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Rajon Rondo starts awkwardly, gets insightful as Celtics color analyst

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 31, 2014 09:48 PM

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It started awkwardly. Rajon Rondo looked the part of a first-time color analyst before Monday night's Celtics-Bulls game. Someone on Comcast's staff must have told Rondo to look at the camera, because the Celtics point guard didn't disappoint in that department. If you wanted Rondo to smile more, you got plenty of cheese in the first 45 seconds of the broadcast.

As stiff as he was during the on-camera standup, Rondo -- who was sitting out the back-to-back vs. the Bulls -- came into his own as the game went along. It didn't appear like a good idea at first. It took three questions from Celtics play-by-play man extraordinaire Mike Gorman for Rondo to offer a comment on teammate Kris Humphries.

"I didn't know Kris was as good a shooter as he was," Rondo said after Gorman's second prompt. Gorman's third question brought out: "He's definitely a great professional. He wasn't playing a lot at the beginning of the season but he stays working."

For virtually the entire first quarter, it was as if Rondo didn't know he could speak without being prompted by Gorman. That led to Gorman conducting what was essentially an interview with the Celtics guard.

"I'm almost at 100 percent," Rondo answered in response to a question, which makes you wonder why he's sitting out games if the Celtics were trying to win as many as they could. "I'm feeling great. Each game I'm getting stronger, my endurance is getting better."

As the game went on and the Celtics started playing better, Rondo also improved. He offered honest takes on several plays, just like your buddy would sitting next to you in a bar.

"Tough shot" Rondo offered after Jeff Green drove to the baseline and spun on Kirk Hinrich before putting up a contested shot.

"I love playing against Hinrich,"said Rondo. "Whatever the coach asks of him he's pretty much going to do it for you."

Rondo, of course, didn't reveal everything.

Asked more about Hinrich later, Rondo elaborated insightfully, "He's one of the most physical guards we have in our game."

"Really?" Gorman asked. Rondo responded, "Yes. He's stronger than he looks."

Rondo offered similar insights to teammate Green, whom he called the Celtics' most athletic player, as well as Chris Johnson.

"He's a very confident player," Rondo said of Johnson. "A couple days ago we were playing the Toronto Raptors and I said, 'Do you want me to check [DeMar] DeRozan?' and he said, 'No way.'"

Later, Rondo offered a great breakdown of how the Celtics freed Kelly Olynyk up for a jump shot.

"Brad [Stevens] knows Chicago likes to tag on the cut," said Rondo. "When the weak side guy cuts backdoor, Taj Gibson tags, and that left Kelly Olynyk wide open for the J."

When the Celtics ran the same play the next trip down the floor, Rondo identified it.

Near the end of his two-quarter stint, Rondo offered great insight into his rivalry with Bulls center Joakim Noah. The two have been facing each other for almost 10 years.

"About two years ago we came to an understanding, because we were always going at each other and we didn't understand why," said Rondo. "I think it's because we both love to compete.

One game we were at the free throw line and we were like, 'Why do we even go at each other?'"

At the end of their time together, the always professional Gorman seemed sad to see Rondo leave.

"We were just gettin good," he said.

Celtics hoping for lottery luck, now Andrew Wiggins officially on table in NBA Draft

Posted by Jeff Pini, Boston.com Correspondent March 31, 2014 04:50 PM


One of the most highly touted college players in the country has officially decided to go pro in 2014, as Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins declared for the NBA draft on Monday.

Wiggins, who averaged 17.1 points per game for the Jayhawks in 2013-14, drew some criticism for his play in Kansas' Round of 32 loss to Stanford, where he scored just four points and was 1-for-6 from the field.

Nevertheless, Wiggins' decision to go pro has thrust him back into the conversation for the top pick in this year's NBA Draft, a spot that has become highly sought by teams looking to rebuild with a young phenom.

The Celtics currently have the fifth-worst record in the NBA and have a strong chance of landing a top-three pick in the draft.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Bulls

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 30, 2014 06:19 PM

The Celtics begin a home-and-home series with the Bulls beginning tonight, another game against a team jockeying for playoff position. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he contemplated a lineup change since the starting lineup has struggled of late but decided against it. Boston has lost eight of nine games, including a painful 105-103 defeat Friday at Toronto.

The Bulls are trying to claim the third seed in the Eastern Conference and even without Derrick Rose, they are a team nobody wants to face in the playoffs because of their physical style. Chicago is one game behind the Raptors with 10 games to play.


STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (23-49)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Gerald Wallace

CHICAGO BULLS (40-32)
PG Kirk Hinrich
SG Jimmy Butler
SF Mike Dunleavy
PF Carlos Boozer
C Joakim Noah

Inactives: Derrick Rose

Officials: Sean Corbin, Eric Dalen, Rodney Mott

TV, radio: 7 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Rajon Rondo will not play Monday at Chicago because it will be the second of a back-to-back set but he will be in the broadcast booth with Mike Gorman during the first quarter/

• Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said Joakim Noah could be an MVP candidate given what he has contributed to the club this season. Noah is averaging 12.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and a team-leading 5.1 assists.

• While Rondo was taking passes from assistant coach Ron Adams on the court, Noah ran over and hugged Adams and kissed him on top of the head. "That's my guy, man," he told Rondo.

• The Celtics will travel to Chicago late tonight and take on the Bulls on Monday at United Center. The Celtics will travel to Washington to face the Wizards on Wednesday.

