Celtics

Blakely: Celtics likely open to all trade talks

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Blakely: Celtics likely open to all trade talks

Glad to know the NBA rumor mill hasn't missed a beat now that we know we'll have a season.

Among the many word-on-the-street (or blogosphere) rumors being tossed around is one involving at least one Boston Celtic. Apparently the C's are open to the idea of trading Rajon Rondo.

Well, here's the thing. The C's have been open to trading Rondo for a couple years now.

For the right deal -- and I can't stress enough how difficult ''the right deal'' would be to come by for Rondo and his unique skillet -- the C's have been open to trading most of their players.

Speaking with a couple front-office officials who have made deals with Danny Ainge in the past, they said his position in terms of his Big 4 is no different now than it was a year ago.

"He's not pushing really hard to move any of his guys now," one official said. "But he's definitely interested in hearing what others think."

In other words, Ainge is doing his job.

So the idea that the C's are open to the idea of trading Rondo or Ray Allen or any of the six C's under contract, is the way things should be.

Boston has very limited options in terms of what it can do to significantly bolster its roster in this truncated 66-game season.

That's what happens when you have not one, not two, but four -- yes, four -- players under contract who will earn at least 10 million for this upcoming season. No NBA team has that many eight-figure players.

So that means the only way to significantly bolster the roster, has to involve moving one of those pieces. In other words, Boston has no shot at Tyson Chandler if the C's don't move, say, at least one member of the Big 4.

With Chris Paul and Dwight Howard hitting the free agent market in 2012, you know both of their teams (New Orleans and Orlando, respectively) are going to be looking hard for trade partners this year before losing them and getting nothing in return.

Boston's only shot of having a shot at either player, is to include at least one member of their Big 4 in a possible trade. But looking at what other teams could offer, that still won't be enough of an enticement.

So that would leave the C's little choice but to surround them with players they acquire on the cheap, with the hope that those players will out-perform their minimum wage or near-minimum wage contracts.

But the chances of that happening aren't promising.

Look at last summer's blockbuster deal that Shaquille O'Neal was coming to Boston. Getting him for the minimum seemed like a steal, right?

That's why for Ainge to do anything other than listen and solicit offers for his core guys, would be a disservice to head coach Doc Rivers, the Celtics ownership and Celtics fans.

Of the 400-plus NBA players, you can count the ones that you'll rarely, if at all, hear mentioned on the rumor mill as possibly being traded.

LeBron James. Kobe Bryant. Kevin Durant. And we're done.

While the C's have three future Hall of Famers on their roster and a blossoming all-star point guard, none of them -- right now at least -- are James, Bryant or Durant.

Another thing, folks. Sometimes people forget that Ainge is a GM, not a museum curator who collects antiques and outdated artifacts. (Although, with some of his recent signings, I could see the confusion.)

His job is to build a team, a title-contending team, using whatever resources are at his disposal. If that means trading away a core guy for a player or two who he believes can help them immediately or down the road, so be it.

That's what he's supposed to do, regardless of how well-connected a player is to a community, or how popular he is with fans.

So let the rumors continue to swirl about Rondo on the move, or Ray-Ray being shipped out. But remember one thing. The more you hear about that kind of stuff, it only means one thing and one thing only. Ainge is doing his job, which is to put out the best team possible that will give the C's another shot at Banner 18.

For Celtics, winning streak is history in the making

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For Celtics, winning streak is history in the making

BOSTON – Beating the Atlanta Hawks 110-99 on Saturday did more than just pad the win total for the Boston Celtics.
 
It moved them even further up the food chain to what has already been a pretty amazing season.
 
Saturday’s win was their 15th straight, which places them in the penthouse of great Celtics runs of success.
 
Only four other teams in this franchise's storied history have won more consecutive games than this year’s group.
 
Here at NBC Sports Boston, we take a look back at the four teams that are ahead of the Celtics in what has been one of the greatest streaks in franchise history.


 
19 straight wins:  Nov. 15, 2008 – Dec. 23, 2008
 
Fresh off claiming Banner 17, the Celtics were determined to take their place among the all-time great Celtics teams by winning a second straight NBA title. They seemed well on their way with a 15-2 start to the season and of course, their 19-game winning streak. But what turned into a season-ending knee injury suffered by Kevin Garnett later in the year derailed their date with destiny and instead ended with them being upset by the Orlando Magic in the second round of the playoffs , brining a quicker-than-expected end to one of the best regular seasons in franchise history.


 
18 straight wins: Feb. 24, 1982 – March 26, 1982
 
Boston was still considered the best team in the East, although Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers were very much closing the gap. The Celtics dodged a number of close calls during the streak with seven games decided by five points or less, including a 98-97 overtime win at Washington in which the Bullets (now Wizards) went into the fourth quarter with a nine-point lead. The Celtics’ streak eventually came to an end at the hands of the Sixers, which, in hindsight, served as a precursor for Boston losing to Dr. J and the Sixers in the playoffs.


 
17 straight wins: Nov. 28, 1959 – Dec. 30, 1959
 
The Celtics were defending NBA champions and seemingly off to a strong start, only to lose back-to-back games to Philadelphia. While it was still early in the season, they knew they had to quickly right the ship. And they did. During the 17-game winning streak, 12 were by double-digits with only three by five points. The streak ended on New Year’s Day 1960. But by then, the Celtics had re-established their presence atop the NBA landscape and would go on to claim the second of eight straight NBA titles.


 
16 straight wins: Dec. 19, 1964 – Jan. 22, 1965
 
There was little doubt in anyone’s mind that this Celtic team was going to have a special season. They got things going with an 11-0 record right out the gate. And they weren’t just winning games; they were thumping teams with flat-out beatdowns, which is evident by their average margin of victory being by 18.5 points per game. That’s not all that surprising when you consider most of Boston’s core group consisted of players in their prime such as Bill Russell and Tommy Heinsohn. The streak began with a double-digit win over the St. Louis Hawks and would roll along for another couple of weeks. During both the start of the season and the 16-game winning streak, both cemented Boston as the team everyone was chasing. And no one caught them. The Celtics continued to be the dominant force in the league and the season ended with another title, which was the franchise’s seventh straight.

Celtics need to let Morris continue feasting on seconds

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Celtics need to let Morris continue feasting on seconds

It gets harder to find problematic areas when a team wins 15 straight, like the Boston Celtics have.
 
But there are some. Boston’s inability to develop a consistent scoring threat when the second-unit players are on the floor hasn’t cost them a game yet, but you can see it coming if they don’t address this at some point.
 
Well, the answer to their second-unit struggles may be staring them right in the face – Marcus Morris.
 
While he does go back and forth as a starter, keeping him on the floor in the second quarter with the second unit makes sense for all involved.
 
Morris is a better scorer than many expected, but opportunities aren’t as plentiful with the first group. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are the top two options. The team’s young wings, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, probably stack up slightly higher in the scoring pecking order than Morris.
 
So for him to get quality looks with the second unit in the second quarter not only helps the team offensively, but it keeps Morris even more engaged than he already is.
 
We saw that in Saturday’s win over the Hawks.
 
Morris had 14 points, with 10 coming in the second quarter when he was surrounded primarily with players off the bench.
 
 “We need Marcus quite a bit,” said coach Brad Stevens. “We’re still managing his minutes appropriately as he comes back.”
 
Morris missed the first eight games of the season because of a sore left knee. Since his return, his minutes have been capped at around 25 or less, in addition to not playing back-to-back nights..

But as he continues to play a more significant role, look for his minutes -- and his role as a primary scorer in the second quarter -- to increase.
 
“He brings us scoring," Stevens said. "He brings us defense, he brings us toughness, and we really needed his scoring (against Atlanta), his ability to shoot the ball both off broken plays and off movement.”
 
Here’s a look at five other takeaways from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta to extend the team’s winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history.



 
JAYLEN BROWN'S EMERGENCE

The improvement in Jaylen Brown has been evident all season, but it's really spiked the last two games. The second-year wing player dropped 22 points on Golden State Thursday, then followed that up with a career-high 27 Saturday. Conventional wisdom tells you not to bank on Brown delivering like that on a consistent basis. But as a former No. 3 overall pick who works as hard as Brown does . . . would anyone be surprised if this becomes a new-norm when it comes to Brown?


 
HORFORD STREAK CONTINUES
 
Early foul trouble and an overall lack of flow offensively had Al Horford looking at having his first game of the season with a negative plus/minus. At the half he was at -16. Then came the Celtics’ second half surge which saw them turn a 16-point deficit in the first half into a double-digit victory. And Horford’s plus/minus? For the game he stood at +2, keeping his streak alive of having a positive plus/minus in every game played this season.

KYRIE IRVING
 
An efficient scoring Kyrie Irving is an NBA team’s worst nightmare. One of the league’s well-established scorers, Irving was just too much for the Atlanta Hawks to handle. And the end result was one of the most efficient scoring nights in Irving’s career as he tallied a game-high 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting.


 
TATUM'S SECOND-HALF SURGE
 
For the second straight game, Jayson Tatum did not begin playing his best basketball until the second half. Against the Hawks, Tatum scored all of his 14 points in the second half. And in Thursday’s win over Golden State, 10 of his 12 points came in the second half. “For whatever reason he was pretty tentative (in the first half),” said Stevens. “He’s a good player, so struggles aren’t going to last long. He’ll figure it out.”


 
SMART'S SHOOTING (SLIGHTLY) BETTER
 
There’s plenty of room for improvement when it comes to Marcus Smart’s shooting. Against the Hawks, he had 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting. Now the numbers won’t wow you, but they are a huge step in the right direction in comparison to how he has been chucking up shots lately. In Boston’s previous five games, Smart was a face-cringing 10-for-52 shooting, or 19.2 percent from the field. Even with all the impact he makes consistently with his defense and effort, that number has to continue to improve if Boston is able to continue along its winning ways.

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