Celtics

J. O'Neal breaks through versus Knicks

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J. O'Neal breaks through versus Knicks

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- For those who viewed the final games of the Boston Celtics' regular season as meaningless, Jermaine ONeal begs to differ.

Last Mondays contest against the Washington Wizards was more than an opportunity for Doc Rivers to rest four of his five starters. It turned out to be the boost Jermaine ONeal needed heading into Game One against the New York Knicks.

I think the best thing for me was being able to play those 37 minutes against the Wizards, he said of the game, in which he posted a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double. It gave me a great feeling of what Im comfortable with doing. Ten, 12 minutes a game, its hard to do that. But that game I was able to get to places and really test the knee.

On Sunday ONeal was able to do all of the above against the Knicks, scoring 12 points (66 FG), grabbing four rebounds, and blocking four shots in less than 23 minutes.

Following the game, Rivers credited ONeal for the win.

Ive got to say, Jermaine ONeal tonight was we won the game because of Jermaine ONeal, he said. Thats it. Forget his offense. His defense, his presence, his shot-blocking, his rebounding, his toughness and he did it in both halves. He was absolutely wonderful.

ONeals breakthrough performance came at an ideal time for the Celtics with the return of Shaquille ONeal in question. He gave the team the inside presence they had been missing since trading Kendrick Perkins in February and playing without Shaq.

At the end of the day, this is who we are, Rivers said of the center position. This is who we have. And were fine. Were ready.

The Celtics are confident having ONeal in the middle. They were impressed by his performances late in the season and expected him to make an impact in the playoffs.

I can see over the last few games the way Jermaine played a lot of extended minutes and really played well, said Paul Pierce. We saw that his health was really getting a lot better, he was getting his legs under him. Right on time.

Even though he missed a lot of games, he was big out there tonight for us with his shot blocking, he knocked down a couple of shots outside the lane. Just his presence is going to be big for us in the middle with Shaq being out. Im happy the way hes really progressed the last couple of weeks and hes carried it into the playoffs.

O'Neal's productivity in Game One was a complete turnaround from last season's first round series against the Celtics as a member of the Miami Heat. He shot 9-for-44 (20.5 FG) over five games, which he called a horrific shooting experience.

Looking to win it all this year, ONeal dedicated himself to the Celtics system. He studied game film leading up to the playoffs, making sure he got to the places on the court where the team needed him the most.

This team is built a lot differently than I was quite used to in my 15-year span, he said. You have to stay in a certain zone because if you step outside of that zone you affect the other guys. Trying to find that comfort zone of where those shots are going to be is something that I really have focused on the last three or four days.

This postseason is about moving on - moving on from injuries, moving on from poor performances in the past. All of the obstacles from the regular season were left behind once the playoffs began.

Its been a rough year, no question, ONeal said. This is probably been the hardest year of my career just mentally. Its just been a grind. My teammates, my brothers, have really helped me get through this. This city has helped me get through this. I just continue to work. Its just one game. Youve got to focus on some of the things you did good and try to get better the next game, thats my thought process.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratoNBA. She can be reached at jessicacamerato@gmail.com.

Reports: Cavs players aren't happy with roster

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Reports: Cavs players aren't happy with roster

As the Cavaliers fall further and further behind the Celtics, it appears there's some internal grumbling that the problems that have led to eight losses in their past 10 games aren't fixable with Cleveland's current roster.

Multiple reports indicate that a number of "prominent" Cavs  (and there's no more prominent player in the NBA than LeBron James) shared those thoughts with ESPN, Cleveland.com and TheAthletic.com.

After their loss to the NBA-champion Golden State Warriors Monday night in another Finals rematch, the third-place Cavs have dropped 7 1/2 games behind the Celtics and 3 1/2 behind the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference.

The complaints are a clear message to management that a change will be necessary at the trade deadline and, according to Cleveland.com, the offseason acquisition of Isaiah Thomas isn't going over too well. Thomas, who was out until Jan. 2 while he recovered from hip surgery after he was acquired from the Celtics in the Kyrie Irving trade, is shooting 36 percent and is averaging almost as many turnovers (2.4) as assists (3.4). But it's his defense that's hurting the Cavs more. Here's what Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon reported a "league source" told him:

“Rotations are awful. IT is so much worse than Kyrie defensively it’s insane. There is not a great feeling anywhere. They need to limp into the All-Star break and get away from each other.”

