Celtics

Hold off on those Celtics obits just yet

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Hold off on those Celtics obits just yet

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

MIAMI When a celebrity reaches a certain age, is diagnosed with a devastating disease or starts to live an especially reckless lifestyle, its common practice for news organizations to preemptively write an obituary.

Thinking back to the last few years of Bob Hopes life, there were a few different occasions when his obituary prematurely released to the public. When Elizabeth Taylor passed away last month, the man whose byline appeared on her obit had been dead for six years. On that note, I wouldnt be surprised if there are already a few Charlie Sheen drafts floating around newsrooms across the country.

You probably already knew that, but hey, Im trying to start a column here.

In a way, its a strange to know that these obituaries exist while the subjects are still alive, but I guess you cant fault anyone for thinking ahead. In a world where so much of what happens is entirely shocking and unexpected, its only natural, almost practical, to prepare for the inevitable. It helps with deadlines, eases stresses, even allows for a better product.

Not to mention its something we all do in our everyday lives, as well.

I used celebrities as an example, but it obviously goes much deeper than that with individuals, experiences and relationships that we hold far dearer than Bob Hope, Elizabeth Taylor or Charlie Sheen. Whether its a sick family member, a doomed relationship, a cross-country move or change in jobs, we spend a lot of time contemplating how circumstances of our present life might end, so that were not entirely blindsided when they do.

At times, that borders on pessimistic and unhealthy, but it does serve a purpose. You dont want harp on the negative, but youd also be careless to ignore its existence all together.

For all these reasons, both practical and emotional, weve spent the better part of the last four years preparing for the end of the Celtics' run among the NBAs elite.

From the moment they got together in the summer of 2007, through the immeasurable levels of optimism and excitement, there was always the recognition that it wouldnt last forever. At first, we gave them a three-year window. Eventually, that was extended to four, with plans laid for a fifth. But while the end was never set in stone, it was always well in sight. And before long, even through the immense success of that first season, those preemptive obituaries slowly began to take shape.

The 2008 championship may have actually expedited the process.

By winning in their first year, the Big Three era became an immediate and eternal success. This team wasnt assembled to only win one title, but after 22 years of nothing, one title was really all anybody needed. It immediately answered all the most important and terrifying questions: What if this doesnt work? What if they dont win? What if they never win? When they did, Boston was free to watch the rest of this cores time together without the fear that Danny Ainges historic experiment would come up short.

We were unbelievably fortunate for this. In fact, it empowered us. And because we never feared the end (not that we were ever looking forward to it) we always looked it right in the eye, and waited its imminent arrival.

In turn, that led to a whole bunch of premature obituaries.

The first ones leaked in the spring of 2009, after it became clear that Kevin Garnetts initially diagnosed two-or-three-week knee injury was far more severe. Will he ever be the same? In that case, will the Celtics? Might this already be the end? A second-round exit, and confusion over what really happened with KG, only increased the speculation.

The team fought off death for the first time that fall, thanks to the addition of Rasheed Wallace and the return of Garnett, but the Grim Reaper quickly resurfaced, as KG struggled to regain his swagger and the rest of the team limped around alongside him both physically and mentally. As they slept-walked through the season, there were serious talks of trading Ray Allen, and many fans had come to accept the possibility. Have they gone as far as they could together? Is it already time to reload? Are they better off without the Big 3?

It was by no means a consensus, but there were plenty of people ready to pull the trigger and send the obituary off to print. The Wizards will give up Jamison AND Butler!? Later, Ray! Its been real.

Ray stayed, but the struggles continued, and the Cs headed into the playoffs at an all-time low. Again, they were done. Again, they had nothing left. Again, it was OK, lets watch them get eliminated by the LeBron, bang out a new opening paragraph and bury these guys at sea . . .

Nope. Not yet.

The Celtics, of course, made one of the most inexplicable turnarounds in NBA history. One that, in retrospect, makes a lot more sense, but in the moment was more unlikely than Andrew Bynum getting an invite to Christmas at the Bareas.

Their legendary run came up 20 minutes short, but the Celtics proved once again, that they couldnt and shouldnt be counted out, no matter how dire the circumstances.

Yet, before the last piece of confetti even hit the Staples Center floor, the obits were back. There was talk of Docs departure, Allens free agency, Paul Pierces option and just the general feeling andor fear that theyd let their last chance slip away.

But not so fast!

Doc was back. Paul was back. Ray was back. They added Jermaine ONeal, Shaquille ONeal and Delonte West. Rondo was now an All-Star and on his way to being a superstar. Kevin Garnett was reinvigorated.

They addressed all the problems, and suddenly they were better equipped than ever before.

After the trade deadline, they were never worse.

They swept the Knicks . . . theyre alive!

They lost the first two in Miami dead!!!

Game 3 blowout . . . they have a chance.

Fourth quarter of Game 4 . . . Yes!

Overtime . . . No!

And here we are. The obituaries are all lined up and ready to go, and it feels like weve never been closer to actually hitting the send button . . .

Then again, weve felt that way so many times before.

Maybe its crazy to think they can pull it off, but maybe its just as crazy to count out a team thats proved you and everyone wrong so many times before.

Or maybe . . . I dont know.

All I know is that theres nothing unrealistic about believing, as long as you never actually lose sight of reality.

And weve never done that with this team.