Welcome to Air Canada Centre for Celtics-Raptors

Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 28, 2014 05:08 PM

TORONTO -- There is enthusiasm in Canada today as the Raptors are one win or a Brooklyn loss from claiming their first playoff appearance since 2008 and all they need is a win over the Celtics, who enter having lost seven of eight games and are just trying to make it to the finish line.

Toronto is definitely aware of Jared Sullinger, who is averaging 25 points and 14 rebounds in two games against the Raptors this season. This is the final matchup between the two weeks and the Celtics haven't been to Toronto since opening night, when they lost 93-87 on Oct. 31, the night the Red Sox clinched the World Series title.

STARTING LINEUPS
BOSTON CELTICS (23-48)

PG Rajon Rondo
SG Avery Bradley
SF Jeff Green
PF Brandon Bass
C Kris Humphries

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Gerald Wallace

TORONTO RAPTORS (40-31)
PG Kyle Lowry
SG DeMar DeRozan
SF Terrence Ross
PF Amir Johnson
C Jonas Valanciunas

Inactives: Patrick Patterson, Julyan Stone

Officials: Ken Mauer, Curtis Blair, Eric Lewis

TV, radio: 7 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

• Jeff Green (stiff neck) was much better at shootaround this morning and will start, according to coach Brad Stevens. Green was limited to 6 points in 20 minutes in Wednesday's loss to the Raptors.

• Rajon Rondo is also in the lineup coming off his 15-assist performance Wednesday. He was talking about playing with a protective mask after receiving nine stitches following a collision with Toronto's Greivis Vasquez but was working out before the game with no protection for his forehead.

• Stevens said he was pleased to see Avery Bradley attack the basket more in Wednesday's loss to Toronto as he scored 16 points in 37 minutes. Stevens said he wants to see Bradley score more in the paint.

• The Celtics are expected to take Saturday off before facing the Chicago Bulls on Sunday in the first of a home-and-home set.

Rajon Rondo needs nine stitches to close cut on his forehead

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff March 26, 2014 09:18 PM
Rondo cut
During tonight's game against the Raptors, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo was elbowed in the face by Toronto’s Greivis Vasquez during the third quarter and received a cut on his forehead that needed nine stitches to heal.

The injury happened in front of the Raptor's bench midway through the third quarter. Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte was called in to aid Rondo, who held a towel to his face while he walked with Lacerte down the tunnel next to the Raptors bench.

Rondo came back to the bench early in the fourth quarter and re-entered the game.

The Raptors beat the Celtics 99-90. Rondo had 10 assists on the first 15 Celtics baskets. He finished the game with 15 assists and nine points on 3-for-9 shooting.

Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Raptors

Posted by Staff March 26, 2014 05:38 PM

The Toronto Raptors come to Boston for the second time this season – their third matchup overall against the Celtics. In January, the Celtics snapped a nine-game losing streak with an 88-83 victory. The Celtics opened the season back in October with a visit to Toronto and lost, 93-87.

On Friday, the Celtics will head to the Air Canada Centre for another matchup against the Raptors, their first of a pair of two-game series. On Sunday, the Celtics will host the Bulls, before playing in Chicago Monday.

Starting lineups
Boston Celtics (23-47)
Rajon Rondo
Avery Bradley
Kris Humphries
Brandon Bass
Jeff Green

Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Gerald Wallace

Toronto Raptors (39-31)
Demar Derozan
Kyle Lowry
Amir Johnson
Terrence Ross
Jonas Valanciunas

Inactives: Patrick Patterson

Officials: Joe Crawford, Dick Bavetta, Courtney Kirkland

TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

Pregame notes:

  • The Celtics return to action for the first time in five days, since a 114-98 loss to Brooklyn last Friday. Brad Stevens said the Celtics had two days of rest, before two days of practice, and are ready to get back on the floor. "The last two weren't rest," Stevens said. "The practices were pretty good, hopefully we got something accomplished. We'll know more as we move into this stretch, because we really don't have many times to practice like that left."

  • Stevens had plenty of praise before the game for Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, who has scored 19-plus points in 10 consecutive games. The first two times the teams met, Rajon Rondo did not play, and will have his work cut out against Lowry. "Kyle Lowry is playing terrific," Stevens said. "He was arguably an All-Star earlier. He makes a lot of plays that don't go talked about. That's a great challenge for [Rondo], he'll be guarding him some of the time, but we'll be mixing up matchups."

  • The Celtics coach also lauded the play of fifth-year guard Demar Derozan, averaging a career-best 22.7 points per game. "What stands out is...in January, his numbers were really good and now they're better," Stevens said. "Usually, you start to become more targeted and fall off. He's just continued to go up."
  • Celtics prepare to face Toronto Raptors twice in three days

    Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 25, 2014 01:07 PM

    WALTHAM – Barring a miracle, the Celtics won't be playing in the playoffs this season, which isn't exactly breaking news. But this week they'll experience one element that the playoffs offer, as they'll face the same team in consecutive games over a few days.

    First, the Celtics will play the Toronto Raptors twice in three days (Wednesday in Boston, Friday in Toronto) before playing Chicago twice in two days (Sunday in Boston, Monday in Chicago).

    "You kind of take it like a playoff game," Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo said after practice here Tuesday. "If you play a game once, obviously there isn’t much you can change within a couple days. You just try to do a better job of executing your offensive and defensive schemes."

    It made Celtics forward Jared Sullinger recall how Doc Rivers prepared the Celtics for their playoff matchup against the New York Knicks.

    "The adjustments he made on the fly were just tremendous," Sullinger said. "We know we have to make adjustments [when we] play teams back-to-back. This is a team that wants to win the Atlantic Division, so this going to be a scrappy game.”

    While Celtics coach Brad Stevens said it's "pretty unique" to play the same team multiple times over a period of a few days, he noted, "hopefully we’re to the point sooner rather than later that we’re playing a lot of them that really matter.

    Said Stevens, "I think it will be a good thing for our team to have to play against a team, learn through film, learn through walkthrough and then have to go out and play against them again. Two very good teams playing at a very good level. Obviously the 3 and the 4 seeds in the East right now."

    NBA scout predicts Haverhill's Noah Vonleh will be a "high lottery pick"

    Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 24, 2014 12:59 PM

    Haverhill product Noah Vonleh told CBSSports.com Sunday that he plans to enter the 2014 NBA Draft after playing his freshmen season at Indiana University, where the 6-foot-10 Vonleh averaged 11.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game for the Hoosiers.

    An NBA scout of an Eastern Conference team told the Globe that Vonleh should be a "high lottery pick. He is only 18 years old and in my opinion will be better than (Julius) Randle at Kentucky. He has size, length, athleticism, motor, rebounds, blocks shots and a developing offensive game. He has a chance to be special. I just saw him at the Big Ten Tournament and was very impressed.”

    Vonleh played for Pete Hutchins at the New Hampton School, a prep school in New Hampshire, and before that for Haverhill High.

    He was a McDonald’s High School All-American and ranked as the No. 7 high school recruit nationally in the 2013 class by scout.com.

    “He can get into an NBA game today and contribute to winning, though that may not be saying much as there are bigs in the league that have no right to be,” the scout said.

    Celtics sign guard Chris Babb to multi-year deal

    Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 21, 2014 11:42 AM

    NEW YORK -- The Celtics formally announced signing guard Chris Babb to a multi-year contract Friday.

    Babb, whose second 10-day contract with the team expired Thursday, will remain with the team through at least the remainder of the season, though future seasons expect to be nonguaranteed, which allows the Celtics to use his deal as a potential trade asset.

    "I really like Chris," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Friday before the team's shootaround here, leading up to the Celtics' game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

    "I really like having him around. He’s a very versatile guy as far as, you can throw him into the game at the (shooting guard position) or the (small forward position). He can guard a (shooting guard) or a (small forward). He hasn’t got as much opportunity over the past few days, but he’s a guy you feel comfortable with in the basketball game."

    Babb, a 6-foot-5 former Iowa State standout, joined the Celtics in late February to help fill out the roster while starting guard Avery Bradley was sidelined with a right ankle sprain.

    Babb has played in six games, averaging 2.2 points over 11.5 minutes. But with Bradley back in the lineup, Babb has been moved to the bench; he hasn't played in five straight games entering Friday.

    Still, he said he was happy to hear the news. In terms of his future with the team, Babb said, "Hopefully I'll be able to make it work."

    Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Heat (LeBron will not play)

    Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 19, 2014 06:52 PM

    It's Miami's only visit to TD Garden this season but the Celtics fans will not get a chance to see LeBron James, who was a late scratch because of back spasms. James was eating ice cream with a ice wrap on his back during pre game and the Heat officially ruled him out. Dwyane Wade, who has battled knee issues, will play for Miami and start.

    As for the Celtics, Avery Bradley will start along with Rajon Rondo, who returns to the lineup after taking off the loss to Dallas. Jerryd Bayless will come off the bench.

    STARTING LINEUPS
    BOSTON CELTICS (22-46)

    PG Rajon Rondo
    SG Avery Bradley
    SF Jeff Green
    PF Brandon Bass
    C Kris Humphries

    Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Gerald Wallace

    MIAMI HEAT (46-19)
    PG Mario Chalmers
    SG Dwyane Wade
    SF Ray Allen
    PF Shane Battier
    C Chris Bosh

    Inactives: Emeka Okafor, Leandro Barbosa

    Officials: Tony Brothers, Bennie Adams, Leroy Richardson

    TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

    Pregame notes:

    • Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Bayless was OK going back to the bench after starting in Bradley's absence. Bayless averaged 11.5 points and shot 40.6 percent in 15 games as a starter this season.

    • This will be the third game James has missed this season. He missed the previous two games with a broken nose sustained at Oklahoma City.

    • Miami coach Erik Spoelsta said he had to adjust to the Miami roster once he took over as coach and couldn't use his previous coaching philosophy. "It was adjust or die," he said. "

    • The Celtics are expected to practice Thursday before hitting the road Friday for a game against the Brooklyn Nets.

    Former Celtic Rick Carlisle believes franchise will turn around - fast

    Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 17, 2014 08:57 PM

    DALLAS - Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was drafted by the Celtics and won a championship with them in 1986. He also believes his former team, currently in rebuilding mode, will turn things around – fast.

    “They have a plan that they’re executing,” Carlisle said before Monday night's game between the Celtics and Mavericks at American Airlines Center. “They have a vision of what they want to do. They’ve got a great young coach who’s going to be there a long time. Danny (Ainge) has turned that team over once already into a championship team and did it in very short order. They went from being a deep lottery team to winning the title the next year. I know that they’ll get it turned around quickly.

