Celtics

Pressure on GM's mounts as free agency, training camp near

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Pressure on GM's mounts as free agency, training camp near

Every offseason, there's pressure - lots of pressure - on NBA general managers to go out and find enough talent to compete.

Just imagine that pool of talent being smaller with players defecting to Europe and China.

And the time frame to pursue free agents prior to the start of the season? Not only is it cut down, but it actually starts the same day as training camp.

Welcome to NBA free agency 2011, where GMs will be challenged in ways they never have before.

Few teams have as many holes to fill as the Celtics.

They currently have six players under contract, and a seventh, Jeff Green, is a restricted free agent that the C's have repeatedly said they want to re-sign.

Green shares that same sentiment.

"I would love to be back," he told CSNNE.com recently. "But the one thing this lockout has taught all of us players; this is a business first. So we'll see how everything plays out."

Boston also plans to sign its two draft picks from Purdue, JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore.

That would give the Celtics nine players, with the need to add at least four more.

Ainge said earlier that because the C's have so many needs, there's not necessarily a pecking order for what positions they will target first.

"I know it's a cliche, but where we are, we really do have to take the best players because when you look at our numbers, there's a need for us at a lot of positions," Ainge said.

And as far as the short period of time to wheel and deal, Ainge isn't overly concerned about that, either.

"We're no different than anybody else," he said.

He's right.

Just like every other team, Ainge's decision-making will be under even greater scrutiny now. Because putting a championship-caliber team together has to be done quicker than ever.

And in doing so, the so-called GM geniuses will have a chance to prove they are indeed as good as advertised.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Heat

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Heat in Miami. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Will Celtics be drained by emotional comeback win Monday in Dallas?

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

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Celtics-Heat preview: Will Celts be drained by emotional win in Dallas?

The Boston Celtics remain a team whose collective talents are far more valuable than their individual abilities.

But there are going to be nights when someone has to shoulder a larger burden of the team in order to win. More often than not, that “one” will likely be No. 11, Kyrie Irving. 

We saw in Dallas what can happen when Irving feels he has little choice but to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. 

The Celtics were desperate for a spark against the Mavericks and found it in Irving, who scored 47 points in leading the Celtics to a come-from-behind 110-102 overtime win. 

It remains to be seen if the Celtics will require a similar Herculean effort tonight when they take the Miami Heat with a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight. 

This team isn’t one to dwell on success in the past, even if the past was just 24 hours ago. But there’s no getting around how what happened on Monday night might impact what we see against the Heat. 

Boston expended a tremendous amount of energy in rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at Dallas, the kind of effort that may be difficult to replicate against a Miami team that you can count on to play hard from the opening tip to the final horn. 

Irving’s performance was one of the rare instances this season when Boston clearly could not have won without their top scorer having a big game. 

“When we needed it most, he made big shot after big shot,” said Al Horford. “He had such good rhythm, I was thinking, ‘just let him keep it going.’ He just kept being aggressive, taking really good shots. He recognized he needed to be extra aggressive, especially at the end and score the ball for us.”

Scoring could potentially be at a premium against Miami which allows 102.5 points per game which ranks ninth in the league in fewest points allowed. Also, the Heat will test Boston’s perimeter defenders. Miami comes into tonight’s game averaging 11.1 made 3-pointers per game which ranks ninth in the NBA. 

The Heat are led by Goran Dragic who is averaging team highs in scoring (18.3 points) and assists (4.7) this season. 

These two squared off earlier this season in Miami with the Celtics coming away with a 96-90 win as Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum led the way with 24 and 20 points, respectively. In that game, the Heat were without starting center Hassan Whiteside, who will be in the lineup tonight as the Heat try to bounce back after losing three of its last four games.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE