Celtics know when youth should be served


Celtics know when youth should be served

PA ANNOUNCER: "Ladies and gentlemen . . . I need you ALL . . . to get ON YOUR FEET, and help me welcome the NEWEST member of the MIAMI HEAT . . . "

The crowd goes wild, as strobe lights drop down from the ceiling, smoke shoots from the air vents and Jay-Z and Kanyes Lift Off blasts through the speakers.
"Raaay Aaaaaalleeeeeenn!!"

Suddenly, Allen wearing sunglasses, cargo shorts and a Heat City, Bitch tank top emerges from behind the curtain. He turns the corner and meets Chris Bosh with an emphatic chest bump, works a new handshake with Dwyane Wade, and then seeks out LeBron for an emotional bear hug. The foursome then performs the entire dance routine from House Party.

Allen grabs the mic:
"What's up, Mi-AM-miiiiiii?! I only have two words for y'all today. And I want you to say them with me: RE! PEAT! RE! PEAT! RE! PEAT! RE! PEAT! . . ."

OK, so maybe Ray will keep things a little classier this afternoon when he's officially introduced as a member of the hated Heat . . . but that won't make it any easier to swallow.

Even if he was completely justified in leaving. Even if the Celtics are probably better offer for seeing him go. It still hurts. It's still a slap in the face. But hey, what are you going to do?

For all the questions about why Ray left, about what really pushed him over the edge, I still think it comes down to this: He lost his job. Whether it happened over time, or all at once, the Celtics found themselves in a situation they were better without Allen in the starting line up, and at that point, they had two choices.

1. Pretend it wasn't true. Bury Avery Bradley. Keep their future Hall of Famer happy.

2. Do the right thing.

Thankfully, they went with the latter, but a decision like that comes with consequences.

This is one of the dangers of how Danny Ainge and the Celtics have handled the extension of the Big 3 era. This is what happens when you're dealing with superstars at the tail end of their careers; when their bodies are giving up, but their pride and confidence are sharp as ever. Like I've said a million times, I don't think that Ray Allen is a bad person for feeling the way he did during his final days with the Celtics, but there's no question that he lost touch with reality.

And it's fair to wonder: Is this an isolated incident, or a sign of things to come?

After all, the Celtics aren't paying Jeff Green 9 million a year to sit on the bench. And even if they start Green at the four, they didn't bring Brandon Bass back to ride the pine either. So, given the changing face off this team; given the younger, more athletic direction of the NBA on the whole, might there be a few games where the Celtics are more effective with Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Green, Bass and Kevin Garnett?

Is it possible that at some point over the next two seasons, Jeff Green becomes a better fit for the Celtics than Paul Pierce?

I don't know, but I hope so. Don't you? I bet the Celtics do. Not because it would allow them treat Pierce like crap, but because it would mean that the C's are a better team. Because that's all they can afford to care about. Remember last off-season before they lost Green when Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge both publicly suggested that Pierce could come off the bench? How serious they were, we'll never know. But it was obviously on their radar.

OK, I'll stop now, because this is all speculation. I'm just saying that Ray Allen wasn't the first NBA superstar to lose his job to a younger, faster and more athletic player, and he won't be the last. It's just the way of the world. A product of getting older. One of the inevitable risks of rolling the dice with aging Hall of Famers.

The consequences of which are about to play out this afternoon in Miami.

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

Morris returns to Celtics starting lineup vs. Magic


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.


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.


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.


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: 

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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).