    “This year, they’ve got some young guys that I think are long-term core pieces that are getting experience. And then (Rajon) Rondo is still one of the great point guards in the league. He’s a guy you can definitely build around. I don’t know that they need empathy or sympathy. I respect the fact that they made hard decisions. It’s difficult that they have to let guys go that are all-time great players, guys like (Paul) Pierce and (Kevin) Garnett. But they’re on a different path and they’ll certainly get there."

    Welcome to Smoothie King Center for Celtics-Pelicans

    Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 16, 2014 03:19 PM

    NEW ORLEANS -- The Celtics haven't beaten a Western Conference team on the road since Feb. 23, 2013, when they defeated the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. Since then, the Celtics have lost 18 consecutive road games against the West, including all 13 this season.

    And so, the Celtics, who have lost three straight and 10 of their last 13 overall, will try to snap that streak here Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans, who feature one of the most dominant players in the game, Anthony Davis.

    The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2012 has been on a tear lately, averaging 30.8 points and 13.0 rebounds over his last five games. Davis, who has set a franchise record with scoring at least 28 points in five consecutive games, is coming off a career-high 36-point performance Friday against Portland. Davis also made a game-winning tip-in to beat the Celtics when the teams met here last season.

    In their only other meeting this season, the Pelicans beat the Celtics, 95-92, in Boston in early January. The Pelicans have won four consecutive games against the Celtics.

    Lastly, the Celtics will wear their St. Patrick's Day sleeved jerseys, and they can only hope they perform better than they did Friday, when they missed 65 shots and shot a season-low 30.9 percent from the floor.

    STARTING LINEUPS
    BOSTON CELTICS (22-44)

    PG Rajon Rondo
    SG Jerryd Bayless
    SF Jeff Green
    PF Brandon Bass
    C Kris Humphries

    Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Gerald Wallace

    NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (26-38)
    PG Brian Roberts
    SG Eric Gordon
    SF Tyreke Evans
    PF Anthony Davis
    C Alexis Ajinca

    Inactives: Ryan Anderson, Jrue Holiday, Jason Smith

    Officials: John Goble, Mark Ayotte, Haywoode Workman

    TV, radio: 6 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

    Pregame notes:

    • Guard Avery Bradley, who returned Friday after missing 19 of the past 22 games with a sprained right ankle, will come off the bench again as he shakes off the rust. Bradley scored 22 against the Pelicans when the teams played in January.

    • The Celtics entered the day with one of the league's worst offenses, scoring 95.2 points per game, but the Pelicans have a subpar defense that's giving up an average of 102 points per game.

    • Former Celtic Greg Stiemsma is averaging 2.7 points and 4.3 rebounds for the Pelicans this season. Also, Doc Rivers' son, Austin, is averaging 6.7 points for the Pelicans.

    • The Celtics head to Dallas to face the Mavericks Monday. Because it will be the second game of a back-to-back set, Rondo will sit out to rest his surgically repaired right knee.

    Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Suns

    Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 14, 2014 07:12 PM

    The Celtics will debut their St. Patrick's Day sleeved jerseys tonight against the desperate Suns, who are ninth in the Western Conference. Phoenix is two games behind the eighth-seeded Dallas Mavericks with 18 games left. Phoenix welcomes back Eric Bledsoe to the starting lineup. He returned Wednesday after missing six weeks after knee surgery.

    The Celtics, meanwhile, welcome back Avery Bradley, who missed 19 of the past 22 games with a sprained right ankle. Bradley will come off the bench.

    STARTING LINEUPS
    BOSTON CELTICS (22-43)

    PG Rajon Rondo
    SG Jerryd Bayless
    SF Jeff Green
    PF Brandon Bass
    C Kris Humphries

    Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Gerald Wallace

    PHOENIX SUNS (36-28)
    PG Eric Bledsoe
    SG Goran Dragic
    SF P.J. Tucker
    PF Channing Frye
    C Miles Plumlee

    Inactives: Emeka Okafor, Leandro Barbosa

    Officials: Bennett Salvatore, Ben Taylor Kevin Scott

    TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

    Pregame notes:

    • Although Bradley is back, coach Brad Stevens has decided to bring him off the bench, his first reserve role since April 2012. Bradley said his ankle is completely healthy and he has something to play for in the final 17 games, being a restricted free agent this summer.

    • P.J. Tucker returns from his one-game suspension for the Suns. He was reprimanded by the league for elbowing the Clippers' Blake Griffin during a collision in Tuesday's loss to Los Angeles. Gerald Green, who started Wednesday against Cleveland, will return to the bench.

    • Gerald Wallace said his procedure to repair his torn meniscus was different than the one Derrick Rose underwent. Wallace had his meniscus clipped for a faster recovery. Rose had his meniscus repaired but not cut, making for a longer recovery time.

    • The Celtics are expected to practice Saturday before hitting the road for games at New Orleans on Sunday and Dallas on Monday.

    Live updates: Celtics-Suns at TD Garden

    Posted by Glenn Yoder, Boston.com Staff March 14, 2014 07:00 PM

    Follow the Celtics-Sun game from TD Garden.

    A mobile version of the live blog is here.

    Brad Stevens: Avery Bradley returning to lineup

    Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff March 14, 2014 02:22 PM

    In a radio appearance on The Sports Hub Friday morning, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said guard Avery Bradley, who has missed 19 of the last 22 games with a right ankle injury, will return to the lineup against the Phoenix Suns at TD Garden tonight.

