Celtics

Agents turning NBA lockout into three-way battle

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Agents turning NBA lockout into three-way battle

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

When you hear most people talk about the NBA lockout, it has an us-versus-them feel about it.

You have the owners on one side, and the players represented by the union on the other.

But in recent weeks, the players agents have entered the picture, turning this tug-of-war into a three-sided battle for power.

"It's almost like a triangle," Mo Evans, vice president of the NBA players union told CSNNE.com. "We're all separate entities, where we all have different interests. The union and the players are one entity, the agents are another and the NBA (owners) is another."

While agents have no official role in negotiating a new CBA, there's no question that their influence is alive and well behind the scenes as a number of agents have privately pushed for the players union to de-certify.

When the NBA players union met in Las Vegas earlier this month, de-certification was indeed a hot topic of discussion.

But the de-certification chatter has cooled off considerably since then, with the union and owners continuing to push forward - publicly at least - to try and iron out a new deal.

Several reports have the two sides meeting in New York City on Tuesday, with talks potentially resuming on Wednesday as well.

The players union and owners seem to be operating with a greater sense of urgency now, with the specter of regular season games being lost becoming more real with each passing day.

Last week, the NBA postponed the start of training camp along with canceling 43 preseason games that were scheduled for Oct. 9-15. It's unclear if any more games will be canceled, but according to CBSSports.com, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said the league schedule will be re-evaluated on Oct. 1.

While there's a lot of work to be done by both sides before a deal is done, the fact that both sides are talking - and seem genuinely interested in communicating more often - is definitely a good thing.

"The owners are a sophisticated group of businessmen led by a great leader in Commissioner David Stern," Evans said. "They employ great tactical strategies and they're very crafty, educated and that's why Stern has grown this business - together with the players, grown this business - to where it is now. We don't underestimate them in any way. We respect the process."

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

Morris returns to Celtics starting lineup vs. Magic

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Morris returns to Celtics starting lineup vs. Magic

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics will turn to a familiar starting lineup as they try to get back on their winning ways following Wednesday’s loss at Miami.
 
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Marcus Morris will be in the starting lineup tonight against Orlando, joining the usual Celtics foursome of Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford.

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Morris’ availability tonight was not a given, similar to it being in question prior to Wednesday’s game against the Heat.
 
Morris has been dealing with soreness in his left knee which kept him out for the first eight games of the season and has limited his playing time since then.
 
Stevens said Morris will likely not play against Indiana on Saturday but no final decision has been made. Since returning to the lineup, the Celtics have played Morris with a minutes restriction in addition to not allowing him to play in any back-to-back games.

Morris has made it clear that he does not like having his playing time limited while not playing in any back-to-backs, but has repeatedly he understands why it is being done and won’t fight what the coaching and medical staff believe is best for him and the team.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics' bounce-back ability put to the test

Celtics' bounce-back ability put to the test

BOSTON – When it comes to bouncing back from defeat, the Celtics don’t have a ton of experience with that this season.
 
As impressive as their 16-game winning streak was, a truer sense of where this team is at lies in how they respond.

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Their first chance to bounce back comes tonight against the Orlando Magic (8-10) who will put Boston’s team cohesion to the test.
 
With so many new players to the roster this season, it has been somewhat surprising how well players have come together. It was instrumental to Boston’s winning streak, which was the fourth-longest in franchise history.
 
“It’s two things,” said Al Horford. “A lot of credit to coach [Brad Stevens], really setting the emphasis on the things that he expects from our group. And then credit to our younger guys and our guys in general, to pick up those concepts and play for each other out there on the defensive end. That’s what we try to do every night.”
 
When you talk about Boston’s young players, it begins with the rapid improvement of second-year wing Jaylen Brown and rookie Jayson Tatum.
 
“I just think that they’re starting to see, to understand the game more especially on the offensive end,” Horford said. “I think they’re starting to identify reads. It’s a process. They’re going to keep learning; it’s a long season. But that’s the one thing, from the beginning of the season until now, I feel like they have the ability to read plays and make plays for themselves and others.”
 
Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game at TD Garden: 
 


STREAKING MAGIC
The Magic are on a bit of a streak, but not the kind any team would like to have. They come in having lost six in a row. The Magic have struggled to knock down 3-point shots and rebound in that span. They're ranked among the league’s bottom 10 in both categories.
 

THE PAINT GAME
Boston has had its problems scoring in the paint this season, averaging 38.5 points, which ranks 27th in the NBA. But that might change tonight against a Magic team that has been among the worst limiting points in the paint all season. Scratch that. They are the worst, giving up a league-high 51.0 points in the paint this season.
 

WICKED TOUGH SCHEDULE
Boston’s 16-game winning streak was impressive, especially when you consider their schedule which included their past eight games being played in a 16-night stretch with a game every other day. It’s not so much the challenge of so many games close together, but the inability to have any time to practice. “For a young team like ours, practice is really important,” Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston earlier this season. “But the schedule is what it is. You play every game as best you can, practice when you can practice and go from there.”
 

BACKUP POWER LOW
The Celtics got 34 points from their bench in Wednesday’s loss at Miami, an improvement over what the second unit has been able to deliver most of this season. They come into tonight’s game ranked dead-last in the NBA in shooting (33.5 percent) and next-to-last in 3-point shooting (27.7 percent). Scoring-wise, they average 28.6 points, which ranks 24th in the league, but log an average of 18.8 minutes which ranks 14th in the NBA. So why do they get major minutes? Because more often than not, they find a way to come out ahead of their second unit brethren. For the season, Boston’s bench has a plus/minus of +1.6 which ranks eighth in the league.
 

REBOUND SUCCESS
One of the biggest concerns for the Celtics coming into this season was rebounding. So far, so good. The Celtics average 47.2 rebounds per game, which ranks fourth in the NBA. To put that in perspective, if Boston maintains that average, it would be the franchise’s highest rebounding average in 40 years (49.8, 1977-78).