Celtics searching for goldMORE: Bobby V. vs. Youk -- does it matter?


Celtics searching for goldMORE: Bobby V. vs. Youk -- does it matter?

Back in 1992, Larry Bird represented the Celtics in the Olympics.

Maybe youve heard about this.

And if so, you probably also know that its now been 20 years and counting since the C's have had another Olympic participant.

Of course, at one point or another, theyve employed a ton of former Olympians: Future Celtics Gary Payton and Shaquille O'Neal won gold in 1996. Payton, KG, Ray Allen and the one-and-only Vin Baker won the 2000 Gold Medal in Athens. Stephon Marbury helped Team USA bring home the bronze in 2004. But Larry Bird is still the only active Celtic to play in the Olympics, and he retired less than 24 hours after winning the gold.

So what gives?

In the time since Bird, I guess there's really only been two legit opportunities. I'm not counting Antoine Walker because he was never really Team USA material. Instead I'm talking about two current C's: Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.

Pierce was still coming into his own when Team USA went to Sydney in 2000. In 2002, he played for the US in the World Games, but it didn't go well. For one, because the team went 6-3 and finished sixth. For two, because Pierce not the most mature 24-year-old the league has ever seen butted heads with George Karl and Gregg Poppovich. As a result, he was left off the 2004 squad. In 2006, he was named to the National team again, but dropped out of training camp because of elbow surgery. In 2007, he missed out because of shoulder surgery. By 2008, Pierce's Olympic ship had sailed. Call it a combination of bad luck, bad timing and a bad attitude, but it's fair to say that Pierce will leave the game before grabbing the gold.
As for Rondo, we're still unsure of exactly what happened last summer. Did he not make the team because of his bad attitude? Did he have a bad attitude because he wasn't going to make the team? Did he simply not care about representing his country, instead preferring to kick back at home and relax with his family? Whatever the reason, Rondo's not on USA's radar, and with guys like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and John Wall not going anywhere soon you wonder if he ever will be.

And that's too bad. As great as it is to watch these guys every season, just once it would be fun to have a Celtic go for the gold. It sucks that Boston has to miss out every fourth summer. But everyone once in a while, we're reminded that it's not so bad. That there are a few advantages to being left out of the Olympics.
Los Angeles Clippers @LAClippers PRESS RELEASE: @blakegriffin surgery scheduled >> nba.comclippersnews 16 Jul 12 Reply Retweet Favorite Yeah, so it's not much, but it's a small consolation knowing that Rondo, Pierce and company will spend the summer resting up and getting healthy instead busting their asses on the other side of the world. Still, just one of these year's it would be nice to have an Olympian.

Maybe Avery Bradley for Brazil in 2016?

Yes, Avery Bradley for Brazil! I'll start the petition.
Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

Irving: Struggling Celtics must 'weather the storm'

BOSTON – While it’s too soon to hit the panic button on the Boston Celtics’ season, Sunday’s 103-95 loss to Orlando is disturbing on multiple fronts. 

For starters, the Magic (14-32) have been in the NBA basement most of the season, so for them to see the light towards victory, on the road nonetheless, against the Celtics is bothersome for the Green Team. 

MORE - Blakely's stars, studs, and duds from C's-Magic

Boston came into Sunday’s game with an impressive 17-3 record against teams with a sub-.500 record.

Making matters even worst, it was Boston’s third straight loss – a first for the Celtics this season - with all three defeats coming at the TD Garden. 

Celtics big man Al Horford said the team needs a “Fight for our lives’” mentality heading into Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers. 

While no one wants to lose game, having to overcome some hurdles along the journey isn’t always a bad thing.

“Gotta have some adversity,” said Kyrie Irving who led all scorers with 40 points - the second time he has reached the 40-point plateau this season (47 points, Nov. 20 at Dallas). “We need it as a team. There’s a lot more adversity down the road. You have to be able to weather the storm no matter what.”

Aside from Gordon Hayward’s dislocated ankle injury in the season-opener, dropping three straight is probably the biggest adversity the Celtics have had this season. 

And this latest setback came against an Orlando franchise that the Celtics have absolutely owned at home. 