    Bradley started the first 43 games of the season before spraining his right ankle during a game against the Miami Heat in mid-January. He tried to return after a five-game absence, but he quickly aggravated his ankle and was forced to return to the bench. He has missed 13 consecutive games.

    Whether his ankle or his shoulders, injuries have hindered Bradley's NBA career, which is in its fourth season. Entering Friday, the 23-year-old former Texas standout has only played 191 out of a possible 311 regular-season games since joining the Celtics in 2010.

    Bradley is averaging 14.3 points and 3.9 rebounds over 30.6 minutes per game this season.

    Celtics' Grousbeck endorses Rondo, excited about team future

    Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 13, 2014 05:48 PM

    It’s been a transition year not only for first-year Celtics coach Brad Stevens, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and a slew of new players and even the veterans, as well as it has been a methodical conversion from era for co-owner Wyc Grousbeck.

    In mid-March, Grousbeck is generally watching his team prepare for a deep playoff run. This year, they are preparing for what is expected to be an active offseason and draft lottery. June and July will indeed be the real Celtics season, the period when they officially build back toward respectability.

    It’s been difficult for the competitive Grousbeck to watch consistent losses, focus on development more than victories, cross his fingers for a favorable lottery pick rather than watch his skilled squad crush playoff opponents as they did the past six years.

    “I think since 2007, we knew this year was coming,” said Grousbeck, whose team is 22-42 entering Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. “We didn’t know when it would be, probably thought it would be before 2014. The fact that Brad is here and Danny is at the top of his game makes it easier for me as CEO to get through this year because I think we have the pieces in place for our next run as a contender. If we have our coach, our GM, a bunch of young kids and a bunch of draft picks, so I feel like we’re better off.

    “First of all, we had a longer run than I thought with the Big Three (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen) and I think we’re a little bit better off this year in looking forward than we could have. But, I have to be honest, it’s been a tough year.”

    Sensing his Big Three could no longer compete with the likes of the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers, Ainge traded Pierce and Garnett on draft pick to the Brooklyn Nets for four players and three first-round picks. The Celtics have nine first-round picks over the next five years and are consistently playing four first- or second-year players, including forward Jared Sullinger and rookie Kelly Olynyk.

    “Our first shot at ownership starting in 2003, we had never experienced success, we had to build it up from the bottom,” Grousbeck told the Globe. “But now we’re spoiled. We’ve had three or four true championship-contending teams. We’re totally spoiled. I’m spoiled. Our fans are spoiled. And now we’re not in that position. I will say the fan support has been extraordinary. The attendance, the enthusiasm and the support for this project has been better than I thought it would be. They’ve been great.”

    The Celtics are 12th in the NBA in attendance, averaging just over 18,000 per game, filling 96.7 percent of TD Garden on a nightly basis. The fan base has been subjected to some painful moments this season but Grousbeck is thrilled with the loyalty.

    “We have all been spoiled by the great run of success for that all Boston teams have had and I’m really appreciative of the fans for hanging in there with us and for finding things to cheer about,” he said. “Playing hard for a new coach, watching rookies develop, welcome back Paul and KG. We’re finding things to cheer about this year that aren’t necessarily wins. And that shows the devotion of the Boston fan.”

    With two of likely the top 20 picks in this year’s potentially fruitful draft, Celtics faithful has been early anticipating the June 26 draft as well as free agency. Grousbeck is no different.

    “I’ve got confidence that with all these picks and these young guys and our willingness to spend money, that we can get there,” he said. “We’re a patient group. We will take a multiyear plan if that’s what it takes.

    “But I think this June there could be some fireworks. I think this June we’ve got so many pieces to this puzzle that we might be able to shake loose a real piece or two for this team going forward. So I’m hoping it’s sooner rather than later.”

    Of course, the only holdover from the 2008 championship team is point guard Rajon Rondo, whose contract expires after the 2014-15 season and has been the subject of trade rumors the past two years. Grousbeck did not hide his admiration for the four-time All-Star.

    “He’s loved right here, from my seat on the court,” Grousbeck said. “I love the guy. I love his championship ring when he was the young kid. I love his growth. It reminds me of Paul Pierce. Growing from the moments in his younger days and making progress towards being an all-time Celtic and a leader. I am always hopeful that a guy like that is going to stay around.”

    Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Knicks

    Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 12, 2014 06:13 PM

    The Knicks come to the TD Garden for the final time this season and the New York team that comes next season could be dramatically different. Phil Jackson is reportedly close to joining the team in a managerial position and the roster could come completely overhauled. It could also be the final time Carmelo Anthony plays in Boston as a Knick. He will opt out of his contract this summer and be an unrestricted free agent.

    The Celtics dropped a hard-played 94-83 decision to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday and will be playing without Rajon Rondo, who will rest his surgically repaired right knee. The Knicks will be without Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.

    STARTING LINEUPS
    BOSTON CELTICS (22-42)

    PG Phil Pressey
    SG Jerryd Bayless
    SF Jeff Green
    PF Brandon Bass
    C Kris Humphries

    Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Gerald Wallace

    NEW YORK KNICKS (25-40)
    PG Raymond Felton
    SG J.R. Smith
    SF Iman Shumpert
    PF Carmelo Anthony
    C Cole Aldrich

    Inactives: Andrea Bargnani, Kenyon Martin

    Officials: Scott Foster, Olandis Poole, Scott Wall

    TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WZLX-FM (100.7)

    Pregame notes:

    • With Rajon Rondo out because it is the second game of a back-to-back set, Phil Pressey gets the start but coach Brad Stevens said he considered starting Chris Babb or Chris Johnson to get another ball-handler in the lineup. It's been a difficult offensive rookie season for Pressey, who is shooting 28.2 percent from the field.