Weve always been well aware that it can end at any second. Probably even a little more aware than we needed to be. Weve always known that their time atop the Eastern Conference would come to an end. That it would probably happen at the hands of LeBron (although we never imagined the lengths hed go to). That it would leave the Big Three looking old, tired, slow and worn down (although we never imagined Rondo would be in the worse shape of the four and Perk would be in OKC). That the loss would signal a time of serious flux and indecision within Celtics Nation.

And we know tonight could bring that upon us.

But we also know it wouldnt be the first time this team defied the odds on their own mortality and lives to see another day.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Report: Celtics sign veteran forward Jarelle Eddie

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Report: Celtics sign veteran forward Jarelle Eddie

The name Jarelle Eddie may not be familiar to you, but he's spent some time with the Celtics.

Four days, to be precise, just prior to the start of the 2014-15 season. He was signed on Oct. 23, right after being waived by the Atlanta Hawks out of training camp, and then released on Oct. 27.

But now he's back . . . 

Eddie, a 6-foot-7, 220-pound small forward, went undrafted after playing four seasons at Virginia Tech. He's bounced from team to team over the last four years, and actually got into 26 games with the Wizards in 2015-16.

Here's a look at some of his most recent work, with the G League's Windy City Bulls:

Celtics need to find No. 2 scorer behind Irving

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Celtics need to find No. 2 scorer behind Irving

BOSTON -- Everyone knows Kyrie Irving’s value to the Celtics is extremely high.
 
But it really hits home on those nights when he’s not in the lineup, as was the case in Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday.
 
Irving didn't play due to a sore left shoulder.He's carried the load offensively for most of this season for a team that has the best record in the Eastern Conference, so it's not surprising the Celts scored the fewest number of points they've scored in any game this year.
 
But it highlights the need for the Celtics to develop a number 2 scorer who can, when needed, step into the more prominent role as the team’s go-to guy.
 
Boston has good players, but none have elevated their play to that of being the next-best scoring option to Irving.
 
Al Horford is a four-time All-Star (with a fifth on the way  this year), but he has never been a player you can turn to for consistent, big-time scoring. That’s because his game is deeply rooted in getting others involved and playing high-level defense.
 
Jaylen Brown has the right mindset most nights, but his all-around game offensively is still evolving. And while he is the team’s number two scorer at 14.2 points per game, that average falls well short of what the No. 2 scorer on most teams isdoing offensively. In fact, Atlanta, Indiana and Sacramento are the only teams in the NBA whose No. 2 scorer has a lower average than Brown.
 
Then there’s Jayson Tatum, a player who has shown all the early stages of superstar-itis. But as talented as he is, the 19-year-old Tatum is similar to Brown from the standpoint of not being ready to emerge as the team’s second-best scorer.
 
“That’s why Gordon (Hayward) was such a good signing for them,” an NBA scout texted NBC Sports Boston. “He gave them a legitimate, high-level second scorer who on some nights would be your best scorer or your best player.”
 
Hayward suffered a dislocated left ankle injury in Boston’s season-opener, and is expected to miss the remainder of this season.
 
Irving’s injury is nowhere close to being that serious. In fact, there’s a very good chance that he will be back in the lineup Sunday when the Celtics host the Orlando Magic.
 
But that doesn’t make up for the team’s lack of a second scoring option.
 
Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 89-80 loss to Philadelphia.
 
 

REBOUNDING

Work on the glass is always going to be a challenge of sorts for the Boston Celtics, making that early run of strong board games a faint memory. Because what we saw against the Sixers was more along the lines of what we’re accustomed to seeing out of the Celtics when it comes to rebounding. The Sixers decisively won the battle on the glass 41-31, serving as a reminder that the narrative surrounding this team when it comes to rebounding hasn’t changed a bit.

TURNOVERS

Brad Stevens described his team’s offense against Philadelphia as being “sloppy” and, truth of the matter, he was being kind. They were hot mess on so many levels against the Sixers. Credit Philly for having a game plan defensively that worked really, for all but the final few minutes of play. No facet of play better illustrated this than the 19 turnovers committed by Boston, which led to 15 points. It’s not the points scored by the Sixers that were the big problem. It’s the fact that those turnovers meant fewer opportunities to score which is the last thing a team without Kyrie Irving needed.

JAYSON TATUM

Against New Orleans, he didn’t take enough shots. And last night against Philadelphia, he didn’t make the ones he usually does. I wouldn’t call what Tatum is going through now hitting the rookie wall. Because he has played so much already, teams have plenty of film and have definitely adjusted the way they have defended him. Now it’s on him to find other ways to impact the game offensively that may not necessarily be his first or second go-to move. He had some nice off-the-dribble moves against the Sixers, finishing with 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Tatum needs to continue ratcheting up his aggression at both ends of the floor, which we saw some of that against the Sixers. Now he just needs to keep it going.

SHANE LARKIN

It was just one game, so it would be foolish to get too excited about Shane Larkin’s play against Philadelphia. But there was a lot to like about how he came off the bench and provided some energy and a spark to a team that seemed to be going through the motions. He had eight points on 3-for-6 shooting but more important, he was really aggressive with his drives and decision-making, which is the kind of performance Boston needs others beside Larkin to bring to the floor when their number is called.

JOEL EMBIID

For all that went Philly’s way on Thursday, you still have to give a great deal of credit to Joel Embiid for his play at both ends of the floor. Boston could not stop him on the block or from 15 or so feet out, as he lit the Celtics up for 26 points on 10-for-19 shooting along with 16 rebounds and six assists. It was the second straight game Boston had been dominated by an opposing big man, raising more concerns among Celtics Nation that Boston needs to address its frontcourt by adding another big between now and the playoffs.

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