Prior to Sunday’s loss, Boston had not lost to the Magic at home since Feb. 7, 2010 with 14 straight wins.

"We didn't underestimate them," said Boston's Jaylen Brown who had 17 points. "They've been playing a lot better than they've been playing all year."

Al Horford echoed similar sentiments.

“You can’t underestimate any team,” Horford said. “I don’t think we necessarily did, but we need to have that sense of urgency like we started the game and be able to hold that throughout the game. That’s important.”

So is making the most of transition scoring opportunities which was an area of play in which the Celtics struggled mightily all game. 

Boston wound up with six, fast-break points on just 3-for-9 shooting. 

“We had some transition opportunities that we didn’t covert,” acknowledged Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. 

Failing to capitalize on those easy scoring opportunities came back to hurt Boston and in hindsight, proved to be one of the key differences in the game’s outcome. 

“Whether you’re doing things at an optimum level as you would like, that’s part of the game of learning one another,” Irving said. “Being able to figure out how to respond from that. Us as a group, we’ve come together in the last four months, five months, it’s new. We need to hit something like this in order for us to grow. It’s part of the game; part of being on a team, part of being a professional. Any team, any environment, you have to have stuff like this where you have to figure it out.”


Celtics' losing streak reaches a season-worst three games with loss to Magic


Celtics' losing streak reaches a season-worst three games with loss to Magic

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics’ defense had its moments on Sunday. 

Ditto for the offense. 

But overall, the sense of urgency that we saw when they reeled off 16 straight wins and skyrocketed to the top of the Eastern Conference standings, was nowhere to be found on Sunday against the Orlando Magic. 

And because of that, the Celtics now find themselves riding a season-worst losing streak that has reached three games. 

While it may not seem like that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, Boston understands all too well how momentum works. 

It is a catapulting force that can elevate teams for a stretch of games, or set them back which is exactly what’s happening now with the Celtics (34-13).

“In my eyes, I feel like we’re fighting for our lives,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “That has to be our mindset gong into Tuesday’s game (against the Los Angeles Lakers).

Horford added, “We have to understand that teams are coming for us. I felt that we’ve handled it okay this season. We have to do a good job of making sure we’re bringing the fire and them not bringing it to us.”

Lately, that has proven to be easier said than done. 

At the end of the day, Boston’s success comes down to one thing and one thing only – improving their play. 

“You know, you’ve got to play well,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “We haven’t played well consistently on both ends for a while now.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 103-95 loss to the Orlando Magic which snapped the Celtics’ 13-game home winning streak against Orlando. 



Kyrie Irving: The Celtics came up short, but that doesn’t diminish a strong bounce-back game for Kyrie Irving. Irving, who did not play in Boston’s loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, returned to the floor and dropped 40 points on 14-for-23 shooting. He also had seven rebounds and five assists with just one turnover.



Elfrid Payton: By no means did he shut Kyrie Irving down, but his scoring off the dribble certainly provided a much-needed boost for Orlando. He had a team-high 22 points on 9-for-16 shooting along with six rebounds.

Evan Fournier: He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (8-for-19), but made some clutch baskets for the Magic in pulling off the upset win. 

Aaron Gordon: He tallied his 10th double-double of the season and second straight on Sunday, finishing with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Marcus Morris: Getting the starting assignment, Morris gave the Celtics a nice lift with 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go with five rebounds.

Jaylen Brown: Early on, Brown and Kyrie Irving were the only sources of offense for the Celtics as they combined to score 23 of Boston’s first 25 points. For the game, Brown had 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting to go with seven rebounds.



Celtics third quarter: There were other less-than-stellar stretches of play for Boston, but this game was truly decided by Boston’s horrific play at both ends of the floor in the third quarter. That is when the Magic outscored Boston 32-12.

Celtics transition offense: Easily one of the keys to Boston’s inability to get over the hump once after spending most of the second half on the comeback trail. Boston had six, fast-break points while shooting a woeful 3-for-9 in those opportunities. The Magic had almost twice as many fast-break points (11) while doing so on fewer fast-break field goal attempts (8).