Meanwhile, the guy Thomas was traded for has led the Celtics to an East-leading 34-10 record and become a leading MVP candidate.

The Case Against Anthony Davis to the Celtics

The Case Against Anthony Davis to the Celtics

Let’s get this out of the way: the Celtics should absolutely try as hard as possible to land Anthony Davis. Danny Ainge’s track record means any deal that ultimately lands “The Brow” would, at worst, be fair, and at best, be a steal.

That said, there are arguments to be made against an Anthony Davis trade. Here they are:

1. GARY TANGUAY CAN'T BE RIGHT
This is more important than anything else. Gary Tanguay cannot have this win. We can’t validate his reckless speculation with a Davis-to-Celtics deal. Banner 18 is not worth the years of Gary telling us he was right about this. All joking aside, let’s give Tanguay some credit for predicting this, even if it was luck.

2. ACQUISITION COST
Freedom isn’t free and neither is a 24-year-old mega-star. It’s important to realize that the Celtics are not the only team making this trade. The Pelicans will, justifiably, need one of the biggest return packages in NBA history in order to move Anthony Davis. For starters, say goodbye to Jayson Tatum. The C’s wunderkind looks like a future star and there’s just no way New Orleans makes this deal without him. Ditto for the Lakers/Kings pick acquired from the 76ers this summer and at least one more future first-rounder. Did we mention Al Horford yet? His salary is almost a must in any deal for Davis. 

MORE CELTICS:

I’m not positive a package of Tatum, Horford and every future pick of value is enough to convince the Pelicans to trade Davis. If I’m New Orleans, I’m asking for Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Horford and the LAL/SAC pick for Davis and the ridiculously expensive corpse of Omer Asik. So yeah, the Celtics have positioned themselves to pull off a deal of this magnitude, but it’s sure gonna cost them.

3. FINANCIAL COST
Including Horford in a deal for Davis lessens the blow of adding another max player; however, the Celtics will also be trading at least one of their rookie-scale starters, and that cannot be overlooked. Tatum and Brown aren’t just potential All-Stars, they are cost-controlled starters who the Celtics are paying a combined $10.6 million this season. The other seven Eastern Conference playoff teams (as of Tuesday) are paying an average of $36M for their starting SG/SF combos. Losing one or both of Tatum and Brown means the C’s will be pinching pennies to try and fill out their starting lineup. The calculus gets much harder when Kyrie Irving opts-out of his deal after next season.

4. INJURY CONCERNS
Davis is an absolute stud when he’s on the floor. The problem is he’s often sidelined with injuries. Davis has never played more than 75 games in a season, averaging 67 games through his first five years in the NBA (he’s already missed seven games this year). Davis’ alien-like size/athleticism combo make him a devastating two-way force, but might also make him injury prone for his entire career. Similar to Joel Embiid of the 76ers, Davis sometimes seems too big and fast for his own good, crashing to the floor at a rate rivaled only by Kelly Olynyk.

5. DOES HE MOVE THE NEEDLE ENOUGH?
Is Davis good enough to overcome reasons 1-4 on this list? Going by individual stats, absolutely. Davis has the third-highest career Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in NBA history, trailing only Michael Jordan and LeBron James. But that individual success has only led to a 165-206 record and one playoff appearance for the Pelicans franchise. Before this season, the Davis-led Pelicans boasted a top-10 offense once in five seasons. It’s the same on the defensive end, with one top-10 finish in Davis’ first five years. If Davis is such a game changer, how come he hasn’t been able to impact winning at a greater clip? Most of that can probably be blamed on Pelicans management for doing a terrible job building around him, but it should be a question the Celtics ask before trading just about everything to acquire him.

The Celtics would be crazy turning down the chance to add Davis to a core of Irving, Gordon Hayward and Brad Stevens, even if it does mean Tanguay can brag for the rest of his life. Ainge has assembled a super team before and you better believe he’s on the phone right now trying to do it again.

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