    • The Knicks are also shorthanded as Tyson Chandler (personal reasons) and Amar'e Stoudemire (recovering, which is the actual wording used by the Knicks) are out. Stoudemire played 30 minutes Monday against Philadelphia, scoring 23 points.

    • The Celtics will take Thursday off before facing the Phoenix Suns on Friday evening. The team will debut its St. Patrick's Day sleeved jerseys.

    NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he doesn't believe teams are tanking

    Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 12, 2014 04:00 PM

    NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was the guest speaker this afternoon at the Boston College Executives Club of Boston luncheon and offered optimism about the direction of the league as well as some new ideas for his new administration.

    Silver, who took over in February for David Stern, who served 30 years as commissioner and revolutionized the league into a billion dollar business, told the gathering about how in 1981, the Celtics' rally to beat the Houston Rockets in Game 6 of the NBA Finals was not televised live nationally. And, in contrast, Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals was seen live by an estimated 900 million people.

    The league's primary issue this season has been accusation of teams tanking games to improve their draft status. The Philadelphia 76ers have lost 17 games in a row and essentially gutted their roster with a series of trades. No other NBA team has lost more than four consecutive games.

    "I think it's important to clarity what we all mean by tanking," he said at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. "Where I grew up tanking meant the coach and the players or some subset of that group were intentionally trying to lose a game. I don't think that's going on anywhere in the NBA and I would take action immediately if I thought it was.

    "What is going on is rebuilding. And we have a system right now that incentivizes teams to rebuild. There's a sense that you're better off rebuilding in some cases from scratch than remaining mediocre. Now I am concerned even if it's a legitimate strategy that there's a perception out there by many people that it's not. There's an awful lot of chatter out there in the land and I continue to hear the 'T' word. So I think it's my obligation to address it."

    Silver said he is open to various proposals to adjust the draft to prevent tanking. Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said to the Globe that he suggested to Silver on Wednesday that all lottery teams receive the same odds for the No. 1 pick, which could prevent teams from making trades to reduce their talent base.

    "I'm more concerned at the moment about the perception than the reality," Silver said. "I don't have a sense that any teams are doing anything wrong. Their responding to the incentives that are built into the system and if the incentives aren't right, we have to address it. This is genuine, appropriate rebuilding in this league but at the same time some teams are better managed than others."

    Another league issue is potentially increasing the NBA age limit to 20, essentially eliminating the "one-and-done" rule that allows players to enter the draft following one college season or one year removed from high school.

    Silver suggested that NCAA Present Mark Emmert participate in the discussions to increase the age limit.

    "What I've been saying in the NBA is let's make sure we have a better understanding of the issue," Silver said. "It's a lot more complicated than saying 19 to 20. College needs to have a seat at the table as well because I think there are various rules that they can address as well as to the window in which you can hire an agent, maintaining eligibility, potentially insurance for kids. It's got to be more of a holistic approach but ultimately there's nothing we can do without our Players Association at the table and it's up to the NBA, me, to convince the Players Association that's something there would be in their interest too."

    Silver was asked whether Boston, which hasn't hosted an All-Star Game since 1964, would ever get another opportunity.

    "I love Boston and I'd love to be here for an All-Star Game," he said. "It really is for the team to decide that they want to host the game. I think it's a unique situation here that in a top market you have a team that's in essence a renter in its building so it's not as easy as it might be in other place. We love this team. I have no doubt that our fans would love to come here for an All-Star Game. But cities apply, that's how it works."

    Celtics introduce sleeved St. Patrick's jerseys

    Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 11, 2014 12:35 PM

    image001.jpg

    The Celtics are trying to combine a throwback with the NBA's new trend of sleeved jerseys by introducing their new St. Patrick's Day uniforms that will premier Friday at home against the Phoenix Suns.

    The Celtics will commemorate their first team, the 1946-47 Celtics of the then-Basketball Association of America, by wearing sleeved jerseys that are green with gold and white trim. The NBA has introduced sleeved jerseys in the past few years with teams such as the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors. The Celtics had not been part of that trend, until now.

    Here is a sample on the right with Celtics guard Jerryd Bayless. What do you think?

    Celtics sign Chris Babb to second 10-day contract

    Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff March 11, 2014 11:33 AM

    The Celtics announced Tuesday they have signed guard Chris Babb to a second 10-day contract.

    Babb was first signed Feb. 28 to a 10-day deal and he appeared in three games, averaging 3.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 13.1 minutes.

    Babb, who is 6-5, has played 33 games for the Celtics’ NBADL team, the Maine Red Claws, averaging 12.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3./4 assists and 37.5 minutes.

    Watch: Green, Humphries combine for 47 as Celtics top Pistons

    Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff March 10, 2014 09:29 AM

    Jeff Green and Kris Humphries combined to score 47 points to lead the Celtics past the Pistons 118-111 TD Garden Sunday. Rajon Rondo had 18 of the Celtics' season-high 38 assists.

    Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Pistons

    Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 9, 2014 05:20 PM

    The Celtics finish their five-game homestand against the desperate Pistons, who have won both previous meetings and possess one of the biggest front lines in the NBA. Boston is coming off an impressive 91-84 victory over the Brooklyn Nets and are currently tied with the Lakers for the fifth-worst record in the NBA.

