” said Young, referring to working out with Durant last summer. “I try to do that in my workouts and just go from there.”
 
Durant, who is expected to meet with the Celtics on Saturday, will reportedly make a decision on July 4.  

OFFSEASON

Evan Turner agrees to 4-year, $70M deal with Trail Blazers

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Evan Turner agrees to 4-year, $70M deal with Trail Blazers

BOSTON — We have heard how good a coach Brad Stevens has been for the Celtics.

And then Evan Turner goes out and lands a four-year, $70 million deal from the Portland Trail Blazers, which says more about Stevens than the crazy NBA free agency market.

Remember, it was just two years ago that Turner was a player that hardly anyone wanted.

Sure, he put up big numbers in his final season in Philadelphia before they traded him, but the Sixers were still a bad team.

And when he arrived in Indiana, the Pacers seemed to regress which on the eve of free agency, led to Turner’s stock taking an Enron-like plunge.

So, in came the Celtics, offering him two-year, $6.9 million contract and with it a chance to change the narrative of him as being a lottery pick bust.

Instead of being a bust, Turner blossomed into a reliable, jack-of-all-trades who could impact the game positively off the bench or in the starting lineup.

And while Turner certainly deserves a lot of credit for turning his basketball career around, it’s also yet another testament to what Stevens can do for veterans in need of a image makeover (read: Dwight Howard).

Kris Humphries was on the Celtics’ 2013-2014 squad which was Stevens’ first season as an NBA coach.

Humphries was part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade with Brooklyn, a player whose contract was viewed as being as valuable as he was as a player.

There were rumors all the way up to the trade deadline that Boston would move him and his expiring contract.

Instead, they kept him around and gradually Stevens found ways to get him in the game, allow him to do some things on the floor that he had not done before.

So, rather than having to settle for a veteran’s minimum contract which seemed to be in his future, his play under Stevens led to a three-year, $13 million deal with Washington.

Humphries credits Stevens’ system as being one of the keys to his success and ability to land a decent, multi-year contract following a season in which Boston won just 25 games and he shot a career-best 50.1 percent from the field.

“If you look at a lot of guys, they have a lot of versatility in their game,” Humphries told CSNNE.com in April. “They’re able to handle the ball more than they have throughout their careers, show they can do more in terms of being an overall player. That helps guys with the NBA today, 1 [point guard] through 5 [center] has to be able to make plays. Brad’s system lets you do that.”

Especially for players like Humphries and Turner, who parlayed success under Stevens into a huge payday.

 

OFFSEASON

O.J. Mayo hit with two-year ban from NBA for drug violation

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O.J. Mayo hit with two-year ban from NBA for drug violation

NEW YORK  — O.J. Mayo has been dismissed and disqualified from the NBA for violating the terms of the league’s anti-drug program.

The NBA said Friday the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 draft out of USC is eligible to apply for reinstatement in two years.

Mayo spent the past three seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged 7.8 points in 41 games last season, including 24 starts.

According to rules of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program, information regarding the testing or treatment of a player can’t be disclosed by the league, his team or the union.

© 2016 by Associated Press

Here’s the official release from the NBA: 

NEW YORK, July 1, 2016 – The NBA announced today that free agent O.J. Mayo has been dismissed and disqualified from the league for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Drug Program.

Under the Anti-Drug Program, Mayo is eligible to apply for reinstatement in two years.

The NBA, NBA teams, and the Players Association are prohibited from publicly disclosing information regarding the testing or treatment of any NBA player under the Anti-Drug Program, other than to announce a player's suspension or dismissal from the league.