OFFSEASON

Emphasis on rebounding pays off for Celtics

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Emphasis on rebounding pays off for Celtics

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEW YORK When it comes to rebounding, the Boston Celtics have a body of work this season that doesn't elicit too much confidence that when a shot is missed, it'll be hauled in by one of the men in Green.

But this is the playoffs, and things have a way of not quite following the regular season script.

That certainly was the case on Friday as the Boston Celtics controlled the boards for most of the night against the Knicks which factored heavily into Boston's 113-96 Game 3 win.

Boston can close out the series with a victory on Sunday.

"One of the things we worked on in practice was rebounding better off the help," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "We are a help defensive team, but our second effort has to be better and it was tonight. We got bodies on bodies and we were able to get rebounds."

Added Paul Pierce: "We wanted to make an emphasis on putting bodies on people and boxing out."

For the game, the Celtics out-rebounded the Knicks 43-33. Among those boards, 13 were offensive which contributed to the C's having a 22-15 advantage in second-chance points.

The Celtics getting any offensive rebounds is surprising when you consider how they place such a great emphasis on making sure they're in position to limit teams getting out in transition, which often results in them not attacking the offensive glass.

Boston grabbed just an NBA-record low 639 offensive rebounds this past season, shattering the not-so-long-standing mark they set the previous season when they collected just 716.

Rivers knows all too well that offensive rebounds have been hard to come by for his team in recent years.

But he said there wasn't any added focus put on grabbing them on Friday.

"The only thing we did was what we should have done," Rivers said. "If you are going to go, you go but you get back to a body. There was no change. We did what we should have been doing."

Back pain limits Stoudemire

Amar'e Stoudemire wasn't himself.

Yes, the Boston Celtics' stingy defense certainly played a role in his struggles.

But there's no way to ignore Stoudemire's back problems which left his playing status in limbo shortly before tip-off in Boston's 113-96 Game 3 win.

Stoudemire, noticeably limited when on the floor, had just seven points on 2-for-8 shooting.

And while he expects to play in Game 4 on Sunday, Stoudemire is realistic about the situation.

"There is no way I will be 100 percent by Sunday," he said. "Tonight, I knew I wasn't 100 percent but I also knew my teammates needed me to be out there."

Still, with a limited Stoudemire running up and down the floor, the Celtics did what any veteran team would do - they took advantage of him.

The back pain didn't allow him to explode to the basket off the dribble like he's used to. And when he shot jumpers, there was very little lift on them which resulted in most being either too long or too short.

"Quick moves weren't quite there," Stoudemire admitted. "I couldn't make any sharp, quick moves. It bothered my elevation and driving to the basket."

Although Stoudemire isn't known as a great defender, his athleticism allows him to get his share of blocks - that is, when he's healthy.

"Defensively, (just) trying to be a presence and on the court, trying to be a verbal leader," he said.

Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni talked about how Stoudemire took Friday's loss hard.

"He was upset," D'Antoni said. "His heart is in a great place. He gave us everything he got. His body is a little bit dead, but I expect him to be ready Sunday."

Adjustments on Melo

Carmelo Anthony is always going to be at or near the top of the scouting report.

After dropping 42 points on the Celtics in Game 2, it was a given that the C's would pay even more attention to the four-time All-star.

That added attention paid off in a dominant defensive showing, as Anthony scored just 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting in the Celtics win.

Paul Pierce, who had a game-high 38 points, was the primary defender on Anthony.

When asked about the changes he made in defending Anthony, Pierce said, "just stayed on his body, for the most part. I thought I got off his body a lot (in Game 2). I just wanted to make him finish over the top, not give him easy ones. For the most part, I think I was able to do that."

But defending Anthony was not a one-man gig.

"They made adjustments, especially defending me," Anthony said. "They doubled. Every time I got the ball, they sent someone over."

When he got the ball in the middle of the post or on the elbow, the Celtics sent help defenders which led to most of Anthony's shots being tightly contested.

"I try to get the ball cross-court and try to loosen the defense up," said Anthony, who had a team-high six assists. "It just seemed liked they weren't loosening up."

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

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics secure meeting with Dwight Howard

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Report: Celtics secure meeting with Dwight Howard

In February, the Boston Celtics were involved in trade deadline talks with the Houston Rockets involving center Dwight Howard.

It appears the team still has interest in the free-agent big man. 

According to ESPN, the Celtics have secured a meeting with Howard after July 1.

Howard, 30, became a free agent after declining a player option that would have paid him more the $23 million in 2016-17 

OFFSEASON

Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

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Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

BOSTON -- When you’re the Boston Celtics and you have your sights set on a star like Kevin Durant, the potential impact on your roster is undeniable.

That’s a good thing, right?

Well . . . not exactly.

One of the options that the Celtics are considering during the free agency period is whether to waive Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko before July 3 which would create additional salary cap space to potentially sign Durant and another near max-salaried player.

But here’s the problem.

Boston could potentially waive Johnson and Jerebko, fail to get Durant or another elite free agent and see the duo gone for nothing in return while they play their way into a big contract toiling in the NBA’s basement with one of the league’s worst teams.

How you ask?

Multiple league sources contacted by CSNNE.com Tuesday night indicated that if the Celtics waive both players, it’s “very likely” that both will be claimed off waivers.

According to a league office official, waiver priority goes to the team with the worst record attempting to claim a player.

And what team had the worst record in the NBA last season?

Yup. The 10-win Philadelphia 76ers.

And what team was right behind them, or ahead depending on how you look at things?

The lowly, 17-win Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson is due $12 million next season while Jerebko is due to earn $5 million, chump change in this new age of the NBA with the 2016-2017 salary cap expected to be around $94 million.

In addition, both players would join clubs in contract years. Couple that with each being relatively productive and there’s the potential for each player to have a really big season.

Johnson was the Celtics’ top rim-protector last season, in addition to being a solid pick-and-roll defender. He also averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds with 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game. 

And Jerebko shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range last season, and finished up the playoffs in the starting lineup.

The Celtics are well aware of how valuable both players were to Boston’s success last season, and how their production relative to their contracts makes them extremely important to whatever team they play for.

To lose them for what would essentially be a lottery ticket in the Durant sweepstakes, is certainly a gamble that it remains to be seen if the Celtics are willing to take.

Best-case scenario for Boston is to know where they stand with Durant within the first 24 hours of free agency which would then allow them time to make a more informed decision about Johnson and Jerebko’s futures.

As you can imagine, the Celtics are as eager as any team to know what Durant plans to do this summer.

Because the way things are starting to take shape with Boston’s pursuit of the former league MVP, he’s going to have an impact on the Celtics’ roster one way or another.