    Detroit has already fired coach Maurice Cheeks after 50 games, replaced by assistant John Loyer, and have been one of the league's most disappointing teams after adding Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in the offseason.

    STARTING LINEUPS
    BOSTON CELTICS (21-41)

    PG Rajon Rondo
    SG Jerryd Bayless
    SF Jeff Green
    PF Brandon Bass
    C Kris Humphries

    Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani

    DETROIT PISTONS (24-38)
    PG Brandon Jennings
    SG Kyle Singler
    SF Josh Smith
    PF Greg Monroe
    C Andre Drummond

    Inactives: Josh Harrellson, Chauncey Billups

    Officials: Dick Bavetta, Bill Kennedy, Tre Maddox

    TV, radio: 6 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

    Pregame notes:

    • The Celtics are close to getting Avery Bradley back in the fold after missing 16 of the past 19 games with a badly sprained right ankle. Bradley worked out before Sunday's game and is expected to play Friday against the Phoenix Suns.

    • The Pistons remain in the playoff race, 2 1/2 games behind the sinking Atlanta Hawks for the final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons' first-round pick goes to the Charlotte Bobcats if it is out of the top 8, meaning if they remain in playoff contention and near the end of the lottery, Charlotte will gain the selection.

    • The Celtics will practice Monday before heading to Indianapolis for a game against the Pacers on Tuesday night. The Knicks make their final appearance of the season at TD Garden on Wednesday.

    Celtics rookie center Vitor Faverani out for the season after having knee surgery

    Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 7, 2014 04:48 PM

    Celtics rookie center Vitor Faverani is known as "El Hombre Indestructible" ("The Indestructible Man"), but he isn't invincible.

    Faverani, 25, will be sidelined for the rest of the season after having arthroscopic left knee surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus at New England Baptist Hospital, the team announced Friday.

    The 6-foot-11-inch Faverani, the only true center on the Celtics roster, averaged 4.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.73 blocks in 13.2 minutes per game over 37 appearances.

    Faverani was last playing professionally for Valencia Basket Club of the Spanish ACB League before the Celtics signed the Brazilian to a three-year deal worth $6 million last summer.

    Though raw and new to the NBA game, Faverani excelled in spots this season, especially when he grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked 6 shots against Milwaukee Nov. 1.

    But Faverani played sparingly lately, appearing in just six of the team's last 30 games, and missing the last 14.

    The team shuttled him back and forth to its NBA Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, just to get him more playing time.

    But in early February, Faverani tweaked his knee in one of those games with the Red Claws. He had MRIs, but they came back negative.

    The team medical staff wasn't sure what the issue was, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens recently said that doctors would do an exploratory scope of Faverani's knee.

    Apparently, it was found that he had a torn meniscus, which Celtics swingman Gerald Wallace also suffered and had surgically repaired Tuesday.

    Jason Collins at peace in return to Boston

    Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 7, 2014 10:22 AM

    Jason Collins sat quietly Friday morning at TD Garden waiting for the media horde and gradually more and more reporters surrounded the Brooklyn Nets center, asking about his experience since being the first active professional athlete in the four major sports to announce he is gay.

    Collins, who spent part of last season with the Celtics, said he has received "100 percentage support" since signing a 10-day contract on Feb. 23. Collins has since signed a second 10-day contract with the Nets.

    "I'm just trying to focus on basketball, not really focus on the off-the-court stuff," he said hours before the Nets faced the Celtics. "So that's been really helpful for me. (My treatment) has been great, 100 percent supportive. I'm looking forward to playing here tonight, obviously I'm a former Celtic and I'm looking forward to it."

    Collins said the attention he's received is dying down.

    "Like I said, there's only so many ways you can write the story about the off-the-court stuff," he said. "It's kind of funny but it's how I predicted it would be (not that big of a deal)."

    After the NBA regular season ended last April, Collins announced his was gay in a Sports Illustrated article. The past 11 months, he said, has been a whirlwind experience.

    "It's been a lot of memories that I'll remember for the rest of my life," Collins said. "Being able to meet so many great people, whether it be people who run charities and organizations to the President and First Lady, hearing so many different stories and just being inspired by all the support."

    Before his announcement, Collins talked with former Celtics coach Doc Rivers and former forward Paul Pierce about the repercussions.

    "It meant a lot, it means a lot," Collins said. "Doc Rivers is obviously a Hall of Fame coach, and Paul and a couple of other teammates within the organization I called before the announcement was made. Their support means the world. I was thinking along my the lines of I wanted to tell my own truth, my own story."

    Celtics fans cheer for Tupac look-alike

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 6, 2014 09:29 AM

    Will_tupac_photo.jpg Photo by William Gibson Moore III

    Celtics fans didn't have much to cheer about during a 108-88 loss to the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night, but a fan in the crowd who looked like deceased rapper Tupac Shakur caused quite a reaction.

    I was first alerted to the presence of the Tupac look-alike by the Globe's Gary Washburn:

    Later, a better picture surfaced:

    Reporter Jessica Camerato tweeted that it was not the first time this mystery Tupac had appeared at the Garden. With the game out of hand, Camerato and several others reported that the TD Garden crowd even got a chant going.

    Celtics make good on honoring New Zealand boy's wish list

    Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff March 6, 2014 09:10 AM
    Louis Corbett, a 12-year-old New Zealand boy with a genetic disease called retinitis pigmentosa, crossed one important event off his wish list Wednesday night. Corbett, who is going blind, met with his favorite player Rajon Rondo (below), coach Brad Stevens, and other Celtics before the game with the Golden State Warriors. He was the team's guest of honor for the game.

