Celtics

Appreciate Rondo's contract

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Appreciate Rondo's contract

While tomorrow is the deadline for baseball teams to make a qualifying offer to free agents, last night marked a special deadline of the NBA variety: It was the last chance for teams to reach an extension with members of the 2009 draft class.

Any player left without an extension will become a restricted free agent next year, but that wont be an issue for many of the games young stars. Among those receiving extensions were James Harden, Taj Gibson, DeMar DeRozan, Steph Curry, Ty Lawson and Jrue Holiday (sadly, Hasheem Thabeet never got the call). But its the last three guys who I want to focus on here.

Curry: Four years44M (11M annually)
Lawson: Four years48M (12M annually)
Holiday: Four years41M (10.5M, annually)

By comparison, Rajon Rondo is now in year three of a five year extension that was originally worth 55M. Hell make 11M this year, 12M next year and 13M in 2014-15.

You know, weve talked a lot over years about the remarkable job Danny Ainge has done in keeping the Celtics competitive. Originally, we all figured that Boston had a three-year window, and then it was back to the drawing board. Were now in year six, and theres no reason to think it will end here. But even with all the credit weve given Ainge, we probably dont give him enough for locking Rondo up for as many years and for as relatively cheap as he did. In fact, Rondos deal is probably the single biggest factor in the Celtics prolonged success. I mean, look around at the other top point guards in the league. Chris Paul is making nearly 18M this year, and will get the max after this season. Deron Williams got the max this summer, and will make 55.3M over the next three years compared to Rondos 35M. Russell Westbrook is one year away from getting a max deal of his own. At the same time, I dont want it to sound like Im disrespecting the three guys who just got their extensions. If Curry can stay healthy (although sadly, thats a huge if), hell be great. Ty Lawson is one of the leagues most underrated point guards and the general of one of the leagues most exciting and underrated teams. Jrue Holiday is still only 22 years old, only getting better and has a nice foundation to work with in Philly. But at this point, Rondos much closer to Paul, Williams and Westbrook than he is to those guys, yet for the next three seasons the money will say otherwise.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

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Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

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Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

When it comes to the top backcourts in the NBA, you seldom hear about Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.

That may soon be changing if they have more games like the one they delivered on Saturday as Boston put together a solid second half to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks, 110-99.

Irving had a game-high 30 points which was his second game with at least 30 points scored – both against Atlanta.

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And Brown, who had a strong 22-point performance in Boston’s win over Golden State on Thursday, was even better against the Hawks in tallying a career-high 27 points.

We all know about Irving who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top guards.

But is Brown on the way?

One thing Brown won’t have to develop going forward is, confidence.

He has long maintained that he believes he’ll be among the best in the league. It’s just a matter of him performing at a high level at both ends of the floor, consistently.

“I’ve always had that confidence, I can play with the best in the world,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the win over Atlanta which extended Boston’s winning streak to 15 in a row. “It’s just a matter of coming out, doing it. My teammates found me tonight. We had a good team win tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

Back in his home state of Georgia, Jaylen Brown delivered another monster game for the Celtics by scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving

Irving had his most efficient game this season for the Celtics, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists.

Dennis Schroder

Atlanta’s best scorer delivering a strong 23-point, 9-assist performance for the Hawks.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He only had 14 points, but they all came in the third quarter and they included a few crowd-quieting dunks.

John Collins

He came into the league with the reputation of being a high motor player, and he has not disappointed. His hustle and energy led to him tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

Marcus Morris

When the offense struggled mightily in the first half, it was Morris’ scoring that kept them within striking distance. He finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

Kent Bazemore

He was Atlanta’s number two scoring option most of the night, and finished with 19 points.

 

DUDS

Boston’s first quarter defense

The Celtics can’t keep digging themselves these early holes, expecting they will turn it on and find a way to climb out of them. The Hawks led 35-20, fueled in large part by shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in addition to out-rebounding Boston 8-6.

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