    "I just want to absorb the game and see what it’s really like and feel the atmosphere of the stadium,” Louis told CBSBoston.com. “It’s quite incredible. Not every 12-year-old my age from New Zealand gets to see this.”

    Knowing that Corbett will eventually be blind, his parents have taken him to see as many things as possible. The family visited Google headquarters in California and also went to Disneyland.

    “As mom and dad we tend to think of two years down the track, five years down the track," Tim Corbett said. "He doesn’t. He just thinks right now 'what’s fantastic and what can i get out of it?' "

    Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Warriors

    Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 5, 2014 07:16 PM

    The Celtics continue their five-game homestand with another difficult game, this time against the Golden State Warriors, who over the past few years have emerged as one of the more entertaining teams in the NBA. Stephen Curry leads the league in assists (8.8) and 3-pointers made (195) and seventh in scoring (24.0). Klay Thompson drained the winning jumper with 0.6 seconds left Tuesday to beat the Indiana Pacers.

    Boston will welcome back Kelly Olynyk, who missed the past two games with a sprained left big toe. The Celtics lost to Golden State in January in Oakland on a Curry 3-pointer, 99-97.

    STARTING LINEUPS
    BOSTON CELTICS (20-40)

    PG Rajon Rondo
    SG Jerryd Bayless
    SF Jeff Green
    PF Brandon Bass
    C Kris Humphries

    Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley

    GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (37-24)
    PG Stephen Curry
    SG Klay Thompson
    SF Andre Iguodala
    PF David Lee
    C Andrew Bogut

    Inactives: Festus Ezeli, Ognjen Kuzmic, Nemanja Nedovic

    Officials: Derrick Collins, Eric Dalen, Rodney Mott

    TV, radio: 7:30 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

    Pregame notes:

    •Jordan Crawford is back in Boston for the first time since being traded to Golden State along with MarShon Brooks in a three-team deal that netted the Celtics Joel Anthony. Crawford is averaging 7.2 points and shooting 38.6 percent in 21 games.

    • Avery Bradley underwent an MRI on his right ankle Wednesday and will be re-evaluated Friday before the team determines when he can return. He has missed 15 of the past 18 games with a sprained ankle.

    • The Celtics will practice Thursday before taking on the Brooklyn Nets with Garnett, Pierce and Collins on Friday night at TD Garden.

    Gerald Wallace likely out 3-4 months after having knee, ankle surgeries

    Posted by Baxter Holmes, Globe Staff March 4, 2014 01:33 PM

    WALTHAM -- Celtics forward Gerald Wallace will officially miss the rest of the season after having arthroscopic surgeries on his left knee and his left ankle Tuesday morning at New England Baptist Hospital, the team announced.

    "Both (surgeries) went well," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before practice here. "I think the ankle alone was 3-4 months (of recovery) to be cleared. He’s out (for the season)."

    Wallace had a torn meniscus repaired in his left knee as well as bone spurs cleaned out of his left ankle. The two surgeries were the first operations of Wallace's career, a remarkable fact considering the 31-year-old has had numerous injuries in his NBA career, with this being his 13th season.

    Wallace, who joined the Celtics through last summer's blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets, appeared in 58 games this season, averaging 5.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals over 24.4 minutes per game.

    Welcome to TD Garden for Celtics-Pacers

    Posted by Gary Washburn Globe Staff March 1, 2014 06:47 PM

    The Celtics continue their rugged schedule with one of the league's elite teams and they are playing shorthanded. Gerald Wallace (torn meniscus) is out for the season while Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley are also out. The Pacers added a couple of new players in Evan Turner, who beat the Celtics with a buzzer-beater at TD Garden last month, and Lavoy Allen in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.

    With 25 games left, the Pacers are going to spent the next six weeks getting primed for an NBA title run. The Pacers have already beaten the Celtics twice this season, including a 97-82 win on Nov. 22.

    STARTING LINEUPS
    BOSTON CELTICS (20-39)

    PG Rajon Rondo
    SG Jerryd Bayless
    SF Jeff Green
    PF Brandon Bass
    C Kris Humphries

    Inactives: Keith Bogans, Vitor Faverani, Avery Bradley

    INDIANA PACERS (44-13)
    PG C.J. Watson
    SG Lance Stephenson
    SF Paul George
    PF David West
    C Roy Hibbert

    Inactives: Andrew Bynum, George Hill

    Officials: Mike Callahan, Karl Lane, Michael Smith

    TV, radio: 8 p.m., CSNNE, WBZ-FM (98.5)

    Pregame notes:

    •Jared Sullinger did practice Friday but Stevens said the workout was so light, it's difficult to determine what time of basketball shape he is in. Sullinger missed the past three games with a concussion after taking an elbow from the Lakers' Chris Kaman. Stevens said forward Kelly Olynyk (sprained left big toe) is probable to play Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors while Avery Bradley (sprained right ankle) is going to be re-examined next week.

    • Chris Babb is on the roster, having signed a 10-day contract on Friday. He will wear No. 55.

    • The Pacers will be without point guard George Hill, who bruised his shoulder in Thursday's win over the Milwaukee Bucks. C.J. Watson will get the start at point guard for Milwaukee.

    • The Celtics have three days off before taking on the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.

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